The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is the carrying out of a sentence imposed on someone convicted of a capital offense. The death penalty has a long history, almost as long as human history. Electrocution, hanging, burning, boiling to death, drowning, gases, lynching, and crucifixion are among the various methods of capital punishment used. For long periods of time, capital punishment has been an unquestionable part of human civilization and government, regarded as a necessary deterrent to extreme crimes and a means of protecting the public from dangerous criminals. Every day, however, innocent people are discovered in our prisons. What is the total number of people on death row? The system isn’t completely integrated. People guilty of crimes are capable going scot-free while the innocent people are sometimes condemned. Which is worse between letting a guilty person go free and executing an innocent person? The death penalty is the ultimate form punishment. Death is irreversible, you can never bring someone back from the dead and to think that there are people who have lost their lives over a mistake is appalling.
There is no tougher punishment than death itself. As of today, fifty-eight countries practice capital punishment. Our country, the United States of America, is one of these nations that exercise the death penalty. Presently the United States will only use the death penalty if an individual commits first-degree murder. First-degree murder is defined as an intentional, unlawful and deliberate killing that is premeditated. Individuals that believe in the death penalty believe that capital punishment will frighten murderers. For the worst of the crimes, life without parole is better, for various reasons. I am in opposition of capital punishment not because of compassion for criminals, but because it does not diminish crime, extends the distress of families of murder victims, is costlier than life in prison, and or the most part, risks putting to death, innocent people.
To commence, capital punishment, also known as the death penalty has no deterrent impact on crimes although people argue that capital punishment is a beneficial method to avert delinquency. This is reinforced by Dr. Jonathon Groner a sub-professor who teaches surgery at Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health who studies the preventive effect of capital punishment: “The psychological mindset of a criminal is such that they are unable to consider consequences at the time of the crime. Most crimes are driven by passion and done in situations involving extreme excitement or concern (Dr. Groner). What he is trying to say is that a murder usually happens at the moment. Homicide is typically instigated by a discussion that hit a wrong turn when an individual is livid. The average human being does not just wake up and think to themselves I will murder someone today, and they are definitely not thinking of the death penalty as being their punishment. Common sense will reveal to us that if a transgression is perpetrated while being angry the thought of being put to death will not serve any constraining purpose because at the time of the crime the individual is no longer able to constitute a sensible thought about the advantages and disadvantages of his actions. It must be stressed that as of today there has not been a single scientific narrative that attests to the idea of capital punishment preventing crimes or having a correlation amongst capital punishment and a felony.
It is evident from the history of human behavior that rational human instincts have failed to act as deterrence in preventing crimes. If the method were effective, then the criminal justice system would never use the death penalty. There is a percentage of criminals who are driven by passion in committing a crime and do not care about the possible negative consequences (Freedman, 1997). With or without the death penalty, people tend to kill others and commit crimes. Therefore, death penalty ends up as being an inconclusive tool as a deterrence measure. The judicial system is normally guided by the argument that the murderers should be executed. From the generalization, it can be said that death penalty is an effective deterrence measure. However, researches and statistics have proven otherwise, because criminals are never psychologically affected when they think of the impending death as a form of punishment (Gray, 2012). The death penalty, therefore, becomes an ineffective measure to deter criminal activities.
To determine the effectiveness of death penalty, various studies have been carried out in order to come up with a good conclusion to the debate (Parks, 2012). The American Society of Criminology as well as the Law and Society Association have been conducting profound analyses to establish the effectiveness of the punishment. The benefits of the death penalty are often contrasted with the benefits that accrue from the promotion of pro-social values that also aim at reducing criminal activities despite appearing as a soft approach that does not use force or inflict pain (Bedau, 2004). In other researches regarding homicides, the general population has expressed its concern and the lack of faith in the capital punishment that is considered as a miscalculated move to act as a deterrence (Parks, 2012).
Death penalties often trigger traumatic experiences to people doing the execution as well the general population. Most executions in the world are public events. In the US, lethal injections are done, while Iran goes a notch higher to publicly hang the convicts on live broadcasts. These events can cause the post-traumatic stress disorder affecting the health of the witnesses. The United Nations has analyzed the impacts of the live executions through the human rights experts and has published reports claiming that the punishment increases cruelty, is inhumane and degrades the human dignity (Parks, 2012).
A profound analysis of the death penalty reveals that it is a violation of the right to life (Freedman, 1997). The stand has also been supported by the Amnesty International through its officials that have constantly been pushing for the ban on the capital punishment (Park, 2012). The manner in which the executions are done across the world differs, revealing that there are certain methods that are considered are better than others. However, it worth recognizing the fact that there is no humane method of killing. All modes of killing are brutish in nature and continue to perpetuate the violence cycle that alleviates the pain subjected to the victims and the family.
An analysis of the total cases of death penalties around the world has revealed that the inhumane act is on the decline (Parks, 2012). The decline is a clear proof that governments, through their policymakers have resulted in other punitive measures instead of going for execution. If the executions were effective in deterring crime, it would be expected that more people would be executed. In 2015, more nations came out declaring their stand to abolish the death penalty for all forms of crimes committed, the highest number in ten years Jacoby, 2016). Currently, more than one hundred nations in the world have banned capital punishment and have effectively teamed up against the remaining states that still think that killing is a form of an effective punishment (Parks, 2012). Besides, states still carrying out capital punishment ought to be open to reports and statistics released by researchers on the effectiveness of using the death penalty to suppress criminal activities. For this to be effective, influential national leaders should back up the efforts to end the extremely brutish form of punishment. Therefore, criminals and murderers will realize that even the authorities appreciate the sanctity of life, making it a two way reciprocate rule with the government offering the best example to be followed by all citizens. The government can further gear its efforts towards the promotion of pro-social values that aim at teaching the importance of respecting other individuals without interfering with their fundamental rights.
Naysayers believe that the abolishment of the death penalty will not help in controlling crime. These pessimists can be regarded as being conservative and detached from reality that ought to be informed by scientific facts. People continue to be robbed of their valuables with resistances from criminal gangs often triggering fatal results that make death a real outcome. Long-term solutions ought to be sought out because murder convictions and imprisoning criminals acts as a promotion measure for members of the gang system (Jacoby, 2016). Murderers are, therefore, more likely to continue carrying out their heinous crimes. Considering the naysayers’ pessimistic arguments, it turns out that death penalty will continue to drag the society into another level of murderers or terrorists who do not uphold the sanctity of life. It is a high time that nations around the world team up and condemns the capital punishment regardless of the nature of the crime that a suspect might have committed. Besides, it is possible to sanction those states that do not conform to the international standards of punitive measures that must uphold human dignity and the fundamental rights.
Conclusively, the death penalty is not an effective measure to combat crime in the society. There are many options to encourage conformity instead of taking away the lives of criminals in large numbers. The measure is something that does not scare other potential criminals in the society thus it is advisable to promote pro-social values that have a great possibility of guaranteeing conformance. Many innocent lives have been taken after making wrong judgments, and there is no way that a life can be brought back. The death penalty is also inhumane and unjust and continues to stain the foundation pillars of the society that uphold values and morals. To discourage the capital punishment, the efforts should come from within through the human rights watchdogs and the civil societies. Besides, regional and international organizations can team up to apply pressure on non-conforming states that to abandon the capital punishment.
Policymakers ought to make references to past researches that have proven death penalty as having no effects in the reduction of crime. Executing suspects further proves that the society is not any different from terrorist organizations that consider taking away lives as a form of guaranteeing conformance.
Bedau, H. A. (2004, July). American Prospect. Reasonable Doubts: The Growing Movement Against the Death Penalty, 15(7), A1-A23. Retrieved from https://sks-sirs-com.db16.linccweb.org.
Freedman, E. M. (1997, Mar). The Case Against the Death Penalty. USA Today (Farmingdale), 48-50. Retrieved from https://sks-sirs-com.db16.linccweb.org
Gray, J. P. (2011). Facing Facts of the Death Penalty. Essay, Loyola of Los Angeles School Of Law. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.db16.linccweb.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=7&sid=716bac4f-3552-48fc-b787-d9f2708c44af%40sessionmgr4006
Jacoby, J. (2016, 26 Aug). When Murder Is Punished with Death, Fewer Criminals Will Murder. Boston Globe Retrieved from http://sks.sirs.com.db16.linccweb.org/webapp/article?artno=0000386414&type=ART
Parks, P. J. (2012). Current issues: The Death Penalty Current Issues: The Death Penalty. Retrieved from https://sks-sirs-com.db16.linccweb.org/webapp/article?artno=0000337642&type=ART
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