Our Country's Good And Capital Punishment

1025 Words 4 Pages
Unfortunately, we live in a time of blame and punishment. While the spotlight is usually shining on the United States with the multitude accounts of police brutality plastered in the news with society demanding a call to action. What is just as important to discuss when calling for reform in our police systems is what happens while criminals are behind bars. America is not the sole provider on an inadequate prison system. Around the world, rehabilitation of prisoners and the use of the death penalty are highly debated social issues. Timberlake Wertenbaker’s brilliant and thought provoking play Our Country’s Good explores the complicated issue of capital punishment and the injustice of people who have been believed to have been brought to justice. …show more content…
However, to quote the play, “Justice and humaneness have never gone hand in hand. The law is not sentimental comedy” (Wertenbaker 4) Our Country’s Good is set in 1788 but the message behind it is still prevalent today. Sure, the approach of execution has evolved to a more “humane” method, but all over the world people are still questioning the morality behind capital punishment. The characters in Our Country’s Good even wrestle with this dilemma. When characters Ralph and Phillip are discussing the potential hanging of Liz Morden, Phillip is torn about the state of his community saying, “What is a statesman’s responsibility? To ensure the rule of law. But the citizens must be taught to obey the law of their own will. I want to rule over responsible human beings, not tyrannies over a group of animals. I want there to be a contact between us, not a whip on my side, terror and hatred on theirs.” (Wertenbaker 60) It is clear that there is a divide in the officers on how the prisoners should be treated. Officers Collins and Tench were pleading their case of the positive effects of the death penalty to Captain Phillip at the beginning of the play saying, “There is much excitement in the colony about the hangings. It’s their theatre …show more content…
These executions were opened for the public, but it became something of a spectacle for society to come and see. (Bedau 5) It took years and time for the degrees of the crimes to be separated and for the punishment of these crimes to be handed it out fairly. According to American law, criminal homicide happens to be the only crime explicitly punishable by death nowadays. (Bedau 6) Finally, the decision of capital punishment because a state-by-state decision basis. According to DeathPenaltyInfo.org, as of July 1015, there are currently 31 states that allow the death penalty. It is the development of the method of execution that raises ethical or moral questions. By 1994, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Washington still allowed hanging as a form of lawful execution. (Bedau 12) In Our Country’s Good, hanging is the sole and primary method of execution in the colony. The historically accurate time period of this was 1788. Drawing from how characters describe death by hanging in the script, obviously it wasn’t an ideal way to die. When Ketch visits Liz to measure her neck for the hanging, he explains how hangings can go extremely wrong, lamenting, “It took twenty minutes and even then he wasn’t dead. Remember how he dances and everyone laughed. I don’t want to repeat something like that Mr Brewer, not now. Someone had to get hold of his legs to weigh him down and then…” (Wertenbaker

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