Capital punishment also known as the death penalty isthe lawful infliction of death as a punishment. Crimes that are punishable bythe death are known as capital crimes or capital offences and they commonlyinclude offences such as serious types of murder, rape, types of fraud,treason, espionage, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. To date, thereare 141 countries in the world which abolished the death penalty, (105 of themabolished death penalty for all crimes, 8 abolished it only for crimes ofcommon law, and 28 did not abolish death penalty in their legislation but donot put it into practise). But, 57 countries in the world still practise deathpenalty including the United States.Death penalty in USA is currently used by 32 states,the federal government and the military. Since 1608 to 1900, there have beenover 15,600 executions, mostly by hanging up.
Between 1967 and 1976 there were noexecutions in united states. In 1976, the court affirmed the legality ofcapital punishment and since then more than 7800 defendants have been sentencedto death; among whom there was more than 1400 executions; 159 were exoneratedbefore execution and more than 2 900 are still on death row. As of October2014, there are 3,035 inmates on death row, awaiting execution, including 57women. In 2016, there were 20 people executed; the lowest number of executionsince 1991.We notice that more and more the number of executionis gradually decreasing and there are some reasons that explaining it. Althoughdeath penalty is seen as the best way to punish murderous, it is against humanrights and puts innocents lives at risk. Onething is that people think that death penalty permits to punish killers on thebest way.
In fact, it is a matter of justice because capitalpunishment is the appropriate judgement for delinquent. Justice requires thatpeople pay for their wrongdoing and suffer in an appropriate way for the crime.Any accused person found guilty should pay for his deeds and a killer shouldlogically also be sentenced to death. This statement is goodly illustrated bythe concept of “an eye for an eye” (capital punishment UK, n d, Para.
9).But, in my opinion, death penalty is more of an act ofvengeance than an establishment of justice. Firstly, because it iscontradictory to punish a crime by a crime. Secondly, it legitimizes violencewhich justice claims to fight.
One of the roles of justice is to ensure thatlaws are respected by the use of sanctions against deviants in order to makethem conscious of their wrongdoing and to try to reinsert them later insociety. But for instance, a person sentenced to death for killing someonewould not be conscious of the gravity of his acts if justice ends up doing thesame thing. Death penalty is therefore a veiled way of getting revenge withoutit being done by oneself. Because if given the opportunity, the victim’s familywould have also taken revenge by killing the murderer.
Moreover, it brings closure for victim’s families. Asstated by Alexander K. (2016), one thing is to be infavour of capital punishment and another is to experience pain caused by thedeath of one’s family member who has been maliciously killed.
In 1984, a young18 years old man named Tiqueon Cox killed without pity his mother, his sisterand two nephews. He was condemned todeath. But while on death row, he tried to take the control killing severalguards. So, he did his best and obtained a 66 yes votes against 62 no votes tomake him receive the worst punishment to be known, which is death penalty,bringing relief to the families of the victims (Para.8).It is true that it can provides a kind of alleviationto the victim’s family, but I think that It does not bring relief to thevictim’s family but rather spreads the suffering of the victim’s family to thatof the condemned person. Death penalty is therefore not the best way ofsanctioning the murderer since it will not bring the beloved back to life. In addition tothat, another role of Justice is to preserve the rights of everyone withoutexception and to ensure that these rights are not affected.
However, there is areal contradiction between the concept of death penalty and what justice issupposed to do.The main reason for what death penalty is unacceptableis that it is not ethical. It violates human fundamental rights.The right to live is fundamental. As human being,everyone is concerned by the right to life, particularly the right to not bekilled by another human being. So, whatever the degree of the crime committed bysomeone, he or she should not be deprived of this right because no one has theright to keep someone’s life even if himself has taken another one’s life.
Otherwise,we also turn into to murderer. Life has a priceless value that everyone mustrespect and consider (BBC, n d, Para.1&2).For me what makes the greatness of someone, hisstrength, what raises him above the condition of animal, is his respect forlife and this respect should not have any exception. The universal declaration of humanrights adopted by the United Nations general assembly stipulates in its thirdarticle that every individual has the right to life. We have only one life andeven if we make some mistakes throughout our lives, we still have anotherchance to rectify them and improve ourselves.
So according to this, I thinkthat there is no justification to the violation of someone’s rights.Furthermore, death penalty violatesthe right to not be tortured. In fact, he methods usedto execute people are most of the time painful.
Methods such as execution bylethal gas or lethal injection, electrocution or strangulation cause too muchsuffering. There are inhumane, cruel and degrading for the condemned andinvolve negatively other people such as medical personnel and guards (BBC, n d,Para.10).The fifth article of the universal declaration ofhuman right states that nobody will be subjected to torture or to punishmentsor cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments. I think that it applies to everybodyeven to justice. As human beings we can’t treat other human beings as animals byhurting them and consider that it as normal. One more time it is not the roleof justice, on the contrary. It must show the right example which begin byrespecting fundamentals principles.
Moreover, apart from the condemned, thedifferent methods of execution, in addition of the condemned, have somerepercussions on the persons who take part in it, affecting them mentally. So,there are other ways that can be used to punish people without imposing painand other damages. Another weakness of death penalty is that it putsinnocents lives at risk. Infact, justice is fallible. According to BBC (nd), “As long as human justice remains fallible, the risk of executing theinnocent can never be eliminated (…) in the USA, 130 people sentenced to deathhave been found innocent since 1973 and released from death row. The average time on death row before theseexonerations was 11 years” (Para.3).Personally, I think that it is the most powerfulargument.
In fact, humans not being perfect, it is obvious that what they createwould also have some default. And that is the reason of imperfection of thejustice system. But, it is not the real problem. The problem with death penaltyis how to correct our mistakes if the punishment is definitive? It isirrevocable. Even if we make a mistake in the judgement we don’t have thepossibility to rectify it because the condemned will be already dead whereas ifhe received another sentence than death penalty he would have had thepossibility to be free. We boast of repairing a crime by capital punishment, bytaking the risk of not repairing the errors made by the justice.
It is veryparadoxical.And this fallibility is aggravated d by the fact that death penalty is most ofthe time based on race. As mentioned by Malley(2015), justice has a big problem that people don’t deal with.
Death penalty isa materialisation of the continuation of racial injustice according to theproportion of black people who are executed: 40% approximatively, which is threetimes the proportion of the general population. Death penalty is thus such as aracial heritage which cannot be excused where too much innocent’s live aretaken (Para.7).The fact that it is racially based multiplies thechances to commit an injustice. All the human beings are equals and must betreated in the same manner. One thing is that death penalty is unacceptable forall the reasons evocated, and another thing is that it is sentenced to peoplebased on their skin colour. I think it is very pathetic.
If the justice system whichis supposed to make sure that the principle of equality is respected do notrespect its own written laws, I do not know why we have to rely on it. If asentence is imposed to someone it must be only because he really deserves itand no according to one’s subjective opinions. I think that delivering sentenceson the basis of race is the lowest thing that can be done. Death penalty, admittedly, is far from being the mosteffective way of sanctioning a crime. It contributes to the violation of humanfundamental rights and expose innocent’s lives to death. From these reasons, ensueother ones that make the death penalty unacceptable.
Among these reasons wehave the fact that it is a real injustice in the sense that it does not permitrehabilitation and it is not dissuasive, meaning that it does not help in reducingthe number of crimes. For all these reasons death penalty is not reallyefficient. Based on myprinciples, I am against death penalty and there are some principles that wecannot break without losing our dignity.
So, in conclusion, what I wouldrecommend is to ban death penalty and find an alternative way which will bemore efficient and in agreement with justice’s written laws. And I believe thatlife imprisonment would be a better option especially because there could be apossibility for the condemned to be released one day depending on theirbehaviour during their stay in prison. REFERENCES Alexander, K.(2016, September 30). Letters to the Editor, Oct.1.
Retrieved from https://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002000#7 AmnestyInternational. (2017, April 11). The Death penalty in 2016: Facts and figures.
Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/04/death-penalty-2016-facts-and-figures/ Malley, M. O.(2015, November 6). Why the Death Penalty Needs to Go. CNN.Retrieved from https://deathpenalty.
procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002000#7 Argumentsfor and against the death penalty in the USA.
(n d.). Retrieved from http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/thoughtsUS.
html Ethics:capital punishment. (n d.). BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/capitalpunishment/