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Death

 

By Dana AbouDargham & Ghinwa Tarabay

American Community School

Mrs. Nada AbiSamra

English

9(2) Brevet

December, 2001

 

Theme Introduction:

 

            Life is like a racing track, but the only different thing about it, is that you never know when it ends, and this makes it a mystery. Everyone knows that life is doomed to end someday, but how, no one will ever know. It is human nature to question about and fear the end of the road. Don’t you ever wonder how, when, and where you are going to die? There are million of people dying every second of every minute, in different ways. Scientists spend their time researching about death, doctors work hard on finding cures for sicknesses that might lead to death, policemen try their best in order to prevent death, while everyone else sits waiting for their time to end, and for their candles to burn out. Don’t you ever wish your life could last forever without dying? Our group chose the theme death, for it is an important and interesting topic. Death is important in the way it revolves around everyone, and in the way it is found everywhere. Likewise, death is interesting because there are so many factors that lead to it, and at the same time, so many ways to prevent it. It is necessary for everyone to understand the meaning of death, how it affects people, and what people have done to prevent it. One factor that leads to death is euthanasia or assisted suicide, and the other issue is capital punishment.

 

Dana Abou Dargham

Brevet- 9:2

2001-2002

Mrs. Nada AbiSamra

 

Capital Punishment

Outline

 

Purpose: The purpose behind my choosing this topic is that it captured my interest; it is really a very fascinating topic to research and learn about. 

 

Introduction:

            General statement:

                        Throughout the past centuries, different civilizations punished their criminals using diverse methods; however, death was the punishment for several criminals. 

Narrow down:

                        What is capital punishment and include some general facts about it to back it up.

            Thesis:

                        All in all capital punishment is the punishment of criminals by legal killing. It has been used throughout the past centuries, however several governmental/religious groups around the world are against it and some support it; therefore, it has caused a lot of conflicts.

 

Facts:

            Anti death penalty

                        Countries that have stopped executing

                        International Abolition drives

Religion and the death penalty

Early Christian views

                                    What the bible says

Muslim Views

                                    What the Quran say

            Death penalty and methods

                        Methods

                                    Lethal injection

                                                History of lethal injection

                                    Electrocution

                                                History of electrocution

                                    Lethal Gas/ Gas chamber

                                                History of the gas chamber

                                    Hanging

                                                History of Hanging

                                    Firing Squad

                                                History of the firing squad 

 

Analysis:

            How does it affect me as an individual?

                        What are my views?

            How dose it affect my country

                        Execution in 1995 (Elias Alehrawi)

            Capital Punishment in Lebanon Nowadays

                        The daily Star Article

            Interviews

                        Different points of view 

 

Conclusion:

             

RESTATEMENT of THESIS:

In conclusion, Capital Punishment has been used for centuries as a retribution for criminals; however, throughout these centuries it has caused more problems then solved, since several groups/religions are against it and some entirely support it.

 

Opening up:

            All through the years, the world has been trying to find a solution for this problem, whether to abolish it or maintain it.

Opening up:

If people worked together, life would be easier, and no mistakes would occur in the first place

Purpose

The purpose behind my choosing this topic is that it captured my interest; it is really a very fascinating topic to research and learn about. It is always good to enhance your knowledge, and I think this research helped me a lot. However, some people found this topic to be a very disturbing one -which is true-, but it's still a very important issue to be acquainted with. If people don't widen their horizons, and accept knowledge the way it is, then they are missing out on a lot of extremely fascinating essentials. To sum it up, it is a very interesting project and I hope you will enjoy reading my paper. 

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

Introduction

Throughout the past centuries, different civilizations punished their criminals using diverse methods; however, death was the punishment for several criminals. Countries follow a set of rules or laws known as the Death Penalty or Capital Punishment to penalize their criminals through death. Literally, "capital" in "capital punishment" refers to a person's head. In the past, people were often executed by having their heads severed from their bodies. However, death penalty has been an issue that affected the world in several ways. Some are against it, and some support it, and this has caused a lot of conflicts. "We opposed the death penalty not just for what it does to those guilty of heinous crimes, but for what it does to all of us: it offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life." [1]On the other hand, "Does it make sense for the state to hire murderers to kill defenseless victims on death row, in order to prove that hiring murderers to kill defenseless victims is morally wrong?"[1]

All in all capital punishment is the punishment of criminals by legal killing. It has been used throughout the past centuries, however several governmental/religious groups around the world are against it and some support it; therefore, it has caused a lot of conflicts.

Facts:

Religions and their Different Perspectives: Religion played a major role in this issue, since a large number of everyone's acts depend on their religious beliefs. Several religions support capital punishment, but some don't. Therefore, I have chosen to compare opinions from two different religions. The first one is Christianity, and the second is Islam.

Christians are strictly forbidden to attend any executions, to execute and lay a charge on a person if the consequence is execution. Several Christian philosophers and religious people wrote various books about this issue. For example, Lactantius (260 to 330 CE) a very famous writer and "well known for his books" 'Introduction to True Religion' and 'The Divine Institutions'. 

"When God forbids us to kill, he not only prohibits the violence that is condemned by public laws, but he also forbids the violence that is deemed lawful by men. Thus it is not lawful for a just man to engage in warfare, since his warfare is justice itself. Nor is it [lawful] to accuse anyone of a capital offense. It makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or by the sword. It is the act of putting to death itself which is prohibited. Therefore, regarding this precept of God there should be no exception at all. Rather it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred creature."[1]

In brief, a large part of Christianity absolutely opposes capital punishment; however, the Christian coalition, Christian Deconstructionists, and large numbers of small conservative denominations and independent churches support the death penalty.

            However Islam supports Capital Punishment unlike the Christians. The "Quran" (holy book) approves capital punishment. It has been mentioned in several verses throughout the holy book that "The killer is to be killed and the punishment of adultery is stoning till death." Even though a large amount of people disagree that capital punishment should be the consequences of a crime, several countries still insist on using it. For example, In Saudi Arabia the punishment of a murder, adultery and other crimes is stoning and hanging. Briefly, religion has played a big role in a country's politics and has affected capital punishment, throughout the world.

Anti-Capital punishment: All over the world the anti-capital punishment groups formed international abolition drives, to eliminate death penalty. So, several conferences were held. For example, on the 25th of December of the year 1998, Pope John Paul II called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of death penalty. Another example would be the meeting that was held in Geneva, Switzerland, in the year 1999, by the United Nations' Commission for Human Rights. In this worldwide meeting they negotiated the abolition of the death penalty. However the conference failed, apart from the very small number of countries that did abolish it. In spite of this malfunction, they obtained a moratorium 'that might lead to abolition'. Furthermore, in the year 2000, a petition called the "Moratorium 2000" have been circulated the world concerning the elimination of the death penalty; so far, millions around the globe of people have signed this petition. In brief, several meetings and groups have been fighting against the use of capital punishment around the world.

 

Countries that have abolished the death penalty recently:
 

Year

Abolished death penalty for all crimes

Abolished death penalty for ordinary crimes

1976

Portugal

Canada

1977

 

 

1978

Denmark

Spain

1979

Luxembourg, Nicaragua, Norway

Brazil, Fiji, Peru

1980

 

 

1981

France, Cape Verde

 

1982

Netherlands

 

1983

 

Cyprus, El Salvador

1984

 

Argentina

1985

Australia

 

1986

 

 

1987

Haiti, Liechtenstein, German Democratic Republic

 

1988

 

 

1989

Cambodia, New Zealand, Romania, Slovenia

 

1990

Andorra, Croatia, Czech & Slovak Federal Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Mozambique, Namibia, So Tom, Principe

Nepal

1991

Slovenia, Croatia

 

1992

Angola, Switzerland

Paraguay

1993

Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong

 

1994

Italy

 

1995

Mauritius, Moldova, Spain

South Africa

1996

Belgium

 

1999

Bermuda

 

*Russia and many more countries not listed above retain capital punishment statutes on their books, but have not executed criminals in many years. Russia, for example, executed its last prisoner on death row in 1996. A UN Economic and Social Council report lists the current status of the death penalty in most of the countries of the world. 

Methods of execution:

There are several methods of execution that are used through out the world; however, there are seven main methods. They are the following: Hanging, Electric Chair, Firing squad, Gas Chamber, Lethal injection, Guillotine and stoning.

            Lethal injection: Is a combination of three drugs. Sodium thiopental (or  sodium pentothal), this drug makes the prisoners unconscious. The second is pancuronium bromide; this drug relaxes the muscles and paralyzes the diaphragm and lungs. The third is potassium chloride; it causes cardiac arrest. This injection will be injected through both arms in large quantities, and of course will lead to the prisoner's death.

History of the lethal injection: This method was first proposed in 1888, in New York. The first state to adopt it was Oklahoma (1997). The first prisoner that was executed by lethal injection was Charlie Brooks.

            Electrocution: This method of execution uses a wooden chair with restrainers and connections to an electric current. The chair is made of oak and is set on a thick rubber platform that is bolted to a concrete floor. The lap, chest, arm and forearm are secured with straps. The headgear is made of a metal headpiece that is covered with a leather hood to wrap the prisoners head. Then they send huge currents of electricity  (2,300volts) through the wires that are attached to the prisoner's body.

History of the Electric Chair:the first state to adopt this method was New York in the year 1888. The first man that was executed by electrocution was William Kemmler in the year 1890. From 1930 to 1980, the electric chair was the most common method for execution.

Lethal Gas/ Gas Chamber: This method uses a small steel chamber, with a chair  attached to it and restraints. The chest, waist, arms, and ankles are secured with straps connected to the chair. The prisoner wears a mask during this process of execution. Under the seat a metal container is placed. Underneath the container a metal canister that is filled with sulfuric acid solution is set up.

History of the Gas Chamber: The gas chamber was inspired by the use of poisonous gas in World War I. The first state to adopt this method of execution was Nevada in 1924. In the same year the first execution through this process took place. The last execution by lethal gas was in the year 1999. 

            Hanging: This process takes place in a gallows area and the prisoner is placed over a hinged trap door from which he will be dropped from. Before the execution, the prisoner says a few words, then a hood is placed over his head and the noose is positioned around the convict's neck behind his/her left ear to allow the pressure form the drop to snap his/her neck.

History of hanging: Hanging is the oldest method of execution. It was the most common before the electric chair was invented. There have been only three executions since 1977, through this method: Westley Dodd (1993), Charles Campbell (1994), and Billy Bailey (1998).

            Firing Squad: This method uses a specially designed chair, which has a pan beneath it to catch the flow of blood. The arms, legs, chest, and head are secured with straps attached to the chair. At about 20 feet in front of this chair there is a wall that has firing ports. After the offender says his last words, a hood is placed over his head. Then all these weapons aim to the same point, which is usually the chest. 

History of the Firing Squad: This method has been only used twice: Gary Gilmore (1977) and John Albert (1996). However it was very common "with the military times of war, there has been one such execution since the civil war: Private Eddie Slovak in World War II."

Guillotine:A Famous French invention, not used in North America. It severs the neck. Death comes quickly.

Stoning: The prisoner is pelted with rocks until they eventually die. This method was never used in North America. It is common in some Muslim countries as a penalty for murder, adultery and other crimes.

Analysis

My Views about this topic: As I have mentioned before Capital punishment has affected the world in several ways. Before this research, I knew some information about it, but now I have learned a lot more about the world. The nice thing in researching is that you think you know a lot of information, but in reality you don't know enough. Since I picked this topic, and after knowing more about it, it has started affecting me. I've started interviewing people that actually attended an execution, and the stories they told me were carved into my head; I couldn't stop thinking about them, and some nights, I would just wake up and think more. They were really heartbreaking stories. But I learned a lot. After all this research I still think that it is hard to be totally against Capital Punishment or even totally with it. But, that was the toughest part for me throughout this research, to find out what I should really side with, however in the end I was in between, I don't agree on death being the consequence to every crime, "If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call."[1] Except to come and think about it, we all have sinned in our lives " He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." [1] In conclusion, I don't think Capital Punishment is completely wrong, and isn't entirely right. 

How does capital punishment affect my country? Lebanon has a very rich and long history. As we all know, Lebanon was captured by the Turks during World War I. The country was divided into two different parts, Beirut and the country side. A great number of people were against there rule since the Turkish leader "Jamaal Basha" ( ) was ruining their protocol. The groups that formed a rebellion were imprisoned by the Turkish military and were executed. One of the famous dates were a large number of Lebanese people where executed was the 16th of April. After the Turkish left the land, executions were moratorium; however in the year 1995 executions arose. Several innocent and guilty lives died. The method that Lebanon used was hanging. One of my dad's friends entered the military then, and was forced to attend those executions. He told me a lot of stories. He said "it was so difficult for all of us, you can't sleep, you can't even eat after watching them…..but then you get used to it, but somehow it just bugs you for the rest of your life, I mean I still get nightmares from it." In brief, Lebanon did use capital punishment in the past; however I don't know if they still do nowadays, but I hope not.

Capital Punishment in Lebanon Nowadays: Last year, there was a conference that was held in Lebanon (Sahit Al-Nijmeh) about the abolishment of Capital Punishment. The Daily Star issued an article about it:

Lebanon: The End of the Death Penalty?

"As top leaders faced popular pressure on Thursday to freeze the death penalty, activists hope the next round in their fight will be won in a parliamentary committee next week. 

A draft law that would drop the infamous Article 302 of the penal code, which prevents judges from endorsing lesser sentencing and forcing judges to impose the death penalty on convicted murderers, will be discussed next Wednesday by Parliament's Justice and Administration Committee. 

Akkar MP Michael Daher, who heads the committee, told The Daily Star that any amendment, should it be passed by the House, will not affect sentences that have already been passed. 

Only the cases that are still before the court, will be affected by this amendment, Daher said. 

The president, Daher remarked, is the only one who has the power to grant pardons or commute death sentences. 

Baalbek-Hermel MP Marwan Fares, chairman of Parliament's Human Rights committee, said he expected the amendment to pass, citing parliamentary consensus over the issue. 

He considered the legislation, if endorsed, an achievement in itself and an important step toward abolishing capital punishment. 

Meanwhile, a silent "crisis of conscience" demonstration was organized by the Movement for People's Rights on Thursday. 

8 "executioners" wearing black masks and holding nooses led several hundred people from Parliament's headquarters in Nijmeh square to the Mathaf area, where the Cabinet holds its weekly sessions. 

Those taking part included members of human rights groups, representatives of political parties and religious figures. 

During the silent protest, activists held banners with slogans such as "Don't murder, don't legalize revenge" and "two crimes don't equal justice." 

At Mathaf, a "scene of hope" was acted out a number of children, who in less than a minute were able to turn the tools of death into an innocent game. 

Dressed in bright colors, 10 youngsters aged between 6 and 12 approached the executioners, kissed them on both cheeks, removed their masks and helped them put their nooses on the ground. 

Afterward, they untied the ropes and played with them. One of the "hope" squad, 11-year-old Jessica, said that she was happy she contributed to the event. 

"People should understand that killing won't bring them any good," she said. 

"I hate executions and I think that it's better to play with ropes than to kill people with them, even if they aren't good," she said.  "The evil person must have had his reasons." 

MPR's Walid Slaybi, who said he preferred not to make statements due to the silent nature of the protest, would speak only of the efficient work of his group. 

"We are achieving something and we have achieved something. The fact that Parliament is discussing Article 302 is already something," Slaybi said. 

"I am in the service of humankind and true justice. I am also in the service of the delinquent," said Father Khawand, who marched with the group. 

"Punishment means rehabilitation, not murder," he said, stressing the importance of the independence of the judiciary in sentencing. 

"No authority, or person or ideology has the right to kill people," he added. 

Ali Aqil Khalil, a representative of the International Human Rights Organization, argued that the time has come for the country to consider the abolition of the death penalty, since such a step could show the country's concern with human rights issues. 

"Turkey has reconsidered the execution of its worst enemy, Abdullah Ocalan, because it did not want to look bad in the eyes of the international community, and because it wants to join the European Union," he said. 

"Rather than capital punishment we should be looking for the reasons behind the crime," he said, blaming unhealthy social conditions for many crimes. 

18-year-old Rashad Abu Mjar," a member of the Communist Party, said capital punishment was an outdated practice. 

"How can we expect Lebanon to become a civil society, if we still adopt such a procedure?" he asked. "The judge has become a tool that the politicians use to score points. 

"I don't get it, are we compensating the parents of a victim with a corpse for their loss?" he asked. 

Alone in the crowd with tears in her eyes stood Roro Rayyes, whose 19-year-old son Yehia is on death row. 

"There is no real justice, only the poor makes it to the rope," she said as she took part in the march."[1]

Interviews I made regarding this topic: As I mentioned in previous paragraphs, I interviewed some people who have attended executions. I was told that it was a very frightening experience for everyone, and some people couldn't handle it, to the extreme that they killed themselves. It caused a lot of depression and conflicts in the country and the world. All in all, "capital punishment affected people in different ways and also affected the world's history. I still think that it is morally and ethically wrong. And I hope that someday all the countries of the world will find the right alternatives and abolish this barbarian act, for it has caused a lot of problems in peoples lives and will cause more if it is not stopped soon."[1]

Conclusion

In conclusion, Capital Punishment has been used for centuries as a retribution for criminals; however, throughout these centuries it has caused more problems then solved, since several groups/religions are against it and some entirely support it. All through the years, the world has been trying to find a solution for this problem, whether to abolish it or maintain it. However, some countries did eradicate it, but there is a long trail of countries left. I reached to a conclusion –individual one- that capital punishment shouldn't be the penalty to all the crimes, for it wouldn't have solved anything. Countries have been killing criminals, but the number of them has been increasing rather then decreasing. Therefore, this way of retribution hasn't made any difference. But, on the other hand, some criminals can't be controlled, so death has to be their punishment. If people worked together, life would be easier, and no mistakes would occur in the first place. In brief, this act has affected a lot, in all sorts of ways. 

Theme Conclusion

            In conclusion, death comes in different ways such as capital punishment or euthanasia. Death is the final stage in everyone’s life. Everybody expects to die since death is written for all. We start our lives differently and in the end, we end them differently. Death is an issue that scholars, popes, authors and people wonder about daily, and not a single person has forgotten to ask him\her self in curiosity, “How will my life end”, or “Where and when will my life end.” Therefore you can say that death is the mystery of life. However, we still wonder if anyone would be able to find the right or the most accurate hypothesis about this issue.



[1]--Most Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza, president, national conference of Catholic Bishops/ U.S. Catholic Conference, 1999

[1]Written by Lactantius: from 'The Divine Institutions' Book 6, Chapter 20.

[1]John McAdams - Marquette University/ Department of Political Science, on deterrence.

[1]Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) condemning a public execution of a woman for adultery (john 8:7)

[1]Daily Star, Feb. 9, 2001

[1]My dad's friend who attended executions in Lebanon in the year 1995