Death Penalty: the Christian View

Topics: Death Penalty, Pope John Paul II, United Methodist Church Pages: 7 (2469 words) Published: February 5, 2011
In almost every society, there are crimes and violations of human rights. To deal with these things, there are laws that prescribe the prevention of their occurrences. However, if the law is broken, commensurate punishment is put on the violator. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, the punishment may be light such as imprisonment for up to one year with corresponding fines, or it could also be severe as death penalty. Capital punishment or death penalty is usually imposed on persons who committed heinous crimes and are those that endanger the safety of the society. Some countries and societies implement capital punishment while others do not. There are various reasons for this policy of countries, including the social view on the death penalty and the prevailing religious view in the society among others.

One of the foremost arguments for the imposition of death penalty is that it acts as a deterrent for heinous crimes. Most societies throughout history have used capital punishment. Governments have also used this extensively to execute persons that do not conform to the laws and standards of conduct in the society. Throughout history, capital punishment was also used to suppress political dissent and to preserve the prevailing order in the society. Nowadays, the death penalty is being imposed on capital crimes such as treason against the state, espionage, and murder. In other countries, crimes that are of sexual nature such as rape, sodomy, and adultery are also punishable by death. Human trafficking, plunder and corruption, as well as drug trafficking are also punishable by death in other countries.

The foremost reason being given for the imposition of capital punishment is its power to deter crimes. The argument says that if heinous crimes are punishable by death, would-be perpetrators of such crimes would protect their lives and they will not commit heinous crimes. On the part of the victims of such crimes, they also receive justice and redress for the injury through the capital punishment. On the other hand, capital punishment is a lot less expensive than life imprisonment (Paternoster, 1991).

There are a lot of debates surrounding the imposition of capital punishment. Almost all countries in Europe, as well as in the Pacific area, and Latin America have abolished capital punishment in the name of respecting and protecting human rights. There are still a large number of countries that retained it, however. The United States Federal government with 36 States has retained it. Brazil imposes capital punishment only during wartime while countries in Asia and Africa also retained it. Notably, South Africa does not have capital punishment in spite of the high incidence of violent crimes such as murder and rape. South Korea no longer imposes capital punishment, as well as Uzbekistan, because it was not being used for a long time.

A number of individuals, organizations, and human rights advocates object to the imposition of capital punishment. The questions they raise concern the effectiveness of capital punishment in deterring crimes. Moreover, there is always the possibility that the innocent person will be sentenced to death. Once the penalty is imposed, it can no longer be undone even if a separate investigation will render the accused as innocent from the crimes.

There are also a number of instances in which minority groups are discriminated against in imposing capital punishment. Minority groups usually have lesser access to the best lawyers. As such, they run the greater risk of being proclaimed guilty for the crimes for which they are accused. With capital punishment, once death penalty is imposed, it is final. The person will have no chance to reform his ways or redeem his actions. He has been condemned by the courts to be forever separated from the rest of the society.

In the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations in 2007, the UN passed a resolution calling for the universal ban on capital...
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