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View Diary: Death Penalty in the U.S.: Desmond Tutu Asks "Why?" (35 comments)

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  •  The ancient Hebrews... (1+ / 0-)
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    Bene Gesserit1

    ...weren't the fundamentalists many people make them out to be -- just because the Bible prescribes the death penalty for numerous actions doesn't mean it was actually carried out. Consider the requirements:

    1. Two adult men had to witness the crime.
    1. Both witnesses had to warn the perpetrator prior to committing the offense that the prescribed penalty for his/her crime was death.
    1. The perpetrator had to have acknowledged the warning and committed the offense anyway to be eligible for the death penalty.
    1. Following the acknowledgment of the warning, the perpetrator had to have committed the offense immediately. With any delay, the Sanhedrin was obligated to rule that the perpetrator may have forgotten about the warning, and so could not be held liable to the point of death.
    1. Each witness had to be so certain of his testimony that he was willing to carry out the penalty himself.
    1. A witness found to be less than 100% accurate and honest in his testimony could be subjected to the same punishment faced by the accused.
    1. The accused had to be convicted at trial by a unanimous panel of 23 judges. In some cases, the panel was expanded to include the full Sanhedrin, 71 judges -- and they still had to rule unanimously to impose the death penalty.
    1. There was no standard for "beyond a reasonable doubt." For any of the judges to vote to convict in a death penalty case, the accused's guilt and liability had to be proven beyond any doubt.
    1. There were restrictions on who was entitled to act as counsel in death penalty cases. Advocates had to prove themselves extraordinarily qualified and committed to justice.
    1. No hearsay or circumstantial evidence was allowed.

    I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things as well, but tell me -- under all those requirements, what do you suppose are the odds that anyone was ever actually sentenced to death?

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