The legal systems around the world define the Death penalty as the sentencing of a convicted criminal to death. The crimes that are punishable by death in the United States include first-degree murder, Civil rights offense, Espionage, Treason, and Genocide. We often use the word ‘Capital punishment’ interchangeably with the death penalty. Both mean the same thing but with the exception to a minor difference. Capital punishment is defined as the act of executing the punishment of death by administering a lethal injection, electrocution, by use of a gas chamber, death by hanging or shooting of a person by a firing squad, after the person had been sentenced to execution. So technically, Capital punishment follows a death penalty, and while death penalty covers the proceedings and the sentencing, capital punishment encompasses the occasion when a person is actually executed.
Many western countries including United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Poland have ended the implementation of Capital punishment. Countless arguments are being presented against the execution of the death penalty. A few of those are explained as follows. The death penalty may successfully be taking various dangerous criminal off the streets, but it is also entrapping several innocent people and dragging them to death. Ever since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, approximately 138 blameless men and women have been freed from the death line up. Researchers who stand in favor of the implementation of the death penalty claim that all the money that is spent on the sustenance of a prisoner for a life sentence could be save if the criminal is executed. Their claim however could not be any further from the truth. The report presented by the Judicial Council Death Penalty Advisory Committee asserts that defending a case that involves the death penalty costs the state four times as much as a case without the death penalty. In addition, even after spending the large amount of the sum of the trials, the death penalty may not always be pronounced. According to a report released by the Nation Bureau of Economic Research, an extra cost of $1.6 billion was incurred in the prosecution of capital cases between 1982 and 1997. In addition, poor quality defenses may also end up in an innocent victims being sentenced to death. Capital punishments also embark in opposition of teachings of most of the religions. Religions including, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Jewish stress the importance of a human life, and according to all religious teachings, God gives life and no one else besides Him has a right to end it. Capital punishment also challenges the human rights that apply to every individual equally.
We should, therefore, join in with the several western countries that have ended the prosecution of people altogether. We are incurring huge sums of trails involving the death penalty, and a lot of money goes to waste in trail where death penalty is not pronounced. Also, since it is hard to prove innocence or guilt with 100% certainty, many innocent people are also likely to become the casualties to this practice and lose their lives. Moreover, many believe that the death penalty is being used to punish the poor helpless victims while many people with resources walk free. Consequently, this method of exacting punishment is not being implemented fairly. The number of people presents quite sound and justified arguments in favor of capital punishment, but in my strong opinion, the demerits of this practice greatly outweigh the pros. No matter how gentle we may be in taking someone’s life, it’s still an act of violence. And no reasonable person would argue that violence even though exercised in an ordered and justified manner may put an end to unorganized violence. Seeing how we are facing a great deal of affliction because of this law, it's better that we rid ourselves of it once and for all.
There are however still many countries and individuals who support capital punishment. Their arguments in favor of this policy among others include the following. Death penalty sets an example for a number of other criminals by taking life of one, so that they could think twice before committing a capital offence in the future, and also so that new people take terror in joining in. Death penalty in some people’s opinion also provides closure to the family of the victim and sends them the message of justice. It also precludes the loved ones of the victim from seeking revenge against the injustice. Many people also prefer death over a lifetime of imprisonment. Jail is a place where a person faces the social outcasts and mentally sick people who are not even deterred by the high security and fear of further confinement, and they, therefore, carry on exhibiting violent behavior. Therefore, each prisoner lives in fear of the more powerful inmates and has no hopes of freedom that he/she could hold on to. Death may seem like an easier way out and, therefore, one may say that it saves from an eternity of entrapment and misery. Capital punishment also in the opinion of many is the best answer to murder. If we want to really punish an offender, we should serve him/her with a punishment that matches the crime, and in case of murder, the suitable punishment would be death.
How many of these arguments however are justified? I think none of the above. When talking about how capital punishment may cause murder rate to drop because of the fear of death, we could argue that since murders require motive and opportunity, people who are driven by strong motives for murdering an individual may not be daunted by the fear of death that is not even certain is a not likely to stop them from following their path. So death sentence may prevent some from committing a capital offense, it has not however been witnessed to lead to a dive in the number of homicides. Besides, if the death penalty sets an example against committing of a capital offense; it also however robs the offender of an opportunity at redemption. Against the argument that the death penalty provides closure to the victim’s family, we could dispute that it cannot bring back a person once dead. And many victims may not even support the taking of another life to justify murder. The convict may rather die than spend a life in prison, or one may even like to go to prison, but capital punishment hardly offers a choice.
Capital punishment may be helping the decline in the crime rate the number of homicides, but the price that we are being forced to pay is too high. So rather than adding to the number of people dying because of the crime on the streets, we should use our resources to find alternative means of ending crime and injustice. Just like James Abbot, a police chief in New Jersey said: “Give a law enforcement professional like me $250 million, and I’ll show you how to reduce crime. The death penalty isn’t anywhere on my list.”
Baicker, Katherine. The Budgetary Repercussions of Capital Convictions. July 2001. <http://www.nber.org/papers/w8382>.
Council, Judicial. Report of The Judicial Council Death Penalty Advisory Committee. 13 February 2014. <http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/KSCost2014.pdf>.
InfoPlease. The Death Penalty Worldwide. 2014. <http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html>.
OADP, Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. The Facts: 13 Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty. <http://www.oadp.org/facts/13-reasons#Top>.
ProCon.org. 41 Federal Capital Offenses. 21 August 2012. <http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004927>.