INDEX



Document(s)

(Not) Talking about Capital Punishment in the Xi Jinping Era

By Tobias Smith, Matthew Robertson and Susan Trevaskes, on 1 September 2022


2022

Academic report

China


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An investigation into the death penalty in the People’s Republic of China in the Xi Jinping era (2012–) shows that unlike previous administrations, Xi does not appear to have articulated a signature death penalty policy. Where policy in China is unclear, assessing both the quality and frequency of discourse on the topic can provide evidence regarding an administration’s priorities.
This article was first published in Crime Justice Journal: https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/issue/view/119

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list China

Document(s)

Framing Death Penalty Politics in Malaysia

By Thaatchaayini Kananatu, on 1 September 2022


Academic report

Malaysia


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The death penalty in Malaysia is a British colonial legacy that has undergone significant scrutiny in recent times. While the Malaysian Federal Constitution 1957 provides that ‘no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law’, there are several criminal offences (including drug-related crimes) that impose the mandatory and discretionary death penalty. Using Benford and Snow’s framing processes, this paper reviews death penalty politics in Malaysia by analysing the rhetoric of abolitionists and retentionists. The abolitionists, comprising activist lawyers and non-government organisations, tend to use ‘human rights’ and ‘injustice’ frames, which humanise the ‘criminal’ and gain international support. The retentionists, such as victims’ families, use a ‘victims’ justice’ frame emphasising the ‘inhuman’ nature of violent crimes. In addition, the retentionist state shifts between ‘national security’ and ‘national development’ frames. This paper finds that death penalty politics in Malaysia is predominantly a politics of framing.
This article was first published in Crime Justice Journal: https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/issue/view/119

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list Malaysia

Document(s)

Holdouts in the South Pacific: Explaining Death Penalty Retention in Papua New Guinea and Tonga

By Daniel Pascoe and Andrew Novak, on 1 September 2022


Academic report

Papua New Guinea

Tonga


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The South Pacific forms a cohesive region with broadly similar cultural attributes, legal systems and colonial histories. A comparative analysis starts from the assumption that these countries should also have similar criminal justice policies. However, until 2022, both Papua New Guinea and Tonga were retentionist death penalty outliers in the South Pacific, a region home to seven other fully abolitionist members of the United Nations. In this article, we use the comparative method to explain why Papua New Guinea and Tonga have pursued a different death penalty trajectory than their regional neighbours. Eschewing the traditional social science explanations for death penalty retention, we suggest two novel explanations for ongoing retention in Papua New Guinea and Tonga: the law and order crisis in the former and the traditionally powerful monarchy in the latter.
This article was first published in Crime Justice Journal: https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/issue/view/119

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list Papua New Guinea / Tonga

Document(s)

Ambivalent Abolitionism in the 1920s: New South Wales, Australia

By Carolyn Strange, on 1 September 2022


Academic report

Australia


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In the former penal colony of New South Wales (NSW), a Labor government attempted what its counterpart in Queensland had achieved in 1922: the abolition of the death penalty. Although NSW’s unelected Legislative Council scuttled Labor’s 1925 bill, the party’s prevarication over capital punishment and the government’s poor management of the campaign thwarted abolition for a further three decades. However, NSW’s failure must be analysed in light of ambivalent abolitionism that prevailed in Britain and the US in the postwar decade. In this wider context, Queensland, rather than NSW, was the abolitionist outlier.
This article was first published in Crime Justice Journal: https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/issue/view/119

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list Australia

Document(s)

‘Upholding the Cause of Civilization’: The Australian Death Penalty in War and Colonialism

By Mark Finnane, on 1 September 2022


Academic report

Australia


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The abolition of the death penalty in Queensland in 1922 was the first in Australian jurisdictions, and the first in the British Empire. However, the legacy of the Queensland death penalty lingered in Australian colonial territories. This article considers a variety of practices in which the death penalty was addressed by Australian decision-makers during the first half of the 20th century. These include the exemption of Australian soldiers from execution in World War I, use of the death penalty in colonial Papua and the Mandate Territory of New Guinea, hanging as a weapon of war in the colonial territories, and the retrieval of the death penalty for the punishment of war crimes. In these histories, we see not only that the Queensland death penalty lived on in other contexts but also that ideological and political preferences for abolition remained vulnerable to the sway of other historical forces of war and security.
This article was first pubished in Crime Justice Journal: https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/issue/view/119

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list Australia

Document(s)

Politics of International Advocacy Against the Death Penalty: Governments as Anti–Death Penalty Crusaders

By Mai Sato, on 1 September 2022


Academic report


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Two-thirds of the countries worldwide have moved away from the death penalty in law or in practice, with global and regional organisations as well as individual governments working towards universal abolition. This article critically examines the narratives of these abolitionist governments that have abolished the death penalty in their country and have adopted the role of ‘moral crusaders’ (Becker 1963) in pursuit of global abolition. In 2018, the Australian Government, while being surrounded by retentionist states in Asia, joined the anti–death penalty enterprise along with the European Union, the United Kingdom and Norway. Using the concepts of ‘moral crusader’ (Becker 1963) and ‘performativity’ (Butler 1993), this article argues that advocacy must be acted on repeatedly for governments to be anti–death penalty advocates. Otherwise, these government efforts serve political ends in appearance but are simply a self-serving form of advocacy in practice.
This article was first published in Crime Justice Journal: https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/issue/view/119

  • Document type Academic report

Document(s)

Death Penalty Politics: The Fragility of Abolition in Asia and the Pacific

By Mark Finnane, Mai Sato and Susan Trevaskes, on 1 September 2022


Academic report


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Despite a steady increase worldwide in the number of states that have abolished the death penalty, capital punishment remains a troubling presence in the international order. The world’s leading powers in terms of economics and population include the retentionist states of China, India, Japan and the United States of America (USA). It seems there is no linear path to abolition, and its achievement is indeterminate. Yet, in international human rights law, death penalty abolition is a powerful norm embraced by half the countries across the world. While the majority of death penalty research has emanated from and focuses on the USA, well over 90 per cent of global executions occur in Asia, which lags behind the global trend towards abolishing the death penalty. Our symposium and this collection seek to bring perspectives from a variety of disciplines and methods—historical, legal, sociological, comparative— to bear on the questions of retention and abolition in a variety of jurisdictions and time periods.
This article was first published in Crime Justice Journal: https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/issue/view/119

  • Document type Academic report

Document(s)

Legislative Expansion and Judicial Confusion: Uncertain Trajectories of the Death Penalty in India

By Anup Surendranath and Maulshree Pathak, on 1 September 2022


Academic report

India


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The numbers and the politics of the death penalty in India tell very different stories, presenting complicated narratives for its future. The public reaction to instances of sexual violence and other offences over the last decade and the consequent political response has significantly strengthened the retention and expansion of the death penalty. This is reflected from the fact that that of all the death sentences that district courts impose, only about 5 percent get confirmed in India’s appellate system. However, does this mean there is growing scepticism about the death penalty in the Supreme Court of India? Unfortunately, the answer is far from simple. An assessment of the death penalty in India’s appellate courts during the last decade will demonstrate that a crime-centric approach has hindered any principled discomfort with the death penalty or the manner of its administration. In particular, the Supreme Court has faltered in high-profile death sentence cases (i.e., offences against the state and sexual violence cases), and its track record of commutations has very little to do with principled considerations on sentencing. This paper argues that the political and judicial imagination of the death penalty, as a necessary part of the response to crime, creates significant and unique challenges for the path towards abolition.
This article was first published in Crime Justice Journal: https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/issue/view/119

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list India

Document(s)

Race and Age Characteristics of those Sentenced to Death before and after Roper

By Frank R. Baumgartner, on 29 August 2022


2022

Academic report

fr
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“The penalty of death is more likely to be imposed on individuals who suffer from various disadvantages: poverty, poor lawyers, mental illness, intellectual deficits, for example. It also is more common among those with white victims compared to minority victims, those who commit crimes in jurisdictions that have previously sentenced more individuals to death, and those who committed their crimes in the 1980s or 1990s as compared to more recent years (see Baumgartner et al. 2018 for details). In this short report I focus on two particular disadvantages: age and minority status.” – Frank R. Baumgartner

Link to the article: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/news/report-racial-disparities-in-death-sentences-imposed-on-late-adolescent-offenders-have-grown-since-supreme-court-ruling-banning-juvenile-death-penalty

  • Document type Academic report
  • Available languages

Document(s)

Government Misconduct and Convicting the Innocent, The Role of Prosecutors, Police and Other Law Enforcement

By Samuel R. Gross, Maurice J. Possley, Kaitlin Jackson Roll, Klara Huber Stephens , on 20 July 2022


2022

Academic report

Innocence


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This is a report about the role of official misconduct in the conviction of innocent people. We
discuss cases that are listed in the National Registry of Exonerations, an ongoing online archive
that includes all known exonerations in the United States since 1989, 2,663 as of this writing.
This Report describes official misconduct in the first 2,400 exonerations in the Registry, those
posted by February 27, 2019

  • Document type Academic report
  • Themes list Innocence