Friday, June 16, 2006

Legal Killing?

"The death penalty is no more effective a deterrent than life imprisonment... It is also evident that the burden of capital punishment falls upon the poor, the ignorant and the underprivileged members of society." - United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Thinking on the death penalty I remembered The Ballad of Reading Gaol, by Oscar Wilde which made a great impression on me in my teens.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
'THAT FELLOW'S GOT TO SWING.'

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty space.

He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain's heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far too wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God's sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man's face was white with fear,
And that man's face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were spick and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at,
By the quicklime on their boots.

For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by day,
It eats the flesh and bone by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer's heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! God's kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings His will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope's sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison-air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man's despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who tramp the yard
That God's Son died for all.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Amnesty International says the Death Penalty is not a deterrent.

China, Iran, the United States and Viet Nam account for 97% of the executions recorded by Amnesty International in 2004.

In a US survey of the 'presidents of the country's top academic criminological societies, 84% of those experts rejected the notion that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. (Radelet & Akers, 1996)'

In 2004, like other years the FBI Uniform Crime Report showed that although the American South has 80% of the executions of the US they also have the highest murder rate. The North East has only 1% of the executions in the US and has the lowest murder rate.

Death Penalty Fact Sheet

8 Comments:

At 16/6/06 1:35 am, Blogger world champ stephen neal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 16/6/06 2:08 am, Blogger Roz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 16/6/06 3:45 pm, Blogger Keeley said...

Was this post written because of my post. Any way i understand what your saying but i still believe it is a good idea

 
At 19/6/06 4:00 pm, Blogger Thomas said...

i need to do a post about the death penalty now........its all keeleys fault.....with her facist ideas lol

 
At 19/6/06 9:40 pm, Blogger Keeley said...

don't start thomas i am sorry i have just studied the french revolution and they were cutting everybodies heads off and it seems to stuck with me lol.

 
At 20/6/06 4:38 pm, Blogger Keeley said...

i am not a facist i dont want to kill millions of people i just believe that having the death penalty there as a warning would be a way to sort out crime xxx

 
At 21/6/06 1:19 am, Blogger Roz said...

Keeley the death penalty does not 'sort out crime'...I refer u back to what I said in blog...

Amnesty International's research show the Death Penalty is not a deterrent.

In a US survey of the 'presidents of the country's top academic criminological societies, 84% of those experts rejected the notion that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. (Radelet & Akers, 1996)'

In 2004, like other years the FBI Uniform Crime Report showed that although the American South has 80% of the executions of the US they also have the highest murder rate. The North East has only 1% of the executions in the US and has the lowest murder rate.

It is not sorting out crime.

 
At 25/6/06 12:05 pm, Blogger Sarah said...

on a note completely unrelated to the keeley-debate...
i wish i had that poem when i had to write a paper on the death penalty back in my school days...

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home