Capital punishment lawful infliction of death as a punishment

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The death penalty has existed in some form throughout recorded history. The first known official codification of the death penalty was in eighteenth century B.C.E. in the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon, where twenty-five crimes could result in this penalty by the state. From then until the twenty-first century the variants of capital punishment throughout the world have included crucifixion, drowning, beating to death, stoning, burning alive, impalement, hanging, firing squads, electrocution, and lethal injection. In the United States, Michigan was the first state to abolish it for murder in 1847. Today, it is virtually abolished in all of Western Europe and most of Latin America.

Britain effectively abolished capital punishment in 1965.

The USA, together with China, Japan and many Asian and Middle Eastern countries, plus some African states still retain the death penalty for certain crimes and impose it with varying frequency.


To what extent is capital punishment justified according to the youth of IoBM.


Justification of capital punishment has remained a rather sensitive issue among people all over the world. Today some countries have abolished death penalty for good. Pakistan is one of the few that still practices it.

Pakistan ranks among the countries in the world that issues the most death sentences. At present there are approximately 7500 persons including children under sentence of death, mostly for murder many of which appears to be imposed after unfair trials. The former Human Rights Minister, Ansar Burney, stated that 60 to 65 percent of death row prisoners were innocent or "victims of a faulty system".

On 18 December 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on a worldwide moratorium on the use of the death penalty. The former government of Pakistan, under President Pervez Musharraf, voted against the resolution.

In criminal cases in Pakistan there is a strong tradition to rely on oral evidence more than material one which puts too much pressure on witnesses. The police of Pakistan is still ruled by a culture of violence, intimidation and coercion. Also the Qiyas and Diyya Ordinance introduced in 1990 risk to lead to a privatization of justice, as the state withdraws from one of its main responsibilities. The life of an individual depends not on justice but the persuasive powers of his relatives. Often death sentence is imposed on the basis of incomplete evidence in the expectation that the sentence would not be carried out.

With all such issues regarding justice in Pakistan, the country being labeled terrorist in the minds of so many around the world and the works of anti-death penalty agencies, its is significant to know the perception of Pakistani youth on capital punishment.

We have selected the student body of IoBM as a sample representing the general opinion of Pakistani youth on the question. We hope that the results of these findings would make us better able to understand Pakistani youth's reactions to their country's judicial system and their government's decision to keep practicing death penalty. It might also provide us with a workable alternative to death penalty.

Public support for the death penalty has declined over the past decade, but polls reveal that the majority of Americans (approximately 65%) still support capital punishment for those convicted of murder. For those who have shifted away from the death penalty, one of the most commonly cited concerns is the growing number of demonstrated instances of erroneous capital convictions, as evidenced by persons later found innocent and released from death row. Many also note the widespread availability of the alternative sentence of life without parole. In 1994, polls asking the appropriate punishment for murder found that 32% of those polled favored life without parole sentences, while 50% favored death. In 2004, support for life without parole had grown to 46%. In addition, public opinion regarding the deterrent effect of the death penalty - long the backbone of its support - has reversed itself in the last 20 years. In 1986, 61% believed the punishment to be an effective deterrent. In 2004, 62% believed that the death penalty did not deter crime. This shift in public opinion has contributed to a decrease in death sentences. For those who continue to support the death penalty, many believe that it is a way to provide closure for victims' family members and to prevent those convicted of murder from posing a potential threat to prison employees and others with whom they may come into contact.


Over the years, several studies have demonstrated a link between executions and decreases in murder rates. In fact, studies done in recent years, using sophisticated panel data methods, consistently demonstrate a strong link between executions and reduced murder incidents. Additionally, the implementation of state moratoria is associated with the increased incidence of murders. Further moratoria, commuted sentences, and death row removals appear to increase the incidence of murder.

According to one study in particular, each execution results, on average, in eighteen fewer murders. According to another study, a statistically significant relationship exists between executions, pardons and homicide: specifically each additional execution reduces homicides by 5 to 6, and three additional pardons (commutations) generate 1 to 1.5 additional murders.

At the same time according to other studies, people commit murders largely in the heat of passion, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because they are mentally ill, giving little or no thought to the possible consequences of their acts. The few murderers who do plan their crimes intend to escape punishment altogether by not getting caught. As a result, social science research completely discredits any claims that each execution deters a certain number of murders.

Also there has been found to be no considerable differences in crime rates of countries with death penalty and countries without it.

In the research conducted by us, however, we do not intend to statistically find a relation between crime rates, murders, executions and pardons. We simply intend to analyze the opinion of the students of IoBM on the question of capital punishment, solely based on their own feelings and awareness about the issue.


Research Approach:

The research approach that we employ is quantitative descriptive research.

The approach collects data in order to answer questions about the current status of the subject or topic of study and uses formal instruments to study preferences, attitudes, practices, concerns, or interests of a sample.

The basic steps of our research are:

• recognizing and identifying a topic to be studied

• selecting an appropriate sample of participants

• collecting valid and reliable data

• reporting conclusions


It is incumbent on the researcher to clearly define the target population. Our target population for this research is youth of Pakistan.


Our target population, obviously, is too large for us to attempt to survey all of its members. A small, but carefully chosen sample can be used to represent the population. The sample reflects the characteristics of the population from which it is drawn.

Our sample is going to be the student body of Institute of Business Management (IoBM). We used the method of random sampling for our research. That is, each student of IoBM has equal and known chance of being selected as part of the sample.

The size of our sample is 80 students with 10 each from each of the 8 semesters. 40 questionnaires were distributed to males and 40 to females. In this way we got the opinion from students of both genders in the age group of 18-24.

Research Method:

We used questionnaires as an instrument and method of conducting the research. The questionnaire contains 10 close-ended questions. Each question is a step towards testing the hypotheses and answering the research questions we came up with.

Scope and Limitations:

There are several limitations of our research method. Questionnaires are simply not suited for some people. For example, a written survey to a group of poorly educated people might not work because of reading skill problems. More frequently, some people are turned off by written questionnaires because of misuse. The lack of an interviewer limits the researcher's ability to probe responses. Structured questionnaires often lose the "flavor of the response", because respondents often want to qualify their answers. There is no way to make sure the respondent answers the questionnaire truthfully.


The sample represents the population.

The instrument (questionnaire) has validity and is measuring the desired constructs.

The questions have been answered truthfully.

There was no interviewers' bias.

The respondents are knowledgeable and aware of the topic.

The questionnaires were in fact filled by the students


Capital punishment is the lawful infliction of death as a punishment and since ancient times it has been used for a wide variety of offences.

By 1500 in England, only major felonies carried the death penalty - treason, murder, larceny, burglary, rape, and arson. From 1723, under the "Waltham Black Acts", Parliament enacted many new capital offences and this led to an increase in the number of people being put to death each year. In the 100 years from 1740 - 1839 there were a total of up to 8753 civilian executions in England & Wales, the peak year was 1785 with 307 as transportation was not an option due to the American War of Independence. Remember that the population in 1800 was just 9 million.

Reform of the death penalty began in Europe by the 1750's and was championed by academics such as the Italian jurist, Cesare Beccaria, the French philosopher, Voltaire, and the English law reformers, Jeremy Bentham and Samuel Romilly. They argued that the death penalty was needlessly cruel, over-rated as a deterrent and occasionally imposed in fatal error. Along with Quaker leaders and other social reformers, they defended life imprisonment as a more rational alternative.

By the 1850's, these reform efforts began to bear fruit. Venezuela (1853) and Portugal (1867) were the first nations to abolish the death penalty altogether. In the United States, Michigan was the first state to abolish it for murder in 1847. Today, it is virtually abolished in all of Western Europe and most of Latin America.

Britain effectively abolished capital punishment in 1965.

The USA, together with China, Japan and many Asian and Middle Eastern countries, plus some African states still retain the death penalty for certain crimes and impose it with varying frequency.


Capital punishment is legal in Pakistan.

Controversially Pakistan was one of only eight countries in the world (China PRC, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United States and Yemen), that since 1990 executed prisoners who were under 18 years old at the time of committing a crime. Pakistan along with the United States and Yemen have now raised the minimum age to 18 in law to be eligible for execution.

Hanging is the most common method of execution.

An estimated 236 people were sentenced to death in Pakistan in 2008, and a total of 36 people were executed. Prime Minister Gilani's announcement on 21 June 2008 that all existing death sentences would be commuted is being considered by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which is to rule on its constitutionality. Sixteen people have been put to death after the Prime Minister's statement.

There are currently more than 7,000 people who are on death row in Pakistan. The former Human Rights Minister, Ansar Burney, stated that 60 to 65 percent of death row prisoners were innocent or "victims of a faulty system".

On 18 December 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on a worldwide moratorium on the use of the death penalty. The former government of Pakistan, under President Pervez Musharraf, voted against the resolution.

Pakistan ranks third in total number of executions:



"Incapacitation of the criminal"

Capital punishment permanently removes the worst criminals from society and should prove much safer for the rest of us than long term or permanent incarceration. It is self evident that dead criminals cannot commit any further crimes, either within prison or after escaping or after being released from it.

"The death penalty deters crime"

The threat of execution is enough to make criminals think twice about committing a capital crime. Professional criminals, like everyone else, are aware of the consequences of their actions; the existence of the death penalty will make such criminals think twice. The taking of one life may be justified if it prevents the taking of other, innocent lives, whether through the incapacitation of the killer or through the deterrence of other potential killers.

"Those close to the victim deserve justice and will be given peace of mind."

A murder shatters many lives, not just the victim's. Isn't justice for all an underlying principle of our legal system? Often, friends and families of the victim are tormented by the notion that the killer lives while the victim cannot. The killer's rights should not be preferred over the victims'.

"The death penalty saves money."

Many criminals live decades in prison making no contribution to society. The tax dollars of honest non-murdering citizens should not be used to keep the next Jeffrey Dahmer in jail. That money should be put to better use: in the schools, to lower taxes, to reduce the debt.

"An eye for an eye."

Islam agrees that punishment should fit the crime and therefore those who take someone else's life don't deserve to live their own. When a society opts to punish murder with death, its decision emphasizes the fairness of laws and the consequences of actions.


"Mistakes can be made."

Advances in forensic medicine and DNA testing are leading to more and more exonerations of convicted criminals. For example, the Innocence Project, organized by attorneys Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, has reviewed hundreds of such cases, and secured the release of at least eight innocent prisoners. Even without such technology it is always possible that new evidence will surface to prove an inmate's innocence. The carrying out of a punishment that cannot be reversed shows a confidence in our legal system that is not justified. Numerous cases have arisen where police or others were found to have lied or planted evidence, or where a trial was administered incorrectly, or where a simple case of mistaken identity occurred. Until we can prove that justice is being administered impartially and with a degree of nearly perfect certainty, there should be no such thing as an irreversible punishment. If this means never, then so be it.

"A government that imposes the death penalty is as bad as the murderer."

Is it ever justified for a human (or government) to willingly take the life of another human? Isn't that what the killer did in the first place? Isn't the government just as bad as the killer? If killing is evil, then it may not be done by anyone for any reason.

"Other arguments"

Another reason, that is often overlooked, is the hell the innocent family and friends of criminals must also go through in the time leading up to and during the execution. It is often very difficult for people to come to terms with the fact that their loved one could be guilty of a serious crime and no doubt even more difficult to come to terms with their death in this form. One cannot and should not deny the suffering of the victim's family in a murder case but the suffering of the murderer's family is surely valid too.

There must always be the concern that the state can administer the death penalty justly, most countries have a very poor record on this. In America, a prisoner can be on death row for many years awaiting the outcome of numerous appeals, some of which are fatuous and filed at the last minute in order to obtain a stay of execution. Although racism is claimed in the administration of the death penalty in America, statistics show that white prisoners are more liable to be sentenced to death on conviction for first degree murder and are also less likely to have their sentences commuted than black defendants.

It must be remembered that criminals are real people too who have life and with it the capacity to feel pain, fear and the loss of their loved ones, and all the other emotions that the rest of us are capable of feeling. It is easier to put this thought on one side when discussing the most awful multiple murderers but less so when discussing, say, an 18 year old girl convicted of drug trafficking. (Singapore hanged two girls for this crime in 1995 who were both only 18 at the time of their offences and China shot an 18 year old girl for the same offence in 1998.)

It is also argued that capital punishment instills a culture of violence in people that used to exist in the past days. There may be a brutalising effect upon society by carrying out executions - this was apparent during the 17th and 18th centuries when people turned out to enjoy the spectacle of public hanging. They still do today in those countries where executions are carried out in public. It is hard to prove this one way or the other - people stop and look at car crashes but it doesn't make them go and have an accident to see what it is like. It would seem that there is a natural voyeurism in most people.