Capital punishment is also called the death penalty. It refers to the legal process where a criminal is put to death by the state, to act as a punishment for a crime that they have committed. The judgment of the jury that a person should get punished in this manner is known as a death sentence while the enforcement is an execution. Crimes that can lead to capital punishment are referred to as capital crimes or capital offenses and include murder, rape, and treason.
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Reasons for capital punishment
Some of the reasons that support capital punishment include;
Guilty people should get punished in proportion and magnitude to the severity of the crime they have committed. Real justice in essence requires people to suffer for their wrong doing, in an appropriate manner for their crime. Each criminal obtains what their crime deserves, and a murderer or a rapist deserves death.
Prisoner parole or escapes can give criminals another chance to kill. Could be that the biggest reason to keep the death penalty is to prevent a crime from repeating itself. As much as a criminal is sentenced to life imprisonment, he or she still has a chance to kill while in prison. He is capable of killing his or her fellow inmates, or even the prison wardens. Worse still, a criminal can escape from prison and go on a murder or crime spree. Capital punishment prevents this process of re-offending. Those executed cannot commit more crimes. Execution removes the danger posed to the public by the criminal.
Capital punishment promotes deterrence. By execution of criminals, it is possible to deter capable murderers from killing people. Crime would become more common if there were no means of deterring people from committing it.
In case the death penalty is eliminated, it can contribute to the problem of overpopulation in the prison system. This means that the number of prisoners being housed for life will increase. This only adds to the problem of an overcrowded prison system and the facilities in that particular prison could be greatly overstretched.
Reasons against capital punishment
Mentally ill patients may be put to death. Most of the capital crimes are committed in an emotional state in which the perpetrator doesn’t think about possible outcomes. Some people are born with brain defects that cause them to act in unacceptable ways. It could be unconstitutional to put a mentally ill person to death. However, rules have a chance of being vague, and besides, one still needs to convince a jury that the defendant is of unsound mind.
The court goes to great lengths before settling on a death sentence. During this period, there are endless appeals and required procedures which cause congestion on the court system. These appeals and hearings consume time of judges and other court employees, as well as use up courtrooms and facilities. This time could have been used to resolve other matters if the criminal were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The society should move away from the revenge mentality. This is because a revenge philosophy leads to an endless circle of violence. Society should be made aware that attacking one’s enemy for revenge always worsens the situation. Besides, capital punishment is useless because it does not bring the victim back to life. Hate, revenge and anger cannot cure the emptiness of a lost loved one.
Capital punishment does not rehabilitate the criminal or other potential criminals. Instead, it sends wrong signals to the society. It does not make sense for the state to punish someone who has committed murder through murder.
In conclusion, capital punishment should not be brought back because it violates the Bill of Rights. This is because it involves taking away the life of another person. The bill of rights states that everybody has a right to live. When somebody is executed, the right to life is greatly infringed. Besides, punishment of the death penalty is irrevocable. Once carried out it cannot be reversed. When somebody has been executed, it is impossible to bring them back to life. Capital punishment should thus be avoided at all costs.
Any punishment must be fair, just, adequate and most of all enforceable. Society still views murder as the greatest crime, and should be met with the most severe punishment, which is capital punishment. Whole life imprisonment could fit punishment for murderers. This is because, in prison, the criminals are isolated from their families and are confined in the walls of a prison for the rest of their lives. However, according to many people, life imprisonment seems to be a soft opinion to punish capital criminals, and this perception needs to be corrected in order to do away with capital punishment.
Imprisonment, whilst expensive and largely pointless, except as a means of removing criminals from society for a given period, is at least enforceable upon anyone who commits murder. Besides, the jury members will not suffer from a guilty conscience of ever passing a verdict for the death of a person. From the arguments on reasons against capital punishment, I should be done away with because it is an inhumane practice.
Hood, R. (n.d.). Capital Punishment: A Global Perspective. Punishment & Society, 331-354.
Melusky, J., & Pesto, K. (2011). Capital punishment. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood.