The term punishment

The Death Penalty: Should It Be Abolished?

The act of imposing an unpleasant or unwanted outcome on a person or group of individuals is referred to as punishment. The penalty is imposed by authorities, and it can range from child discipline to criminal law (LaFollette, page 475-501). It is used to deter a specific habit or conduct that is deemed inappropriate or undesirable. There are various types of penalties, including the death penalty. Many governments have approved the death penalty, which is only applied to criminals who have committed deadly offenses. It entails the execution of the individual suspected of committing a capital offense such as murder, war crimes, or treason. Other crimes considered capital offenses are genocide, espionage, and crimes against humanity. Many arguments have been advanced in support or to disagree with capital punishment. This paper discusses why the death penalty should be abolished giving reasons for the same.

Reasons for Abolishing the Death Penalty

There are many reasons why the death penalty should be abolished. The first reason is the fact that every human life is valuable and thus should be protected whatever the situation (LaFollette, page 475-501). Even those considered worst murderers should never be deprived the right to live. The value attached to their lives should also not be taken away as that would be devaluing them. There are no categories or standards of valuing an individual's life. As such, all lives are considered to be equally valued and should be respected with equal measure. Some scholars argue that death penalty should not be abolished fully. Their assertion is that valid reasons should be given whenever one's life is to be taken away. Such arguments negate the principle that values life equally among all human beings. To them, the mere fact that a justification can be given is evidence enough to take away life. Since all lives are valued equally, there should never be a case of the death penalty as that would deny the person the value attached to his/her life.

Violation of the Right to Life

Individuals have the right to life and as such, no one should be denied this right even those found to have committed murder (LaFollette, page 475-501). When criminals are sentenced to death and eventually executed, their right to life is violated. This argument closely relates to that of value for life only that it is approached from the human right perspective. There are counter-arguments to this stance with an assertion that whoever murders forfeits their right to life. There are also circumstances whereby the bad act is automatically considered good. An example is when a person comes face to face with a murderer and in the process of self-defense kills the murderer, the act of killing is then considered good as the persons defending themselves protected his/her right to life. But a person who has already murdered and is in the process of facing a trial should not be sentenced to death since the focal point should be in the present life, not the lost one. In this case, therefore, the murderer has a right to life and that right should be protected. Thus, execution should not be a punishment meted on such a person for their crime.

Flaws in the Justice System

The justice system in most jurisdictions is pegged on the interpretation of the existing laws and the manner in which the same laws are applied (LaFollette, page 475-501). In most cases, judgments are passed based on the analysis of specific cases and the interpretation of the law guiding them. There are no standard procedures for analyzing a case and people interpret the law differently depending on their understanding. Since there are no standards for understanding and interpreting the law, there are instances where the laws have been misinterpreted and wrongly applied. Such situations have led to innocent lives being lost and with a proper review of the whole prosecution process and application of laws revealing a number of flaws, chances that the execution will be reversed are zero. In such a situation, therefore, a wrongly executed person will not be brought back to life thus an innocent life will have been erroneously lost. Therefore, the death penalty should not be an option since in the event of an erroneous prosecution, an innocent life would be lost which will never be recovered in the event the prosecution process is rectified.

Lack of Deterrence

There has never been any justification that capital punishment deters people from doing any wrong. Ever since its inception, there are so many people who have been executed for similar offenses committed within different time periods (LaFollette, page 475-501). The very same people who commit these offenses have full knowledge that there are people already executed for those acts. Despite the knowledge of execution, these individuals still went ahead and committed these crimes. Social scientists also hold the view that death penalty does not deter people from committing a crime. There was a study conducted by the UN in the year 1988 which asserts the same argument. According to the survey's findings, there was proof that death penalty had little deterrent effect when compared to life imprisonment. Therefore, the death penalty should be abolished and replaced with other forms of punishments.

Brutalization of Society

The death penalty has also given rise to the brutalization of societies with societies where it is heavily practiced experiencing increased murder cases (LaFollette, page 475-501). A good example is the United States wherein 2010 the murder rates in states where death penalties have been abolished stood at 4.01% per 100,000 people. This was in contrast with the percentage in states where the death penalty was still used. In these states, the figure stood at 5% per 100,000 people meaning that the death penalty did not deter people from committing crimes such as murder. There have also been arguments in support of the death penalty though I am strongly convinced that capital punishment should be abolished.


The first is that the death penalty is cheaper compared to the cost incurred in feeding a person imprisoned for life. Any individual imprisoned for life has to be taken care of both in terms of food and medication. (LaFollette, page 475-501) There are also other services that these criminals are offered but all these costs would have been cut were they to be executed. Governments should also not act as instruments for purposes of divine retribution. Any individual who murders should himself be murdered. The government lacks the mandate, power and the competence to reward evil with proportionate evil while at the same time reward good with a proportionate good. Therefore, capital punishment should be upheld as a proportionate reward for any murder committed. The Bible also teaches the principle of an eye for an eye as Christianity has embraced the death penalty since time immemorial. Society has no reason, therefore, to abolish the death penalty.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, therefore, despite the existence of strong arguments in support of capital punishment, there are stronger arguments and a self-conviction that death penalty should be abolished as discussed earlier. There are other forms of punishment that can substitute the death penalty which societies can embrace. Human life is sacred and as such, must be valued without any form of discrimination. Either, God is the giver of life and he alone should be the one taking away what he alone can give. No individual should assign himself/herself the role of a life taker as they do not have the powers to give life. It can, therefore, be strongly concluded that capital punishment should be abolished and replaced with other forms of punishments that values human life.

Work Cited

LaFollette, Hugh. Ethics in Practice: An Anthology. , 2014. Internet resource.

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