Officially, thousands of people are sentenced to death every year in countries where the death penalty is practiced. The death penalty is still prevalent in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa, with notable countries including Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and the USA.
Given the prevalence of the death penalty in the modern world, it is fair to assume that there are perhaps justifications for it, though there are plenty of people who categorically oppose it. Without going into the details of any given judicial system, there are number of reasons to support both sides of the argument.
The Death Penalty: Pro
There are a number of practical arguments made for the death penalty. Because the death penalty is such a powerful construct, many argue that it decreases crime rates through deterrence. While many believe that the death penalty is more of a deterrent than a lengthy prison sentence, the very concept of ‘deterrence’ is argued by many as inapplicable to criminal psychology, especially if mental illness is involved. Criminals rarely think about the consequences of their actions and this is especially true with crimes of passion.
By killing felons, the death penalty removes the burden of housing them within the penitentiary system. Prison overcrowding and overstretched resources are key issues in prisons in many countries. Due to the severity of prisoners’ crimes on death row, it costs much more to feed, house, and seclude these often dangerous inmates than if they were simply put to death. And if they were paroled, there is always the chance they could re-offend, which is completely eliminated with the death penalty. The concept of retribution, that the perpetrator is punished in a manner fitting to the crime, is also used to support the death penalty.
The Death Penalty: Con
There are many arguments against the death penalty that are both practical and ethical. It is very difficult to know the exact moral status of the death penalty, though many see it to be a degrading, barbaric, and amoral. The opponents of the death penalty argue that it causes incredible suffering and pain for the sentenced and brutalizes society as a whole where it operates. Both of these factors could have negative effects on crime and criminality. The vast majority of people would at least argue that human life is highly valuable and should be preserved, though the extent at which preservation should make-way for retribution is where things become very debatable.
Misconduct in institutional systems can also lead to incorrect sentencing. While this is bad enough for non-death sentencing, these constitute a heinous breach of justice if the death penalty is involved. A psychological argument that may become prominent in the future is the concept of self-control and free will. Do we have free will or not? If not, this could bring into question not just the death penalty but all forms of sentencing whether it is capital punishment or not. New neurological research can now predict the likelihood of someone becoming violent and may help with future awareness on these issues.
From a global perspective, far fewer countries operate the death penalty when compared to countries that don’t. More importantly, there appears to be a general reduction in the number of death sentences even in the countries continuing to uphold the death penalty.
It is arguable that countries still using the death penalty do so purely in response to criminality and try to deter future criminals with it. Ironically, many of the countries that have the death penalty suffer from higher crime rates. The death penalty does not cause the problem but it is merely a response to it. And while the death penalty is usually implemented by autocracy or religious doctrine, it is almost never used in response to actual modern societal values.
Therefore, the case against the death penalty is much stronger than the case for it. This would be the same for anyone who believes that ethics are more important than any of the possible practical benefits.
The Death Penalty: Pros and Cons Essay
1045 Words5 Pages
The Death Penalty. Immoral or moral; just or unjust? These are just a few of the questions people ask themselves when debating the Death Penalty which is arguably the most controversial topic of the United States today. Every time these words come up, we start yelling out our opinions on what we feel is right. Pro death penalty people shout deterrence across the room while the anti death penalty supporters shout about potentially killing an innocent man; some argue that is just and the murders deserve their punishment while others say we are murdering people too if we kill the suspect. Being one of the seventy- four countries that carry out the capital punishment, the United States is currently fourth in executions per year. Beyond this,…show more content…
40 percent of the people on death row in 2007 were African Americans although whites committed more murders. The former mayor of Maryland, Mister Martin O’Malley brought up another controversial discussion supporting abolishment s well stating that if we stopped the death penalty, “$22.4 million could pay for 500 additional police officers or provide drug treatment for 10,000 of our addicted neighbors. Unlike the death penalty, these are investments that save lives and prevent violent crime"
There are often mistakes made that falsely determine an individual’s sentence. Sloppy police work and loss of documents are examples of careless errors. There is also some room for error with determining the results of a DNA sample that do not fall under the human error category. Many times there may not be ample DNA samples at a crime scene. Only a fraction of crimes reveal DNA. Drive-by shootings and bombings often do not provide DNA for investigation purposes. “There is a public perception that DNA is the cure-all for these kinds of mistakes. DNA is not the whole answer.” (Dieter, Richard) Eye witnesses cannot solely and accurately determine a person’s fate 100 percent of the time. There are numerous amounts of cases in which those found guilty were indeed later found innocent. Many times, these individuals have already served time in jail. Many argue that the time inmates spend in