Visiting Scholar Calls for Death Penalty Reform in China

Summer 2009

In a recent lecture at Columbia Law School, visiting scholar Ye Xiaoqin presented a comprehensive plan for reforming and finally abolishing the death penalty in China.

Ye, an assistant professor at Wuhan University Law School, said the death penalty in China is widely seen as a means for deterring violent crime and therefore has the support of both the general public and the government. But the error rate associated with executions is intolerable, Ye explained. “It’s inherent that some will be wrongly killed by the government under any criminal justice system,” she said. “Even strong procedural protections and high judicial costs cannot avoid error in executions.” To eliminate the death penalty in China, Ye suggests reducing the number of executions in the country and then halting the practice altogether for 10 years. At that point, if there is a reliable alternative punishment in place, Ye believes the leaders of the country might be persuaded to eradicate the death penalty entirely.