The punishment of capital offences in many countries has been a point of controversy with some proposing for the abolition of the punishment by death. Currently, only 58 countries in the world practice capital punishment with 96 having abolished it and the remainder having not used it for the last ten year or preserving it for times of war (Kronenwetter 202). In fact, the matter is an issue of controversy with opinion differing even within same political ideologies and culture with controversy revolving around whether to abolish sustain the capital punishment. In this paper, we are looking at the justification for abolition of capital penalty as opposed to the sustenance of this punishment.
Opponents to the abolition argue that the penalty does not prevent the occurrence of similar incidences in the future. That this punishment ensures offenders do not commit the crime and that it is a deserved sentence by capital offenders (Barbara 28) still requires more prove from the lawmakers. For a punishment to be a deterrent, it has to be consistent and promptly employed. The facts that cases of capital offences are low and executions are rare translate to the fact that capital punishment cannot prevent further crimes. Furthermore, capital punishment threats do not deter crime but leaves underlying factors unaddressed and thus worsens the situation.
In their assertion, they also fail to consider the desire of the victims of murder. In this, the argument discriminates against the minority and poor and promotes the culture of violence. In addition, it also violates human rights (Rourke 45). The methods used in execution express brutality to humanity-they are inhumane. Description of eyewitnesses to executions from witness room has expressed the brutality under which capital punishment is carried out. Such brutality far way surpasses the pain caused by the convicts and a society that respects life cannot punish capital offences by exerting such brutal punishments. In addition, capital punishment is not an issue of criminal policy only but also constitutional policy in that it is an issue of limitation of governments’ power to take lives from offenders.
In fact, newly available DNA evidence has proved that capital punishment can be in itself an injustice (Kronenwetter 204). Factual evidence has shown that between 1973 and 2005, new evidence concerning 123 convicts emerged concerning their innocence leading to their release. There is a possibility that many cases of execution that have not been brought to public attention due to lack of proper regulations in the process. Under these circumstances, it is most likely that the statistics understate or rather do are not in line with the actual case in which unlawful executions were carried out (Rourke 72).
Another very popular argument by supporters of capital punishment is that it is cheap to the state compared to life sentence without parole. This is the belief of many Americans and supporters of the death penalty. Most amazingly, the exact opposite is true (Bockle 38). Actually, it is a waste of time and money because of the long appeals’ time, most of those convicted in U.S stay an average period of 20 years without execution. In addition, the sentence has not been carried out recently since many convicts die in custody before they serve their death sentence-execution. In 2007, time and money were the only reasons why New Jersey became the first state to ban capital punishment since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 (Barbara 16).
Another argument that proponents of punishment by death deem to be oblivious is that it is retribution or rather inflicting unnecessary pain for ones’ evil deeds. That by exerting such punishment, victims of the murder are served with revenge. If we all hold the opinion that that murderers should be punished by death, which according to proponents of capital punishment is their deserved dessert, and then this would mean that we rape rapists, rob robbers, torture torturers and commit suchlike atrocities to capital offenders- a criterion that cannot be used to punish offenders. This means therefore that, it is arbitrary to invoke such a principle as a requirement of justice in the punishment of murder (Camus 18). Furthermore, even if we were to accept retribution as an aspect of criminal law, then life sentence without parole would be a sufficient substitute in all cases. It is reasonably argued that justice cannot advance by taking human life neither can morality be upheld by legalized murder.
Supporters for capital punishment view this punishment as a matter of criminal policy. By doing this they forget that it is an issue of human rights and that capital punishment is the worst violation of human rights, because the right to life is the most important, and judicial execution violate it without necessity and inflict pain to the condemned (Camus 56). By their argument, the proponents portray insensitivity to human rights by virtue of denying the most important of these rights- the right to life. Opponents of abolition argued that capital offenders could not have caused the same pain they suffer when convicted to their victims. This punishment could be fair if the offender confines the victim, narrates the things they would carry on them before they kill them.
In fact, most capital offenses are committed during emotional extremes or under influence of drugs. In such cases, the individual being mentally incapacitated he cannot think rationally or rather in a straightforward manner. Responding to an offence committed under such circumstances by imposing death penalty would be unfair to the convict. Capital punishment also denies the due process of law. Its imposition is not only arbitrary but also irrevocable which is unfair to the convicted, as he/she never gets to enjoy the implementation of alternative new laws or even a reduction or even a reversal of the sentence. It also violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection since it applied randomly and discriminatorily. It has evidences of racial, social status and regional discrimination. Such law is futile and defies natural justice.
Finally, abolition of capital punishment has gained support from the various religions of the world. Religion defines what people believe as right or wrong. Though some religions allow the punishment, the practice is different. Continuing to uphold capital punishment would mean that the judicial system does not honor values of the communities it has jurisdiction over. In so doing, it creates a conflict of values.
In conclusion, when all factors that surround the issue of capital punishment are evaluated, it remains clear that continuing to uphold capital punishment by death means failure not only in practice of justice but also violation of human fundamental rights.
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