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by The Government Department of European WA Office. . 84 reads.

WA Office | Protecting Sapient Life

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WA Office Opinion
Protecting Sapient Life

Writing this makes me feel as if I am repeating myself. But previous words are apt for this situation.

The WA Office, like the real world European Union, views the death penalty as an archaic barbarism incompatible with a modern rational and civilised society. It believes the World Assembly ought explicitly and entirely to prohibit instituting, sentencing, or carrying out any death sentence. ‘Protecting Sapient Life’ would do this.

The death penalty is ineffective. It has high costs with no measurable deterrent effects. Reviews of recent literature ‘on whether there is a deterrent effect of the death penalty [are] inconclusive as a whole’. Aaron Chalfin et al, ‘What do panel studies tell us about a deterrent effect of capital punishment?’ (2013) 29 J Quant Criminol 5. While there is evidence that crime responds to better enforcement, increasing penalties does little. Aaron Chalfin and Justin McCrary, ‘Criminal Deterrence: A Review of the Literature’ (2017) 55 J Econ Lit 5. Studies showing that there is a deterrent effect generally ‘are extremely fragile and even small changes in [methods] yield dramatically different results’. John Donohue III and Justin Wolfers, ‘Uses and abuses of empirical evidence in the death penalty debate’ (2006) NBER working paper 11982. Supporters of the death penalty do little more than demand we keep faith that it deters ephemerally and immeasurably.

Fallibility, too, is core to the death penalty’s injustice. A freedom-loving country cannot give anyone such absolute power to make entirely irremediable and irreversible decisions. Even under stringent checks, people are caged and killed for crimes they did not commit and under processes manipulated behind the scenes. The actual practice of the death penalty lends its hand to oppressing the disadvantaged, the mentally ill, and members of national and cultural minorities. In the United States, ‘racial disparities [in the death penalty] has been evident since colonial times’. Carol Steiker and Jordan Steiker, ‘The American death penalty and the (in)visibility of race’ (2015) 82 U Chic L Rev 243, 243. This is especially the case at the intersection of those loci. People from poor backgrounds who are mentally ill receive worse representation which fails to effectively present their cases in court.

Claims, like those made by George W Bush to the European Parliament in 2001 that ‘the death penalty is the will of the American people’ are laughably weak. Claudia Whitman, ‘The Death Penalty as the Will of the People’ (2001) 13 Peace Rev 519, 519 (quoting Bush). Equivocating with opinion polls on a matter of fundamental dignity is little more than moral abdication to a majority guided more by fear of some ‘other’ stalking their every move than of evidence or justice. James Unnever and Francis Cullen, ‘White perceptions of whether African Americans and Hispanics are prone to violence and support for the death penalty’ (2012) 49 J Rsch Crime & Dependency 519 (showing that fear of blacks and Hispanics is associated with white support for the death penalty); Eric Lambert et al, ‘The impact of information on death penalty support, revisited’ (2011) 57 Crime & Delinq 572 (showing an association between empirical knowledge on the death penalty and support for abolition). Hiding behind polls does little but validate society’s complicity in ‘capital punishment[,] the most premeditated of murders’. Albert Camus, Reflections on the Guillotine (1957).

The death penalty, in my resolution ‘Death Penalty Ban’ has been mostly prohibited already. People queue to repeal this prohibition. In the spirit of Protocol 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, however, we have the opportunity to finish the job and to safeguard these protections moving forward. The Office proudly recommends a vote FOR ‘Protecting Sapient Life’ and the death penalty's total prohibition.

Primary author(s): Imperium Anglorum.

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