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Posts Tagged ‘executions’

On Second Thought, Let’s Not Execute Corrupt Officials

July 10th, 2013


Would executing corrupt public officials be the most effective way to reduce dishonesty in public life? In the darkest recesses of our minds, we may harbor the idea that executing crooked public servants would foster a more virtuous government. But we’ve never taken this approach in America – take former Congressman Duke Cunningham, who served just seven years in prison for taking $2.5 million in bribes.

For an example of a nation that routinely kills its civil servants, though, look no further than the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese government executes people for all sorts of crimes, including economic ones. Although exact numbers are unknown, Amnesty International notes that China “continued to account for the majority of the world’s executions,” perhaps 3,000 annually. This is a country that in 2009 claimed a99.9 percent conviction rate for criminal trials.

There’s a Chinese saying that you should “kill the chicken to scare the monkey.” The Chinese Communist Party General Secretary (and Chinese President) Xi Jinping has taken this aphorism to heart, pursuing a tough anti-corruption campaign. The first head placed on the chopping block belonged to the former railway minister, who was convicted of “bribery and abuse of power.” The court sentenced him to death, but suspended the sentence.

But other corrupt Chinese officials have not been the beneficiaries of state mercy. In 2011, the vice mayorsof the picturesque cities of Hangzhou and Suzhou were found guilty of accepting almost $50 million in bribes and paid the ultimate price for their crimes. Likewise, in 2010, the director of the Chongqing Justice Bureau was executed for accepting bribes and supporting organized crime. The same fate befell China’s State Food and Drug Administration chief in 2007. Read the rest of this entry »