Tuesday, July 8, 2014

China Rethinks the Death Penalty - NYTimes.com

Six years ago I participated in a conference sponsored by the School of Criminal Justice at Beijing Normal University.  I was struck by how seriously the participants - professors,  prosecutors and retired judges - took the topic of capital punishment.  The Chinese Supreme People's Court had recently announced a policy captured in one of those concise Chinese four word phrases "kill fewer, kill carefully".  Since then China has been engaged in rethinking its capital punishment policies.  We don't know how many are executed there - it's a state secret and may be huge.  But the rethinking is unmistakable.  Search on this blog for "China death penalty" and you'll see what I mean. The process continues. - gwc
China Rethinks the Death Penalty - NYTimes.com:
by Mara Hvistendahl

SHANGHAI — Last month, China’s Supreme People’s Courtoverturned the death sentence of a woman who brutally killed and dismembered her husband. The landmark decision to send the high-profile case back to a provincial court was yet another sign that the country’s embrace of the death penalty is loosening.
China is believed to execute more people each year than the rest of the world combined, and 43-year-old Li Yan initially seemed a likely candidate for death row. In 2010, she beat her husband to death with an air gun, chopped him into pieces and boiled his body parts. But police photos and a medical report backed up Ms. Li’s claims that her husband had abused her — stubbing out cigarettes on her body, banging her head against the wall and threatening her with the air gun. The Supreme Court determined, rightly, that these circumstances justified a retrial.
China is putting the brakes on the death penalty. According to Liu Renwen, a legal scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, between 2007 and 2011 the annual number of executions in China fell by half. Many violent offenders are now given so-called suspended death sentences, which are invariably downgraded later to life in prison. Such restraint has drawn broad public support.

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