Amnesty International Exposes Cruelty of Death Penalty (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: Pursuing its campaign against capital punishment, Amnesty International published When the State Kills, advocating total abolition of the death penalty and reporting on one hundred governments’ use of it.
Summary of Event
When the State Kills…The Death Penalty: A Human Rights Issue (1989) revealed the ancient legacy of Amnesty International’s worldwide campaign against the death penalty by citing the earliest recorded parliamentary opposition, Diodotus’s claim in 427 b.c.e. Greece that execution was not an effective deterrent. Sixteenth century critics of capital punishment objected to the widespread penalties of burning, beheading, hanging, and drawing and quartering that were imposed for more than two hundred offenses. Preindustrial societies in the Middle Ages substituted banishment or mutilation for execution, and the first prisons opened in the sixteenth century. Reformers such as Jeremy Bentham successfully worked to reduce the number of capital offenses in England to four by 1861. In 1863, Venezuela became the first country to abolish the death penalty. The Netherlands ended capital punishment for most crimes in 1870, Sweden for all crimes in 1921, and the United Kingdom in 1965. Executions in the United States declined from 1,666 in the 1930’s to 191 in the 1960’s, before the Supreme Court halted all use of capital punishment from 1972 to 1976.
In an attempt to...
(The entire section is 2466 words.)
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