Death penalty, simply means the lawful implementation of an order of a court or any other public authority to kill an adult person found guilty of a capital offence; first degree murder and aggravated murder. It is a form of punishment availed to the courts or public authorities with the intention to discourage members of the public from future committal or omission of the particular offence. The methods of killing the convicted persons include hanging, gun shooting by a firing squad, electrocution, lethal injection and confinement in a gas chamber (ACLU 1). This form of punishment has proved to be a more cruel way of giving justice to the victims because it operates to defeat the course of justice itself. The question is whether it is justice at all. How can justice be achieved by committing another injustice? Between 1976 and 2015, 1435 people have been executed in the United States of America (Death Penalty Information Center, 1). This essay will discuss the ineffectiveness of death penalty in the justice system.
Reasons for Evaluation
Death penalty is inhumane for various reasons. First, it is an unconstitutional. Second, it is an uncivilized practice. Third, it is immoral. Fourth, the punishment is more often than not based on biasness and discrimination, as most people condemned to death penalty are the poor who in most cases are innocent (ACLU 1). Unlike any other punishment, the death penalty operates backwards by taking that which the law seeks to protect.
The 8th Amendment seeks to protect lives of individuals against unusual and cruel punishments. However, death penalty conflicts with this law. No matter the method used to take away the life of a person, whether by a lethal injection, which kills slowly or quick death by a spray of bullets from the firing squad, the convicted person’s life is terminated in a cruel manner. The human life has been taken to be meaningless such that taking away the life of an offender does not cause pain to the person meting out the punishment or the court or authority ordering the punishment. Does it mean that an offender is less of a human being? Or is it that when an individual commits an offence and is found guilty of that offence he or she ceases to be human? Definitely not! This practice underestimates the status and the objects of the constitution.
Death penalty is an uncivilized practice. The history of death penalty as practiced in America is traced back to European settlers; the first time a death penalty was implemented in the United States was in 1608 when Captain George Kendall was killed for being a secret agent, otherwise known as a spy for Spain (Death Penalty Information Center 1). The reasons behind this practice were for deterrent purposes, which has since failed terribly. However, we are passed this practice considering the level of socio-economic and political developments the human race has undergone. Many people still commit offences punishable by death and at no rate has the number of such offences reduced for the reasons that the individuals had seen or heard that a death penalty is the consequence of committing such offences (Radelet 1).
Killing a human being by whatever authority or power and in whatever form is purely immoral (Carter 1). This punishments cheapens and lowers human life. Its apparent position is that of vengeance, which as it is, proves to be the government’s way of settling scores with individuals. Nobody, not even the government can give enough reasons to terminate the God-given gift which is to be enjoyed freely by every being created by Him. The court or public body which arrives at the decision to take away the life of another is also constituted of individuals who God gave the gift of life to enjoy in the same and with the same magnitude like any other person. Nothing puts one human being at a higher platform than the other in the hierarchy life. No man is more pure before God and the law than the other and all men have equal rights to live. The government is giving a bad example to the people; that violence is paid by violence! Such a law encourages violence. It does not encourage respect to life and the protection of the right to life.
Furthermore, majority of the people on death row and those already executed are poverty stricken individuals who have no financial capabilities to facilitate attorneys to defend them (ACLU 1). In the circumstances most of the convicts are convicted for failure to prove their cases. Furthermore, there is the apparent and instant mentality that the poor are notorious criminal offenders than the rich people. Therefore more often than not conviction is based on the wealth status of an individual and not for actually committing the offence.
There are proponents of death penalty who believe that death penalty is moral, commensurate and proper where a person has killed another and that the penalty is retributive. Death Penalty is not retributive but vengeance in itself. Killing a person who has killed another is revenge in its simplest form. The law refers to it as retribution, which supports equal magnitude of punishment for equal magnitude of offence. This element of revenge makes the punishment uncouth for practice in a society that has advances technologically, socially, politically and economically. Development needs manpower from the same people killed by the government (ACLU 1).
Death penalty deprives individuals the right of constitutional protection and the right to life. Death penalty can never and will never make people stop committing heinous crimes. The earlier the practice is abolished the better for the human race. This form of punishment only perpetuates violence within the society. Offenders should be corrected by the government not reduced to non-humane objects of cruel and dehumanizing treatment.
Carter, Jimmy. "Show Death Penalty the Door” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 25 Apr, 2012.
Death Penalty Information Center, “Number of Executions since 1976,” 28 April, 2016. Apr, 2007.
Radelet, Michael L., "Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 2009.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "The Death Penalty: Questions and Answers," 9