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Western democracies, such as the United States, continue to use the death penalty for heinous offenses such as treason, kidnapping, extreme homicide cases, espionage, and plane hijacking that ends in murder. Capital punishment is the act of killing a person by the government as a punishment for a serious offense without a court trial. Electrocution, lethal injection, firing squad, and hanging are among the procedures used to execute the prisoners. According to Death Penalty Information Centers (2017), twenty prisoners were killed in the United States in 2016, the lowest number since 1991. According to Gallup polling, 61 percent of people hold that the death penalty is an effective way of punishing criminals because it deters the public from committing capital punishment. It is unjustifiable to use death penalty as a means of punishing crimes.
Proponents of the death penalty argue that the practice reduces the costs incurred by the criminal justice system in handling the offenders. In light of this, a lot of resources are committed towards housing and feeding the convicted individuals. For this reason, people opposed to the leniency of the system towards the convicts propose the termination of their lives to do away with the costs. However, the opponents of this proposal argue that executions are expensive because of the lengthy procedures that are followed including the use of drugs to kill the convicts.
Capital punishment also raises ethical concerns. Proponents of the practice argue that people who terminate the lives of other individuals do not deserve a decent death. As such, they propose the execution of individuals involved in serious crimes such as murder because the capital punishment plays a deterrent role by discouraging potential criminals from executing their plans. However, studies show that despite the numerous executions that have been conducted in the United States, murder crimes are still rampant (Bienen, 108). The statistics suggest that executions have not solved the problem of serious crimes through deterrence. On the contrary, critics of the death penalty note that it is unethical to terminate the lives of individual deliberately regardless of the magnitude of their crimes (Connors 320). The critics are opposed to the capital punishment because it sets a negative precedent that serious crimes can be punished through a termination of lives.
Opponents of the death penalty also argue that it doesn’t deter crime and therefore, imprisonment is far much better way of deterring crime. Moreover, they argue that it wrongfully gives the government authority to take away life. Leading countries that carry out death penalties normally have the most the most unfair trial system. For instance, in Iran, Iraq, and China, there have been confessions that most of the death sentences are normally arrived at through torture and therefore making it an inappropriate method of administering justice. Furthermore, in these countries, the likelihood of being sentenced to death is associated with poverty, ethnicity, race or religious minority. This is due to the existence of discriminatory rules. Those for the death penalty argue that it’s a very crucial approach in maintaining law and order since it deters crime and is less costly as compared to life imprisonment. They argue that death penalty ensures justice of the victim and consoles the family of the murdered person. Furthermore, those supporting death penalties argue that it ensures that those who have participated in heinous crimes such as murder are not given the opportunity to commit such similar crimes in future. However, the fact that death rows can result from wrong judgments based on social biases and the incapacities of the criminal justice system make executions ineffective as a means of reducing crimes (Marzilli 69).
China is the leading country in executions and having sentenced 7003 people to death and executed 1718 in 2008. In the US, approximately 1,436 people have been executed between 1977 and 2016 and the common method is through lethal injection. The death penalty is normally used to execute murderers though in some cases it’s used for people who have been involved in treason or espionage. According to the opponents of the death penalty, capital punishment is a cruel form of punishment that violates the basic human right to life. From the humanitarian perspective, historical executions subjected the convicted individuals to a painful experience, which violates the principles of human rights. The abolitionist led by Amnesty International, calls for states to stop using capital punishment since it’s a source of psychological torture to the victims, inhuman and degrades human life. In some states, people who were even under the age of eighteen years when the crime was committed are years executed, in some other cases; the death penalty is even given people who are mentally disturbed.
A death penalty is a cruel form of punishment that doesn’t give the offender a second chance to change. In light of this, the rulings that result in death rows can be based on wrong judgments that arise from mistakes made by the prosecution (Urbina 212). People who have been sentenced to death, before they are executed, they are generally put on death row, as they await their death and therefore psychologically torturing them. Irreversible mistakes happen when the death penalty is given to an innocent person and thus causing a miscarriage of justice which leads to their execution. The execution of innocent victims has increased to the calls for the abolition of this form of punishment. In the US, between 1992 and 2004, 39 victims were executed despite there being enough evidence proving their innocence. According to Amnesty International, in 2015, 158 inmates on death row worldwide have been exonerated by the use of DNA and other forms of evidence. The executions of the individuals were stopped because of the DNA evidence that was presented in their defense. Furthermore, other people have been sentenced to death penalty despite there being doubts about their guilt.
It is evident that a death penalty is a flawed approach to criminal justice because of the ethical and legal controversy that it evokes. In as much as the capital punishment is perceived to reduce crimes, it sets a negative standard for settling disputes. With the legal system constantly changing so as to ensure justice, just because a wrong decision resulted in the justice system wrongly sentencing death to a person, it doesn't mean that the average that the death penalty is altogether bad. Death row inmates should be given enough support and opportunity to challenge the decision of the courts and get justice. This can be a good approach in minimizing death penalties that some people are accused of having committed. Moreover, the emergence of modernized and technologically driven methods of crime detection such as DNA matching has worked on ensuring that justice prevails especially in crimes whose punishment is the death penalty. In conclusion, it is essential for the criminal justice system, to utilize alternative means of punishment including life sentences to deter crimes and keep away potential offenders.
Bedau, Hugo A. The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
Bienen, Leigh B. Murder, and Its Consequences: Essays on Capital Punishment in America. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2011. Print.
Connors, Paul G. Capital Punishment. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2007. Print.
Mandery, Evan J. A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America. , 2014. Print.
Marzilli, Alan. Capital Punishment. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003. Print.
Urbina, Martin G. Capital Punishment in America: Race and the Death Penalty Over Time. El Paso: LFB Scholarly Pub, 2012. Print.
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