The Death Penalty: Against the Use of Capital Punishment

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The Death Penalty: Against the use of Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment is defined as the execution of a convicted criminal by state as punishment for their grievous capital crimes. The death penalty is an ancient practice and a very controversial issue. The main reasons for removing or retaining the death penalty differs from country to country, but generally includes issues such as deterrence, retribution, public opinion, and the rights of the individual. Due to the fact that the death penalty is a serious and contentious issue, both abolitionist’s and retentionist’s have strong supporting theories and arguments which represent their beliefs. Abolitionists believe that the death penalty is imposed unfairly, violates the fundamental right to life, is not a unique deterrent, provides counter productive effects and is therefore unjust. The object of this paper is to support the theories and arguments that are in favour of the abolishment of the death penalty. Capital Punishment is unjust and immoral due to the fact that it does not act as a deterrent, is unjustified retribution, innocent lives are at risk, and is a definite form of discrimination.

Deterrence is defined as the use of punishment as a threat in order to deter people from committing a crime. The argument that capital punishment should be abolished because it has no deterrent effect on offenders justifies that the use of capital punishment is not an ultimate mean of crime prevention. The death penalty does not prevent future murders from occurring within a society and therefore does not act as a deterrent. It is no more of a deterrent than a life imprisonment, which is a more rational punishment. Most murderers commit their crime in the heat of the moment, in a psychotic state of mind, and do not weigh the differences between a possible execution and life imprisonment. Therefore these murderers are not deterred by the death penalty law. Life in prison is a worse punishment, simply because the criminal is behind bars and facing the consequences they have committed everyday for the rest of their lives. Defendants who are sentenced to life behind bars often settle into a normative routine and become less of a threat to commit violence in comparison to other prisoners. Therefore a life sentence is a more effective deterrent than being sentenced to death. Abolitionists also argue that the death penalty does not deter the criminal themselves from carrying out another crime. Criminals who are found guilty carry out the rest of their life in prison, and therefore society is safe due to the fact that the criminal is behind bars and unable to commit another heinous crime. John Sorenson, Robert Wrinkle, Victoria Brewer and James Marquart examined executions in Texas between the years of 1984 and 1997. They speculated that if deterrent effects were to exist, they would exist in Texas simply because Texas has the highest number of death sentences and execution rates. These authors found no evidence of a deterrent effect after studying patterns in executions and murder rates within the state. They concluded that execution rates are unrelated to murder rates in general, and execution rates are unrelated to felony rates. Police officers reported that there is not a higher occurrence of assaults and homicides in death penalty states as opposed to abolished states. This proves that there is no evidence that the death penalty is a better deterrent than life imprisonment. The death penalty teaches society to respond by violence, and therefore doesn’t act as a deterrent in any way. If we teach people to respond to violence with violence, this will only increase crime rates, and we will be presented with a vicious cycle of violence within society. The fact that capital punishment does not deter future crimes from occurring supports that the death penalty acts as an ineffective deterrent.

Both abolitionists and retentionists argue whether or not a...
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