An eye for an eye…?
Hanging, shooting, guillotine, garrotting, electrocution. For some people, these are synonyms of justice. For others, they imply unthinkable atrocities. There is no doubt death penalty represents one of the most controversial issues in today’s society. Supporters of the death penalty contend that it helps to deter future conduct. The deterrence theory suggests that a rational person will avoid criminal behaviour if the severity of the punishment outweighs the benefits of the illegal conduct. Therefore, most criminals would think twice before committing a crime if they knew their own lives were at stake. However, studies of the deterrent effect have failed to produce enough evidence to prove the death penalty as more effective than the mere threat of imprisonment. In fact, the USA, where capital punishment exists, has a far higher murder rate than the UK, where there is no death penalty. Another common belief is that it is cheaper to execute a criminal than to keep him/her in prison. This argument has a certain superficial logic, but the truth is that to sentence a criminal to death, judges and juries take longer and a lot of money is spent on long drawn out appeals as well as on court appointed attorneys the poor receive. Figures show that it costs up to three times the amount to keep a prisoner on death row than it would be to keep them in prison for the rest of their lives. There is also a religion-based argument in favour of this type of punishment. Quoting the King James Version of the Bible – Genesis 9:9 –, supporters maintain that “ Whose sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed”. This is partly true, but opponents of the death penalty contend that killing somebody goes against one of the ten Commandments, which appear to have more authority than a mere phrase. Finally, the danger of mistake becomes a key point in this debate. The fact that minors, retarded and insane people cannot be sentenced to death, together with...
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