The death penalty is the act of punishing someone to death for an offense. Questions have been arisen to whether death penalty should be abolished in countries around the world. The pro’s and con’s of death penalty.
Therefore, the purpose of this research study is to look at both sides of the arguments of death penalty. It starts off with the description of death penalty and the different types of death penalty. Interesting issues are brought up like the wrongful executions, death penalty being deterrent to crime and the alternatives to death penalty. There are evidence to both sides of the argument in whether the death penalty should be abolished or not.
Based on the investigation that is carried out which evaluates the causes, effects and ways to solve the question of death penalty, the many reasons for why death penalty should be abolished is being proven and thus concluding the thesis statement.
When the word death penalty is used, it makes yelling and screaming from both sides of extremist. One side may say deterrence, while the other side may say, but you may execute an innocent man.
Death penalty is defined as ‘the killing of a person by judicial process as a punishment for an offense’. Today, one of the most debated issues in the Criminal Justice System is the issue of capital punishment or the death penalty.
There are 8 types of death penalty practiced in an official capacity in the modern world. Lethal injection is the practice of injecting a person with a fatal dose of drugs for the express purpose of causing an immediate death. Gas chamber executions are where the prisoner is strapped to a chair inside a sealed gas chamber. The executioner (standing outside of the chamber) pulls a lever dropping potassium cyanide pellets into a vat of sulfuric acid, flooding the chamber with lethal hydrogen cyanide gas. The electric chair is also another common form of capital punishment. The prisoner is shaved, strapped to a chair, and fitted with electrodes attached to conductive sponges–one on the head, one on the leg–creating a direct current. The prisoner is then hooded. The executioner pulls a switch, and 2,000 volts race through the prisoner’s body as the internal body temperature approaches 140 degrees. Executions by firing squad works on strapping the victim to a chair with five sharpshooters aiming at the victim’s heart and all five pulling the trigger. There is also death by hanging. The prisoner stands on trapdoor, and a rope descends from a wooden beam overhead. The rope is fastened around the prisoner’s neck in a “Hangman’s noose,” which tightens when pulled upon. The executioner pulls a lever opening the trapdoor and dropping the prisoner, who ideally dies quickly due to a broken neck. Death by stoning is arguably the world’s oldest form of execution. The prisoner is buried either up to his waist (if male) or up to her shoulders (if female) and then pelted with stones by a crowd of volunteers until obviously battered to death. Death by beheading is probably the most humane form of punishment. The victim is restrained, usually forced to kneel, and the executioner removes the head by way of a sword or knife. Lastly, crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large cross (of various shapes) and left to hang until dead.
Aim of report. The purpose of this report is to investigate the factors on why death penalty should be abolished and the many reviews on death penalty by the people all around.
This study draws on information gathered from various Malaysian and international articles, World Wide Web sites and video documentary.
2.0 Why are some people for the death penalty?
There are a number of reasons on why some people are for the death penalty although majority is on the way of abolishing it. Some sees it as a way to better yet end the crime rates around the world.
2.1 Capital punishment holds the criminal accountable for his/her actions. Justice requires punishing the guilty even if only some can be punished and sparing the innocent, even if all are not spared. Morally, justice must always be preferred to equality. Justice cannot ever permit sparing some guilty person, or punishing some innocent ones, for the sake of equality-because others have been spared or punished. In practice, penalties could never be applied if we insisted that they can be inflicted on only a guilty person unless we are able to make sure that they are equally applied to all other guilty persons. Anyone familiar with the law enforcement knows that punishments can be inflicted only on an unavoidable “shudder” selection of the guilty (Bedau, H., 1977). Irwin Isenberg (1977) said, when you kill a man with premeditation, you do something different than stealing from him. “I favor the death penalty as a matter of justice and human dignity even apart from deterrence. The penalty must be appropriate to the seriousness of the crime (p. 135).
2.2 Prevents recidivism. The death penalty protects the public from the most heinous criminals and it also protects us from psychiatrists, judges, parole boards, and celebrities who can too easily be hoodwinked by a practiced con-man determined to win his freedom in order to continue his criminal career. People on death row are unable to get out of prison and are waiting for the day they are put to death. Once they are put to death, there is absolutely no recidivism to worry about.
2.3 Death penalty is a deterrent to crime. If we do not know whether the death penalty will deter others, we will be confronted with two uncertainties. If we have the death penalty and achieve no deterrent effect, than, the life of convicted murderers has been expended in vain (from a deterrent point of view)-here is a net loss. If we have the death sentence, and deter future murderers, we spared the lives of future victims-(the prospective murderers gain, too; they are spared punishment because they were deterred). In this case, the death penalty is a gain, unless the convicted murderer is valued more highly than that of the unknown victim, or victims (Carrington, F., l978).
3. Why do some people oppose the death penalty?
Majority of people oppose the death penalty as it brings more disadvantage to advantage.
3.1 The wrongful executions of an innocent person. Unlike all other criminal punishments, the death penalty is uniquely irrevocable. Although some proponents of capital punishment would argue that its merits are worth the occasional execution of innocent people, most would also insist that there is little likelihood of the innocent being executed.
In Georgia in 1975, Earl Charles was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. A surviving victim of the crime erroneously identified Charles as the gunman; her testimony was supported by a jail-house informant who claimed he had heard Charles confess . Incontrovertible alibi evidence, showing that Charles was in Florida at the very time of the crime, eventually established his innocence — but not until he had spent more than three years under death sentence. His release was owing largely to his mother’s unflagging efforts.(35)
3.2 The high cost of the death penalty. It is sometimes suggested that abolishing capital punishment is unfair to the taxpayer, on the assumption that life imprisonment is more expensive than execution. A murder trial normally takes much longer when the death penalty is at issue than when it is not. Litigation costs – including the time of judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and court reporters, and the high costs of briefs – are mostly borne by the taxpayer.
3.3 The victims’ families perspectives on the death penalty. Numerous families and loved ones of murder victims support alternatives to the death penalty for many reasons, including:
The death penalty process is a traumatizing experience for families, often requiring them to relive the pain and suffering of the death of their loved one for many years. Life without parole provides certain punishment without the endless reopening of wounds.
3.4 Inadequate legal representation. Almost all defendants in capital cases cannot afford their own attorneys. In many cases, the appointed attorneys are overworked, underpaid, or lacking the trial experience required for death penalty cases. There have even been instances in which lawyers appointed to a death case were so inexperienced that they were completely unprepared for the sentencing phase of the trial. Other appointed attorneys have slept through parts of the trial, or arrived at the court under the influence of alcohol.
3.5 Alternatives to the death penalty. In every state that retains the death penalty, jurors have the option of sentencing convicted capital murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentence is cheaper to tax-payers and keeps violent offenders off the streets for good. Unlike the death penalty, a sentence of Life without Parole also allows mistakes to be corrected.
3.6 Religious perspectives on death penalty. Most people are living with their own beliefs or religions though there are minorities of people who are free-thinkers. Almost all religions around the world regard executions as immoral. Among them are Christianity, Buddhism, Jewish, Islam and Judaism .
4.0 There are better methods to punish the offenders than death penalty. Death penalty can be too cruel to punish the offenders and no one should take the life of others other than God. Despite this, offenders are not excused from being punished for what they did to others as they still need to be punished but just with other alternatives to the death penalty.
4.1 Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus restitution. The most popular alternative to the death penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus restitution. This alternative not only costs much less than capital punishment, but also keeps the criminal in jail for the rest of his life – so he cannot return back to society. Restitution means that while the prisoner is in jail, he will be put to work – with all the money made going to the family of the victim.
4.2 Prison with parole. The average sentence for someone convicted of murder is twenty years. The average time spent in jail for a convicted murderer before being released is around 8.5 years. These numbers mean that most murderers do receive parole and go back into society. John DiIulio writes that even though some paroled murderers remain dangerous, “the vast majority of [them] never commit another murder or violent crime. Many have not only gone straight but have continued paying their debt to society… by making post-release restitution, manning youth and community outreach centers that work with juvenile felons, and more” (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 15, 1997).
4.3 Reformatories. Reformatories are used to reform criminals – working with the physical, mental, and moral issues of their inmates – instead of just punishing them as we would in jails. They put their offenders to work for society and try to turn their lives around, so they can live a normal life in society. A good use of this method would be for juveniles on death row. This alternative to the death penalty is a more practical solution, rehabilitating criminals instead of just punishing them.
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