Death Penalty Explained

Death is the state in which all biological processes necessary to sustain a living organism permanently cease to operate. A penalty is a sanction a person receives for breaking the law. The death penalty is a legal procedure where a person is put to death for committing a crime against the state; these crimes typically include espionage, war crimes, treason, crimes against humanity, murder, and genocide. In almost all cultures, the death penalty has been used, and it had existed for quite an extensive period even all through the medieval epoch when kings hanged individuals when it was not yet called death penalty. The capital punishment was part of a justice system as indicated by most historical records and various primitive tribal practices.

Some people support capital punishment. However, most people do not recommend or maintain it despite the fact that it has been used for many years since it is inhumane, against their religious beliefs and views or it being immoral, also some individuals view it as being racially based (Kende 35). Every individual has a right to live and thus their lives should be protected and supported. This essay will argue various reasons and claims on whether the death penalty should be abolished or not.

First and foremost, the death penalty prevents future murders. With these said it is without a doubt that most societies always use the most stringent punishment possible to discourage prospect or future crimes. A person who has a mission of murdering someone will think twice before doing so for panic or fright of losing their life only if murderers are subjected to the death penalty.

Isaac Ehrlich, a criminologist, engaged a new kind of study and analysis in 1973 and the results revealed that seven lives were saved for every offender who was executed since others were discouraged from committing murder (Ehrlich 49). If nations which have high rates of crime did not use the capital punishment, the murder rates would have even been higher.

A Jurisprudence professor at Fordham University by the name Ernest Van den Haag closely researched the question of deterrence. He suggested that the death penalty have a propensity of discouraging prospect criminal activities more than other punishments even though statistical demonstrations are inconclusive. In essence, every individual fear death more than anything else and in particular anything that is deliberately scheduled by the court (Van 87). Van also suggested that what deters most is what individuals fear the most. This means that some the threat of death penalty has a capacity of discouraging executioners whom in one way or another may not have been deterred.

Since its finality is more feared than imprisonment, Van believed in death penalty since it discourages some prospective murderers who are not hindered by the thinking or contemplation of detention. It is less necessary to preserve the lives of murderers who are convicted with the reason that probability of executing them would not discourage others whereas it is more important to spare the life of a few innocent victims by discouraging their murderers. Due to his crime, the consciousness of a murderer has only negative value while that of victims who might be saved is valuable, so, to guard and defend the lives of innocent victims in fondness to those of real murderers, the criminal law is used (Van 87). In order to deter crime, we threaten punishments since punishments and threats are essential to deterrence. Therefore to prevent or discourage crime like murder, the death penalty is the best form of punishment.

On the other hand, the death penalty may not deter future murderers. The capital punishment is less of a deterrent than a judgment of life in jail; this is according to the broad conclusion from years of deterrence studies. Studies of Ehrlich have widely been discredited. The death penalty does not deter murder; instead, it has the opposite consequence, that is, the society is dehumanized when capital punishment is used thus increasing the possibility of further death this is according to a criminologist by the name William Bowers of Northeastern University and more criminologists’ findings support this.

There is a lower murder rate in the states that do not use capital punishment in the United States than those that do, for instance, countries of Canada or Europe have a lower rate of murder as compared to the states in the US which use the death penalty. Murderers either does not think and weigh carefully the differences between being imprisoned and being executed before they get involved in a murder, or they do not believe that they are going to be caught, this leads to capital punishment not being a deterrent. Usually, a crime takes place during high times, for instance in moments of anger.

According to Bedau, the criminal usually think of evading verdict or capture when the offense is being planned. Those who expect to escape arrest and detection will not be discouraged by the threats even the severest punishment (Bedau 19).

More often than not, people commit capital crimes in the heat of the moment. Such periods include, the time when one is under drug or alcohol influence or when one is in high emotional stress, therefore violence is caused by individuals without regard of the penalties to themselves as well as to other individuals. The significant predominance of the evidence reveals that capital punishment is not only less efficient as compared to incarceration in discouraging murder but also maybe a provocation to criminal violence.

In countries using capital punishment, police officers who are on duty suffer a lot due to higher rates of homicides and criminal assaults whereas on-duty police officers in abolitionist nations do not suffer. Besides, the fact that the capital punishment offers a more efficient prevention to the police homicides than substitute sanctions is not supported. Therefore, it is established beyond a reasonable doubt through an actual experience that capital punishment does not discourage murder.

The next argument regards retribution. Capital punishment is required by a just society for a life taken. The sense of balance of justice is always disturbed when a person kills someone; this is dangerous since the society succumbs to a decree of violent behavior if the balance of justice is not restored. However, it can only be restored by taking the life of the murderer, and by doing so, it reveals that the society treats murder as not only a serious offence but also an intolerable one.

Religious values do not only form a basis for Justice but also have maintained historically that it is right to take a life for a life and an “eye for an eye.” Death penalty leads to the termination of the murderer’s crime even though it will not restore both the victim’s family and the victim of the status which preceded the murder. Under our system of law, criminals deserve the most horrible punishment that is capital punishment if they commit the most heinous and cruel offenses. However, the value that the society places on protecting people’s lives would be undermined if a lesser punishment is subjected to such a criminal.

What power does the nation have to execute the assassin, if possibly he or she deserves to die? Together, the Old and the New Testament says, “’Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Prov. 25:21 and Romans 12:19). In order to take the life of a person, you will require an exclusive authority to justify it. The New Testament passage remains to support the nation’s right to execute offenders in God’s name. Aforementioned has a meaning that the power and the authority to punish including the capital punishment come from God according to the scriptures in the Bible; therefore, it is the nation’s role to punish offenders to promote justice.

It is not just to utilize or make use of the death penalty as a punishment for taking life. A matured society requires a measured reaction to an offense, despite the fact that our first thought and feeling is to cause pain to the person who wrongs us. The emotional sense of taking an act of vengeance is never enough reason for petitioning a system of death punishment. Instead, both the criminal justice system and laws should encourage us to engage in advanced principles which supports the respect for life, even that of the assassin. The chain of violence is extended by supporting vengeance which leads to additional killing.

Culture has never recommended the concept of an eye for an eye since we do not permit raping an individual who assaults or even persecuting the persecutor. It is indeed very unfair to subject the murderer to the death penalty, especially with the fact that the diminutive percentage of those sentenced of execution are put to death not because they are the worst criminals but because they cannot defend themselves since they have fewest resources.

Martin, in an encyclopedia of activism and social justice, researched about the campaign to end the death penalty. He argued that some people believe that the seriousness of offense will only be taught to the society through the use of the capital punishment (Martin 29). Aforementioned is not correct since it will just raise more violence if nations are trained to react to violence with violence. Despite the fact that the families of victims who are grieving and are in deep pain, they wish to see that those who have put them into such agony are punished. It is explicitly taught in our ethnicities that revenging using death penalty cannot heal this pain since healing is not only a long process but also a tough one which is just acquired through personal growth and above all God’s grace.

Furthermore, capital punishment should not be used since it is applied unfairly. Worst criminals are not singled out by the capital punishment; instead, based on the state in which the offense was committed or the victim’s race, an arbitrary group is selected. Concerning the state in which the crime was committed, a person who commits a crime in another country is easily subjected to the death penalty compared to an individual who commits a crime in his or her own country. Usually, the ones who are selected for capital punishment are those who can only meet the expense of a minimal defense.

Conducted studies have revealed that capital punishment is more subjected when a white individual is murdered as compared to when a black person is massacred. More often than not, capital punishment is racially conflict-ridden, since it appears to view black lives as less significant as compared to white lives. Since capital punishment was reestablished in 1976, for the assassination of a white victim, 158 black suspects have been executed. On the other hand, only 11 white victims have been put to death for the slaying of a black injured party.

A decision on who is subjected to capital punishment has to do more with the victim’s skin color or the offender’s skin color than it have to do with the violence of the offense. Application of the capital punishment is biased and prejudiced against ethnic groups, racial and gender; due to lack of objective rules that guide the utilization of the death penalty (Williams 9).

The death penalty may be used since it is applied fairly. Although the capital punishment is subjected to some people while other people are spared, that does not give a reason that everyone should be pitied and forgiven. Despite the fact that some suspects escape punishment unfairly, anyone who is found guilty should still be punished.

The claim that the capital punishment lies on race is an irrelevant factor and could be easily mitigated to apply the claims based on baffling and inexplicable inconsistencies that associate to membership in gender and other marginalized teams. In order to perform a criminal justice system, for instance, the death penalty, the state is not required by the constitution to eradicate any noticeable discrepancy that relates to a potentially unrelated factor.

The last argument relates to innocence. With the use of death penalty, there is a high risk of executing innocent populace. There is considerable evidence which shows that many people have been executed despite the fact that they are innocent. Van found that among seven people who are executed, there is at least one person who is innocent (Van 38). This information signifies that there is indeed an intolerable risk of executing people who are innocent. This means that the death penalty is not reliable ("3. Empathy for the Devil: Justice Antonin Scalia–Dissenting, Windsor v. United States (Redux)" 34).

Over many years I have observed the dynamics of our criminal justice system since I have connected with it as a Supreme Court Justice, which then assures me that in the past that we have probably executed those people who were not guilty of the crime. Moreover, I have made these statements only because I recognize and I am aware of how the state executes deals with those defendants who are more blameworthy and responsible in a capital case, thereby, giving them sentences to switch over against their participants.

Though rare, putting to death the innocent is an acceptable risk of the capital punishment. In the 1970s, increased appeals and safeguards were added to the United States capital punishment system. Therefore, there is no evidence that there has been an execution of an innocent person and even if it has occurred, then it is sporadic. People who have been released from the death string by the claim of innocence is only based on legal technicalities. If at all someone is shown to be innocent, the executive leaders, such as the governor, can do all it takes to free that person. However, claims of innocence are usually used as a mechanism to do away with the execution.

The death penalty system is not applied to all crimes; instead, it is only used for specifically defined crimes which the panel of judges finds that it deserves so. Furthermore, before the person is executed, executive officials, for instance, the governor must review the judgment to ensure that it is a fair one in a situation where they, without doubt, think through the guilt of the condemned defendant.

Additionally, it is important to note that if decision makers agree that the capital sentence is inappropriate, then innocent lives will still be lost through murder. When the death penalty is carried out, innocent lives are spared since murderers are incapacitated; this means that capital punishment is the most effective punishment for preventing such murderers from replicating their offense.

Under my own opinion, I at this moment strongly support the death penalty since it is the most controversial form of capital punishment among all the legal sentences for prisoners. I believe that the primary objective of subjecting criminals into capital punishment is to get rid of them since the communities have no hope in them, likewise, to make offenders pay for their crimes, deter them from committing crimes and discouraging them from engaging the same mistake, the death penalty is carried out.

In the United States, the death penalty has proven to reduce the rates of murder efficiently; this is one of the reasons why I argue that capital punishment should not be eliminated. Additionally, it is more economical to execute a human being rather than sending them to jail since the only way that the victim’s families will feel better is when the offender has been executed.

Criminals who commit a severe crime such as murder or rape should have all their privileges taken away from them and killed since such criminals are dangerous and they make people to get worried in the society. It is confirmed that there are few murders in Delaware as it is in this state that capital punishment is utilized more than in any other country. On the other hand, most severe crimes are committed in Washington DC, since death penalty does not exist, having this in mind, it means that capital punishment saves the life.

To conclude, capital punishment should never be abolished. This paper presents various reasons as to why it should not be repealed. If the death penalty does not exist then, offenders will have no fear to commit serious crimes. Abolishing death penalty will be a tremendous mistake since murderers will not stop their criminal acts. Therefore, the justice system regarding the severity of crimes and punishment should be re-evaluated. I as a result of this affirm that I came to this conclusion for the reason of my understanding of human life; I thereby commit myself to work towards protecting people’s life by strongly supporting the death penalty.

Works Cited

"3. Empathy for the Devil: Justice Antonin Scalia–Dissenting, Windsor v. United States (Redux)." American Justice 2014,

Bedau, Hugo A. The Case against the Death Penalty. American Civil Liberties Union, 1997.

Ehrlich, Isaac. The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death. National Bureau of Economic Research, 1973.

Kende, Mark S. "The Death Penalty." Constitutional Rights in Two Worlds, pp. 52-90.

Martin, Marlene. "Campaign to End the Death Penalty." Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice,

Megivern, James J. "Religion and the death penalty in the United States: past and present." Capital Punishment, pp. 116-142.

Meranze, Michael. "The Death Penalty." America's Death Penalty, 2011, pp. 72-105.

Van, Den H. E. Deterring Potential Criminals. Social Affairs Unit, 1985.

Williams, Kenneth. "Why and How the Supreme Court Should End the Death Penalty." SSRN Electronic Journal, 2016.

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