Why death penalty should be abolished

Death penalty (also commonly referred to as the capital punishment) was widely applied in the pre colonial times internationally. The new movement against the abolition of the death penalty started in the eighteenth century and some of the first countries to abolish the sentence included San Marino and Costa Rica in the late 1800s. Currently, more than half of the countries in the world have done away with the practice and most of the capital punishments to date exist only in a number of countries. Among the major countries that still practice capital punishment are China, United States of America, Saudi Arabia and Iran (the Great Britain abolished it but still practices it in the case of treason). However, a number of states in the United States have done away with capital punishment and of the fifty states, thirteen states no longer practice it and five have not had any recent executions. With this kind of global analysis, one is left to wonder why so many of the countries of the world would consider capital punishment unlawful and barbaric if at all it has any established means of providing justice and compensation or retribution to the plaintiff or the society at large. One major concept about justice is that for each crime, there exists an equivalent punishment that in a great sense balances the corresponding criminal act. It is common to hear people make statements like justice was done, or he got what he deserved or it served him right. These statements usually express that something is placed in balance every time punishment is administered. When crime and punishment are balanced, there always should be an account that is paid off in full. Take for instance, if a person steals 100 from you and is later required, by law or whichever system of administering justice, to repay you a sum of 100, this account has been fully settled in monetary terms. But what if another malicious person shoots your eye Will also having his eye shot restore yours.

The latter represents a situation whereby no technique in law and justice can be applied to fully compensate the person to whom damage or harm has been done through and act of crime. Such is the situation in death penalty having the life of the criminal taken away does not result in the removal of the pain and injury caused to the other party involved, neither does it restore the life of the murdered person. In most cases, a person is sentenced to a death row in the event of murder cases or rape in the United States of America. The viability of the practice loses sense in these cases because there are usually other losses or damages that the family and friends of the murdered person usually suffer that cannot be reversed by simply executing a death penalty as an equal punishment. For example, there usually is emotional suffering to friends and family, which may cause permanent pain as long as they live due to the loss of a loved one. The other similar example is the situation whereby capital punishment is passed to rapists. Even if the rapist is sentenced to death so that he does not continue with the crime, the harm the raped person incurs cannot, by no means be compensated. Such loss could be trauma, mental disturbance or in the current generation the infection with a terminal disease (such as HIVAIDS).

In some way, the practice of capital punishment is a failure by the practicing nations to handle criminals in the society. This is because punishment to a criminal should always have one ultimate goal which is to reform or rehabilitate them and make them better and contributive members of the society. If this be the case, death penalty fails to reform the person and thus avoids the responsibility by simply cutting them off from the society. At the center of the roles of any justice system is the responsibility to reform. It thus follows that death penalty not only denies a criminal the opportunity to reform but also breaks the rules of justice, because it works in opposition to the ultimate goal of justice against crime. America is one among a marginal fraction of countries that still allows the capital punishment as a type of punishment against crime. Some people perceive capital punishment being a barbaric and ruthless act which infringes the moral values, while other people find it an important means and deterrent in adequately fighting deliberate and habitually violent murder. The lawful definition of death penalty implies the assassination of an individual through the judicial process for incapacitation or retribution, while the criminal acts which result to capital punishment are called capital offences. There are many reasons as to why capital punishment should be completely abolished due to its ineffectiveness in promoting justice not only to the offended party but also to the criminal as well as the society. In this regard, this paper addresses the issue of death penalty by considering the benefits and the harm that it causes to the entire humanity and the justice system.

Proponents of the death sentence
The proponents of capital punishment have presented various arguments supporting the execution of death penalty on the worst criminals in the society. The foundation for arguments for capital punishment is mainly the concept of revenge and the idea that criminals should always be made to feel the weight of the harm that they cause by carrying out capital offences such as murder and rape. There are a number of issues which make capital punishment the most excellent method of punishing a criminal liable to capital offences.

To begin with, death penalty incapacitates the criminal. Through the practice of capital punishment, the worst criminals are permanently cut off from the society. It provides security to the members of the society that the criminal can never commit further crimes whether within the society or in prison or worse still if he happens to escape from the prison. This method not only serves to compensate the offended person but also gives some form of security to the entire society. In addition, these proponents argue that monetary compensation is not a limitless commodity. The government should also spend the limited resources available in the economy on other more important issues such as on healthcare, the poor or the old instead of spending it on life imprisonment of rapists and murderers. It therefore follows that capital punishment helps in saving the costs that would have been spent on life sentences of the criminal and also saves the criminal the agony of a lifetime spent in prison.

The punishment also acts as a deterrent for the criminals who could also be planning to carry out the offense. Nobody would want to be sentenced to capital punishment and the state uses it to demonstrate the serious effect of committing a capital offense. As such, any other criminal in the society could be planning to commit the offence is deterred by the execution of death penalty on another.

The most recent idea that has greatly backed up the morality behind the performance is the modern DNA and forensics testing which ensure that there are no errors made when identifying the criminal who deserves the capital punishment. With the use of the DNA and the forensics testing facilitated in the US and other countries that practice capital punishment, it is almost impossible to make a wrong identification of the criminal responsible. In addition, this argument has been supported with the idea that in total, the number of guiltless people who may be sentenced to death cancels out with the total number of the guilty criminals who either escape from prison or are released. It is also said that the death penalty provides the family and friends of the murdered person some sort of emotional relief and comfort if they are sure that the person behind the killing of their loved one has also been dealt with in a similar manner. The supporters of this stand point argue that it would be more emotionally depressing for these families and friends to live with the knowledge of the fact that the criminal who denied life to their beloved is still alive and enjoying life or even worse, killing more people.

The society reserves its right to have justice against the law breakers and in the view of the society, the most excellent way to have justice done against a murderer or a rapist is to have them sentenced to death (Casell  Bedau, 2004). The length of time that it takes between the time when it is declared that a person is guilty of capital offence and the actual execution of the capital punishment is at least ten years under a properly functioning judicial system. During this period of time, the victim who knows that at the end of each day he or she approaches the end of life will have gone through a complete mental torture and punishment which serves as a proper balance for the pain that he too caused to the parties involved with the person on whom he conducted the inhuman capital offence.

Finally, the proponents of this view on death penalty hold that majority of the people who have in the past been sentenced for death penalty have proved to be the hard gangsters who are usually under the influences of drugs and other body toxins that propel them to commit capital offences. As such, these are addicts who do not care about the consequences of their actions and therefore, they are bound to continue repeating the same crimes as long as they are allowed to continue living. Therefore, the best way to handle these kinds of people is to eliminate them permanently from the society.

Why capital sentence should be abolished
If the Christian faith is put into consideration by the executors of capital punishment, it would remind them that the bible is against deliberate murder of anotherit is a commandment in the Christian holy book that thou shall not kill. The United States which is majorly a Christian populated country should thus be the least among the nations that support capital punishment.

What is more, the final total expenses of carrying out a capital sentence, when one considers the additional procedures and the extra appeals is in most cases higher than the total costs that would be incurred to sentencing a criminal to a life term in prison. This thus eliminates the thought that death penalty is used to reduce the costs of putting up a person in prison for a lifetime. The usual time spent between conviction and execution is normally 10 years. Capital punishment proponents uphold that life sentence without the likelihood of any parole remains cheaper. To further support this argument, it has been argued that in the long run, nobody knows the time when the criminal might die from a natural death and therefore he might actually die shortly after being put behind the docks and therefore save the state both the costs of life imprisonment as well as the expenses of finalizing a capital punishment years.

In a moral perspective, it is viewed that the poor quality of life and the mental torture of spending the rest of a persons life in prison is a moral retributive method of compensating the offended parties and punishing the criminal as well as creating a deterrent impact than the death penalty method (Bedau, 1964). No matter how much precaution is taken to ensure that wrong identification never occurs, there will always be innocent people being killed as a result of human error or other unprofessional and unethical processes. The conviction and judicial system cannot provide a one hundred percent guarantee that errors and innocent convictions will never occur in the death row. The argument by the proponents that capital offenders are usually hard criminals who cannot change fails to recognize the recommendable role that the rehabilitation centers have been carrying out in our societies. Many hard gangsters have left these centers being completely different people with a new sense and meaning for life. Thus, the rehabilitation centers also deserve a right to be allowed to carry out their duties without disturbances.

Critics to the practice of capital sentence disagree with the concept that death penalty offers emotional relief to the friends and relatives of the murdered person.  On these grounds, it is held that the loss of a husband, for instance, could cause permanent problems to the family. In some cases, widows have had to go through psychiatrist counseling due to the stress and impact of the death of a husband on her and the family. To such a person, killing the criminal or letting them live may not have any evident impact. There also is a founded ethical basis of opposing death penalty. The execution of a capital punishment to anyone by whichever government is a gross violation of human rights this could become even worse if the person is not in the real sense guilty of murder. Furthermore, the practice loses meaning when applied to juveniles and the mentally challenged people especially in the case of a mentally ill person, who could not have carried out the criminal act in his or her proper reasoning and thinking.

In criticizing the view by the proponents of capital punishment that the practice usually creates a cancelling effect, the opponents argue that these people fail to understand that death penalty is a matter of human life. Therefore, saying that because a person was wrongly convicted to death row balances off with another person who was supposed to undergo a similar exercise but either escaped or was released is very futile. We cannot handle human life like goods or money because once a person is murdered the action is irreversible. Finally, it is only logical and practical for this small fraction of the nations of the world that are still practicing capital punishment to style up and join the rest of the world in the debate for establishing more commensurate means of punishing capital offenders instead of holding the practice which not only viewed as being a thing of the past but also a violation of the human right to life.

Capital punishment ought to be abolished completely by any constitution as a lawful act due to its insufficiency and ineffectiveness in providing a viable means of justice and also for the fact that it is morally condemned and shows a high degree of lack of interest on the value of human life by fellow humans. It is a barbaric action that should not exist in the present age of democracy because even the arguments that tend to support the practice are partial and unsatisfactory.


Post a Comment