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Capital Punishment or the death sentence has been an issue of concern in our society for quite sometime. It has further gone to divide our society with some supporting it and others calling for its abolition with both sides citing reasons as to why it should continue or why it should be stopped. October 10th 2010 was the day set aside by those against capital punishment to peacefully protest for its abolition in the USA. The significance of this day can't go un-noticed. The USA ranks fourth in the world every year when it comes to capital punishment; as of 2009 there were 3,237 in mates sentenced to death 45% being white, 41.5% being black and 11% being Hispanic. While we should all suffer the consequences of our actions, death penalty or capital punishment is simply wrong because it doesn't solve anything. The issue of capital punishment has been there for quite sometime with some states in the USA abolishing it and others actually supporting it for a number of reasons as will be shown in the essay (Amnesty international).
The death penalty in every society is a reserve of the worst crimes known to man. These crimes therefore vary from community to community but murder has stood out as the most common crime deserving a death penalty once one is proven guilty. The arguments for the death penalty have evolved over time but what stands out is the reference from the Bible 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth'. This phrase denotes that the punishment should fit the crime, in other words if a person has committed murder then he should also be killed so as to restore the balance within the community. The idea behind this is that we should all be held responsible for our actions (Naik).
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Though this argument for capital punishment may seem convincing, it still goes against the universal human rights that the USA signed and has promoted all over the world. While it is true that the Bible states that we should all be held responsible for our crime, religion goes a head to even strongly promote the value of life within every society. The universal declaration for human rights as ratified by the United Nations states that life is a fundamental human right; therefore all human beings have a right to life despite the crimes committed. Taking the life of a person is wrong in all essence and therefore taking the life of an individual because he or she has done the same entangles us in a vicious circle with no end. Further more many communities that practice capital punishment have executed many people for lesser crimes like mutiny within the army; the USA has been known in the past to exercise death penalty among army deserters. What if that individual doesn't believe in what that particular army is doing does this mean that he continues to serve. Therefore capital punishment doesn't justify the essence of responsibility as many may claim but rather it shows how archaic a particular society can be (Siegel 578-585, Amnesty International).
In some states the death penalty has been described as a deterrent because of the effect it has on the potential capital offenders and consequently on all thee other offenders in the community. The collected statistics has shown that the number of people sentenced to death and the number of people actually executed differ to show a drop in capital offences. This shows the deterrent nature of actual capital punishment; in most cases the execution is normally widely broadcasted further amplifying the deterrent effect of capital punishment within our societies. Statistics within the USA show that the number of murders decreased from over 24,000 to slightly over 15,000 within a period of 10 years between 1993 and 2003. Also within the same period within the USA the number of executions increased significantly. This shows that the intended impact successfully reached all the potential capital offenders within the USA further amplifying the deterrent nature of capital punishment (Pro Death Forum).
To deter means to stop something from happening. Executing capital offenders unfortunately has failed to do so. The statistics above show that the number of capital offences within the USA has significantly reduced over a 10 year period and further claims that this is because the state has been executing people increasingly over the same period. This doesn't show the deterrent nature of capital punishment; capital offenders are still murdering people i.e. in 2003 over 15,000 people were murdered across the USA. Secondly with the coming of DNA testing and other technologies that can be used to further improve investigations in such cases as murder, the system has been found to be flawed. Therefore many people who have been executed may have been innocent. This is therefore a weakness within the justice system and further shows why capital offence should be abolished from our society (Amnesty International, Siegel 620-625) .
The Issue of cost also comes into the picture when we think about this issue. Once an offender has been sentenced, then he/she will spend an average of 12 to 15 years in prison before the actual execution takes place. Within the prison this offenders will still have all their rights i.e. they will enjoy all the privileges the other prisoners enjoy despite the fact that they will be executed. All their expenses will therefore be met by the public through the prisons expenditure therefore straining the already limited resources further. This according to many is quite unacceptable because these individuals are not being rehabilitated so that they can benefit the community in other way rather they are 'dead men walking' as they are normally being referred to. Therefore they are a waste of public funds that could be used on other very important issues such as education or health care. Executing them as soon as possible is therefore cheaper and more efficient compared to other prolonged sentences (Naik).
Unlike the offenders, the state must ensure that humane methods are used to execute offenders. This means employing people to ensure the whole process goes smoothly. All in all the state has to commit resources towards the execution of capital offenders. Therefore claiming that tax payer's money will be used to maintain the same offenders is orthodox because the same finances will go towards executing the same offenders (Siegel 463-470).
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Another argument for the death penalty is that eliminating all capital offenders promotes a crime free society. An ethical approach to this argument is that even if a murder completes a sentence, this is not a guarantee that the offender will not commit the same crime again. There have been cases of numerous repeat offenders within the USA alone. Therefore executing them ensures that the same people are not roaming freely in our society where they can easily repeat the same offence thus ensuring a crime free society where our children can be free and safe from such offenders (Pro Death Forum).
To eliminate crime is foremost in many communities in the world. Living in crime free cities or societies is an ideal that many want to achieve. But achieving it through capital punishment is extreme and violent. Rather there are many other ways of ensuring a crime free society such as ensuring that all are employed and therefore earning a decent living or ensuring the security of the citizens of the USA through the various systems that are in place. Capital punishment is therefore not a way of doing this. In reference to the arguments stated above against death penalty, there could be a mistake and therefore the state could end up executing the wrong individual further continuing the imbalance. Within the USA alone the number of individuals who are executed varies. Statistics has shown that it is the ethnic community offenders and the poor who in most cases end up being executed. This is because of the inherent suspicion that comes with them being either different and/or them being unable to access the same services that the able can afford. This therefore creates a bias even within the justice system along race and class lines. This is therefore another reason to abolish the death penalty (Amnesty International).
In conclusion, capital punishment has been practiced for quite some time to a varying degree of effects. Though many may argue for it this still doesn't prove its importance within the society due to a number of reasons key being that life is fundamental and therefore a key human right. To take the life of a murderer or rapist for that matter doesn't take away the fact that the crime was committed; taking the life of the offender may seem as the only solution but many victims will still suffer the effects of a loved one. Further more it only increases the number of people suffering because the offender is either someone's son or daughter.