Capital punishment or the death penalty is the act of killing or executing an individual, who was found guilty of a serious crime, by the government judicial system/court system. For many centuries, execution has been considered the ultimate punishment for a crime, because there is no reverse from death when one is condemned to execution. Despite the availability of logical alternatives for capital punishment such as life in prison without parole many nations; still perform the death penalty to this day.
The death penalty has been a commonplace in western civilization for more than two thousand years and many other nations. Despite the long term use of capital punishment, its use and abuse has come into challenge in countries such as Italy, France and England. This has led to the increasing number of debate whether capital punishment is ethical and justifiable in various parts of the world. It is important to note that, changes in the arguments for and against capital punishment prove that tremendous developments regarding the taking of human and saving life by the government have taken place in many parts of the world.
Punishment is an exercise that is executed by, and aimed at, agents who are accountable in some sense. God and humans can penalize; cyclones cannot. Individuals, but not defective televisions, are fit subjects of penalization. A higher degree of capacity is needed to impose penalization than is minimally needed to make one submit to it. In order submit to it, one needs have only enough mental check over one's actions to abstain from disfavored conduct, a degree of check that quite little children and some creatures possess. To penalize, one must be able consciously inflict harmful effects to the cause of a wrong that has been perpetrated
The term capital crime to date has no universal definition thus it meaning and usage vary from one nation to another (Kauffman-Osborne, 2002). In most cases, capital crimes are considered to be treason or terrorist attacks against the government, crimes against property when life is threatened, and crimes against a person that can include assault, murder, and robbery. The purpose of this paper is to look at both sides of the arguments of the death penalty-the pros and cons and illustrate the reasons why some people propose the use of capital punishment while others are against the use of capital punishment and thereby advocate the use of other alternatives. Presently, China is the leading country with the highest number of executions.
Arguments for capital punishment
Incapacitation of criminals.
Capital punishment serves to permanently removes the most terrible criminals from society and thus separating such criminals from law abiding citizen’s .Execution of terrible criminal thus proves to provide a more dependable way of eliminating criminals from the rest of the society than other long term alternatives such as life imprisonment. This is true as criminal who face death penalty will in no way kill there would be victims. Thus it is clear that capital punishment benefits the society as criminals who have been executed cannot commit any further criminal offence while those that are imprisoned can commit murder even while within prison cell (Mandey, 2005).
Practice of Capital punishment has contributed to the problem of overpopulation in the prison system. This is manifested when prisons across the country face the problem of too many prisoners. In most cases, the resources such as food and space are not enough to cater for detainees. In many nations, prisons are overcrowded because of increased crime rates and slow judicial processes. Capital punishment help ameliorate the situation be ensuring that criminals who engage in capital crime are executed and thus decongest the prisons. The potential problem where each additional prisoner requires a portion of a cell, food, clothing, extra guard time, and so on is eliminated. Elimination of death penalty as an option implies that prisoner who committed capital crime must be housed for life and this only adds to the problem of an overcrowded prison system.
The desire for justice to be done is one of the innate qualities of most humans. This desire is vital in preventing the society from falling into a dictatorial chaos where the average, peaceful person would be subject to the violence, wrath, and fury of offenders living in the society. In nations that have capital punishment in their laws, the number of capital offences is considerably low. it is one of the cornerstones of justice. For the sake of society’s stability, fair and swift justice must always exist, and the complete removal of people who would destroy that society through crime is absolutely necessary. The death penalty serves this purpose better than any other form of punishment, as it ultimately ensures that a criminal can never harm another person again. From the perspective of justice, the death penalty serves any given populace by erasing its worst element: the criminal one.
Some proponents of capital punishment reason that, capital punishment provides a cheaper way of dealing with criminals who have committed capital crimes. To them, money is a resource that can be exhausted and thus should spend wisely by the government. Despite the fact that anti-capital punishment campaigners in numerous countries like the U.S. cite the higher cost of executing someone over life in prison, which may be true due to the endless appeals and delays in carrying out death sentences, but is not the case in some nations. They further argue that, due to the less cost resulting from execution of criminal; the government can cater for more urgent and deserving needs of its people in areas such as health, insurance and pension (Schmidt, 2002).
In the world today, millions are being killed and the trend of murder is likely to continue. These atrocities have been attributed to the judicial systems of many nation that are inefficient and do not work well. At the moment, millions of people have been reported to have been killed. According to a the-scientis.com, there are 2,000,000 people beaten in the United States. Some are knifed, shot, or assaulted (Akst, 2010). Crime growth has been ascending in the past years and this is perceived by many to be due to, too much leniency going hand in hand with the increased rate of people being assaulted. This is because offenders have found out loop holes in the judicial and therefore continue to murder, assault, kidnapped, rob and rape. The death penalty is expected to discourage murder by putting the fear of death into would be killers who may be planning to commit capital crime such as murder. This is because there is a lower probability someone doing something they think will bring harm to them. In countries like Singapore which has recorded numerous death sentences on capital criminals, it has been observed that there is far less serious crime being committed. This observation tends to designate that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to serious crimes. It is argued that death penalty is much more likely to be a deterrent in the case where the crime requires planning and the potential criminal has time to think about the possible consequences of the crime they are about to commit. However, death penalty may not act as a deterrent where crime is committed in the heat of the moment. Studies were made by Professor Isaac Erlich between the period of 1933 and 1969. He concluded “An additional execution per year may have resulted in fewer murders” (Bedau, 1987).
Execution is viewed by many as a very real punishment compared to other forms of sentences which are considered as "rehabilitative" treatment. In Execution, the criminal is made to suffer in proportion to the offence they commit. Despite the fact that we are living in a society where the principal for “an eye for an eye” is a matter of individual opinion, retribution is still seen by many as an adequate reason for the death penalty according to my survey results (Lowe, 2010). Retribution done on offenders is based on hatred for the criminal al thought for some people the feeling of vengeance may go with the punishment. The use of retributions is grounded on the fact that criminal deserves to be punished and deserves to be punished in proportion to the gravity of the crime they have committed. This is usually done with disregard whether or not the victim or anyone else desires it to be done to the offender. It is argued that, when a society fails to penalize criminals in a manner that is or thought to be proportionate to the degree of the crime, there is the risk of the public taking the law into their hands. Such act will bring chaos resulting in vigilante justice, lynch mobs, and private acts of retribution. Thus the outcome of not using retribution is likely to bring into existence an insecure state of injustice. While what constitutes an offense punishable by death differs around the globe, in all cases someone is harmed. Murder is considered the worst offence and despite the death of a victim, the family and friends of a victim will have to live with pain for their loved one. They are also faced with the fact that the individual responsible for offence still lives while the victim does not. Only the law and those closest to the victim can avenge for as the victims cannot avenge themselves. Through retribution, the court system can bring consolation and peace of mind to the family and friends of victims of murder though it cannot bring back their loved one lost through violence.
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Humane forms of Punishment
Capital punishment is debated to be a more humane form of punishment compared to “incapacitation”. Incapacitation involves the sentencing of a criminal to solitary confinement. In this case, offenders are secluded for 25-50 years. Thus some people argue that executing criminals may seem like a more humane option than other forms of punishment like incapacitation. Capital punishment thus helps to end the intense suffering and that a prisoner may go through such as being sentenced to life without parole and never again allowed to see daylight (Avery, 2010)
Accuracy of scientific test
Advancement in science in areas such as DNA testing and other methods of advanced crime scene science can now are effectively employed during investigation of crimes as well as isolation suspects and identification of offenders. This has helped improve in investigation and nearly provides a way of proving a person's guilt or innocence. Despite the fact that opponent of capital punishment argue against the death penalty owing to the possibility of occurrence of error, these may no longer be the case as science can now help eliminate uncertainty that has in the past led to conviction of innocent individuals. It is now evident that the number of innocent people that might somehow be convicted is no greater than the number of unacquainted victims of the manslayers who are set free by various judicial systems (Bedau, 1987). In America, a good number of people think that capital punishment is good, and are convinced that the criminal justice system, although not perfect, does work
Escape of prisoners
Proponent of capital punishment argues that prisoner parole or escapes can give criminals another chance to kill other people once they escape from prison cells. Thus to avoid such as situation happening, capital punishment is executed to capital crime offenders. This is seen as a sure way of removing the possibility of prison break and subsequent return or the criminals to the streets. This is seen as beneficial to the society at large as it will help keep citizens safe as well as prevent the occurrence of crime in the future. This in the long run will reduce the opportunities that criminals may get in order to continue with killings or other capital crimes. Long run, criminals who commit capital crime will never have a chance of killing.
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Arguments against capital punishment
Although the use of capital punishment in many nation is in accordance to peoples will, its use has raised many voices against it. Heated public have taken place in many regions in the world with question being raised on deterrence, sentencing equity, public safety, and the execution of innocents, among others. The following are arguments opposing the death penalty and calling for its abolition
The possibility of error
Constitutional due processes as well as elementary justice require that the judicial roles of trial and sentencing be conducted with key fairness; especially where the irreversible approve of the death penalty is called for. Despite this requirement of law, there have been significant grounds to show that courts have been indiscriminate, unfair, and racially biased in the way in which they have condemned some individuals to prison but others to death. Occasionally, no matter how careful courts are, the likelihood of untrue testimony and human error however remain real. There is a high likelihood that the person being executed is a mistaken identity of the real person who committed a crime. For instance, in the parliamentary debate on the 14th March 1848, Lord Nugent said that from evidence brought by commission that was setup, it was apparent that report that almost one individual in every three years had tolerated capital punishment, whose blamelessness had been afterwards verified (Pattenden, 1996). Betterments in DNA research, still, which have contributed to the vindication of death row convicts, are causing people to take a serious second look at the reliability of the criminal justice system. In this lesson students will explore the issues surrounding the death penalty debate and participate in a values-clarification activity to help them form their opinions on this topic. Students will also create a talk show to discuss the issues involved with DNA testing and the death penalty. People. It therefore happens that genuinely innocent people will be executed and that there is no possible way of compensating them for this miscarriage of justice. In most cases it happens that the only people who know what really happened at the scene of crime are the accused and the deceased, and since the deceased is already gone and can’t give his or her account there is always an assumption that the accused is indeed guilty.
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There has been increasing evidence that guilty pleas in fact settle most federal cases. The vast majority of cases in federal courts result from guilty pleas rather than trials. The percentage has been increasing since 1991. The increase has resulted from prosecutions greater bargaining power and an increase in the number of latency for testimony plea bargains
Lack deterrent effect
The death penalty creates martyrs of adherents of groups which use ferocity as a means to attain their ends. Such groups do promote further violent activities. A UN report, modified in 1996, came to the assumption that, there is no evidence that executions have a bigger deterrent effect than life imprisonment. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the US states that have got death penalty regulations do not have lower law-breaking or murder ranks than other states.
It has been approximated that accomplishing one death conviction costs about 2-5 times more than holding that same criminal in prison for the rest of his life. These expenses are due to the endless appeals, extra required procedures, and legal wrangling that drag the process and end up taking a longer process than anticipated. It's not unusual for a prisoner to be on death row for 15-20 years. Judges, court reporters, attorneys, clerks, as well as court facilities all require a significant investment by the taxpayers.
Taxpayers are therefore the one that finance the cost of execution while in deed such money ought to be channeled by the government towards more important projects, such as providing quality education, and community development. In addition rather of executing the criminals they could be confined in prisons; where they are expected to work to pay for their own internment and even work to produce finances for the survivors and victims of violent criminal offense. Such an approach could be a useful way of making the criminals use their services to benefit the nation, rather than the state using money to executing them while there are more deserving areas where money can be used (Schmidt, 2002)
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As shown below, the period between sentencing and execution takes long and this has heavy financial implication to a nation.
There is a lot of Literature applying to the issue of racial inequality in the application of death penalty. In some Nations and States racial discrimination is very prevalent up to date especially in United States of America Members of ethnic and racial minorities are prosecuted and convicted in percentages that exceed their proportion in their population in United States of America(Hodgkinson & Schabas, 2004). The killing of a white person is treated much more severely than the killing of a black person. Of the 313 persons executed between January 1977 and the end of 1995, 36 had been convicted of killing a black person while 249 (80%) had killed a white person. Of the 178 white defendants executed, only three had been convicted of murdering people of color. An exhaustive statistical study of racial discrimination in capital cases in Georgia, for example, showed that "the average non-white of receiving a death sentence among all indicted cases were 4.3 times higher in cases with white victims ( Hugo & Cassell, 2004). In such scenarios there is unfair acts of justice because two people of different races are treated differently even in situation where they have committed a similar offence, which deters justice.
Trying moments for the Families
Prisoner's families usually undergo pain from learning that their loved have been sentenced to death by the state, as well as experiencing countless appeals that drain them emotionally as they wait for the verdict to be pronounced on their one. The innocent family and friends of criminals go through a very hard, sorrowful and trying moment in the time during the whole execution period of their loved one. It is often very hard for people to come to terms with the fact that their loved one could be guilty of a grievous crime and without doubt even harder to come to terms with their death of that form. In some conditions, the individuals being executed having committed capital crimes could be the solitary bread winner in the household and this expose’s to family under hard financial strains with no else to one to provide to them. This could also mean that the children of offenders could end up missing basic education, food or even shelter since their provider is no longer present and end up into living in the street. Thus it is necessary for capital punishment to be abolished so as avoid putting families of offenders at stake because of lack of provisions.
Murder is Biblically wrong
Capital punishment from a Christian point of view is virtuously wrong. No one has the right to take another person’s life. In the Bible (Exodus 20:13) states “thou shall not kill”. It therefore holds that killing or murder is an in humane act whether lawful or unlawful. Christians debate that every other individual should be given a second prospect to improve their ways and by death penalty, someone is being denied a chance to put their lives in order and be of significant use to the society. Life is valued and should be upheld at all costs. Every person has a right to life. Killing a person in whom the image of God is reflected is a very serious sin. Only God is the master of life and only He has the right to terminate a person’s life when He chooses to and not a fellow human being (Mandery, 2005).
Capital punishment is barbaric and violates the "cruel and unusual" clause in the Bill of Rights. The deliberate institutionalized taking of human life by the state is the greatest conceivable degradation to the dignity of the human personality. ( Hugo & Cassell, 2004).The different modes of execution used are in humane, brutal and horrifying, They range from the traditional mode of hanging one in gallows, to electrocution and to the most recent which is lethal injection. Most people observing an execution are horrified and disgusted. "I was ashamed," writes sociologist Richard Moran, who witnessed an execution in Texas in 1985. "I was an intruder, the only member of the public who had trespassed on [the condemned man's] private moment of anguish. In my face he could see the horror of his own death. The death penalty cannot be useful, because of the example of barbarity it gives men and therefore no society can safely entrust the enforcement of its laws to torture, brutality, or killing. Such methods are inherently cruel.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, only about one percent of all those on death row were women even though women commit about 15 percent of all criminal homicides. A third or more of the women under death sentence were guilty of killing men who had victimized them with years of violent abuse. Since 1930, only 33 women (12 of them black) have been executed in the United States (Hugo & Cassell, 2004). Women are said to receive very favored treatment when it regards to capital punishment. Gender cultural stereotypes encourage judges and juries to wonder whether women defendants are able to demonstrate the full criminal intent. Consequently women can more readily contend that they killed while subject to domination of another subject may be they were emotionally or mentally disturbed at the time they committed the crime and are hence given a lighter punishment than their fellow men offenders.
The all-encompassing range of debates endlessly pro-pounded both for and against capital punishment may, for ease, be classified into philosophies which are based on moralistic or philosophic beliefs, and Non-Dogmas which are able to be scientific verified basic assumptions and theoretical alignment. The death penalty was once exercised in most nations of the world and has however not been got rid of in many states, including the USA and Japan. Capital punishment has constantly been an emotional subject, especially in the wake up of gruesome terrorist attacks or murders. This has resulted in a number of people favoring capital punishment while arguing that an individual who has committed a terrible act deserves death.
Nevertheless, the death penalty neither discourages crime nor aids the victims. Miscarriages of justice also happen frequently than most people realize. Moreover, an innocent individual can be executed deliberately, capital punishment being an ill-famed way of hushing political antagonists. The death penalty is frequently applied in an unjust, arbitrary and discriminatory manner. Its irrevocable nature leaves it exposed to misuse. According to the US Death Penalty Information Centre, 123 people have been freed from Death Row since 1976 after being wrongly convicted. (www.deathpenalty.org, 2010)
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Despite the justification of capital punishment, it is very important to appreciate that capital punishment has many challenges and loopholes that have created sorrow and grief to many people.
There is need for the world to unite together and create shared principle of law that will uphold respect for human rights and democracy. Such union would ensure that member nations strive to respect the life of its citizens. The union will also be tasked with the formulation and implementation that will ensure that member counties do not abuse capital punishment.
Capital punishment can also be introduced in nations where capital offences are on the rise. This will help in the incapacitation of criminals. However, capital punishment should be employed on worst criminal case such as murder. Capital punishment will thus help in the retribution process where criminals will be made to pay for the agony and pain they have caused both to victims, friends and families. The use of capital punishment in this context will also help the government save as substantial amount of money from year to year. The money save can then be used to finance other projects that have little or limited funds.
An individual’s political orientation may play a key part in their beliefs on capital punishment. Conservatives conceive that the death penalty is a penalty that fits the criminal offense and that it is neither nor unusual harsh. The conservatives think that the execution of the manslayer is the right punishment for taking the life of some other person. But then, liberals think that the death penalty ought to be got rid of. Opposite to conservative thought, they believe that capital punishment is savage and unusual and that putting a charged murderer in jail is the more beneficial alternative because every execution runs a risk of putting an innocent individual to death (Bedau, 1987). Nevertheless, it is important to approach the issue of capital punishment with a lot of caution as it is now true that the perception of the public has changed with regard to capital punishment
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