The age-old adage, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," when viewed as a justification for capital punishment, raises serious ethical, moral and social questions. Proponents of capital punishment argue that, for justice to be served, the punishment must befit the crime. Hence, a murderer should have his life taken from him! This kind of perverse logic, which has seldom been supported by the victims' families themselves, fails to be convincing. In a similar vein, several other questions regarding the effect on society, restitution being denied, the rights of the convicted, and the possibility of the innocent being accused are not addressed convincingly by supporters of capital punishment.
Another claim often touted in support of the death penalty is that it is a deterrent for crime. However, no stable argument has surfaced to warrant it as such. Instead, it has been shown that a life sentence is just as effective. Even if forgiving and forgetting are entirely out of the question, one should consider the concept of regret and remorse on part of the criminal rather than justifying one wrong with another.
How often have we read in the newspapers that a handful of evidence from a strong lawyer could condemn someone to death for simply walking down the wrong street on the wrong day? The potential for such miscarriage of justice, in my opinion, cannot be overcome. This one possibility, whatever its probability, of the State taking the life of an innocent person is in itself sufficient to counter any argument put forth by supporters of capital punishment.
Abraham Lincoln declared, "All men are created equal." Everyone deserves a second chance because everyone is capable of reformation. Mahatma Gandhi has also expressed the same in his famous sentence: "An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind." Several other great men have also spoken in the same vein.
"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" was the...