The issue of the death penalty has been hotly debated for a very long time. The world seems to be divided into two opposite sides which is evident from the fact that some countries favor it whereas others completely oppose it. The issue of the death penalty has received much attention from the literati in academia as well as the state-makers of countries all over the world. The issues however still seem to be unresolved due to two different schools of thought. Arguments put forward by those who support it claim that the death penalty ensures order and keeps crime levels to a minimum. Those who are opposed to the death penalty consider it to be a repulsive and barbaric act and believe that it perpetuates crimes even more. However, death punishment, criminals’ execution by the state for their monstrous actions, is the only suitable type of penalty for such malpractices. Despite the opponents’ consideration of the death penalty as non-productive and immoral, advocates of it have proven this to be an inevitable punishment in the time of serial killings and terrorism and an ethically acceptable deterrent for prospective killers.
Why is the death penalty considered to be repulsive?
Those who are opposed to capital punishment back their argument up against the death penalty with numerous claims, which are strong and strengthen their position. First and foremost, they emphasize the importance of human life. They are of the view that human life, even of those who commit extremely heinous crimes, is extremely important and valuable therefore no human being must be deprived of the life to live. This is so because of the fact that there are always chances of even the most dangerous criminals becoming changed into really good people. Moreover, most of the people who commit terrible crimes, even as big as committing murders, rapes, and child abuse, might regret their actions (Lee, Paternoster, and Rowan 1-5). If that happens to be the case, punishing them by taking away their right to life is not fair. If it is somehow made sure that those people do deeply and truly regret their actions, it can also be made sure that they would never engage in similar actions of the sort. They would never involve themselves in inhumane acts of brutality again. However, it must be realized that figuring this out is not easy. One can never be sure of what is going on in another person’s mind which is why taking such a huge risk can be very dangerous and threatening. It would threaten the social order along with the lives of multiple people (Bohm 245-252). If someone has committed a crime once, there is a high chance of them committing the same crime again.
Another very important factor is to be mindful of is the right to life. The state under which the subjects are governed has the responsibility of making sure that the life of each and every single individual is protected. It includes even those citizens who have committed crimes. The state seems to be taking up a very hypocritical position when on the one hand it ensures its people that it is there to protect their lives and on the other hand it takes away the lives of those very people. Everybody has an inalienable right to life by virtue of being a human being (Garrett 145, 162, 271). Giving a person a death sentence means to deprive him/her of that right thereby violating the clauses of Human Rights put forward by the United Nations.
The most common argument made by the opposers of the death penalty is that the justice system of every nation is more or less flawed. No nation can have a perfect justice system. Even if the justice system of a country might appear to be completely flawless, there would always be some portion of the population that might disagree with it or oppose it. If such a person is pronounced guilty of committing a certain crime for which he/she receives a death sentence, giving them the death penalty is not at all fair. Moreover, because justice, as well as the legal system, is already flawed, sometimes innocent people might end up being pronounced guilty. In such cases, they are given sentences they do not deserve (Umphrey 438). The most severe form of punishment that a state can give to a person is the death sentence, and charging an innocent person with such a crime is not only inhumane, but it is also brutal, unfair, callous, and sadistic. Such characteristics of the state and its institutions are what make the people disillusioned. They don’t feel any form of patriotism because they are so repulsed by the state, its laws, and the way it functions (Price 12, 68). Thus, the death penalty must be completely ruled out and the state must never even consider it even if a person is found to have committed the worst forms of unimaginably monstrous and abominable crimes.
Why are these arguments invalid?
Even though all the arguments presented above are very reasonable and rational, one understands that they still fail to justify the ruling out of the death penalty from the justice system when one considers the counter-arguments. There are numerous citizens of multiple states who have been faced with extremely unfortunate circumstances at the hands of heartless and brutal criminals. They are victims of harassment, rape, sexual assault, child abuse, and murders. There are many other crimes that leave one wondering how cruel can the criminals be? Every year a number of cases of child abduction are reported in the United States. In 2015 alone, more than a hundred child abduction cases were reported in Pennsylvania in less than two months (Conley 67-91). One needs to be cognizant of the fact that the number of reported cases is often much less than the actual cases because not all of them always end up being reported and added to the recorded figures. A lot of the abducted children are faced with extremely brutal situations. In the late 1980s, a Japanese man named Issei Sagawa was reported to abduct little children and commit cannibalism on them. In 1989, he raped his Dutch girlfriend and ate the flesh of her dead body after murdering her.
There is no doubt about the fact that numerous other people like him exist in the world committing abhorrent crimes of the same level if not worse. Is not giving them the death sentence justified to all those people who are threatened by them? Is it fair to them that they know they can be victims of the same abominable actions at their hands? Is it fair to them when they trust the state to protect their rights and lives but the state seems to care more about the lives of the inhumane criminals? Issei Sagawa roamed the streets of not only Japan but also the United States until just recently because he was not charged with committing any crimes. He ended up becoming a celebrity by becoming a porn star and a famous food critic. In a world where people like him should be banished and hated, people like him end up being praised and admired because they are not given the death penalty (Garrett 145, 162, 271). Even though the argument that every person has a right to life is important to consider, there are some people who threaten the lives of others. To prevent them from depriving others of such an important right and value, they should be given death sentences.
Death sentences are also important because they help to give closure to the families of the victims. In the unfortunate cases of rape and murder when the victims end up losing their lives, their families and loved ones are not satisfied with anything less than a death sentence for the criminal and the perpetrators of such crimes. When they are not given death sentences, they feel like justice has not been served (Garrett 145, 162, 271). Locking criminals up in prisons and jails seems to be very lenient a punishment for people like Issei Sagawa.
Even though many states are secular in today’s day and age, the fact that a lot of their subjects are deeply religious cannot be denied. This includes not just the western Christian world, but also other parts of the world where different kinds of religions are followed, especially the Abrahamic religions. In all these religions, capital punishment is not only allowed but is also encouraged. All the religious scriptures including the Bible, the Quran, and the Gospel include commands of serving the citizens of a state with justice by making capital punishment an important part of the justice system. The famous ‘Eye for an Eye’ commandment is popular among practitioners of religion in all religions. They are of the view that if someone does injustice to another person, he/she should be done the same injustice so that he/she realizes the impact of his/her actions. In cases of murder in particular, the criminals must, according to this argument, pay the victim and his/her family with their own life. Only then can they be forgiven (Price 12, 68). People who hold such strong views think of the justice system that does not include capital punishment as anything but unfair. When people think of the state as being unfair, they are abhorred by it and end up defying it and its laws and regulations in their own ways (Garrett 145, 162, 271). This is also not healthy and only results in giving rise to the number of criminals.
As it is known, all the states all over the world have a fixed budget within which they have to manage all of their affairs. All countries have limited resources and must use them efficiently to maximize their profits and thus progress. Maintaining prisons and jails requires a fair amount of money as the prisoners who reside in them have to be taken care of. They require attention for which people have to be hired. The greater number of prisoners there are, the more money needs to be spent on them. If criminals of murder, rape, sexual assault, child abuse, cannibalism, and other such heinous crimes are kept in prisons instead of being given the death penalty, they only serve to drain the state’s resources (Garrett 145, 162, 271). Getting rid of criminals by giving them capital punishment is easier, more convenient, and only fair than spending money on them to feed them and keep them alive.
Capital punishment should, therefore, be an important part of every country’s judicial and legal systems. If people know that they can be killed for committing crimes, the crime rate would also drop considerably, thereby creating a more open and safe space for the citizens to live in. They would be able to move around regardless of what time it is and regardless of whether or not they are alone if they are ensured that nobody can harm them because of the strict and rigid capital punishment laws (Conley 67-91). Providing freer space for the citizens where they feel more comfortable and safe should be the top priority of every state in the world. The inclusion of capital punishment in the legal bodies makes achieving that goal easy, therefore it should be employed in all the states everywhere.
Capital punishment is a hotly debated issue, an issue that even after all these years remains unsolved. A lot of work has been done to show evidence of the fact that capital punishment is actually beneficial for society and that capital punishment, in the long run, helps to lower the crime rates to a great extent. This paper acts as a small contribution towards the pool of such academic works been done prior to this. It makes an effort to make the reader see the advantages of capital punishment and why it is important to guarantee safety and security for the public at large. Those who are against the death penalty are made to think critically and ask what can be done to serve justice to those people who have terribly been victimized by the worst possibly imagine crimes at the hands of monsters?
In 2010, a woman was electrocuted and raped by her husband but her husband was only given a light sentence of five years imprisonment in Pakistan under the Hudood Ordinance. In South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh along with many other Muslim countries, countless women are murdered on a daily basis in the name of honor. How are these women to be served justice without sentencing the perpetrators of their crimes with death? Such crimes continue to exist in multiple societies all over the world because criminals are not given death penalties. This will continue to be the case unless people realize why death sentences are important.
Lee, Jacqueline G. C., Ray Paternoster, and Zachary Rowan. “Death Penalty And Race.” The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism (2015): 1-5. Web. 4 Apr. 2018.
Bohm, Robert M. Deathquest: An Introduction To The Theory And Practice Of Capital Punishment In The United States. 2016. Print.
Garrett, Brandon L. End Of Its Rope: How Killing The Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice. Harvard University Press, 2017. Print.
Umphrey, Martha Merrill. Trials. 1st ed. London: Tylor & Francis Group, 2017. Print.
Price, Melynda J. At The Cross. Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.
Conley, Robin. Confronting The Death Penalty: How Language Influences Jurors In Capital Cases. 1st ed. Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.