The death sentence, though cruel, has always been used to punish criminal murderers. It has been referred to as the most inhumane punishment ever. Supporters of capital punishment say that it is appropriate to take life of a person who kills another. Many other people refute of this idea and say that capital punishment should be abolished. The most astonishing part of this matter is the fact that innocent people have been sentenced to death. As a result, many people have continued to change their perception on the death sentence, and agree that it is not necessary and should no longer be used. Such a position also stands up under ethical scrutiny.
For example, evidence has pointed to the fact that death sentencing has not helped any society improve in its conduct. On the contrary, victims of capital punishment do not feel remorse when given capital punishment. Hence, the crucial question remains unanswered, is the death penalty effective? In this context, this paper will discuss the pros and cons of capital punishment. The discussion will begin by highlighting the genesis of death sentencing. This will be followed by the effects of capital punishment to the accused and the family of the murdered victim. The paper will end with a clear distinction of the advantages and disadvantages death penalty on individuals and society.
The use of death penalties began way back in 1700 B.C., in Ancient Babylon. During this time, the role of the death penalty was used to punish people who had committed serious crimes including adultery, theft, and murder. Other empires eventually adopted the idea into their judicial system. This method of punishment for heinous crimes continued into modern times. In 1600 A.D., the English gave their prisoners options to serve as slaves for 14 years or be sentenced to death. This decision came up when they realized that their prisons were overflowing with prisoners. Most prisoners opted for slavery. Hence, they transported the prisoners to America to be servants without pay.
While serving their terms, most of the prisoners changed and became decent people. At this time, people started voicing their concerns about the innocence of these convicts. That is, if such people can be convicted and reform, then they should be given another chance. Hence, death sentencing should be abolished. Other options should be investigated and tried to help reform convicts and then integrate these people back into society so that they may go on to lead productive lives.
As time has gone by, more reasons to abolish capital punishment have come up. According to Allen, Clubb, and Lacey, death sentences were and are not fair. Most of the convicts that have been executed were either African-American convicts, or individuals from other minorities. This trend has continued to date. In recent reports, more than 50 percent of death penalty cases were reversed. This is due to the help of lawyers who advocate for the accused person. Many convicts have been found innocent and acquitted of their charges. In view of this matter, 129 countries have so far abolished capital punishment.
While protesters against the death penalty increase, another group of supporters waits for justice in the law courts. It is high time that many people endeavored see justice served in the corridors of justice. Many people have lost their loved ones through merciless and brutal murders. If the question is given to a victim of murder (for instance the parent of a deceased teenager), he or she should advocate for capital punishment on the accused. People who support the death penalty ask one vital question. Is there a punishment that can be compared to murder other than a death sentence? Many have failed to reason at this point. The supporters of death sentencing say that a criminal has no regard for life. Hence, his life should not be treated in the same regard.
If the death penalty were abolished, some other form of punishment would need to be used in its place for these crimes, as a society cannot survive without law and order to help it run smoothly. This means that certain actions must be deemed wrong and others right by the vast majority of the population. It also means that consequences must arise out of wrong actions.
The argument on this issue lays heavily on the effect of capital punishment on the accused. The main purpose of having an individual punished is to have the behaviors of the person changed from a careless and irresponsible person to a good, responsible citizen. However, such a case is not applicable to all criminal convicts. If a criminal gets a life sentence and lives to be reformed, then he or she deserves another chance to live. Another criminal may be given a lighter sentence, but never reform. Instead, once released from prison, the person becomes worse than before. It is believed that the walls of prison will only limit the prisoner, but once released he has the will to do another crime. A death sentence, however, prevents that prisoner and society from ever having a chance to prove that the convict has reformed.
Another type of case that has brought in a lot of conflict in this matter is sentencing a mentally retarded person or a minor to death. Such cases have not been agreed upon for many years. Critics argue that such individuals do not have a well-developed enough sense of right and wrong in order to understand the consequences of their actions. Supporters, by contrast, argue that murder is murder and should be punished. As a result, a sort of legal tug-of-war erupts in cases involving the mentally disabled or minors.
Justice cannot be had if the court sentences a person to death with not enough evidence. The standard should always be beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, it is not divine to take any person’s life. Capital punishment is also murder as a person is being snatched of his life. Life is sacred, and every human being has a right to live. Hence, every person should be given an opportunity to live right. For instance, there are young people who have not lived to achieve much in life. These are people who are energetic and can be fruitful and useful to the society in the future. The court can take it upon itself to put up corrective centers where such individuals can reform. In offering chances for convicts to better themselves and merge back into society, prisoners will gain hope for a future outside of prison walls. Such hope can improve their chances for rehabilitation and long term success.
With the death penalty, however, a prisoner has no hope of his or her reformation changing the outcome of his or her life. Without the aid of appeals, a battery of legal help and additional evidence, the death row prisoner cannot hope that he or she will get another chance to go out into the world and prove that they can be useful, productive citizens.
From a deontological perspective, the death penalty would be fitting for crimes in which such punishment seemed deserved. It is similar to the concept of “an eye for an eye.” This is the way the law of the United States currently is supposed to work. The concept of the punishment fitting the crime is a deontological one. Deontology is a form of ethics which views situations after the fact to determine whether the punishment was appropriate.
With capital punishment, however, the backward-looking deontological view can be dangerous when it later emerges that the deceased prisoner was innocent. Of course, not all death row inmates are innocent, but the percentage of innocent convicts has been shown to be high enough to merit taking another look at whether to use the death penalty.
In conclusion, there was a man who was a convicted murderer. Williams had been known to be an aging member too. His lawyers tried to advocate for him, but their efforts were in vain. While serving his term, Williams changed and renounced his evil ways. He later participated in campaigning against gangs and drugs. Many people came to believe that Williams had changed. His supporters protested against his punishment when he received a death penalty. (Guernsey 2009). He later died by a lethal injection. In as much as a murder suspect deserves capital punishment, executing a murder suspect could as well be killing a blameless person, or somebody who can change the society in the future.
No one will ever know if Williams would have gone out into the world and made a positive or negative difference. Based upon his actions while incarcerated, however, it is highly likely that he would have made positive choices and become a productive citizen of the community in which he lived. By sentencing him to die, such possibilities remain unrealized. This is also the case when innocent people are executed.
Capital punishment is a long-standing method for punishing those who commit the worst crimes in society. In modern times, this is primarily murder. Unfortunately, this practice has many staunch supporters. Yet, as more and more convicts are being proven innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted, minds are changing regarding the death penalty. It is time to stop looking back on what was done to determine if it was the right consequence for the convict’s actions. Instead, it is time to explore other, more humane ways to punish and reform those who exhibit criminal behavior.