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And now it’s two eyes for an eye
The criminal judicial system in America is getting increasingly inhuman & needs to be corrected
For all the propaganda on Human Rights that the United States preaches while sermonising to the rest of the world, it continues to be its worst violator. It remains the hypocrisy of the first order that while America organises the execution of Saddam Hussein, it simultaneously ignores the plight of several others that rot in the prisons of its own country.
As on April 1, 2006, 38 states of United States Federal government and the US military took up capital punishment for those convicted of heinous crimes. It must also be brought to notice that on the same date, about 3,370 convicted prisoners across the country were in the death row. Even if the debate related to the need of capital punishment is kept apart, the treatment that has been meted out to these outlaws has been anything but ‘humane’. Though the American judiciary (Roper V. Simmons, 1 March, 2005) has outlawed capital punishment for juveniles and child offenders, the US along with Somalia remain the only two countries in the world that have not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child. It must simultaneously be recorded that America’s treatment of mentally ill death row inmates has been barbaric. When President Clinton was approaching the end of his term in office, he claimed that America had become more humane in the eight years of his administration. In the same month of his boisterous claim, about 10 convicts were executed across America. Of the 10 that were executed, 4 of them had proven records of mental illness.
The record of ‘humane’ America doesn’t stop here. Clinton’s successor, George Bush Junior had a proven record of mental alignment with death sentence! As a Governor of Texas, the death penalty sentences reached a crescendo. His 5 year reign as the Governor of Texas had seen a total of 152 executions. That figure constituted almost 20% of total executions taken up across the United States. Things haven’t changed much as even now Texas conducts more executions than any other state in the US, with around 470 executions in the year 2005 alone.
As a staunch supporter of the death penalty-based judicial system, Bush was pushed on the defensive when an instance of his support to the execution of critically schizophrenic patient (who was later executed) was brought to his notice. The above mentioned case related to paranoid schizophrenic Larry Robison. Bush dilly-dallied on whose case before giving lacklustre promises related to the Republican Party’s commitment to enhance funding for the Mental Health Program. Amnesty International notes that of the 800 odd people that have been executed post 1992, more than 20% have had a proven record of mental illness. As things worsen and as paranoia grows on the American administration, it is extremely unlikely that this crucial aspect related to natural justice is ever going to be addressed.
Despite all the claims on fairness of law in the United States, it has been nothing of the sort when its record of treating its criminals is considered. A system that harps more on seeking revenge than on correcting the malaise is being followed domestically and more apparently internationally. Thus before harping on human rights violations in countries across the world, America should look within for cleansing the filth that has made it more of a reactionary society and less of a tolerant and corrective system.
By:- BE Edit Bureau
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