Capital punishment is a situation where a person condemned of a crime is sentenced to death. It does not give the victim a chance to live and reform in the future. The death penalty has been for a long time in many countries ranging from America, Europe, and Asia to Africa. However, capital punishment is only applicable where brutal offenses are committed. In countries like the USA, capital punishment dates back to 1608. Over recent years, capital punishment has been an issue of public discussion and analysis. The penalty has received numerous reviews in an attempt to make it less cruel and applicable.
The support or disapproval of capital punishment is based on various issues such as ethics, morality, and values. Its application, however, differs from one country to another. While capital punishment is fully acceptable in many countries, other states have completely prohibited it. Its legality is not only based on laws enacted through the constitution but also on values and respect for life. In most cases, capital punishment is reached after a thorough analysis of the crime committed. It mainly takes two stages where the judges analyze the offense as well as the innocence before deciding on whether to pass a life sentence or the death penalty. However, the decision depends on the gravity of the offense. For the total application of the death penalty, the constitutional acts legalizing it must be objective and unambiguous. However, there has been a continued argument on the efficiency of the penalty.
Its Efficiency, Applicability, and Legality
Many lawmakers held numerous discussions on the efficiency and effectiveness of capital punishment. Many people have looked at capital punishment in terms of its ability to prevent killings and crimes. In law terms, any punishment has various objectives namely preclusion, avoidance, payback, and rehabilitation. Among the above four objectives, avoidance is the most significant and central objective of punishment. Avoidance implies that the punishment passed helps the culprits and the public to avoid committing crimes in the future. The main argument surrounding the death sentence is its effectiveness in preventing future crimes. However, many scholars held that life imprisonment can prevent future crimes better than capital punishment.
Nevertheless, many prosecutors prefer capital punishment to life imprisonment and other sentences. According to many prosecutors, death sentence instills fear to other individuals who may think of committing similar crimes. To them, the severity of capital punishment is strong enough to send a warning to many people. This issue is based on the central facts that many people would opt to live than to die. In the same respect, a life sentence is like transferring a culprit from one environment to the other. Other prosecutors argue that there is no punishment that is severe enough to prevent future crimes. However, capital punishment is likely to minimize crime cases since prospective offenders are likely to fear the deadly consequences of the crimes committed.
The stand on legality or illegality of capital punishment is based on various grounds. Numerous principles, moral issues, philosophies, and financial matters are considered when arguing on the effectiveness of capital punishment. Many advocates of capital punishment perceive it as a vital requirement in fulfilling justice. Many of them believe that the Bible was not wrong when it recommended the idea of “an eye for an eye.” The central argument is that murder crime is the main component of insecurity in many countries. Therefore, sentencing one person to death is likely to save many other innocent citizens. The fact that capital punishment is likely to discourage prospective offenders from committing further crimes cements the idea of the death penalty as a lifesaver punishment.
As earlier noted, capital punishment is only applied in cruel crimes such as bloody murder. In this respect, only a death sentence can fully satisfy the victims of the killing. The victims are mainly the relatives of the person killed. Therefore, capital punishment is the only way for victims to get vengeance. Capital punishment, in this respect, serves three main purposes namely revenge, punishment and prevention of future crimes. However, capital punishment is not the most suitable and preferred type of punishment no matter the magnitude of the offense.
Many people have opposed capital punishment on morality grounds. To start with, they argue that life is valuable, and no person has the authority to take it apart from God. These people also argue that only God is holy since all people are potential sinners. In addition, the aspect of forgiveness comes in basing the argument on the instance when Jesus forgave the adulterous lady in the verge of being stoned by the public. It is also argued that all offenders have the potential to reform if given a chance. However, capital punishment denies a chance to be better persons in the future. These people are not also given a chance to repent their sins. The central argument is that any other punishment may help these offenders to reform. The reformed offenders may be good role models, thus, motivate prospects offenders to change and reduce crime.
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Additionally, capital punishment is irrevocable. The decision is mainly final, and one may be killed if an appeal fails. In this respect, it is a disadvantage to those individuals who may be prosecuted wrongly. Some people may be indirectly involved in crime due to the lack of a thorough collection of evidence. For example, some people may be found with stolen goods where someone was killed in the process of theft. It is possible that a person found with the goods was not the offender of the crime. It is possible that these goods were purchased from someone without the knowledge of the theft. In this respect, a person arrested is not the direct offender. However, a person may be taken to court and finally found guilty. Irrevocable capital punishment ends up punishing innocent people. In case the punishment was a life sentence, it is possible that the actual offender may be found, and the mistaken offender may be set free.
In other instances, capital punishment proves to be very costly on the side of the offender. In most cases, offenders who are convicted of capital punishment always appeal to the verdict. Appealing requires hiring competent lawyers which are very expensive. In case the verdict is reversed, there would be no one to compensate the family of the offender. The family may end up getting into a financial depression for a lifetime. In the case an innocent person is convicted, it may result in a lifetime trauma to the family members. An offender sentenced for life in prison has an opportunity to be visited by the family members. However, someone convicted of capital punishment is eternally separated from family members.
On the other hand, many people condemned the death sentence are murderers in the essence that they might have killed someone. The advocates of capital punishment argue that capital punishment is inherited from savage times. Additionally, murder is considered savagery, and whoever commits murder should also be killed. However, there is not biblical and morally right to kill a sinner among many Christians.
As earlier noted, a death sentence is the only method of gratifying the victims and the public. Though the sentence may not completely drain the pain among the victims, it is supposed that they are likely to feel avenged. However, the argument does not consider what the family members of the offender would feel. Hardliners also feel that victims feel pleased when someone who committed a crime gets a punishment that is equal to the offense. In this respect, these advocates believe that a murderer who kills someone is responsible for his own death. It is like someone inviting death to himself/herself. Therefore, these offenders deserve the punishment that they receive. Their argument does not consider the aspect of human life as holy and sacred. They insist that it is crueler and hurting to kill an innocent person than a murderer. They finally believe that God would be pleased with anyone who prevents others from killing innocent people.
The solid argument in capital punishment as a means to prevent future crimes is based on the fear of death. Once there is a law proposing capital punishment for certain crimes, prospect offenders would fear to lose their lives as a result of committing crimes. Capital punishment is also connected to other serious crimes such as homicide. The punishment, therefore, puts the public in a dilemma on whether to bear with the pain of homicide of innocent people or the pain of death on a few offenders. The punishment is considered to be a crime control measure in many countries. However, punishment requires a constitutional process to be followed before it is applied. The constitutional regulation aims at controlling and raising the threshold for the punishment. It is, therefore, applied in serious cases where culprits have committed brutal homicide crimes.
Apart from homicide, capital punishment has also been applied in other offenses. Any law enforcement officer who kills a colleague after an argument may face a death sentence. Moreover, punishment has been applied to control inter-global crimes such as drug trafficking. With the rapid increase in drug abuse and trafficking, many countries have not been able to control the action. Arrest and detention of one crime does not serve as a warning to others. However, many authorities have proposed the application of capital punishment for those found guilty. The punishment is aimed at discouraging other individuals who may be partaking in the act. While opposers consider the punishment to be heartless, gruesome and degrading, murder, which is the crime that mainly leads to the punishment, is also considered double heartless, gruesome and degrading. To some extent, hardliners of the punishment deeply hold that capital punishment is generous. The punishment is considered immediate and fast. It is not like life imprisonment which may subject the offender to a lifetime suffering. The suffering encountered in prison after one is condemned for a life sentence cannot be compared to death. The suffering experienced in prison is likely to be more brutal and tormenting than capital punishment itself.
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It is argued that a life sentence does not guarantee crime prevention in the future. The advocates of death punishment argue that sentenced offenders may break out of prison. These offenders may get back to society and continue to commit crimes. Out of bitterness, these criminals are likely to commit bigger crimes than the ones they initially did. They may also attack the witnesses who may have testified against them. Moreover, they may recruit more culprits and devise new methods of committing and covering up crimes. It is also possible for the offenders to be released through corrupt means by the jail officials. The release may motivate other potential offenders to commit crimes with the hope of being released too. The released offenders may get to society and intensify crimes. Therefore, the death penalty puts a full stop to the crime completely. The offender dies, and there is no possibility of crime continuation from the same offender. Nevertheless, the convicted offender may have left a chain of culprits who may continuously perpetuate crime.
On the side of citizens, the majority of them support capital punishment. In a survey carried out in the USA, it was evident that many Americans support capital punishment for convicted murderers. The same study showed that the support has been increasing in recent days. In a poll conducted in 2002, two-thirds of the American citizens supported the punishment. By 2005, the same poll revealed that 72 % of the same citizens were in support of the punishment. By 2010, the poll identified 80 % of American citizens are supporters of the punishment. Many citizens believe that any person is committing a crime must be ready to bear the consequences of the same crime. They also believe that proposed punishments must be equal to the crime committed. Capital punishment deters any person who may wish to commit a crime.
Deterrence is the main idea in support of capital punishment. Law enforcers and many prosecutors believe that many people who fear to be executed may deviate from committing a crime. Previous research proves that many people do not fear being jailed. However, there is no solid proof of whether capital punishment acts as a deterrent. A study conducted in the USA from 1976 to 1989 showed that killing the offenders did not reduce the crime rate in the USA. In fact, a similar study conducted on the same issue indicated that more policemen were killed by thugs in states that practiced capital punishment than those that did not. In this respect, many offenders opted to kill policemen rather than be arrested. Offenders who fear capital punishment would do anything, including killing police officers in order to avoid arrest. Some would even commit bigger crimes that can fully justify the sentence.
Over recent years, the United Nations has been encouraging its members to stop capital punishment. In its argument, the organization argues that capital punishment leads to increased crime cases rather than reduce them. A survey across the world reveals that there are lesser crimes in countries that do not support capital punishment. UN also insists that police officers, prosecutors, and judges are humans who can make errors. In this respect, the organization feels that many innocent individuals who cannot defend themselves may find themselves convicted and killed. The organization further implies that a life sentence is cheaper than imposing capital punishment. Furthermore, the issue of lack of fairness also comes in where those convicted come from minority groups who cannot afford competent legal presentations. Finally, the UN examines capital punishment in terms of committing murder and encouraging vengeance. In the case capital punishment is adopted, it should not be used as a move to prevent crimes but as a form of punishment just like others.
It is the duty of any state to reduce the crime rate. Many methods have been adopted in an attempt to achieve this goal. Among the methods adopted, there is using capital punishment for those who commit brutal crimes. Death sentence has been incorporated in many regulations among the countries that believe in its effectiveness to reduce crime. It has also been perceived as the best punishment for those who kill others. However, other countries have not seen the effectiveness of punishment. Indeed, the punishment increases the crime rate rather than reducing it. The punishment may also be applied to innocent individuals. In this respect, the UN has been encouraging its member states to ban capital punishment.
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