Death Penalty

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Literature ・MLA ・3 Sources

Does executing a person deter crime or is it an inhumane punishment that violates human rights? Death penalty refers to the practice executing someone as punishment after going through legal trial. Death penalty is normally used as a form of punishment by the state and for serious offences such as murder (Bienen, Leigh Buchanan), while in some other countries it is used for other minor offences such as fraud, treason, adultery and rape crimes. Due to the controversy surrounding death penalty, it has been a source of debate with one group lobbying for it to be abolished while the others arguing it’s a form of punishment that deters crime

The execution of political opponents and criminals has a long history and has been in use in quite many societies.  Different societies have been using death penalty as a way to deter crime and silent political dissent or any other capital crime that is committed against the state (Jones, Mark).

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China is the leading county in executions and having sentenced 7003 people to death and executed 1718 in 2008. In the US, approximately 1,436 people have been executed between 1977 and 2016 and the common method is through lethal injection.  Death penalty is normally used to execute murderers though in some cases it’s used for people who have been involved in treason or espionage.

According to the opponents of death penalty, capital punishment is a cruel form of punishment that violates the basic human right to life.  The abolitionist led by amnesty international, call for states to stop using capital punishment since it’s a source of psychological torture to the victims, inhuman and degrades human life (Howitt, Dennis).  In some states, people who were even under the age of eighteen years when the crime was committed are years are executed, in some other cases; the death penalty is even given people who are mentally disturbed.

The death penalty is a cruel form of punishment that doesn’t give the offender a second chance to change. People who have been sentenced for death, before they are executed, they are normally put in death row, as they await their death and therefore psychologically torturing them. 

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Irreversible mistakes happen when the death penalty is given to an innocent person and thus causing a miscarriage of justice which leads to their execution.  The execution of innocent victims has increased to the calls for the abolition of this form of punishment. In the US, between 1992 and 2004, 39 victims were executed despite there being enough evidence proving their innocence. According to amnesty international, in 2015, 158 inmates in death row worldwide have been exonerated by the use of DNA and other forms of evidence. Such prisoners should have too been executed but thanks to technology ("Death Sentences and Executions Report 2015").  Furthermore, other people have been sentenced to death penalty despite there being doubts of their guilt.

Opponents of death penalty also argue that it doesn’t deter crime and therefore, imprisonment is far much better way of deterring crime. Moreover, they argue that it wrongfully gives the government authority to take away life. Leading countries that carry out death penalties normally have the most the most unfair trial system. For instance, in Iran, Iraq and china, there have been confessions that most of the death sentences are normally arrived at through torture and therefore making it an inappropriate method of administering justice.  Furthermore, in these countries the likelihood of being sentenced to death is associated with poverty, ethnicity, race or a religious minority. This is due to the existence of discriminatory rules.

Those for the death penalty argue that it’s a very crucial approach in maintaining law and order since it deters crime and is less costly as compared to life imprisonment.  They argue that death penalty ensures justice of the victim and consoles the family of the murdered person.  Furthermore, those supporting death penalty argue that, it ensures that those who have participated in heinous crimes such as murder are not given the opportunity to commit such similar crimes in future.

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According to the proponents of death penalty, its helps the government reduce the costs  that would otherwise would have been spend in sustaining  incarcerated criminals who are serving life imprisonment. Abolishing death penalty will also be associated with increased crime. For instance, in the United States some 2000000 people have been victims of crimes. Such crimes are contributed by the leniency of the justice system towards criminals. This makes its more likely for criminals to commit a crime since he/she is aware that there is no harsh punishment for their heinous crime.  In countries where death penalty is strictly administered to criminals, crime is deterred ("Introduction to Capital Punishment").

With the legal system constantly changing so as to ensure justice,  just because a wrong decision resulted  to the justice system  wrongly sentencing death to a person, it doesn't mean that the  mean that the death penalty is all together wrong. Death row inmates should be given enough support and opportunity to challenge the decision of the courts and get justice. This can be a good approach in minimizing death penalties that some people are accused as having committed. Moreover, the emergence of modernized and technologically driven methods of crime detection such as DNA marching has worked on ensuring that justice prevails especially in crimes whose punishment is death penalty.

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  1. Bienen, Leigh Buchanan. Murder and Its Consequences. Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 2011,.
  2. "Death Sentences And Executions Report 2015". Amnesty.Org, 2016,
  3. Howitt, Dennis. Introduction to Forensic and Criminal Psychology. Harlow, Pearson, 2015,.
  4. "Introduction to Capital Punishment". Bbc.Co.Uk, 2017,
  5. Jones, Mark. History of Criminal Justice. [Place of Publication Not Identified], ROUTLEDGE, 2016
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