Death Penalty BUSINESS AND PERSONAL LAW October 15, 2013
GOALS • Studying the death penalty helps students: • A. Acquire background information about the death penalty in a global context; • B. Appreciate both sides of the debate about the death penalty; • C. Articulate opinions supported by reasons.
OBJECTIVES • As a result of this class, students will: • Know about the death penalty in other countries and other states; • Articulate reasons for and against the death penalty • Have respectful disagreements with other students. • FEEL that the death penalty is a controversial issue.
TODAY… • We will be covering the Death Penalty, including a discussion toward the end of class. • YOU should be prepared to take a position and use facts to support your opinion. • Many people have serious disagreements about this issue and that students should feel free to disagree with one another, but to do so respectfully.
“Death Penalty Trivia” Of the 192 countries in the United Nations, approximately how many (within 5) executed at least one person in 2012? • Answer: 24 (correct answers are 19 – 29). • Note that at least 40 sentenced at least one person to death in 2011.
“Death Penalty Trivia” • Name two of the five countries that carried out the most executions in 2010. • Answer: China (470), Iran (317), Saudi Arabia (143), Pakistan (135), United States (42)
“Death Penalty Trivia” • Identify two justifications commonly cited for the death penalty. • Answer: Deterrence, retribution (“an eye for an eye”)
“Death Penalty Trivia” • True or False: A man was stoned to death in Iran for adultery in 2007 • Answer: True
“Death Penalty Trivia” • True or False: A man was beheaded for the “practice of sorcery” in Saudi Arabia in 2007. • Answer: True
“Death Penalty Trivia” • True or False: It is unconstitutional to execute persons with mental illnesses • Answer: False. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia that execution of the mentally challenged is “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the 8th Amendment. This does not apply to other forms of mental illness, however.
“Death Penalty Trivia” • Identify two common criticisms of the death penalty. • Answer: Mistaken convictions; immoral to take another’s life; discriminatory application; more expensive
“Death Penalty Trivia” • What was the method of the first execution after the moratorium on the death penalty ended in 1976? Hint: the execution occurred in Utah. • Answer: Firing squad. Execution by firing squad is currently only legal in Idaho and Oklahoma, though some offenders sentenced to death in Utah before 2004 may still be executed by firing squad.
“Death Penalty Trivia” • Which state has conducted the most executions? • Answer: Texas, with 405 executions. The second highest is Virginia, with 98.
De-brief Death Penalty Trivia • Did any of the answers surprise you?
Death Penalty in Virginia • Capital punishment is legal in the U.S.State of Virginia. • The first execution in the future United States was carried out in 1608. It was the first of 1,384 executions, the highest total of any state in the Union. • Hanging was the predominant method for executions before 1909 • From 1909 until 1994, the electric chair was used for all but one execution
Death Penalty in Virginia • The electric chair continued to be solely used until 1994, when legislation was enacted giving inmates the choice of lethal injection or the electric chair, with lethal injection the default method if no choice was made. • Six inmates have since opted for the Virginia electric chair; Former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has also stated that he opposes the option of the electric chair, but he did not move to drop it as an option while in office.
Death Penalty in Virginia • Executions are carried out at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia, and death row is located at the Sussex State Prison near Waverly, Virginia. • State law specifies that at least six citizens who are not employees of the Department of Corrections must be present to serve as witnesses to the execution
Death Penalty in Virginia • Since Governor George Allen signed an executive order on the matter in 1994, relatives of the homicide victim(s) in the case have the right to witness the execution. Relatives of the condemned inmate are barred from being present. • As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime are constitutionally precluded from being executed.
Public opinion • A 2001 poll of Virginians found that 69.5% supported the use of the death penalty, with 25.2% opposed. The same poll found that if given the option of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, support for the death penalty dropped to 45.2%, with 50% supporting life without parole.
Capital offenses • Under Virginia's Criminal Code, the following offenses carry the possibility of death: • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder in the commission of abduction • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder during a robbery or attempted robbery • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder by a person engaged in a continuing Criminal Drug Enterprise • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder in the commission of rape or attempted rape.
Capital offenses • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder of a person under the age of 14 by a person over the age of 21 • Contract killing • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder of a law enforcement officer • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder of more than one person (within a three year time frame)
Capital offenses • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder of a pregnant woman • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder by an inmate while in a correctional facility. • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder committed during an act of terrorism. • Willful, deliberate and premeditated murder of a judge, juror, or witness
History in Virginia • Before the 20th century, along with murder and rape, a variety of offenses could merit a death sentence: • Treason • Arson • Burglary • Horse Rustling (Stealing) • Robbery
To do list • Please Answer the questions on the handout (10 points) in order to prepare a draft letter (30 points) to your state representative about the death penalty. Take a position and give reasons to support your position. You may take any position you like, including that the death penalty should be ended, that more crimes should be punishable by death, or that fewer crimes should be punishable by death. • THEN, with a partner, you will create a PowerPoint presentation that will be presented to the class either focusing on the pros, cons, social impact or economics of capital punishment. (please see handout on the BUSINESS LAW site “DEATH PENALTY ASSIGNMENT)