The U.S.'s death penalty system is flagrantly violating human rights law, and it often applies in an arbitrary manner with the discriminatory application without affording vital due process rights; furthermore, methods of execution are very cruel or degrading to those on trial. The U.S. death penalty system has failed to protect the innocent. From 1973 through December 2014, around 150 innocent people were relieved from death row.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) drafters contemplated eventual abolition, but it wasn't until 1991 that an international community in a complementary treaty to UDHR embraced total abolishment.
The ACLU is urging the United States to extend basic human rights like life guaranteed by UDHR and ICCPR. The Second Optional Protocol aims at abolishing capital punishment in many countries around the world. The United States should start by imposing a national moratorium on the use of the death penalty in keeping with the 2007 U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium.
The United States' compliance with international human rights norms will need nothing less than complete eradication of the death penalty.
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Amnesty International believes that capital punishment breaches human rights, in particular the right to life and freedom from cruel treatment.
The Fifth Amendment's references to the death penalty may be a reflection of what was considered constitutional at one time, but they do not amount to an authorization or prohibition. If capital punishment violates another part of our constitution, then it would indeed be unconstitutional in all 50 states today.
Retribution is the main aim of punishment. It seeks to return wrong-doers for their actions. It can be seen as a way that justifies sentences imposed on them because they deserve it, not simply in order to establish social benefits like rehabilitation or deterrence does with other crimes.