Should the Death Penalty be Reinstated?
The death penalty is a sentence imposed on individuals who commit gross criminal acts such as robbery with violence, murder, and war crimes. It is a Justice Department practice whereby a criminal is put to death after being sentenced. The practice of putting to death sentenced criminals is referred to as an execution. Offenses in this category are known as capital crimes. Proponents argue that the death penalty deters crime or at least reduces the incidents of it happening. The question of whether the death penalty should be reinstated or not is a controversial topic, and it attracts a lot of public attention. Both sides of the divide have pros and cons. For instance, proponents of the death penalty posit that it should be reinstated to curb incidents of gross crimes. Its reinstatement would instill fear in people, and this would reduce the likelihood of serious crimes being committed. On the other side, opponents of the execution argue that killing offenders contravenes their right to life. Additionally, execution is a contravention of the law that safeguards individuals’ right to life. Despite the circumstances that lead to effecting of the death penalty, this paper argues against the vice.
Cons of Death Penalty
Foremost, death penalty leads to the executions of innocent people, who might have been exonerated in time because of the discovery of new evidence and technological advancements in forensics. For example, records in the British Courts show that Soldier Andrew Evans was executed for the murder of Judith Roberts (a 14-year-old) (Elton, 2011). Later on, it was discovered that the soldier was innocent of the crime for which he died. Despite the fact that he was found to be innocent, it was too late to correct the mistake done to him, because it is impossible for human beings to resurrect a person. Had Andrew Evans been sentenced to life imprisonment, he would have been exonerated and freed.
The death penalty should not be reinstated because there is no proof that it is an effective tool of deterring gross crime. Usually, people who commit acts of crime do not plan on being caught; therefore, it is unlikely for them to worry about an occurrence they would not have to encounter. For instance, a look at Canada’s statistics reveals that the country’s crime rate consistently dropped by 44%, after the country outlawed the death penalty for individuals convicted of capital crimes (Hayworth, 2015). If the death penalty had any impact in deterring capital crimes, the logical events following its repeal would have been an upsurge in the rates of capital crimes.
Lastly, the death penalty should not be reinstated because it goes against the preservation of life. This argument is especially common among health practitioners and religious people, who believe that life should not be taken by human beings. The medical profession’s main goal is the preservation of life; therefore, it makes sense that they do not support the death penalty. Religion teaches that human beings are not the givers of life, and therefore, they do not have the right to take it. Moreover, the role of the criminal justice is to correct behavior, rather than committing an erroneous act to correct another erroneous act. When a guilty person is put to death, it is impossible to correct their behavior, which makes the death sentence more of a means of revenge than correcting behavior. The death penalty, therefore, undermines the goal of criminal justice of correcting behavior.
Pros of the Death Penalty
On the other hand, the death penalty should be reinstated because it prevents people from reoffending, especially when it comes to crimes whose penalty is death (Bohm, 2017). Individuals endeavor to live for the longest time possible; therefore, they would rethink committing acts that would threaten their quest for a long life. In the long run, it will reduce crime rates by a significant percentage. Additionally, when a person is sentenced to death, the information goes public, instilling fear in everyone who accesses the information. Hence, they will discourage themselves from indulging in any form of crime whatsoever.
Proponents of the argument for the reinstatement of the capital punishment posit that capital offenders deserve to be executed to protect innocent lives. Proponents argue that if the offenders are not killed, then they will keep committing murder, rape, and assault. Additionally, lack of such executions only makes criminals more comfortable to commit these crimes (Banner, 2017). Supporters of the death penalty also posit that execution saves governments money that can be directed to worthy causes. Hence, they prefer that a criminal is eliminated through death to reduce the number of inmates serving life imprisonment sentences, which would save the government maintenance costs and reduce overcrowding. For instance, executing capital offenders means that the government would spend less on providing them with basic needs.
The death penalty should not be reinstated for various reasons. Foremost, the death penalty should not be brought back to the table because it contravenes the right to life and the law that guarantees it. Additionally, there is no guarantee that all convictions for capital crimes are correct. At times, investigators make mistakes in the process of investigating crimes, and sometimes people are framed and end up paying for crimes they did commit. For instance, in history, there have been various cases in which technological advancements in the field of forensic science such as fingerprint identification and DNA evidence influenced the overturning of cases that originally seemed airtight. Since after death a wrongful conviction cannot be overturned, capital offenders should serve life sentences to grant the innocent ones a chance at exoneration. Moreover, there is not enough evidence proving that the death penalty deters crime. Using capital punishment to scare individuals into not committing crimes only works for a short time. In the long run, scare tactics become ineffective.
The death penalty has been a thorny issue for quite some time now. Proponents of capital punishment believe that is an unfortunate necessity, to deter capital crime and protect innocent lives. Those who oppose the death penalty believe that while capital crimes are severe, sentencing offenders to life imprisonment is the best option, rather than killing them. If the justice system resorts to the tactics of the offenders it claims to attempt to set straight, then it is no better than the offenders. The law should not be used to commit an atrocity, even if the aim is to correct an injustice. If the justice system, which is meant to correct behavior, acts in a manner that seems to justify revenge, then there is nothing that would stop the public from behaving in the same manner. For instance, the public may be inclined to take the law into their hands and kill people whom they think deserve to die. Lastly, even if the death sentence was justified, the justice system is not fool proof, and therefore, cannot guarantee that an innocent person would not be put to death.
Amnesty International. “Death Penalty.” Amnesty International. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/death-penalty/
Banner, S. (2017). “The Death Penalty: An American History.” Harvard University Press.
Bohm, R. M. (2017). “American Death Penalty Attitudes: A Critical Examination of Recent Evidence.” Criminal Justice and Behavior, 14(3), 380-396.
Elton, D. (2011). “Five Good Reasons Why the Death Penalty should not be reinstated.” Left Foot Forward. Retrieved from https://leftfootforward.org/2011/08/five-good-reasons-why-the-death-penalty-should-not-be-reinstated/
Hayworth, M. (2015). “5 Reasons Some People Think The World Needs The Death Penalty.” Amnesty. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org.au/5-reasons-some-people-think-the-world-needs-the-death-penalty/
Hoven, A. D. (2014). “Top 10 Pros and Cons.” Pro Con Organization. Retrieved from www.deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourseID=002000