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September 22, 2006

Should Executions Be Public? -- Michael

The last public execution in America occurred in 1936 when Rainey Bethea was hung by the State of Kentucky for raping an elderly woman.

Bethea Hanging.jpg

Since then, the practice has been discontinued on the grounds that public executions are a barbaric spectacle.

And yet, we still allow witnesses to executions, particularly relatives or others most affected by the crime. We seem to acknowledge their need for a sense of closure, and for the satisfaction of seeing that retributive justice has been done.

So why not give the entire community that satisfaction?

Today in Somalia, crowds gathered to witness the execution by firing squad of the murderer of a prominent businessman at the orders of an Islamic court.

Somali Crowds Gather for Execution.jpg

The issue of public execution was recently reignited in America by the debate that erupted when Timothy McVeigh initially requested that his execution be televised. If you google "mcveigh execution television" you will note that his request garnered significant support, as well as vehement opposition. He was killed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001. There were ten witnesses -- family members of his victims and survivors of the bombing he committed.

If it were up to me, I would have allowed closed circuit television feeds of McVeigh's execution, available to adults who wanted to see that justice was done.

Bethea Hanging

Crowds Gather for Execution in Somalia Today

McVeigh Execution

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posted by Ace at 06:33 PM

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