Capital Punishment in the United States of America And
The People’s Republic of China
The United States of America is one of the few countries that still impose death sentences regularly. The People’s Republic of China is also one of these countries. Both are similar in that they are among the top executing countries in the world. Yet they differ in many ways such as, types of crimes that are death penalty eligible, the number of people that are executed, trial processes, and methods of execution. I consider these to be the biggest differences between The People’s Republic of China and the United States of America.
One of the most shocking things I came across when researching was the wide range of crimes punishable by death in China. The most shocking of which, is those of non-violent nature. A type of non-violent crime that is routinely charged as a capital crime is economic or “white-collar” crimes. In China’s Criminal Law, there are specific instances where economic crimes can be charged as capital crimes. In the article, "On Limiting and Abolishing the Death Penalty for Economic Crimes in China", the author Bingzhi Zhao wrote, “it is normally specified in China’s Criminal Law that the death penalty is only applicable when the crime is ‘of a particularly enormous amount’ or ‘of a particularly severe nature’”1. A “particularly enormous amount” or “of a particularly sever nature” refers to the amount of money stolen or number of people “hurt” by the crime. What I consider to be a great parallel would be Bernie Madoff, who stole billions from investors and was sentences to 150 years in jail, which is the maximum sentence he could receive2. This leads me to believe if Bernie Madoff lived in China, he would’ve been executed. Although his crimes were particularly extreme in the amount of money he stole, he was not violent in any way shape or form. In America this simply has not happened in the last century. It is my personal belief that crimes other than murder shouldn’t be capital crimes, but I think it is plain wrong for a “white-collar” crime to be charged as a capital crime. There are even accounts of drug dealers and people who fund-raise illegal3. I personally know somebody arrested for dealing drugs, if he received a death sentence for his crime, it would be completely and utterly shocking. It is my belief that a non-violent crime shouldn’t be punished in a violent way. The People’s Republic of China use of capital punishment is shrouded in secrecy. In an article in the Washington Post, the author(s) writes, “The Chinese government has a long-standing policy of not commenting on the death penalty and keeps the number of executions secret”3. This rings true because it is impossible to find a true figure for executions in China. All figures that can be found are estimates. The Dui Hua Foundation estimates that China carried out 5,000 to 6,000 executions in the year 20073, while Amnesty International estimates there were at least 1,718 known executions in 2008 and also states that there are likely many more4. Amnesty International also states that in 2008 the United States of America executed a total of 37 people4. Using Amnesty International’s figures this means that the People’s Republic of China executed more than forty-six times more people than America. With populations of 1.3 billion and 310 million (estimates), respectively, China executed at least 1 out of every 750,000, and the United States of America executed about 1 out of every 8,375,000 people. This adds up to China executing about 11 times as many people per capita than the United States. One must also keep in mind that the figure of China executing 1,718 is also the “at least” number; the Dui Hua foundation estimated 5,000-6,000 executions in one year alone. If China indeed executed 5,000, this would raise their per capita execution rate three times higher, to 33 times more executions per capita than America. While there...
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