The Death Penalty Debate

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Introduction:Capital punishment, or the execution of a person by the state as punishment for a crime, has traditionally played a major role in society's criminal justice system. However since the later half of 20th century, most countries in the world have abolished the death penalty completely or in practice.

Capital punishment is mainly a communal ethical issue, as there are at least two viewpoints and it is the concern of the wider community and organizations. Aspects of social justice, equality, individual rights and freedom and general welfare of various stakeholders, mainly the criminal, are also embedded in the debate, confirming the community principle it entails. This issue of moral concern also contains aspects of personal ethics, because of the cultural attitudes values and beliefs that influence our viewpoint on it.

History:Although most societies have different beliefs about punishment depending on their beliefs, in the middle ages, a life could depend upon the whim of a king. In Australia, during the initial years of colonisation, our criminal justice system replicated that of the British. This meant that the death penalty was available for trivial crimes such as burglary, sheep stealing, forgery and sexual assaults. The death penalty was legal until 1985, with Queensland as the first state to abolish it, our last hanging in September 1913. According to the Death Penalty Abolition Act of 1973, no states or territories in Australia can prescribe the death penalty, which makes life imprisonment the most severe sanction available.

As of 2008, 112 countries have abolished the death penalty with only 83 countries retaining it. There are only four countries which have reintroduced the death penalty - Nepal, Philippines, Gambia and PNG. However, since violent crimes are not fit to live in a civilized society, the debate of capital punishment is a controversial and ongoing one, striking emotional chords and diving deep into the pool of ethics.

Point One:Soviet Union dictator Joseph Stalin once said "One death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are statistics." In his 23yr reign of Russia, Stalin sanctioned the murder over 20 million people, including 14.5 million starved, and a further 9.5 million deported, exiled or imprisoned in Labour camps. Despite his heinous crimes, his sick mind and brutal reign, if Stalin lived in Australia, he would have received a mere 25 years imprisonment, liable for parole and no follow up supervision.

Justice is about enforcing consequences for one's own actions to endorse personal responsibility. Ladies, there is no moral justification to trivialize and subordinate the thousands of innocent lives that are brutally slaughtered each year due to violent crime. When these innocent people are killed, and the murderers are imprisoned, the victims' family is also sentenced to a life imprisonment within themselves. This is inadequate for society. We need to recognize that capital punishment means capital justice. When a person kills, they automatically forfeit their right to live by taking it away from another person. This 'eye for an eye' principal I am suggesting would be impractical for your everyday domestic killings. However, here, I am talking about the most heinous, brutal offences that the human race is capable of. War crimes, genocide, premeditated murder, repeat offenders, terrorism, serial killers and extreme child offences. The people who commit these crimes are sick in the head. They have no ethical boundaries and a life sentence would not deter them from killing again. They are an abominable excuse for human beings; they do not deserve to live.

Does anyone think that it is unjust for an innocent to be killed? Then why is it unjust for the person to kill the murderer? (Class discussion)Point Two:Immanuel Kant, an 18th century German philosopher supports the retributive reasoning of punishment. His justification is based on the idea that "Every person is valuable...
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