14-year-old boy executed in the US, proven innocent 70 years after- Abolish The Death Penalty

Life can be very unfair to many and lead to some losing their lives when they are denied fair trial or given hash sentences. This was the exact story of George Stinney Jnr, the 14 year old boy of Afrcian decent. Death penalty or capital punishment or execution is the sentence imposed on an individual by a court of competent jurisdiction as the prescribed form of punishment for a given crime.

George Stinney Jnr’s story was a sad story which took place in the United States back in 1944 when he was just fourteen(14) years old.

The young boy had no chance of survival during the trial and in the end was executed in an electric chair. He was accused of killing two teenage girls, 11 year old Betty and 7 year old Mary. The bodies of the two girls were discovered close to the residence where young George Stinney lived with his parents. At his trial, all the juries were whites and the trial that led him into the execution chair took barely 2 hours. Just two hours to determine. His sentence was given ten minutes later on the same day.

He was sentenced to death. His parents were not offered the opportunity to witness the trail of their son. They were threatened and expelled from the city.

George Stinney Jnr lived in jail for 81 days but was not given an opportunity to get any form of contact with his parents.

He was in fact, 80 miles away from his parent while in prison which made it impossible for the parents to reach him as well.

On the day of his electrocution, he was electrocuted with 5380 volts in his head. That was quite a strong electric energy passing through the head of an innocent teen.

Fast forward…70 years after, a judge in South Carolina was able to prove the innocence of George Stinney. Apparently he was set up for being black.

Today, so many have been condemned to die in many countries for different offences. The reality is that Ghana still has the death penalty in her statutes just like other countries although this law is not enforced.

Research shows that, the last time Ghana carried out an execution was 26 years ago in 1993. As at 2018, 12 people were sentenced to death while 172 people remained on death role in Ghana.

Ghana has made study progress and showed some encouraging commitment towards the abolition of the death penalty. Ghana ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) way back in year 2000 however; she is yet to ratify the Second Optional Protocol which aims at the abolition of the death penalty (ICCPR-OP2).

As at April 2018, Amnesty International (AI) had said that there were 160 people known to be on death row in Ghana.

The question is why keep it in our statutes. Someone, the courts can go back to it as long as it continues to exist in our statues as a nation.

The fact that, someone has been found guilty does not imply his right to life should be taken away from him; such persons can be of good use to the country even while in prison.

If George Stinney Jnr had been given the chance to get a lawyer to defend him, probably his innocence would have been established long before 2014, he would have been spared the hash sentence and become some one of great importance to the world at large. This could happen to anyone any where and it could be you.

70 years later, in 2014, George Stinney Jnr’s innocence was finally proven by a judge in South Carolina. The boy was innocent; someone set it up to blame him for being black.

Human Rights Reporters Ghana is calling on government to work on this and ratify the Second Optional Protocol which aims at the abolition of the death penalty (ICCPR-OP2). Parliament and the Judiciary, we are looking up to you.

Source| Wisdom Hammond | Human Rights Reporters Ghana –HRRG

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