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Capital punishment also known as the death penalty refers to the planned and pre-meditated sentence for death as a form of punishment for crime committed by a convicted person. Crimes that may lead to a death sentence are known as capital offenses or capital crimes. In the United States and all over the world, both the opponents and supporters of the death penalty have come up with various arguments to try and justify capital punishment as being either morally correct or wrong. For Amnesty International, a famous human rights association, the use of capital punishment is a perfect example of decisive denunciation of human rights. It is the deliberate, callous and brutal killing of a person in what the state calls justice. The use of the death penalty, directly contravenes with the universal right to life culminating into the degrading, cruel and inhuman punishment. In the whole universe, there can never be moral justification for cruel treatment or torture (Mason and Gambrill 45).
According to Shaw and Branden, morality refers to the principles of wrong or right. Like moral beings, humans warrant praise for doing good as well as for imposing punishment to wrongdoers. In our modern society, there are several ways of punishing offenders, ranging from a slap to the death sentence. However, the punishment must be tailored to match with the crime committed. When done for the sake of self-defense, killing might be justified and, which results in death. On the other hand, Murder, is linked with the malicious and unlawful and intended killing of one person by another. However, the definition may not be applied when addressing capital punishment. This is so since, capital punishment is presented as the non-malicious, lawful execution, carried out by the government. It is important to note that the terms “execute,” “murder" and "Kill" may not be used interchangeably as they refer to totally different situations (Shaw and Braden 25).
Capital punishment has been used in the United States for a very long time, and since its beginning only the rules and regulations have changed. At present, thirty-eight states in the United States permit crimes to be reproved with a death sentence, especially to individuals who commit terrible crimes such as murder. There are various ways of administering a death sentence, but the most prevalent are electrocution, hanging and gas chambers. According to a research by, a greater percentage of Americans considers capital punishment as an ideal way of punishing capital offenders. However, there are several points in favor of the immorality of capital punishment.
A number of people think that through the use of capital punishment, a capital offender would be discouraged and deter current and prospective capital offenders from conducting crimes for the fear of being executed. However, the premise has proven to be ingenuous. An extensive study has revealed that the United States, the only developed country that uses capital punishment has the greatest murder rates in the developed whole. The use of capital punishment is evidently not a restraint to some capital offenders. There have been constant heated debates among abolitionist of capital punishment in regard to lex talion, a phrase representing “an eye for an eye." They argue that if we were prepared to abide to the lex talion system of justice, then sadist should be beaten, houses of arsonists burned down and rapists should be raped. Without doubt, this is would be the situation if various justice systems were to adopt lex talion. However, even though such criminals deserve such a kind of punishment. Justice does not administer lex talion. The big question is that if it not morally correct to rape rapist, is it morally okay to execute murders. The reply is simple and to the point (Shaw and Braden 25).
There is no positive value to executing the former punishment. The decision to rape a rapist would only be a foundation of degrading someone else. The sentence may not even be effective in preventing rapists from raping again. However, executing murderers, avoids them from recommitting their crime and hence protecting the society from further murders. At this point, the good prevail over the bad, and the one executing is morally vindicated in taking the life of the murder. Alternatively, if the opponents of capital punishment dispute that killing is constantly immoral, then they must also admit that killing in self-defense is objectionable and should as well be punishable by law (Benatar 26).
Morally, it is incorrect to imprison somebody for murder. A life sentence in cable-equipped prison and air-conditioned prison where an individual receives three free meals in a day, regular visits from family and friends and adequate time for personal recreation is a blow in the countenance of morality. On the other hand, there are no constructive motives for capital punishment. It is immoral to punish a person with the precise crime that you are punishing them for. The most immoral aspect surrounding capital punishment is the possibility that an innocent person may be implicated for crimes never committed by a flawed judicial system. The faults happen to be even more perceptible after several people are freed from death row.
The process of carrying out capital punishment is also very expensive and considering that the government is using taxpayer’s money. According to Benatar, the state of Florida spends approximately $51 million annually to punish first degree murders on death row. The statistics are founded on 44 executions carried throughout Florida since 1976, which translates to an estimated cost of $20 million per execution. The use of the death sentence has proven to be substantially unreliable and unfair with serious racial allegations associated with it. Fewer whites who kill African-Americans are condemned to face the electric chair as compared to their African Americans counterparts who kill whites. In addition, a study has shown that over a period of five consecutive years, in the state of Georgia, approximately 20 percent of African American were sentenced to death for killing whites in contrast to only 2.9% of whites’ sentenced to die for killing African Americans. Most African American Blacks are likely to face harsher sentences while on trial for murder, but their lives are not somehow valued when they happen to be the victims.
Capital punishment is morally wrong since it is not an efficient deterrent, economically biased, racial and unreliable. It is evidently clear that capital punishment is not a deterrent of preventing people from committing heinous crimes. Most people suppose that capital offenders will consider the outcomes of their deeds before committing the crime, deem the death penalty not a realistic consequence and thus refrain from committing crimes. However, this is intrinsically imperfect. A good number of potential capital offenders did not generally take into account the implication of a death penalty or life in prison. There are several motives for people not to reflect on the death penalty before executing a crime. According to Mason and Gambrill, criminologists at Northeastern University, the use of capital punishment affects society the most, leading into increased possibilities of more capital offences taking place. There is lack of evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent for committing further crimes.
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