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Capital punishment refers to the procedure of killing persons to be disciplined for such offenses without an effective court process. In the near years, various expert opinions have arisen with some people opposed to it, while others supported it (Collier 1). The heated debate on this subject is based on the principles of vengeance, justice, and deterrent. Retribution refers to the act of providing deserving justice to a person for committing a wrongful act, whereas deterrent is a form of punishment that may prevent an individual from repeating similar offenses. The principle of justice encompasses the capacity to govern people equally and fairly (Steiker and Garland 10). Although there are many opposing views on capital punishment, it is important because it prevents crime in the society, defends the innocent and effectively reprimands the wrongdoers.
The idea of retribution is usually applied by proponents of capital punishment to justify its existence in the society. They assert that capital punishment is suitable when applied in circumstances of serious crime especially when dealing with incidences of massacre, terrorism, child murder and police murder (Prejean 1). Therefore, death penalty can be used when the magnitude of the crime committed is more pronounced. Furthermore, proponents of this method suggest that stringent penalties are reasonable since each assassin must die because the demise of human life cannot be matched to any other form of incarceration. Similarly, death penalty is necessary because the society has an ethical obligation to preserve the well-being and security of its members (Usman 3). In so doing, assassins interrupt this well-being and security. In this regard, only by persecuting the murderers that the government ensures that the arrested assassins get reciprocal justice (Collier 1). Similarly, capital punishment offers a chance of proportional penalty. When the punishment is not retributive, it cannot really turn out to be preventative in nature. When capital punishment is not used the country losses the element of retribution which can cause anarchy.
However, capital punishment has been criticized by various scholars and scientists. Precisely opponents of death penalty suggest that retribution promotes vengeance hence should not be allowed. In addition, they imply that assassins warrant to be respected because they possess the capacity to make appropriate decisions (Steiker and Garland 11). Based on their insights, the majority of victims of criminal acts pursue vengeance particularly via death punishment. In the event, these individuals accomplish their mission towards the offenders, they to play the role of perpetrators. For this reason, capital punishment is socially and morally unacceptable because it avenge the death of other persons (Collier 2). Moreover, people should desist from advocating for capital punishment when dealing with serious criminal offences such as rape since it fails to accomplish retribution.
Critics of the concept of capital punishment note that it is an inappropriate technique to accomplish integrity to the victims. Since the utilization of retribution originates from the “eye for an eye” thought, in case a serial murderer executes ten individuals, then eliminating him or her is morally is unjustifiable (Prejean 4). Some offenses are so terrible that there is not process that can provide equilibrium in the scales of fairness. Retribution is designed to offer a fine that is equivalent to the kind of criminal activity done hence matching the justice scales. Nevertheless, this element is rarely appropriate when dealing with dreadful crime (Collier 2). In particular, it is inapplicable especially among torturers and the rapists. Additionally, opponents of capital punishment argue that the world must change their practices since it is too punishing for contemporary human standards (Seal 21).
On the other hand, proponents of capital punishment maintain that it is very beneficial as it assist to discourage grave crime. For this reason the approach assist to develop huge levels of stability against evil. People who are discouraged via death penalty are not expected to participate in illegal deeds (Usman 3). The principle of deterrence was designed on the concept that some dreadful and serious crimes need firmer sentence such as death. In this respect, some criminality cannot be solved via mere life incarceration hence firmer penalties such as capital punishment is desirable in such cases. Deterrence does not imply that the nation will not experience criminal activities but instead it entail prevention of the humanity from embracing anarchy which encourages people to engage in wrongful deeds without fear of any repercussions (Steiker and Garland 13). For this reason, if the death sentence were not allowed, then it would encourage more people join the crime. For instance, in the cases of terrorism, if capital punishment were not applied, then it would send a message that the state is weak and culprits have no severe consequence. Therefore, death sentence in most cases can provide deterrence against most of the crimes that may occur in the future (Collier 3). Similarly, they protect the community from falling into anarchism.
Conversely, critics of capital punishment suggest that it is an ineffective process of preventing vicious wrongdoing. Recent reports have noted that death penalty does not reduce crime. Most of the states and countries across the globe have eliminated capital punishment in their legal framework (Prejean 5). Most notably, the rate of crime is not associated to whether a particular country has enacted capital penalty legislations. In fact, the rate of crime seems to be higher in states or jurisdiction with the death penalty legislation relative to those that have not enacted such laws. Indeed, death penalty does not effectivelly achieve the values of preserving the citizens from murderers who may choose to murder them (Collier 1). Furthermore, the opponents of this method argue that deterrence can be achieved through long-term imprisonment of offenders which advantageous because it does not take away another human life (Usman 7).
According to proponents of capital punishment, the method is a good way to deliver justice to the victims. They maintain that justice demands that perpetrators of heinous act such as manslaughter should be disciplined through capital. Most notably, justice is principally a act of offering fair treatment of the people in a reasonably manner (Collier 2). It is prejudice for a criminal who deliberately causes severe troubles to people but fails to undergo such sufferings. Significantly, the principle of justice recommends that the government must impose fair measures of pain to perpetrators of atrocious crime in the same manner they execute to the innocent citizens (Steiker and Garland 19). Capital punishment is beneficial because it strengthens fairness by imposing deaths to people who intentionally caused pain or suffering to others.
Nevertheless, the idea that capital punishment delivers justice to the perpetrators of serious wrongdoing is opposed by people, which believe that it is unjust. Opponents of this form of punishment argue that justice requires that all people must be treated equally and fairly (Collier 2). Various studies have pointed out that although most individuals are arrested for various offences, only a small proportion face capital punishments. In this regard, fairness is maintained even in states and nations that permit capital punishment in their legislations. The reports in the US indicate that, approximately 19, 000 people were charged for homicide in 1987, but only 300 were sentenced to face death punishment (Usman 9). Furthermore, the critics of this practice suggest that members of minority groups such as African Americans and the Latinos are likely to be unfairly targeted by the legislations. Precisely, most researches have indicated that the majority of victims of death penalty belong to the minority groups and persons of poor backgrounds in many countries including the United States (Steiker and Garland 21). Therefore, challengers of this procedure assert that person are normally victims of death penalties because they lack adequate funds to initiate appeals against capital punishment.
Some researchers claim that capital punishment does not deliver justice to most of the innocent persons affected by crime. Research has noted that from 1990s, more than 400 people have been erroneously sentenced of capital rape or homicide in the United States (Seal 23). Since the death punishment is irreversible, it become a challenge to revise any human error, which is generated from such practices in the future. Nevertheless, if the death penalty is not permitted in the justice systems, persons who are erroneously sentenced to death can be refunded and released for unlawful imprisonment (Prejean 7).
However, in order to avoid such consequences more thorough investigations should be conducted prior to sentencing the prisoner to death. In the justice process, it is important to take into account a nature and extent of a crime, because some wrongful convictions are so terrible that, for instance, life imprisonment could be regarded as too simple punishment.
To summarize, a wide range of reasons supporting and opposing the use of capital punishment has been provided to criminal justice system. Although there are many opinions against it, some of them do not hold when the issue is applied in the larger perspective (Collier 5). Most of the arguments against this method do apply to other form of punishment. If a state eliminates capital punishment based on these opposing views, then the entire humanity will end up in anarchy and chaos (Seal 21). Consequently, criminality will increase and citizens will suffer. Although no institution or person has a moral right to take was someone’s life, authority should use capital punishment to safeguard the life of innocent people, and reprimand wrongdoers (Usman 3). Lastly, it also plays an important part in prevention of the entire community from falling into criminality.
Collier, Linda J. "Adult crime, adult time: Out-dated juvenile laws thwart justice." Washington Post 29 (1998).
Prejean, Helen. Executions Are Too Costly—Morally.” Open Questions: Readings for Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing. Ed. Chris Anderson and Lex Runciman. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005, pp. 614-18
Seal, Lizzie. Capital Punishment in Twentieth-century Britain: Audience, Justice, Memory. Routledge, 2014.
Shatz, Steven F., and Naomi R. Shatz. "Chivalry is not dead: murder, gender, and the death penalty." Berkeley J. Gender L. & Just. 27, 2012, p. 64.
Steiker, Carol S., and David Garland. "Capital Punishment and Contingency." Harward Law Review, 2012, pp. 760-787.
Usman, Jeffrey Omar. "Capital Punishment, Cultural Competency, and Litigating Intellectual Disability." University of Memphis Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2012.
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