The death penalty, also known as capital punishment is a legal process where the state sends a death row inmate to execution as a punishment for a grave offence committed. Although not all crimes are punishable by death, there are strong opinions shared by both pro-death penalty and anti-death penalty supporters.
The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading. A larger section of Civilized society as opposed to the death penalty at all times – regardless of who is accused, the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution.
Pros of Death Penalty
Death penalty tax Money: Proponents say despite expenses incurred by the government from imposing capital punishment, the death penalty is still cheaper compared to the costs of life without parole. Although there is no contention that the cost of the former is high, life imprisonment is accumulatively higher given the expenses for food, health care and other costs of sustaining the lives of incarcerated individuals serving life.
It deters would-be criminals to commit felonies: Advocates of the death penalty cite examples of how imposing the death sentence or abolishing it has affected the crime rate. According to a study conducted in the late 1960s, there was a 7% crime rate increase in the years when this law was abolished. On the other hand, fewer crimes were committed with the increase in the number of inmates on death row who were executed each year. Proponents say that these figures clearly indicate the efficacy of capital punishment in deterring crimes.
The absence of the death penalty is synonymous with the crime rates increase. As reported by Time magazine, an estimated 2,000,000 people in the United States have been victims of crimes, from assault to murder. With insufficient laws to address this problem or the lack of teeth in these laws, criminals become careless and bolder to commit heinous crimes because of the leniency in punishments and loopholes in the justice system. For this reason, there is a need for the death penalty.
It is constitutional and does not violate the Eight Amendment which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, fines and cruel and unusual punishments, including torture. Advocates of the death penalty say that the pain associated with the execution of a death row inmate is not improbable.
Even the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the Eight Amendment challenge which stated that the drug used to render the criminal coma-like unconscious before injecting the lethal drug is not capable to do so completely. The Supreme Court was firm on its stand that any method of execution definitely will inflict some pain and states with capital punishment have already adopted more humane methods to carry out executions.
The death penalty is a just punishment for crimes committed against the rights to life, freedom and safety of victims. It is the right of an individual to live peacefully and be free from harm. Unfortunately, crimes like murder, rape and assault are committed by perpetrators who have no regard for the life and property of others.
Since they violate other people’s lives, it is but fair that they are brought to justice and suffer the fate they rightfully deserve. People who are for capital punishment also talk about free will wherein an individual is given the right to do things of his or her own volition and he or she is responsible for his or her own fate.
Cons of Death Penalty
1. Innocent people are wrongly executed.
One of the arguments of opponents of the death penalty is the inevitability of sending innocent people who are wrongly accused to death row and eventually execution. The sad thing about this, according to those who are opposed is that innocence is proven after the execution has been carried out.
2. Concerning free will
Some criminals are suffering from mental illness or are having clouded judgment at the time of the crime.
Opponents contend that there are instances where people commit pre-meditated crimes and are aware of what they are doing. However, it does not discount the fact that crimes can also be committed out of passion or extreme anger triggered by a situation that makes an offender act on impulse.
Some are suffering from mental illnesses and are not taking medication which can lead to them committing offences they have no control of.
3. It is an added cost to the government and taxpayers’ money.
With the argument that life imprisonment with no parole is more expensive, opponents say that in general, the government spends more taxpayers’ money in handling cases of death row inmates. This is due to the length and complexity of trials, the number of defenders to be hired and the overall process.
They contend that there are two trials the state will spend for. One is for the verdict and another for the sentencing, not including the number of appeals that will be submitted while keeping the convicted prisoner inside maximum security.
4. Death penalty is a form of revenge.
While proponents say that imposing capital punishment is a form of retribution, that is, to punish who has committed a crime, opponents argue that it is revenge. For the latter, to avenge a crime committed to another individual may be understandable but killing someone for murdering another person is also unconstitutional. It is crime in itself that is only masked by the term capital punishment and in truth, only continues the series of violence.
International Views on Capital punishment.
Currently, 58 nations actively practise capital punishment while 96 countries have abolished it. Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits the use of capital punishment. The UN General Assembly has adopted non-binding resolutions calling for a global moratorium on executions.
Over 60 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries where executions take place, namely China, India, the U.S., and Indonesia. Each of these four nations voted against the U.N. resolutions. Among non-governmental organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are noted for their opposition to capital punishment.