Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Leniency and Severity in China’s Death Penalty Debate by Margaret K. Lewis :: SSRN

China incarcerates far fewer of its citizens than doe we in the U.S. who hold 25% of the world's prisoners.  Sentences are shorter (a life term is 15 to 24 years).  The death penalty however is widely used - including for crimes of governmental corruption or headline grabbing offenses.  Despite the CP's claim that its ideology is a scientific one, little data is available to gage what is being done and whether it is successful.  The number of executions is a state secret.  Even press reports are unreliable because many if not most death sentences are provisional - 2 years good behaviour in jail and the penalty is commuted to life.

The Supreme People's Court, after years of failing to exercise its right of reviiew, announced it will review all death sentences.   Margaret Lewis takes a look at the impact of that decision.  - GWC
Leniency and Severity in China’s Death Penalty Debate by Margaret K. Lewis :: SSRN:
China has implemented an initial wave of death penalty reforms that returned final review power of all capital cases to the Supreme People’s Court and reportedly significantly curbed executions. After reviewing recent legal developments concerning capital cases, this Article explores how the initial push to reduce use of the death penalty has given way to a more complex and nuanced debate over what factors should determine when the death penalty is appropriate. At this juncture in the reform trajectory, the dilemma of when to be lenient and when to be severe is particularly acute as public opinion chafes against a rapid decline in executions, especially when those treated leniently are affluent and/or politically well-connected.

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