Activists call for “Abolish the death penalty” after Brandon Bernard’s execution

Many people are executed as a punishment for their crimes every day, while many are sentenced to death. Some spend years in prison on death row, waiting for their execution without knowing when their life would end.

Over 70% of countries have abolished capital punishment as it is the cruelest, inhuman, and undignified way of punishment. However, many countries still have the death penalty in their constitution. The US is one of these countries where capital punishment is a legal penalty under the criminal justice system, as President Trump restarted it after a 17-year pause.

On November 10, the US federal government executed Brandon Bernard, making him the 9th person to be executed since July. Bernard, a member of the Texas street -gang, was just 18 when he was imprisoned in 1999 for slaying Stacie and Todd Bagley in Texas. He was one of five men who killed the couple by shooting them in the heads after carnapping. Brandon was convicted for burning their car after his group member killed the couple.

Robert Owen, Bernard’s defense attorney, made every attempt to change his execution order into a life sentence. Owen also sent a clemency petition to President Trump. According to the petition, Brandon was a low-ranking gang member, and he burnt the car after Bagleys were dead.

He said that Bernard’s execution order should be replaced with a life sentence as he maintained a good prison record. Not only his attorney, Senators Richard Durbin and Cory Brooker also appealed for leniency.

Despite the clemency request from legal experts and activists,40 years Bernard was put to death on Thursday night by lethal injection. The execution of the youngest person in the country during the last 70 years attracted the attention of celebrities, legal experts, and anti-death penalty activists across America. Bernard’s defense attorney, Robert Owen, called his execution “a stain on America’s  criminal justice system.”  

Ashley Kincaid, an activist, organized a virtual conference on December 10 to raise a voice against Bernard’s capital punishment. She also requested the Americans to become her voice against the death penalty in the United States.

According to activists, Capital punishment should be abolished as it is inhuman and against human rights. It causes severe suffering and torture to the prisoners. Lethal injections, which are used to kill convicts, have the highest rate of error.

Capital punishment is discriminatory and does not offer blind justice. According to Mental Health America, almost 5-10% of prisoners waiting for execution have mental illnesses.

Apart from mental health, 40% of convicts waiting for execution are Black even though Blacks make only 13% US population. According to the United Nations, poor people are extremely affected by Capital punishment as they can not afford representation to defend themselves.

Bernard’s execution arose a wave of anger among the Americans. They also called for criminal justice reforms by terminating Capital punishment, as many advanced countries did. Consider Canada’s example; since the country stopped the execution, the murder rate dropped by 44%. 

It does not mean that just the abolition of the capital penalty will reduce America’s crime rate. It also needs reforms in the criminal justice system to ensure non-discriminatory justice in the country.

Relevant tweets on the matter:

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