Australia should keep the capital punishment outlawed in Australia. Law breakers were harshly treated during the early parts of Australian history. Capital punishment was used for serious offences, including mass murder. Less serious offences were usually carried out by prison sentences. Many of the criminal offences were unified into one statute called the Crimes Act in 1900 in NSW. By this means, parliament could prescribe maximum penalties for each offence, allowing for uniform administration of justice. Parliament could also add new offences to this list. (Vijaya Nagarajan: 1989:29) It was only in 1973 that under the commonwealth law, that the death penalty was abolished. And while for the NSW, the death penalty is generally acknowledged to have been abolished in 1955. The death penalty for some unusual crimes, such as treason and piracy was not finally removed until 1985. (Ivan Poets and John Walker: 1993:45)
The United States of America stands in stark contrast to Australia. Since the mid 1970's, the constitutional objection that the death penalty was a cruel and unusual punishment' has been overcome. It now exists in 37 states, and between 1970's and the end of 1984, thirty two persons were executed. By March 1986, this figure had risen to fifty one and this number was steadily increased. There are now over 2000 prisoners on death row, awaiting appeals to higher courts, commutation of sentence, or execution. (Ivan Poets and John Walker: 1993:45) Electrocution was brought in as an effort to minimize the pain of execution. However, if something goes wrong for example the equipment was faulty or the executioner is inexperienced, the prisoner dies in agony. Death by electrocution, poisonous gasses and lethal injection are all used in the United States to this day, (Haye Healey: 1993:34) under the Moratorium Act of 2003. (www.usinfo.state.gov/topical/rights/hrpage/cp.htm.)
In England, as late as King Geo.Ø (1738-1820) there were about 200 offences punishable by death, among which were, cutting down a tree, robbing a rabbit warren, harboring an offender against the revenue acts, stealing in a dwelling house to the amount of forty shillings, or in a shop of goods to the amount of five shillings and counter feting the stamps that were used for the sale of perfumery and a lot more. (www, jubilee-newspaper.com/YAH/capitalpunishment.htm.)
Under the Islamic Laws, beheading is prescribed in five countries and stoning to death in seven. The Islamic Penal Code of Iran stipulates, "In the punishment of stoning to death, the stones should not be so large that the person dies on being hit by one or two of them. (Haye Healey: 1993:34) Another country that believes death by punishment should be slow and painful is Nigeria. Executions in Nigeria are usually by firing squad in public, it is the mandatory punishment for armed robbery. In July 1986, the military governor of Niger a state ordered that the people convicted of armed robbery should be executed slowly, by successive volleys of bullets, fired at intervals, starting with shots aimed at the ankles....