Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Umm, Egypt, you might want to rethink that...

In the United States, we have a pretty robust set of rules and practices we have to follow before we can execute someone. (In theory, anyway.) As we are basically the only major free nation with a democratically-elected government left who executes people as often as we do, it stands to reason that we'd at least have a better process than pretty much any other death penalty nation.

One of our (alleged) cornerstone principles is that each defendant is entitled to individualized consideration at sentencing. Furthermore, the key word in all death penalty cases is reliability. In theory, at least, we put a lot of stock in the notion that every piece that goes into reaching that ultimate sentence has to be reliable. It's cumbersome, expensive, time-consuming, and still yields mistaken verdicts.

But at least it's a whole lot better than this. In a trial that lasted minutes (yes, you read that right: minutes), an Egyptian court sentenced 683 people to death. This is the second such mass death verdict in recent weeks in Egypt, both by the same court. In a sign of its total reasonableness, the court in the first case later commuted many of those death sentences, so just under 500 defendants are now facing only life in prison while 37 had their death sentences upheld. So perhaps in another week or two, the court will also commute 600 or so of these death sentences to life in prison, thus leaving a much more reasonable 80 or so death sentences. Because that would make it ok.

Note also that all of the defendants are part of the Muslim Brotherhood or its supporters and that the political motivation appears to be to suppress this segment of the electorate before a May 26-27 election.

So, yes, the US does the death penalty a whole hell of a lot better than Egypt. Go us! We're better than a chaotic country currently ruled by the military, after a coup of an elected president, who is now trying to crack down on a particular portion of the electorate in advance of the next presidential election!

(But we still do it pretty poorly and should stop doing it all together.)

1 comment:

BellsforStacy said...

It's disturbing because the "democracy" over there is to kill the opposition, and as long as our "side" is winning, the West looks the other way and calls it a fair election.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a bad bad organization but these are the exact same tactics they use only they happen in a court instead of by road side bomb. I don't know how you bring this part of the world into the 21st century when they are still so deeply, deeply rooted in the dark ages.

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