Death Penalty – US lagging behind ++ execution time/Alabama ++ Elizabeth Fry

Another gruesome judicial killing in the USA. Alabama has executed hitman Kenneth Smith with nitrogen gas, the first time this method has been used globally, having tried and failed to execute him in 2022 by lethal injection. A journalist who witnessed the execution described to the BBC how he thrashed violently on the gurney for around 25 minutes.

 In recent times the death penalty has been increasingly abolished globally. As of late 2022, 54 countries retain capital punishment, 111 countries have completely abolished it for all crimes, seven have abolished it for ordinary crimes (maintaining it for special circumstances such as war crimes), and 24 are abolitionist in practice. All EU countries ban it with Belarus being the exception in Europe. Although the majority of nations have abolished capital punishment, over 60% of the world’s population live in countries where the death penalty is retained, such as China, India, the United States, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Japan, and Taiwan.

  Over the millenia there have been grisly methods from crucifixion, to beheading, hanging and latterly the electric chair. By the late 18th century the English legal system – the ‘Bloody Code’ – handed out death sentences for cutting down a tree, stealing from a rabbit warren and being out at night with a blackened face, pickpocketing, forgery and rape. Public executions were banned in 1868, and the abolition of beheading and quartering in 1870.

 Cesare Beccaria, 15 March 1738, widely considered one of the greatest thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment, wrote a treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764), which condemned torture and the death penalty. He is deemed the father of modern criminal law and the father of criminal justice. A man before his time as is often the case with a focal point Pluto. His works had a profound influence on the Founding Fathers of the United States though clearly not in this area.

 He had a Pisces Sun conjunct Jupiter with a fearsome Mars North Node in Capricorn opposition Saturn Chiron in Cancer square Pluto.

 In the UK, the abolition of capital punishment came in stages mainly through the vigorous campaigns since the late 1940s of MP Sydney Silverman, culminating in the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Bill of 8 November 1965. That suspended it for five years and more followed. The last executions were in 1964 though it was not until 1998 that it was finally abolished on the statute for all crimes.   The 1965 Act had a Sun Neptune in Scorpio trine Saturn Chiron in Pisces; with Saturn Chiron opposition Pluto Uranus square Mars.

  Public opinion had been swayed by miscarriages of justice such as Timothy Evans, hanged for killing his wife when Christie the serial killer was guilty. And Derek Bentley executed at 20, who was mentally retarded due to a childhood accident and under the thumb of a younger friend who was the actual shooter of a policeman while he was present. Born 30 June 1933 11.50pm Southwark, he had a Cancer Sun and more significantly an Aquarius North Node inconjunct Mars sextile Pluto. The Aquarius North Node comes into its own while crusading for a cause, which he was not capable of but the injustice of his death did ultimately make a difference. He was hanged on 28 January 1953 when there was a yod of Mars Venus in Pisces inconjunct Pluto sextile Saturn Neptune.  The transiting Pluto was conjunct the UK 11th house Saturn, ruler of the legislature. A tragic martyr to a good cause.

  Sydney Silverman, 8 October 1895 was a Sun, Mars, Chiron in fair-minded Libra trine Neptune Pluto in Gemini with a determined Saturn, Mercury, Uranus in Scorpio.  His determination won through eventually.

Elizabeth Fry (prison reformer, born 1780):

“Does capital punishment tend to the security of the people? By no means. It hardens the hearts of men, and makes the loss of life appear light to them; and it renders life insecure, inasmuch as the law holds out that property is of greater value than life.”

“It is frequently said by the prisoners of Newgate that the crimes of which they have been guilty are as nothing when compared with the crimes of Government towards themselves: that they have only been thieves but that their governors have been murderers. (1818)

[Two things I don’t get. I don’t agree with the death penalty but if it is to be carried out why is it so difficult to get it right? Vets put down pets every day. People die from overdoses every day. Dignitas manage it. There must be sensible drugs on hand which will do the job painlessly.

  The other is the desire of relatives of the victim to be present at the execution, in some cases crowing over the death of the killer. Does that give them closure? I would doubt it – more likely it would give them nightmares for the rest of their lives.]   

ADD ON: Smith was executed on 25 January 2024 7.53pm, dead by 8.25pm. The execution chart – Alabama has two time zones just to be tricky.

 The Alabama state chart, 14 December 1819, is bleak, tough-minded, tending towards the fanatical and autocratic. There is an unyielding Saturn Chiron Pluto conjunction in Pisces square a Sagittarius Sun, Uranus, Neptune with a Scorpio Moon – not exactly sentimental, or warm and cuddly.

ADD ON: Elizabeth Fry was an English Quaker prison reformer, born 21 May 1780, who did not campaign directly for abolition of the death penalty but was a driving force behind new legislation to improve the treatment of prisoners, especially female inmates, and as such has been called the “Angel of Prisons”. She married at 20 and had eleven children, five sons and six daughters.

   She was certainly a thinker, designed for communicating her views with an Air Grand Trine of a Gemini Sun trine Neptune trine Pluto, formed into a Kite by a serious Sun opposition Saturn in Sagittarius. She also had a North Node in Taurus which she clearly put to good use.

33 thoughts on “Death Penalty – US lagging behind ++ execution time/Alabama ++ Elizabeth Fry

  1. “condemned torture and the death penalty…. His works had a profound influence on the Founding Fathers of the United States though clearly not in this area.”

    The Constitution clearly forbids “cruel and unusual punishment” and requires due process in criminal cases. However, the definition of murder and how it is prosecuted are up to each individual state’s laws and government. The Constitution has a list of what the central government controls, and murder laws are not on that list, so it’s up to each state. “U.S. lagging behind” about something unique to Alabama is like saying “E.U. lagging behind” because of something unique to Cyprus or “U.K. falling behind” because of a problematic situation only with Northern Ireland’s assembly.

  2. I remember watching a very moving documentary on PBS called ‘Scottsboro: An American Tragedy’ about the trial and imprisonment of 9 innocent teenage African American boys in the state of Alabama, one of whom was just 12 years old, falsely accused of raping 2 white women and sentenced to death in the electric chair. One of the boys was sentenced to death 3 times. Collectively the boys served 130 years in the Alabama penal system for a crime they did not commit. It took until 2013 for 3 of the men to be officially pardoned.

  3. Please tell us your insights about Elizabeth Fry. She was instrumental in the 1823 Gaols Act, which mandated sex-segregation of prisons and female wardens for female inmates to protect female inmates from sexual exploitation

    • Interesting to see she is, along with Lord Byron another of the Pluto in Aquarius/Neptune in Libra generation and has an Air Grand Trine of Sun in Gemini trine Neptune trine Pluto. As a reformer and campaigner, she has 5 Cardinal signs and in fact has a T-Square involving Mercury in Aries opposition Neptune in Libra squaring onto a focal point Moon in Capricorn. (Women behind walls).

  4. It’s difficult. If one was absolutely certain that the person charged was guilty then a swift judicial execution probably has both social and psychological (collective) merit for society. But who does it ? How is it to be
    done ?
    Perhaps it would be most humane to offer the person a way to commit suicide as painlessly as possible, Ian Brady would have taken that chance. If others prefer to live in confinement for the rest of their lives then they could have that choice.

    • Hi Claire- gotta say if a convicted murderer wanted to end their life I would endorse the economy of it. This befuddles me, given that I know first hand how crushing a loss suicide is- and I am against the death penalty!

      I wonder how popular it would actually be, if it became an option. (Which it kinda is, as evidenced by Jeffrey Epstein…) I was shocked when some of Epstein victims felt dismay that he had “escaped” instead of seeing it as the most dismal and punishing defeat.

  5. Whatever you might say or think, ‘public opinion’ in the UK is massively and overwhelmingly in favour of the death penalty for murderers, always has been and always will be.
    Any politically active person canvassing on the doorstep must, surely, know this.

    • If you ask people why, they say “as a deterrent”. It can never do that because for anyone committing a murder the consequences are too far removed from the act for them to even consider the possibility that they may get caught and found guilty and possibly executed somewhere down the line. Often they are unable see and understand the impact of their actions. And the people in favour of the death penalty generally know that so it is indeed just a self-righteous desire to exact revenge. Murdering murderers has never prevented another murder and probably never will.
      I once asked an astrologer many years ago if you could see in a chart whether somone was a murderer. She said no, but it was often possible to see that someone was going to be a victim. More chilling, IMO.

      • “Often they are unable see and understand the impact of their actions.” If this is “often” so then there should more “often” be verdicts of not guilty of murder due to insanity, with the perpetrator then separated from society in caretaking for the criminally insane.

        Exactly what percentage of convicted murderers, who are actually criminally insane, do you define as “often?” And where does this statistic come from?

  6. For me, my support for the death penalty is a mixed bag.

    I’m a center-left person and I fully support the death penalty for child murderers, serial killers, terrorists, people who murder for financial gain, and people who commit heinous hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities.

    The death penalty also acts as an effective deterrant when a missing person is involved – often, when threatened with the death penalty, the perpetrator will sometimes reveal where the victim’s body is located in a plea deal arrangements.

    That being said, I do believe there should be overwhelming evidence of the alleged crimes committed in cases where the death penalty is issued. I also believe that there is any new evidence in a case that could cast doubt in the alleged perpetrator’s involvement in a crime, then it should always immediately be allowed to be presented.

    Unfortunately, there are many States (especially here in the South) that haven’t always given the accused fail trials and there have indeed been innocent people who have been sentenced to death without sufficient evidence. So, like I said, even though I do support the death penalty for the most heinous and egregious crimes, I’m also open to reforming the process.

    For example, I remember back in February 2004 (when I was in my early 20s), when Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas was executed by lethal injection. He was accused of setting his house on fire back in 1991 with his wife and children trapped inside. He escaped but his wife and children died from smoke inhalation.

    Anyway, I was bothered by that case because he always proclaimed his innocence and he said he didn’t go back into the house to retrieve his family members because he was simply afraid.

    Scientific evidence (some of which wasn’t even presented at the trial) even suggested that Willingham may not have started the house fire (I think there was evidence of possible faulty wiring or something that had to do with lights from a Christmas tree [since the fire did occur on December 23, 1991]) and that he could have been telling the truth.

    Unfortunately, the small Texas town where Willingham was from was so outraged by that that a mother and her children died in the fire while he survived, the jury allowed their emotions and personal disdain for Willingham to cloud their judgment and he was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to death.

    Also, the Texas Governor refused to issue a pardon or a stop on the scheduled execution…despite the new evidence in that case. So, that also infuriated me.

    I know there have been other cases like the Willingham case, so this is why I am in full support of reforming capital punishment and only issuing it in the most extreme cases where the evidence is overwhelming.

    • The “fire science” the prosecution of Willingham relied upon was later totally discredited and discarded as erroneous. He was deemed innocent.

  7. If you cannot do it humanely, do not do it at all. The man had already spent thirty years in prison. It is true the son did not crow at all and stated it does not bring mum back.

  8. Marjorie, I understand the litany of botched executions results from the unavailability of legitimate drugs and bodgie executioners. The reality is that the makers of legitimate euthanasia drugs, many of whom are based in Europe, refuse to supply for what they regard as a repugnant purpose and go to great lengths to ensure that their supply chains are not infiltrated by agents of judicial killing such as prison authorities. The gruesome business is left to dubious individuals outside the medical and veterinary professions to concoct some lethal formula or obtain drugs on the black market usually sourced outside the US. A hangover from darker days. Ironically were they to return to more certain methods such as firing squads electric chair or hanging there would be an immediate public outcry against such barbaric cruelty and they know it.

    • Too funny. “Legitimate” euthanasia drugs.

      One third of Canadians fine with prescribing assisted suicide for homelessness
      Roughly the same number told a poll they were fine with approving MAID (medical assistance in dying) for someone whose only affliction was poverty

  9. Don’t generally disagree with the article, or that some relatives of the victims do attend the execution in order to crow… HOWEVER, in this case the ‘real’ victims son spoke after the execution saying that they were NOT going to whoop and holler at the death. He really impressed with his quiet dignity in the midst of this whole circus…

  10. My question is this, why if you have sentenced someone to death do they lanquish in prison for 37 years before the deed is done? It’s torture, surely, to live with that hanging over you.

  11. Companies that make products that would be more “humane to kill people with” refuse to sell them to those who want to use them for that purpose.

  12. It looks to me as though it was done to bring about maximum suffering, as though taking his life wasn’t enough punishment in itself. And I have read in the past that the methods used are often adapted to do this, often going against prescribed method. Which is why many pharmaceutical companies refuse to supply this market.

  13. What @LizM says is exactly true. The U.S. has 50 sovereign states and 2 territories, all of them with their own laws and policies, in many respects equivalent to individual EU states. Moreover, Alabama is one of the least populous and least important states, with a population slightly less than that of Slovakia. Apples-to-oranges comparisons.

    • Speaking of “apples to oranges comparison”, I stumbled over your comparison of the USA to the EU.. especially with regards to the death penalty.

      “The European Union holds a strong position against the death penalty; its abolition is a key objective for the Union’s human rights policy. Abolition is also a pre-condition for entry into the European Union. In Europe, only Belarus continues to actively use capital punishment.”

      I could be wrong, however it seems that the EU has been, and would like to continue to be, a structure that “pulls in” the states/countries in a way. Of course that, too, has been under duress in the last years… but let’s just focus on this one issue… the death penalty. ALL countries in the EU except for Belarus are in agreement in abolishing the death penalty.

      The states of the USA seem to be “pushing out” more and more… each with their own laws and policies as you say. There is no federal mandate to have each state come into alignment with this issue. So, there are 27!!! states that have the death penalty!

      On the official website of the EU, on the webpage titled, “EU Statement on the Death Penalty in Belarus” from Jan 15, 2020, the Delegation – the 1364th Meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies”….. is a clear 4 point statement of the concerns of the EU regarding the continued execution of prisoners in Belarus. Belarus is being watched closely by the EU.

      Yes…. clearly Belarus is still part of the EU, however… unlike the federal government of the USA, the EU has a strong mandate that all but ONE of the “states” supports regarding the death penalty. There is no such top down federal guidance/direction in the USA.

      Fascinating astrology, Marjorie.
      The psychology path I was drawn to, Process Oriented Psychology, describes the “primary process” and the “secondary process”. Primary being what looks like the reality (eg. we want to kill this prisoner) but the secondary is often what is driving the bus (eg. we want this prisoner to suffer).

      1* and 2* are also true in our own lives and it’s actually quite interesting to pull them apart!

      • ….”clearly Belarus is still part of the EU”. Would you like to review your statement? Clearly, Belarus is closely aligned with Russia and a Putin puppet state! It also has links to China. It never has been, nor is likely to be part of the EU.

        • thank-you Ken… I obviously misread…. and did not take an even deeper dive in my research.
          The relationship between EU and Belarus has been very complicated!!!

          it actually makes me feel better since the EU mandate of their members not supporting the death penalty is true for all the members …. and not all but one! Correct?

          I continue to research this.

  14. The USA is not a monolith, and Alabama is a known problem. Many of us avoid the state. Big differences in attitude and thought and action on this topic between Blue States and Red States. It sounds like a cruel exenution. They should not have done that. I think DJT wants to bring back firing squads.

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