An innocent man is wrongly executed whilst a man who raped and murdered a mother and her thirteen year old daughter spends the rest of his life with three meals a day and cable television. Which of these is the bigger injustice? The use of the death penalty to punish serious crimes is a very controversial topic and there is much debate surrounding the issue. This paper will briefly discuss arguments supporting and against the use of the death penalty.
The death penalty which is also known as capital punishment is the punishment of a crime by execution. (Washington Post 2008: e.data) Such extreme sentences are awarded for very serious crimes such as premeditated murder, multiple murders, repeated crimes, rape and murder and so on, where the offender is considered to be of an ongoing danger to society. (Washington Post 2008: e.data)
Many people across America support the use of the death penalty because they believe that it is a deterrent, religiously appropriate, more cost effective than keeping a person behind bars for life and serves as the only real justice for certain major crimes. The death penalty is still practiced in thirty eight states across America. (Washington Post 2008: e.data) It is argued that the possibility of receiving the death penalty works as a strong deterrence against major crimes (Giles 1993: 43; Death Row on Trial 2001: video) because “people are less likely to commit such offences due to fear of death”. (Death Row on Trial 2001: video) Also, the expense of keeping a person who is convicted of a major crime behind bars for life is very costly, averaging around twenty three thousand dollars a year (Washington Post 2008: e.data) and supporters of the death penalty believe that this overall cost is much more expensive than an execution. In addition, the death penalty is often considered the only true justice for the victims of certain very serious crimes. (Death Row on Trial 2001: video) When crimes such as rape and murder occur, the...
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