I wholly support the death sentence in cases like his.
I am opposed to capital punishment in all cases. Period. Full stop.
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
There are a number of reasons the death penalty has been abolished in the vast majority of civilized western democracies.
If murder is wrong (an offence in malum se
- i.e. wrong in itself) then state sanctioned murder as punishment is worse because the state should know better. The idea of the state killing its own citizens as punishment for a crime (any crime) is barbaric.
Like virtually all enlightened western democracies (some US states are notable exceptions) Canada has rejected capital punishment politically and the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that is it unconstitutional. We have seen too many people wrongfully convicted of murder who were subsequently found innocent to be comfortable with capital punishment. Once the state has killed a person somehow "oops" just does not seem enough. It was just such a case that led Britain to abolish capital punishment.
Almost all European and many Pacific Area states (including Australia, New Zealand and Timor Leste), and Canada have abolished capital punishment. South Korea abolished it about 2 years ago. The United States is one of only two industrialized democracies that still have it (the other, Japan has a de-facto moratorium in effect),
I am not sure I would want to be on board with this group of countries who impose capital punishment:
* Saudi Arabia
* USA (some states)
* Viet Nam
* Equatorial Guinea
* North Korea
The Supreme Court of Canada has made that abundantly clear in the recent cases dealing with extradition and the death penalty that it will not pass constitutional muster under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. See the death penalty cases of United States of America v. Burns,  1 S.C.R. 283 and Suresh v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2002 SCC 1,  1 S.C.R. 3.
Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns were not surrendered to the United States until the state of Washington agreed to take the death penalty off the table. Britain, France and Australia have done the same with extradition requests made by the USA as well.
As the Supreme Court of Canada noted international law is moving towards the Canadian position.
Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 44/128 of 15 December 1989
The States Parties to the present Protocol,
Believing that abolition of the death penalty contributes to enhancement of human dignity and progressive development of human rights,
Recalling article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948, and article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted on 16 December 1966,
Noting that article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights refers to abolition of the death penalty in terms that strongly suggest that abolition is desirable,
Convinced that all measures of abolition of the death penalty should be considered as progress in the enjoyment of the right to life,
Desirous to undertake hereby an international commitment to abolish the death penalty,
Have agreed as follows:
1. No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed.
2. Each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction.
In Europe the European Union bans the death penalty for members under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) and is a major force pushing for a world-wide ban with Italy leading the way at the United Nations.http://uk.reuters.co...192317420070201
Protocol No. 13 to the ECHR
Article 1 – Abolition of the death penalty
The death penalty shall be abolished. No one shall be condemned to such penalty or executed.
Article 2 – Prohibition of derogations
No derogation from the provisions of this Protocol shall be made under Article 15 of the Convention.
Article 3 – Prohibition of reservations
No reservation may be made under Article 57 of the Convention in respect of the provisions of this Protocol.
As the Supreme Court of Canada has noted if an innocent person is executed there is no "do over" and there is convincing evidence of wrongful convictions. State sanctioned murder does not seem to be in the cards in Canada absent a constitutional amendment which I cannot see being passed under the amending formula. The only legally available option in Canada is incarceration and for those who remain a danger, continued incarceration.
If murderers cannot be rehabilitated and remain a danger to the public then you keep them locked up - rehabilitation is at the bottom of considerations for persons convicted of murder. That is why murder in Canada carries a sentence of life imprisonment and there is provision for the designation as a dangerous offender with an indeterminate sentence for other violent offences.
Most murderers in Canada do not get a second chance (and it is exceedingly rare for persons convicted of first degree murder where parole eligibility is set at 25 years). Those that do get paroled go through a rigorous screening process and since it is a life sentence even if they are paroled they are under supervision for the rest of their lives.
As to why parole at all for first degree murderers when the death penalty was abolished. The union for prison guards were concerned that without some faint hope of release it would be impossible to control inmates convicted of murder without the carrot of the possibility of future release on parole. As the Liberal Solicitor General of the day Warren Allmand noted during the abolition debate:
I disagree with those who argue that a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years is worse than death. A period of incarceration, with hope of parole, and with the built-in additional incentive for the inmate, and protection for the guards (is necessary).
As the statistics show murderers in Canada spend on average 28.4 years in prison which pretty well matches up with US figures of murderers with no chance
of parole spending 29 years in prison while US murderers who do have an opportunity of parole spend 18.5 years in prison. As it is murderers in Canada spend way more time in jail than other western democracies that have abolished the death penalty.
Before abolition of the death penalty killers who avoided execution but received life sentences for the old offence of capital murder were being held, on average, for slightly over 13 years.
In comparison to most other Western democracies, sentences of imprisonment in Canada are lengthy and have been increasing in recent years. A 1999 international comparison of the average time served in custody by an offender on a life sentence for first degree murder shows that Canada exceeds the average time served in all countries surveyed including the United States , with the exception of U.S. offenders serving life sentences without benefit of parole.
Average Time Spent in Custody
Australia 14.8 years United States
Belgium 12.7 years life without parole 29 years
England 14.4 years life with parole 18.5 years
New Zealand 11 years
Scotland 11.2 years Canada 28.4 years
Sweden 12 yearshttp://www.justice.g.../doc_31690.html
We do not kill persons convicted of murder because we are civilized society and we have evolved.
The official position of the Government of Canada:
The abolition of the death penalty is a significant development in the advancement of human rights. Everyone's right to life is enshrined in Section 7 of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This fundamental right is also enunciated in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Everyone's right to life is enshrined in Section 7 of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This fundamental right is also enunciated in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.http://www.csc-scc.g...rt/08-eng.shtml
Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau said in Parliament during the debate leading to the abolition of the death penalty in Canada in 1976:
Well, you may say, let's execute the murderer for the crime he has committed. Let's take a life for a life. Let's remove a savage animal from the human race. I do not deny that society has the right to punish a criminal, and the right to make the punishment fit the crime, but to kill a man for punishment alone is an act of revenge. Nothing else . . .
My primary concern here is not compassion for the murderer. My concern is for the society which adopts vengeance as an acceptable motive for its collective behaviour. If we make that choice, we will snuff out some of that boundless hope and confidence in ourselves and other people which has marked our maturing as a free people.
Earlier in 1966 a compromise bill that limited the death sentence to murderers of on-duty police officers and prison guards passed by the slimmest margins. A young justice minister named Pierre Elliott Trudeau called it "one step further from violence and barbarism."
In 1976 we took a giant step away from violence and abolished the barbaric practice of state sponsored murder like the vast majority of civilized nations and we refuse to return fugitives to face the death penalty in jurisdictions that are unenlightened (as do other abolitionist countries such as Britain, France and Australia).
Parliament again reaffirmed its commitment to abolish the death penalty when a motion to reintroduce it was defeated during a free vote in the House of Commons in 1987.
Over the years public support for return of the death penalty has been steadily dropping. In an extensive poll in 1998 it was found 48 per cent of Canadians support the death penalty, 47 per cent are opposed and 6 per cent are unsure. But 8 years later:Gallup, 2006
And more to the point the death penalty is not an issue that is in forefront of concern for Canadians - probably because we have not executed a person in Canada since 1962. In 1996, a cross-section of 1500 Canadians were asked to name the major concerns and issues facing the country; not one named reinstatement of the death penalty as a priority.
In the USA v. Burns case the Supreme Court of Canada found that the death penalty is unconstitutional under section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As noted:
"Legal systems have to live with the possibility of error. The unique feature of capital punishment is that it puts beyond recall the possibility of correction."
And because there's no way to remedy a wrongful execution, the court continued, capital punishment violates Canada's protection of "life, liberty and . . . fundamental justice (under section 7 of the Charter)."
"The recent and continuing disclosures of wrongful convictions for murder in Canada and the United States provide tragic testimony to the fallibility of the legal system, despite its elaborate safeguards for the protection of the innocent."
Since abolition, 6 Canadian prisoners convicted of first-degree murder have been released on grounds of innocence. Two were incarcerated for more than 10 years before their innocence was established, after wrongful conviction for crimes that would likely have resulted in their execution if Canada had retained the death penalty. And since abolition not a single person convicted of murder who has been paroled has committed a subsequent murder.
In the USA, 138 people sentenced to death have subsequently been found innocent since 1970 - some posthumously.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled it has a duty to protect the innocent. This duty is based in part on section 7 - the right to life and security of the person and section 11 of the Charter, which includes, for example, the presumption of innocence. To illustrate this point, cases of wrongful convictions were cited from Canada (the case of Donald Marshall, Jr. was specifically mentioned), the US and the United Kingdom. While "These miscarriages of justice of course represent a tiny and wholly exceptional fraction of the workload of Canadian courts in murder cases," the Court wrote, "where capital punishment is sought, the state's execution of even one innocent person is one too many."
The removal of capital punishment from the Canadian Criminal Code in 1976 has not led to an increase in the murder rate in Canada as opponents of abolition feared. In fact, Statistics Canada reports that the murder rate has generally been declining since the mid-1970s. In 2006, the national murder rate in Canada was 1.85 homicides per 100,000 population, compared to the mid-1970s when it was around 3.0.
And the murder rate fell again in the last 5 year period as Statistics Canada reported in October 2011 that Canada's homicide rate has dipped to its lowest level since 1966 - the homicide rate fell to 1.62 per 100,000 population. This puts paid to the arguments in favour of a return to the death penalty as a matter of deterrence (which BTW would be unconstitutional based on the latest SCC case law).http://ottawa.ctv.ca...?hub=OttawaHome
The other interesting statistic is that although the murder rate dropped courts are more willing to find a person guilty of murder. The overall conviction rate for first-degree murder doubled in the decade following abolition (from under 10% to approximately 20%), so it seems courts are more willing to convict for murder now that they are not compelled to make life-and-death decisions.
The death penalty is clearly not a deterrent as study after study shows so the only rationale is imposition for vengeance. Even the Association of Canadian Chiefs of Police agrees with that saying:"It is futile to base an argument for reinstatement on grounds of deterrence".
All that leaves is vengeance as Prime Minister Trudeau has stated and that is not justice.
So yes I consider state sanctioned murder to be barbaric - as does the Parliament of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada and noted Canadians such as Trudeau, Pearson and Diefenbaker and we have enshrined it in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which is part of the supreme law of Canada. Hence it has been abolished and next year it will be half a century since Canada last hung a convicted murderer - state sanctioned murder as punishment for a crime will not be re-enacted unless the Charter is abolished. And the chance of that happening? Slim and none - and slim has left the building.
The death penalty has no efficacy in terms of deterrence, nor does it impact crime rates and only serves the purpose of satisfying some base desire for vengeance.
In summary I prefer the high road of civilization to the low road of vengeance and barbarism. YMMV.