The Death Penalty.

#1
There is a young Australain on death row in Singapore for drug smuggling. He’s due to be hanged at 6am local time next Friday. There has been a lot said about it over here and it raises, obviously questions about the death penalty.

It would be interesting to see what others think, not just about execution but the means of execution.

From the SMH http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2005/11/23/1132703253016.html?from=top5

The precision of ritual in the gallows' shadow
In his final days, Nguyen Tuong Van will get the best care Changi Prison has to offer. He will also be weighed and measured with clinical precision to help calculate the length for the rope from which he will hang.
If his treatment mirrors that of those who have gone before him, Nguyen is now living in strict isolation in a cell measuring about three metres by three metres. He has a toilet and a mat for sleeping, but no bedding and uses a bucket for washing. He is not permitted to go out for fresh air or exercise.

Next week, his status as a man close to execution should win him special concessions: food of his choice (within the prison's budget) and extra visits from relatives. And a visit from the hangman, who will check his weight and measure the distance from Nguyen's neck to the floor before going away to make his calculations according to a bureaucratic manual, the Official Table of Drops, published by the British Home Office in 1913.

Singapore is believed to use "the long drop" method, which is meant to be the most merciful. The correct length of the rope for an individual is crucial to the "success" of a hanging - if success is defined as a quick death with little suffering.
Normally, only jail staff and a doctor are present at executions in Singapore, although others, such as a minister of religion, may be admitted at the discretion of the prison superintendent.

Nguyen's senior lawyer, Lex Lasry, QC, has applied to be a witness at the execution, along with fellow defence lawyer Julian McMahon.
"We've taken the view that, for our client's sake, we've requested to be present at his execution," Mr Lasry said yesterday. He has not yet heard from Singaporean authorities whether they will be allowed to attend.
Mr McMahon declined to discuss how he felt about the prospect of witnessing such an event. "Our focus at this stage is on what's best for our client."

Mr Lasry said he had been told not to attend by a lot of friends. "I've been cautioned about the consequences of it. People just think to be present at something like that would be a horrible thing and that inevitably there's going to be a consequence - and I think they have Brian Morley in mind."

Mr Morley, 69, was one of 12 journalists to witness the execution in Melbourne in 1967 of Ronald Ryan, the last man hanged in Australia.
Mr Morley said he had had some "indirect contact" with Mr Lasry. "He's read all my stuff on Ryan so he's mentally prepared for it."
But all the preparation in the world could not insulate a witness from the shock of the moment, Mr Morley said. "He will still be very traumatised by it. I believe that if the premier of the day and his cabinet had witnessed Ryan's execution, they would have abolished capital punishment on the spot."

Mr Morley can still remember every detail "in vivid technicolour" and it distresses him to talk about it. He does so because, in the instant that Ryan fell through the trapdoor, Mr Morley became convinced that the death penalty should be abolished everywhere.
The journalists had gathered in D Division of the old Pentridge jail, keyed up by a string of public protests and intense political debate over the hanging. "It was a little bit like being in the press box at the MCG for the grand final - nervous excitement at the big story to be covered," Mr Morley said.

A manacled Ryan was led by a hangman in welder's goggles along a catwalk six metres above them. A green canvas sheet hid the area below the gallows' trapdoors. Ryan turned to face the media before the cap on his head was pulled down into a hood covering his face.
"Then the hangman leapt back and hit the lever and he dropped immediately out of sight. There was an enormous clang as the trapdoors banged and all I could hear was the creaking of the rope, like a rope in a gymnasium," he said.
Mr Morley had gone in with an open mind about the death penalty, but "for me it was a total emotional shock; so callous, so dreadful, so horrific . . . Everyone was traumatised, everyone who saw it. My wife said I was a real mess for a long time afterwards."
Journalist Tom Prior was another witness. He was not available yesterday, but his wife said he had gone to Ryan's hanging believing in the death penalty "because dead men never offend again". He, too, converted to opposing it "in that instant. It changed him totally. He has spoken to his children and to me a lot about that."

The Ryan hanging was traumatic for everyone associated with it, despite the dying man being hidden behind a screen. When the mechanics of the process have failed, the result is even more gruesome.
"If the rope's too long, the forces build up as the body falls and the person is decapitated," said Tim Goodwin, anti-death-penalty co-ordinator with Amnesty International. "If it's too short, it doesn't break the neck with sufficient violence and the person chokes to death over a longer period."

There are other variables, he said, such as the importance of placing the knot of the noose just above the jaw under the left ear "in order to crush the vertebrae in a particular way and snap the neck. If the person moves at the last moment, it can cause the knot to be dislodged and it doesn't have the desired effect. Then the person can slowly strangle to death."
If all goes according to plan, the dislocation of the vertebrae and damage to the spinal cord render the person unconscious almost instantly. The broken neck while hanging leads to "comatose asphyxia" - lack of oxygen while unconscious. Brain death follows in about six minutes and whole-body death in about 15 minutes. Some people exhibit muscle spasms while they are hanging.
"There's nothing about this that's pretty," Mr Goodwin said. "It's a brutal and gruesome death."

Singapore has people who cannot stomach execution. It has been reported that the current hangman has been difficult to replace, as two prison officers trained to take over each froze when it came to pulling the lever for "the real thing".
So shortly before dawn tomorrow week - Friday is the day for hangings in Singapore - the hangman who has done the job for 46 years will handcuff Nguyen and lead him on his final walk to the gallows, a few metres from his cell.
As the rope is put around Nguyen's neck, the executioner will say what he always says: "I am going to send you to a better place than this. God bless you."

Nguyen will be hooded. At 6am precisely the hangman will pull the lever, the trapdoor will open and he will fall to his death.
The hangman will be paid $A312 for services rendered to the state of Singapore.
- With GARY TIPPET
 
#2
As far as I'm aware the'long drop' method was the one used in the UK before capital punishment was abolished.
Supposedly quick and 'humane' if the length of drop has been calculated correctly.
 
#3
Ord_Sgt said:
There is a young Australain on death row in Singapore for drug smuggling. He’s due to be hanged at 6am local time next Friday. There has been a lot said about it over here and it raises, obviously questions about the death penalty.

It would be interesting to see what others think, not just about execution but the means of execution.

From the SMH http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2005/11/23/1132703253016.html?from=top5

"There's nothing about this that's pretty," Mr Goodwin said. "It's a brutal and gruesome death."
As you can see from my avatar detail I currently live in Singapore. It's a beautiful little country and my wife and two young daughters find the place a remarkably safe place to live. One of the primary reasons why we feel Singapore is so safe is the legislation in place in relation to crime prevention - the rate of re-offending as I understand it is remarkably low.

I say this to give a little background. I'm not being callous but the bottom-line in this instance is that the young man in question made the mistake (fatal as it now seems) of transiting through a country whose laws are so anti-drug that the death penalty applies if you're caught with 15g of heroin - the reports I've read in the Straits Times indicate he had 400g which is enough for 26,000 doses. Before anyone says I'm taking the media at face value I'm not. Before I changed professions I was a customs officer in the UK and the calculations the media have published are consistent with my own experience.

On an earlier & different thread in relation to the service test I stated that people will always judge the risks before undertaking an activity and if they deem them acceptable will go ahead - in that instance it was a case of shagging the staff. In this instance the young man has taken the risk that he wouldn't get stopped at Changi. He was mistaken and must now face the consequences of the law of the land in which he was arrested. That law is consistent regardless of whether you are Singaporean or foreign and that is the way it should be.

I've left one bit from the original post highlighted - the point about it being a brutal & gruesome death. That may be the case but from what I've seen here in Singapore the judiciary and more importantly the general public have concerns for the potential 26,000 innocents who could also face "brutal & gruesome deaths through drug use" rather than someone who was willing to provide them with the means and has also admitted his guilt.

As long as there is profit in the drug trade foolish people such as this young man will take the risk - some like him will pay the ultimate price. I think the words of the hangman, if true, are very poignant.

lancslad
 
#4
Have to agree to a point with LancsLad on this one. Personally I'm totally opposed to the death penalty for a number of (I believe) well considered reasons.

However, I also firmly believe that if you choose to take a chance in breaking the law then you have to accept that, if caught, you will face the punishment set down by the juristiction in which you're caught. In this case the attitude of Singapore, along with several other countries in Asia, towards drug smuggling is very well known and, I believe, publicised to travellers heading for the area.

Take the chance by all means, but take responsibility for the consequences if you get caught.
 
#5
Tartan_Terrier said:
As far as I'm aware the'long drop' method was the one used in the UK before capital punishment was abolished.
Supposedly quick and 'humane' if the length of drop has been calculated correctly.
Long drop is based upon the mass and velocity calculation and requires a force to be exerted - hopefully on 2nd vertebra of 22 cwts. Memory is a funny thing - I was taught that over 50 years ago as a young sibyll!
 
#7
I think that just because this country chooses to discard it's heritage, principles and laws on an almost daily basis does not mean that we should challenge those that maintain their integrity. I applaud the Singaporean Govt and citizens for not allowing supposedly open thinking to ruin their country. Personally, if they brought it back in this country, I would apply for the job!
 
#8
There has been plenty of publicity over the years that there is death penalty in Singapore for smuggling drugs, yet he chose to take the risk. Now if gamble and lose then you must expect the worse.
 
#9
Ord_Sgt said:
There is a young Australain on death row in Singapore for drug smuggling. He’s due to be hanged at 6am local time next Friday. There has been a lot said about it over here and it raises, obviously questions about the death penalty.
oh, Unlucky!

hopefully this evolutionary action will continue the culling of stupid people!
 

maninblack

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
When I used to fly into Singapore the landing card that you filled in on the plane had a printed warning about drug smuggling penalties clearly printed across it in red and black.

Before customs there were also bins in which you could place any contraband items.

With the exception of a rare but possible drugs plant there is no defence.

Hanging is gruesome but so is dying on a stained mattress with a needle in your arm.
 
#12
Like most of the rest who have posted say
If you can't do the time, DON'T do the crime.

This man knew what he was doing, the Singaporean(?) law is well known, so who are we to argue against it?
 
#13
No, lets move on to Gary Feckin Glitter...

If you cant do the time, dont do the crime?

I've heard somewhere that Vietnam execute in public? Wonder if they can televise it live so there can be a big pub party, and sell it on video to raise hard currency? The Ultimate snuff video. (actually, maybe that comment belongs in the NAAFI)

http://web.amnesty.org/report2005/vnm-summary-eng
"Despite reports that the authorities were considering the abolition of the death penalty for economic crimes, two executions for fraud were reported. Some executions continued to take place in public, in front of hundreds of onlookers."
 
#14
It's all very well for two journos to be traumatised by the execution but they volunteered to be at it! Do the crime and pay the price - especially in countries who are hard on drug runners. Servants of the state do dirty jobs in order to protect our country and if you can't hack the method or end results don't look.

As for Gary Glitter, isn't it strange that Vietnam, without a shred of evidence against him is holding him for 4 months! And we were agonising about the human rights of alleged terrorists being held for 90 days in this country. As an email I had today said - 'they might not celebrate Christmas in Vietnam but this year they might be hanging glitter!'
 
#15
[quote='they might not celebrate Christmas in Vietnam but this year they might be hanging glitter!'[/quote]

Shooting more like. The Death Penalty there for raping kids of 12 (their Law states even if it is 'supposedly' consented that it is still rape and so it should be!) is by Firing Squad M'Lord...Poor Old Dirty Barsteward Glitter...he had a massive following in the 70's and many a Squaddie Fancy Dress Downtown night was the 'Glitter' Theme, or was that just me?! :roll:
 
#16
And on the subject of televised executions......

A couple of weeks ago I visited Libya on a WW2 battlefields tour with some 8th Army veterans. Our Libyan guide was also a lawyer and was missing one day as he had to go to court a defend a chap accused of bad-mouthing Ghadaffi.

On his return (he'd won, I'm pleased to say) I asked him what penalty the chap would have faced if he'd been found guilty. Our guide explained that there were two execution methods in Libya. For straightforward criminal acts (theft, murder etc.,) it was hanging; for religious or political crime it was death by machine-gunning - all on tv!

He didn't comment on the rights nor wrongs of it as the secret policeman who accompanied the party was earwigging, and he was probably already under suspicion himself, being a defence lawyer.
 
#17
Is there any place where we can suggest execution methods?

for Mr G Glitter, I would recommend the method popularised by Mr S. Zulu: a 18' sharpened pole up the sh*tter, technically known as impalling.
 
#18
Albert Pierpoint as a consummate pofessional. He used HomeOffice approved calculations to gauge drop and rope size. His record from cell to end of rope was (if my memory serves me correct) seven seconds at HMP Hull. He was also painstaking in rehearsals and preparation, so that the condemed prisoner did not suffer unduly. In fact he was so appalled by the inhumanity of the hanging of convicted Nazis at Nuremburg, that when sent to advise he took over and personally supervised 54 hangings. Those who I know who met him, described him as a gentleman with a deep sense of dutyto both State and those he despatched.
 
#20
I will be migrating to Australia before very long, so I follow the Australian press on line just to keep up with events. I have to say that there seems to be little public sympathy for the man facing execution, mostly because in that part of the world Singapore's policy on drugs (and that of other south east asian countries) is so well known. Most people on this thread agree, saying that he knew very well the consequences of being caught but chose to go ahead and take the risk anyway. I can only concur with this view.

As for the method of execution, everything I have read suggests that properly done, hanging is as quick and humane as any other method. So what if a journalist was distressed at the sight? How can it be a valid argument to cease hanging because it made one person - who, by the way, chose to be there - upset? That holds no water at all.

A little background on the case: caught red-handed at Changi airport, the man's excuse for having drugs strapped to his body was that he wanted to pay off his brother's debts. Even the Australian PM John Howard has said that he's done all he can to secure clemency for this man.
 

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