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Criminal correction integrates various forms of punishment that include incarcerations, public service, capital punishment and fining (Bedau & Cassell 23). The correction form of capital punishment, commonly known as the death penalty, is the constitutional warranted death as a way of punishing serious criminal offenders. For quite some time, many countries embraced the deployment of the death penalty in execution of offenders who had committed extremely serious crimes (Carlson & Garrett 45). Despite the abandonment of the capital punishment by various nations, countries such as China, United States, Japan and South Korea still use it. This implies that counties have divergent views, regarding its deployment. According to Bedau & Cassell (39), the supporters strongly believe that capital punishment serves as an example to the would-be lawbreakers, whereas the abolitionists perceive it as inhuman since it deprives people the right to live. Notably, death penalty remains a subject of contention, with the opponents refusing to justify it, based on infringement of constitutional rights of the prisoner (Hodgkinson 89). In light of this, this paper examines reasons for and against the use of this cruel form of administering punishment to prisoners. In addition, the study looks at the perceptions of various countries, concerning the death penalty.
Reasons against Capital Punishment
Carlson & Garrett (56) point out that capital punishment does not offer second chance to criminals to evaluate and transform their behaviours. This goes against the objectives that a punishment should be viewed as a correctional measure. Cases such as violent bank robbery, rape, homicide and murder that are punishable by capital punishment; issues that the criminal justice system fails to address as the primary cause (Drehle 67). Crime is similar to other problems and needs to be eliminated by starting from the cause, instead of addressing the aftereffects. It is extremely significant to note that averting a crime does not only involve execution but involves the examination of events that resulted in the crime. Phillip (7) claims that the death penalty is a form of punishment that seems extremely illogical, since it does not provide an opportunity to the offender to correct the behavioral failures.
Availability of other forms of punishment challenges the deployment of the death penalty as a punishment mechanism (Hodgkinson 78). The unavailability of suitable forms of punishment to the offender is the reason behind using the death penalty (Phillip 89). Apparently, this appears irrational in that forms of punishing offenders can never be drained. Alternative forms of punishment such as long life jail terms under harsh conditions, life sentence and tight probation among others can essentially rehabilitate offenders to be exemplary citizens (Drehle 78). The perception that the death penalty prevents further harm to the society by the criminal justice systems is not justifiable because life sentence serves the same purpose. Mostly, the criminal justice system does not explore other feasible alternatives to deliver justice and administer punishment to the complainant and defendant respectively (Drehle 67).
Carlson and Garrett (89) affirm that capital punishment does not provide future evidence that would challenge the already passed judgments on criminals. Judges, like any decision makers, make errors that oblige them to pass wrong judgments on offenders (Drehle 78). In case of execution, emergence of future evidence that would challenge or contradict the judge’s decision serves no purpose. This normally happens, when the criminal has already been subjected to the death penalty (Phillip 6). The deployment of alternative methods of punishment such as life sentences and long-term incarcerations can considerably reduce the occurrence of such situations. The irreversible death nature, inflicting death in such situations, is not warranted and seems cruel way of punishment not administered according to justice system. Forms of punishment need to provide the chances of errors during the criminal justice process or emergence of new evidence.
The effectiveness of capital punishment, regarding crime prevention and control, is questionable (Phillip 7). In the United States, there have been rising concerns as to whether capital punishment deters criminal activities. Death penalty, as punishment, might not prevent some crimes committed under certain contexts. Some murder cases, in which capital punishment does not prevent killing, include committing homicide in domestic violence and under the influence of drugs (Hodgkinson 78). Additionally, inflicting death on hit men, contract assassinators and mentally ill persons without logical concern for human life does not prevent homicide. This is because like-minded criminals will still carry on homicide. Some researchers also indicate that for two decades, from 1976 to 1996, the figure of death penalties rose by 60 as the rate of homicide increased in the same period. This proves that the method is ineffective (Carlson & Garrett 78). The United Nation’s research showed that there is no scientific proof showing that the death sentence causes crime determent, when compared to life sentence. The ineffective nature of capital punishment implies that it should be abandoned.
According to Phillip (7), the present trends, taken by criminal justice in administering death sentence, justifies why its abandonment is beneficial. Studies indicate that capital punishment serves as a punishment to the few and extremely poor persons that form the minorities (Drehle 98). The minorities cannot afford lawyers to defend them in courts; hence, the only option is to face death. The rich, who afford professional lawyers to defend them, normally do not face the alleged punishment. The fairness in the application of capital punishment seems questionable under such circumstances, since it is a selective form of punishment. The selective deployment of the death penalty harms the society by not punishing the rich, rather than eliminating crimes (Carlson and Garrett 90). Another issue, related to capital punishment, is the barbaric methods such as the use of lethal injections and electrocutions used to administer the death penalty. These methods infringe the common societal decency standards.
The authorization of capital punishment is vulnerable to have an effect on the way the American society views those who have committed crimes (Carlson and Garrett 90). For instance, if the law punishes criminals by killing them, an individual is more likely to approach another individual who may have wronged him from the same perspective. The criminal justice, therefore, should be careful in the process of administering capital punishment to offenders (Carlson and Garrett 89).
Reasons for Capital Punishment
The United States’ judicial system perceives death penalty as moral and constitutional to punish serious offenders (Drehle 89). Despite the criticism from opponents, the federal government and larger portion of the public strongly advocate for its use.
Death penalty as a punishment matches the gravity of certain committed crimes. Capital crimes are punishable by capital punishment (Phillip 7). A criminal who commits homicide is hanged, which is an equal capacity as subjecting him to similar criminal activity committed. Usually, the public perceives that killing is punishable by killing the person who committed it. However, the administration of capital punishment has gone beyond murder to punishing robbery with violence and many others. Majority of the U.S. citizens holds that taking the life of murderers seems extremely logical as compared to punishing using life sentence (Drehle 89).
Christian religion confirms that the death penalty is applicable to certain crimes such as adultery, murder and evil sorcery; hence, plays a substantial role justifying it (Phillip 8). Various biblical passages still provide a framework for administering capital punishment to offenders who have committed murder. In order for justice to prevail, punishment should be of equivalent capacity as the crime; therefore, this justifies the use of capital punishment for homicide crimes and other serious crimes having no equal punishment.
Public safety is also a reason for using capital punishment. For peace to prevail in the society, public safety is paramount (Carlson and Garrett 78). Elimination of serious criminals who pose threats to the public through execution seems to be the only justifiable means that can guarantee public safety. It is also logical to execute one person who would have killed many innocent people to provide safety to the public. This shows the effectiveness of this method in fighting crime and punishing serious offenders who commit murder, rape and robbery with violence among others (Carlson and Garrett 67).
According to Bedau and Cassell (78), the inability to measure the value of human life is a clear justification for using the death penalty as a punishment. Life is the most superlative aspect of human nature, when compared to other things (Hodgkinson 89). Capital crimes, involving destroying human life or attempts to undermine the value of human life, are only punishable by highest penalty possible, which is capital punishment. Researchers claim that it is necessary to use the highest forms of punishments to conserve the highest human values associated to life (Drehle 54). It is through such concepts that capital punishment serves as a way for respecting human life. This implies that no one can kill or undermine human value of life and evade the punishment.
According to Drehle (8), the federal government, as a way of reducing federal costs, advocates for the death penalty. The government views the execution of a serious offender as less costly, rather than maintaining him or her in federal prisons for his or her entire life. According to the government, these costs are avoidable through administering capital punishment, which also provides public safety (Phillip 10).
Countries’ Views on Capital Punishment
Countries such as Taiwan and Singapore are progressively becoming adamant and they continue using capital punishment as a form of punishment (Drehle 78). Indonesia reduced the number of executions in the recent years. United States, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea are the only developed nations still using the death penalty (Hodgkinson 78). The 1980’s witnessed the emergence of democracies in Latin America countries, which increased the number of abolitionists. The decline in communism in Eastern and Central Europe preceded the Latin America’s joining of the abolitionists (Carlson and Garrett 76). European Union republics have differing support for the death penalty, despite supporting it as a form of punishment.
United Kingdom banned death sentence for some serious crimes such as murder and advocated it for treason, piracy with violence, wartime military transgressions and arson in royal dockyards (Hodgkinson 67). The last United Kingdom execution happened in 1964. Roman republic illegalized capital punishment in the mid-18th century and Venezuela in 1863. San Marino abolished it in 1865, having carried out the last death sentence in 1468 (Carlson and Garrett 43). Portugal abolished the practice in 1867 due to the numerous legislative proceedings in 1852 and 1863. Israel was the first sovereign state to illegalize capital punishment in 1954 after the Second World War and the endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Carlson and Garrett 61).
Capital punishment, through execution of the innocent, results to injustices as repeatedly asserted. Many people have been declared guiltless victims of the capital punishment (Bedau and Cassell 12). Some forms of innocent executions entail compelling individuals to provide evidence through torture. Capital punishment is a controversial matter in many countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Latin America, and Western Europe (Drehle 41). Some circumstances of mass murder terrorism and child murder attract public affirmation in support of this form of punishment in the majority of the countries. Mongolia has been the latest nation to join death penalty abolitionists in January 2012.
Religions have also presented varied opinions, which clearly reveal the controversial nature of capital punishment (Carlson and Garrett 71). The Buddhist has no clear stand as to whether or not their religion inhibits capital punishment. Perceptions of Christianity are based on a spectrum of opinions (Bedau and Cassell 89). It is viewed as an absolute censure of the punishment, supported by an argument that it is revenge technique converse to Christ message of forgiveness. The Roman Catholic strongly agree that capital punishment should be used to avert crime but not as revenge tool (Phillip 7).
In conclusion, supporters strongly believe that capital punishment serves as an example to the would-be lawbreakers, whereas the abolitionists perceive it as inhuman since it deprives people the right to live. The paper discussed other various reasons for rejection of the death penalty as a form of punishment. Capital punishment does not offer second chance to criminals to evaluate and transform their behaviours. In addition, other viable options can punish serious crimes. Capital punishment does not provide future evidence that would challenge the already passed judgments on criminals. Various reasons account for the use of capital punishment. Death penalty as a punishment matches the magnitude of certain committed crimes. Christian religion agrees that capital punishment is applicable to serious crimes; thus, plays a substantial role justifying it. The major reason behind the use of capital punishment is to respect human life. United States still inflicts death on serious offense. The UK legalized death penalty on certain serious offenses but prefers viable options.