| LIFE IMPRISONMENT IS A GOOD ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
| Can life imprisonment be a good alternative to death penalty? The issue remains unresolved. Even the US Supreme Court that had abolished ‘Death Penalty’ reversed its decision when new and less cruel methods of execution were introduced. Why does a society punish its members for certain acts that are offensive and unacceptable to its laws and codes? This can be a starting point of exploring our dilemma about death penalty vs. life imprisonment. It is argued that fear of death deters people from committing crimes, and the penalty of death exerts a positive moral influence. The American death penalty laws have invited ire and ridicule of human rights activists everywhere, including in the USA, and Courts in most democratic countries, including India, have been very sparing in pronouncing death sentences in the ‘rarest of rare cases”. Yet, crimes of murder and rape and the cruel manner in which they were carried out, at times, make ordinary citizens support and commend death penalty and believe that fear and intimidation of capital punishment shall keep other citizens from violating the social and normative codes of their State and society. But there are contrary views and arguments, according to which capital punishment does not deter crime and death penalty is not necessary. Countries that no longer have death penalty have not experienced an increase in the number of murders. Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland and Belgium have not carried out executions since the early part of the century, yet these countries have not experienced a rise in crime rates. But the retributive value of capital punishment dismisses the question of deterrence. Deterrence works only if forbidden acts are illegal as well as immoral. So the easily frightened will not break the law, but “the fearless will break the law, the irrational will break the law, and all others will break the law”, it has been...
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