The death penalty is one of the most controversial topics around the world, and it is a discussion that is continuously up for debate. From an ethical standpoint, the death penalty, or capital punishment, is wrong. You could try to look at the circumstances from a moral standpoint, but whether someone deems the death penalty as morally acceptable depends on one's moral code. Often, politics get wrapped up in capital punishment conversation, which further complicates the discussion.
If the death penalty is legal as a form of ultimate punishment for heinous crimes in these countries does not mean that everyone who resides in the applicable countries -- nor the government officials who make decisions about subjects like the death penalty -- are in support of capital punishment. Whether or not you agree with the death penalty as a consequence of serious criminal activity, capital punishment remains legal in fourteen countries worldwide.
The fourteen countries that have legalized and retained the right to execute criminals for their crimes include:
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- The United States
The Chinese government operates unusually when it comes to capital punishment. Unlike places like the United States, where death penalty cases are made public and execution dates are announced, China has a rule that states all death penalty executions must remain private and confidential. They are deemed a secret, and even the families won't know until after it has occurred.
Also, China still has firing squads as a tactic for carrying out the death penalty. Many prisoners on the Chinese version of Death Row are shot in the head by way of gunfire. This method is relatively unheard of, as it is seen as being incredibly unethical. One could argue that the entire process of punishing criminals for their mistakes by taking their lives from them is unethical as it stands, but being shot in the head point-blank takes the lack of ethical practices a step further. The one other form of execution that Chinese officials can legally invoke is death by lethal injection.
The Chinese judicial system has ruled that all cases where the death penalty is involved must be treated as secrets. No one can know that the act is being carried out beforehand, and it is infrequent for any news coverage to report on the executions after the fact either. The most shocking truth about Chinese executions is that a few thousand death penalty executions are carried out over one year. That comes out to approximately five and a half executions per day for three hundred sixty-five days in a row.
Japan carries out Death Row executions in a similar manner to China because Japanese officials do not inform anyone of the pending execution dates. However, the distinguishing factor that differentiates Chinese executions from those in Japan is that Japanese officials do not even let the inmate know that their execution dates are on the horizon. Instead, prison officials surprise inmates about one hour before the execution is set to occur.
The only method of execution in Japan is hanging, and prisoners are blindfolded and adorned in a hood before the trap door is released, and the inmate is executed. Japan has killed twenty-four Death Row inmates between 2012 and 2016. Once an inmate has been executed, Japanese prison officials inform the public of the execution that just took place.
Except for very rare situations, most cases of the death penalty in Japan involve multiple murders. A few times, inmates who have killed no more than one person were executed due to the homicide for which they were found guilty. Still, again, this outcome is usually reserved for criminals who have committed multiple murders.
South Korea is one of the fourteen countries that still reserves the right to execute criminals who have committed crimes deemed worthy of a death sentence. South Korean officials execute people who have earned the death penalty by hanging them with a rope. This is the only method of execution in the Asian country of South Korea.
However, if a criminal has been found guilty of carrying out a military offense, they are subjected to death by firing squad. This is a very violent tactic, and for that reason, it is often not even considered a viable execution method. However, South Korea, like China, continues to execute criminals with gunshots. The difference between South Korea and China is that South Korea reserves a firing squad as excessive punishment for people who have committed criminal activity that affected the country's military in some way or another.
The number of people on Death Row in South Korea is currently sixty-one people. Interestingly enough, despite over 60 people sitting on Death Row in South Korea, the last execution took place in December 1997. However, that is not the most recent date of someone who has died on Death Row. Ten people in total have either died by suicide or from an illness they contracted in the jails of South Korea.
The United States
Thirty of the fifty states in the USA have legalized the death penalty, and the government carries out these executions on a state level. The federal government also participates in capital punishment when necessary.
The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world of 639 per 100,000 population. There are over 2 million prisoners in the U.S., thousands of whom are currently on Death Row. Twenty-five individuals convicted of criminal activity and sentenced to death were ultimately executed in 2018, even though forty-two inmates had death sentences looming over their heads. The death penalty was reenacted in the U.S. back in the year 1976, and ever since, the U.S. has been responsible for about 1,493 deaths due to capital punishment sentences. As of 2019, sixty-three people are currently sitting on Death Row in America.
There are five different methods of executing Death Row inmates in the U.S., including lethal injection, hanging, electrocution, lethal gas, and firing squads. The most common way of executing in the United States is lethal injection, followed by electrocution, lethal gas, hanging, and firing squads -- in that order.