Some Perspective on the Death Penalty

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

From China:


A 21-year-old music student who accidentally struck a young woman with his car, then silenced her by stabbing her to death on the roadway, was executed Tuesday in Xi'an, in northwestern China, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.The student, Yao Jiaxin, had lost an appeal of a death sentence handed down by a Xi'an court on April 22. 

The crime had fanned deep public resentment against the "fu er dai," the "rich second generation" of privileged families who are widely believed to commit misdeeds with impunity because of their wealth or connections. Mr. Yao was the son of employees of a state-owned corporation in China's defense sector, one of them an executive and a military officer. 

The victim, Zhang Miao, 26, was a peasant. Mr. Yao, a student at a local music conservatory, was driving a Chevy Cruze in Xi'an last Oct. 20 when he struck Ms. Zhang, who was riding a bicycle. She was not seriously injured, according to news reports. But when Mr. Yao realized that she was memorizing his license plate number, he stabbed her eight times with a knife. He said later that he feared the woman, a poor peasant, would "be hard to deal with" should she seek compensation for her injuries.

What shocked me was quickly they executed the killer. The crime was committed in October and he was dead within a year. In America, I don't even know if he would have been to trial by then, much less killed. I don't know that that is a good thing.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/06/some-perspective-on-the-death-penalty/240134/