Capital punishment refers to the practice of executing a person or criminal as a punishment for certain crimes after a proper
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Capital punishment refers to the practice of executing a person or criminal as a punishment for certain crimes after a proper legal trial (Hood & Hoyle, 2015). A state can only use the penalty if their constitution allows for the execution of criminals for serious crimes such as murder, treason fraud, adultery, certain types of fraud as well as rape to which are referred to as capital crimes. The phrase capital punishment is derived from a Latin word that means head. Capital punishment has been used in many countries around the globe while in some of the countries it is accepted. Capital punishment has aroused the dilemma and as well triggered the debate as to whether capital punishment is ethical and moral. The divisions have resulted in the provision of different views, with those supporting capital punishment having their reasons for their continued use while those who don’t use it have their reasons for opposing it.
The countries to which use capital punishment for the people who have committed heinous crimes such as murder claim that through capital punishment, justice prevails (Sarat, 2018). The main reason as to why the legal framework is instituted is to ensure that the offenders of the law are subjected to the judgement and which they are proven guilty or innocent. With the introduction of capital punishment as a form of punishing the offenders, it is therefore within the law that people who are found committing the heinous crimes such as murder, rape, terrorism and even treason should be subjected to face justice through capital punishment. The weight of the offence makes it possible to be classified as a heinous crime and therefore if the judge finds that there is compact evidence, consequently it is with no doubt that the person should face the right judgement. Justice is said to prevail if the offended is satisfied and the right punishment is given to the offender.
The other reason as to why the states using capital punishment to punish the offenders is that they claim that by executing a person for committing a certain crime, it will deter other potential criminals who wanted to commit the same or other related offences (Reid, 2015). With this in mind, the users of capital punishment can justify their actions as they base their arguments on the ground that it will deter future crimes from happening. People or the potential criminals are said to get afraid of being punished by death, and therefore, they are prevented from committing such crimes in future. Beside deterrence, punishment by death prevents re-offending, and this is another basis as to why it is allowed on some countries. When a person is punished by death, it means that the same person will never commit such or another similar crime in the future as they are eliminated from the face of the world. Removing such people such as adulterers, rapists and murderers prevent further corruption of the society’s morals, and therefore it contributes to the reshaping of the society.
Punishment by death is considered to be cheaper (Garrett, 2017). The states to which use capital punishment are of the argument that it doesn’t cost the nation much money to eliminate the lives of the offending individuals and this makes it a priority method of punishment in their country. They claim that holding criminals in prison for a life sentence is costly and requires a lot of resources and devotion to keep guard to the prisoners as well as fulfilling their basic needs. Considering that the cost of living is high, it will be much costly to meet the requirements of each prisoner. Holding criminals for life imprisonment has no threats to deter criminals from committing crimes, and more prisoners are being incarcerated. Capital punishment, therefore, reduces the cost of catering for the criminals.
However, despite the continued use of capital punishment by some countries, it is considered unethical by others and therefore has their reason for opposition. Those against death punishment argue that it is against human rights and violates the right to life of an individual (Waldron, 2017). Every person has the right to live as the constitution of their countries guarantees it. Instead of using capital punishment, those against capital punishment argue that other methods such as sentencing the criminals to life imprisonment would be of more benefit than terminating the life of an individual. Capital punishment is considered as being cruel and inhumane and therefore degrades the life of human being. All lifeforms are precious but the life of a person is more valuable than that of an animal, and thus, the life of a person should be preserved.
According to the religious perspective, terminating the life of a person is considered a sin and against the will of God. Christians claim that God is the sole provider of life and therefore no one has the ability or the permission to terminate another person’s life. According to the Bible, humans were created by God in his likeness and controlled their fate. It is, therefore, the duty and responsibility of God to terminate the life of his creations, and the humans are entrusted in keeping guard of their brother’s life but not terminating it (Sachedina, 2005). On the other hand, ending the life of a person will be reducing the value of human life, and God created each one of us equal implying that no one has the authority to terminate another person’s life. Instead of ending the life of a person, they should be left in the hands of God to decide their fate and as well punish them for their wrongdoings.
The use of death punishment does not perform the required obligation as more and more people get to be incarcerated due to the same crimes that are termed as being heinous (Carlsmith et al. 2002). The nations against the use of the death sentence claim that killing a person doesn’t deter another person to commit the same crime, especially for the extremist such as the terrorists. The terrorists believe that if they die, their place is reserved in heaven and therefore will not hesitate to commit the crimes because they are motivated by death. And therefore the continued use of capital punishment will only imply that more and more extremists have been killed and thus the primary purpose of deterrence doesn’t work as purported.
Execution of the innocent is another reason as to why some of the nations are against the continued use of capital punishment (Baumgartner et al. 2008). A person is considered guilty if only compact evidence linking the person to the crime. However, innocent people may be found in the scene of the crime and therefore may end up being held captive for the crimes that they never committed. The innocent people, thus, serve the sentence of another guilty person who is left roaming free in the streets. There is no way a person can explain his innocence if the evidence might link to them and this makes them suffer ending up to death from unknown crimes to them. Hasty and poorly conducted investigations may lead to the execution of innocent individuals and therefore the innocent end up being punished.
The dilemma of whether it is ethical for the continued use of capital punishment has triggered debates with each stakeholder having their opinion. According to my opinion, capital punishment is unethical and should be terminated to save the dignity of the life of humankind. Besides, there is no proven evidence that penalty by death deter people from committing similar crimes as more criminals are booked with the same charges that are punished by death. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the countries that have adopted capital punishment to pull it down and adopt other strategies such as subjecting the criminals to life imprisonment with inclusion for hard labor for their food.
Baumgartner, F. R., De Boef, S. L., & Boydstun, A. E. (2008). The decline of the death penalty and the discovery of innocence. Cambridge University Press.
Carlsmith, K. M., Darley, J. M., & Robinson, P. H. (2002). Why do we punish? Deterrence and just deserts as motives for punishment. Journal of personality and social psychology, 83(2), 284.
Garrett, B. L. (2017). End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice. Harvard University Press.
Hood, R., & Hoyle, C. (2015). The death penalty: A worldwide perspective. OUP Oxford.
Reid, S. T. (2015). Crime and criminology. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.
Sachedina, A. (2005). End-of-life: the Islamic view. The lancet, 366(9487), 774-779.
Sarat, A. (2018). When the state kills: Capital punishment and the American condition. Princeton University Press.
Waldron, J. (2017). A right-based critique of constitutional rights. In Bills of Rights (pp. 3-36). Routledge.