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Since the ancient period capital punishment has been used for a wide range of offences. It is defined as lawful infliction of death penalty or sentence as a punishment on offences committed. Penalty of death for murder and numerous crimes such as kidnapping and witchcraft were prescribed in the Bible and even executed. By 1500, only major felonies and crimes had death penalty in England. These included treason, murder, larceny, burglary, rape, and arson. From 1723 parliament enacted other new capital offences under the Waltham Black Act. This led to increased number of people being put to death (Yorke 102). It has been recorded that in 100 years from 1723 to 1839, there was a total of 8753 civilian executions in England and Wales.
Europe commenced reforms involving death in the 1750's. This was pioneered by the academic elite such as Italian jurist, Cesare Beccaria, Some French philosophers, Voltaire, and English law reformers including Jeremy Bentham and Samuel Romily. The argument was that death penalty was purposely cruel, being deterrent and imposing fatal mistakes. Activists, social reformers a long with Quaker leaders support the concept defending life imprisonment as a more considerate alternative in handling offences. These reforms efforts started being fruitful closer to the 1850. In 1853 Venezuela and Portugal became the first nations to go against this penalty and consequently abolish it. United State followed similar trend when in 1847, Michigan state resolved to abolish murder. At present capital punishment is virtually being abolished across a wide spectrum of nations, from the Western Europe to most of Latin America. Some countries still hold and retain capital punishment with death penalty for certain crimes but executed with varying frequency. These include the USA, China, Japan, Asian and Middle East countries Together with some African states.
Although most countries impose capital punishment in their judicial systems, no state has the absolute right that permits them to put its subjects to death. However, this inhuman act is always executed through some unclear ways and convectional forms. In most countries this is achieved by arming the police force, and the state accepting and overlooking the fact that civilians will be shot at the states behest. Many subjects are looking forward to being conferred with the power and right to impose certain levels and categories of crimes committed to death penalty, at the same time remove others. They should be given this opportunity through a referendum or voting in state elections for or against candidates favoring capital punishment. Surprisingly, majority of democratic countries together with the UK are still in favor of death penalty.
Anti-capital campaigners have overlooked the fact that we will all finally die. Mostly, this knowledge dawns to us when it is too late and leaving individuals immensely suffering with pain and emotional anguish. A good example is a person diagnosed of cancer; it is apparently acceptable that he is sentenced to death without having committed any crime. However it is unacceptable for such a person to be sentenced to death by a judge convicting them of murder, or drug trafficking crimes which mainly result to execution.
In arguing the legitimacy of capital punishment, the execution of offenders has been approved as the best method to permanently eliminate worst criminals from the community. This provides a much safe and secure civilian environment. This was in comparison with long periods of apprehension a permanent incarceration owing to the fact that dead criminal do not have a potential to commit offences. This is inevitably true whether the execution takes place in prison or after the criminal escapes or is released.
The government should conceptualize the fact that money is not inexhaustible asset. Therefore it should be resourcefully used to assist the young , old, sick, challenged and needy in the society instead of being pumped into executing capital offences and implementing long imprisonments of offenders. This goes against effecting death penalty in the society. It suggests executing a criminal is much costly in relation to life imprisonment. This is true in America considering the endless number of appeals and delays imposed before a death sentence is executed. In the US legal process a convicted criminal is allowed over 12 years on the death row. This is contrary to Britain where convicts were condemned to their cells for 3 to 8 weeks at maximum and only limited to one appeal (Hanies 211).
Retribution has been outlined as a great means to execute punishment for offences committed. Death penalty is being applauded as it is a real punishment fair to the offender and the victim. Moreover it is no longer a rehabilitative method as the criminal suffers true to the offence he committed. Activists have risen against retribution, with the excuse that in the present modern society there is no space for old fashioned principals, relating to punishment from the perspective of an eye for an eye, though this should be left as personal opinions to respective individuals.
It has been difficult to prove whether death penalty deters criminal activities from occurring. This difficulty is due to the fact that the number of criminals executed compared to offenders convicted to death sentence is extremely minimal in proportion. However it is convincing that countries executing death sentences like Singapore have minimal incidents of serious crimes. This tends to approve that death penalty is actually deterrent but only when executions are carried out under conspicuous virtual certainty. Studies have proven that death penalty works effectively in deterring crime if the activity requires planning and long time span. This makes the purported offender to reconsider his actions with consideration of the resultant consequences. If the crime is committed in an impulse there is no clear possibility that any type of punishment will deter its eventuality. This has raised a strong argument to reduce capital punishment on crimes committed under such circumstances, and having a distinction on the degrees of murder committed on the USA legislations.
In the recent years anti-deaths penalty activists have echoed the fact that this form of capital punishment is not deterrent. This could be a mistaken concept, hence misleading. In Britain unlawful murders have risen to be more than double the value since capital punishment was abolished in 1964. Murders rose from 300 in 1964 to 565 in 1994 then reaching an anticline of 833 in 2004. In similar context, homicide figures increased to 734 in 2007 (Garber and Johnson 204). These homicides were attributed to fights, stabbing and cuts by glass and broken bottles, shoot outs and strangling. Further numerical values outlined that 72% of resultant victims were from the masculine gender and younger men were the most endangered. Increase in murders has further been perpetrated by release of convicts who had been serving life sentences through amnesties.
The truth of these statistics does not show a clear relationship relating to change in the society. It is even suspected that the murder rate has remained the same no matter dropping or retaining death penalty. Other factors have continuously promoted murder cases. However, easier ways to effect divorce that have recently been legislated have minimized the number of domestic murders. Other aspects contributing to this decline are; minimizing availability of poisons in homes and controlled use and possession of guns. On the other side there has been an increase in drug related gun crimes, which have contribute in child murders seen recently. Drug use has also led to an increase in stabbing cases and consequently prompting cases of kicking and beating of people to death.
America has over five times murder offences per head in the population compared to Britain and Singapore (Morall 55). The obvious cultural diversity in these three countries can be attributed to this trend. It will not be appropriate to relate the rise in executions as the only factor minimizing homicides in US. Cities such as New York have experienced enormous control levels of crime rates. This was successful through the zero Tolerance crime policy. Nevertheless political and economical stability have resulted to positive social changes finally reducing crime rates. Upgrading of the health care bill and con-current improved medical techniques have contributed immensely in preventing many deaths. Therefore capital punishment has been considered as deterrent.
Capital punishment has had negative implication as genuinely innocent civilians are at times executed, yet compensation of this injustice cannot be undertaken. Another unrealized danger is the fact that the convicted offenders can admit committing the murder but is not in agreement that the killing is a possible murder. The only individuals aware of what truly transpired are the victims and the offender. This still trickles down to the prosecution and defense procedures, and it is never clear if the criminal will be convicted of murder or manslaughter. It is now evident that some people are mistakenly convicted for murder instead of being convicted of manslaughter leading to high degree of injustice.
The second argument against death penalty is the turmoil that family and friends of the convict undergo before and after the execution. It's always difficult for loved ones to understand the fact that one of their family members is guilty and more severely is the fact that their family member or friend is being murdered for that mistake. This suffering on the friends and family should be highly considered because it is valid. Another concern is the possibility of the state to administer capital punishment in a fair and just manner. It is important to realize that the convicts are also human beings and should be given their human rights. The most deceptive of perceptions is thinking that there are humane methodologies of executing deaths as capital punishments. All methods of murders cause pain to the convict and inflict suffering.
The world has lived to view murder as a heinous crime which should be countered by more severe punishments. It is not necessary to inflict awful murder. Better methods could be used such as imprisoning the convicts for the whole of their lives. The society is against forceful life sentence of murder offenders as it failed miserably in differentiating dreadful crime offenders from simple offences like less severe homicides.