To Die For

Recently the world looked on in horror as 22 Rwandans were executed for their roles in the African nation’s 1994 massacres that killed at least 500,000. Even more disturbing to the international community was the dancing, clapping, and whooping of the nearly 10,000 onlookers who turned out for the spectacle. The United States was among the nations speaking out against the punishment.

That same week the U.N. Human Rights Commission issued a stinging report that called for the United States to suspend all executions, saying, "A significant degree of unfairness and arbitrariness in the administration of the death penalty...still prevails." The report rebukes the United States for executing people for crimes committed as juveniles and people who are mentally retarded. It also found that race and economics play a major role in determining the severity of sentences. Religious leaders and human rights activists who have long called for doing away with capital punishment hailed the report.

Last year 74 executions were carried out in the United States. Consider this:

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1998
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