California has 743 prisoners on Death Row

A slightly disorganised article on the Independent at least clearly lets us know that about 743 prisoners in the state of California (USA) are on Death Row but that California has only used the death penalty on 13 prisoners since 1978. Keeping all these prisoners on Death Row, they’ve been handed the death penalty in court but haven’t been executed yet, costs the American taxpayer $4 billion which is £2,820,377,320!

A useful fact within the article is that death row inmates are waiting longer and longer to actually get the death penalty because DNA is repeatedly proving that people deemed guilty in the past were actually innocent. Last year alone, six death row inmates were cleared of wrongdoing. It’s anyone’s guess how many more wrongly convicted murderers are still there.



Innocent 60 year old freed after 30 years in prison

A man who was wrongfully convicted of a crime in 1982 has just walked his first steps outside prison for 30 years. He had been found guilty of murder and rape mostly based on one eye witness’ evidence and teeth marks, but newly acquired DNA evidence shows another man, who has already died in prison for a different offence, was the perpetrator.

Perhaps this is a good case study to use in arguments against the death penalty?

Becky Watts’ dad “I’d pull the lever myself” if death penalty available

The father of murdered schoolgirl Becky Watts said in a Newsnight interview that if the death penalty was available in the UK he’d pull the lever himself to kill his stepson, so that nobody else would feel the guilt of killing.

He explained how his family had been completely destroyed and justice still hadn’t been done. “I don’t think I’ve had justice. If they were going to hang him I would pull the lever so nobody else would have that guilt,” said Mr Galsworthy.

Aged 17 in 2012, Found Guilty of sedition, rioting and robbery

As we move on to a Section about Crime and Punishment in our Year 11 RS lessons, it’s worthwhile following the news about different ideas on what punishments are necessary for crimes.


In Saudi Arabia a seventeen year old found guilty of sedition (speech or organisation against the government which might get others to rebel), rioting and robbery was sentenced to crucifixion – beheading followed by the public display of his body.

The BBC is reporting how Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr’s mother has appealed to President Obama, the most powerful man in the world, to stop her son receiving such a violent punishment. Mrs Ahmed told the Guardian on Wednesday: “[Mr Obama] is the head of this world and he can, he can interfere and rescue my son… He would be rescuing us from a great tragedy.”

Continuing on the Guardian his mother speaks (4 minutes) about what’s happened and how she doesn’t think the punishment for her son is right.


Amnesty International are also campaigning to stop Ali Mohammad receiving this severe punishment. On the Amnesty International website there is a Take Action Now campaign tisane the young Saudi man. As a non-governmental organisation which focuses on human rights, Amnesty International often takes up campaigns to stop capital punishment being used around the world. Not heard of them before? Here are some helpful videos to bring you up to speed.

Ouch – Death Penalty Goes Wrong in US

Perhaps someone who gets the death penalty should be made to suffer as much as possible for their crimes. One theory for punishment is retribution (punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for a wrong or criminal act) and with the botched killing yesterday of Clayton Lockett yesterday in Oklahoma, USA he was certainly made to pay for his crimes.

He was given the drugs to kill him but one of his veins collapsed so they halted the killing which left him in the meantime writhing with agony for 20 minutes and eventually suffered a heart attack.

In Year 11 RE students debate the pros and cons of the death penalty, from a secular and religious perspective. It ties in quite nicely with GCSE History’s unit on Crime and Punishment.