For a long time now, capital punishment or death penalty has been used to punish capital crimes in most parts of the world. For instance, in the United States of America approximately 1,100 convicts have been executed since 1977. Undeniably, application of this kind of punishment has led to debates on whether or not it is meeting the intended objectives. Like any other kind of crime punishment, the death penalty has both advantages and disadvantages. Opponents of this punishment argue that in the contemporary society right to life should be recognized as being a basic value in any democratic society. On the other hand, the proponents of this punishment argue that if crime is to be eradicated in our society, the death penalty ought to be applied. The essay will be limited to analyzing the pros and cons of the death penalty.
Pros of Death penalty
Perhaps the first and vital argument put forward in support of the death penalty is that it as deterrence to criminal activities. Statistics have shown that administering of death penalty to such crimes as, murder and violence with robbery are better deterred if those convicted with such crimes are sentenced to death. Most people fear death than anything else, not even the life imprisonment. Based on this claim, proponents of the death penalty assert that nothing can deter crimes as the death penalty, (Jeffrey & Tracy, 2009). Therefore, murders and robbers should be murdered in order to prevent other people from committing such crimes.
The other reason in favor of the death penalty is based on irrevocable mistakes. The opponents of this form of punishment argue that analysis of evidence leading to some individuals to be sentenced to death have been found to be wrong, long after those individuals have been executed. On this, advocates of the death penalty assert that all systems are prone to errors and there is no system which can produce hundred percent certain results all the time. Jeffrey & Tracy (2010) argue that, when relying on human testimony in proofing capital crimes, mistakes can be inevitable in most cases. Therefore, this does not indicate the inappropriateness of the death penalty in punishing crime. The most important thing in this case is to try to unearth and evade such mistakes (Jeffrey & Tracy, 2009). Cases where this punishment has been applied mistakenly are very marginal. In fact, since its reactivation in 1976, statistics indicate that no convincing evidence of execution of an innocent person has been presented. Therefore, the minimal mistakes that have been reported on the part of the system in the application of this punishment should not be used to eliminate capital punishment.
Cons of Death Penalty
The first disadvantage of the death penalty is based on the claim by the advocates of this punishment that it is the best deterrent of criminal activities. Arguably, research has shown that that there are other categories of capital punishment that can act as deterrence to crimes better that the death penalty. For instance, statistics indicate that in early 1930s and late 1940s when most criminals were executed in the United States, the rates of crimes that were reported had declined significantly. In the early 1960s up to the mid 1970s, there were increased rates of crimes that were reported, despite the fact that the death penalty was still in use. This is indicates that death penalty has a weak correlation with the rates of crime; hence, it cannot act as a good deterrent of criminal activities. Beverly & Ames (2010) assert that, other forms of punishment such as live jail sentence can act as the best deterrence of crimes. This is because the kind of life that people are subjected to in prisons is so devastating making people to fear committing crimes which can land them in prisons.
The second argument against the use of death penalty is that in most cases is has been applied discriminatorily. According to Beverly & Ames (2010), a number of cases have been put forward to show insincerity in its application. One such case is Furman v. Georgia. In this case, the Supreme Court gave a ruling that the state laws under which the death penalty was applied were unambiguous. It was found that in this case, constitutional laws had been violated. Studies have shown that for instance, there is a higher probability of people who kill white people than those who kill black people. Besides, those who have resources to afford private lawyers and investigators have lower chances of getting a death penalty as compared to those who have no resources.
Finally, commitment of fatal errors is another disadvantage of the application of a death penalty. It has been observed that a good number of innocent people have been executed due to erroneous evidence. Unfortunately, execution of an individual cannot be reversed. Therefore, if execution of innocent people has to stop application of the death penalty should come to an end. Lastly, is the issue of the costs that are involved in death penalty cases, (Beverly & Ames, 2010). It has been noted that these cases requires a lot of resources, both monetary and non-monetary. For instance, it takes a lot of money and time in handling appeals in the cases of a death sentence. This process is more expensive as compared to sentencing criminals to imprisonment.
Beverly, B & Ames, C. C. (2010). Capital punishment should be abolished. Retrieved March 1,
2011, from Point of View Reference Center.
Jeffrey, B & Tracy, M. D. (2009). The Death Penalty is Necessary. Retrieved March 1, 2011,
from Points of View Reference Center ISBN-9781429815451