Advantages and Disadvantages of Capital Punishment (Death Penalty)
What is the Death Penalty?
It is known as the death penalty or capital punishment. Some also simply call it an execution. But whatever you chose to call it, the bottom line is that capital punishment is the punishment whereby someone found guilty of a crime is punished by death. Simply put, capital punishment or death penalty is legal punishment by death.
Any offence or crime that makes you face capital punishment or the death penalty is what is referred to as a capital crime or a capital offence.
Over the years there have been different methods of executing persons found guilty of capital crimes. Execution methods such as shooting, beheading, hanging, etc were and are still commonly used in many places where the death penalty is practiced. Today, the most common methods of execution in many western countries are either by the electric chair or lethal injection. The latter is normally considered a more humane way to carry out an execution.
Should Capital Punishment be Abolished?
Although many countries in the world have completely abolished capital punishment, there are dozens of countries where capital punishment is still very active. A good example of a country where the death penalty is still practiced is the United States. The nations that have abolished this form of punishment have their reasons for doing so. And of course the nations where executions still take place also have their reasons for doing that. But what it is your take on capital punishment? Do you think the death penalty should be abolished? Before you answer this question, just take a moment to look at the advantages and disadvantages associated with capital punishment.
Advantages of Capital Punishment
There are many advantages associated with the capital punishment, which is the reason why certain countries like China and the United States still actively practice it. Without any further ado, let’s now look at the advantages of capital punishment.
- Capital punishment is arguably the greatest deterrent to criminals and potential criminals. Many would agree with me that many people would be deterred from committing certain heinous crimes if they knew the punishment for the crime would be death. Human beings naturally fear to die. This is the reason why the death penalty is considered one of the most effective ways to discourage certain crimes in society. The average person would think twice before committing a particular crime if he or she knows that the punishment for the crime is death.
- Heinous criminal activities such as rape, treason, murder, terrorism, etc can be drastically reduced when the death penalty is practiced. This is the reason why in some countries such as Saudi Arabia, where capital punishment is still actively practiced and where one can easily be sentenced to death for committing certain crimes, not too many heinous crimes exist. For example, in China, one can easily be sentenced to death if found guilty of smuggling drugs. This has drastically reduced the usage of illegal and harmful drugs and all the vices associated with drugs. So you see how the capital punishment can reduce the occurrence of certain serious crimes?
- Capital punishment cuts down cost. It can be very expensive imprisoning criminals because of the fact that the state will have to feed, shelter, clothe, and provide the basic things needed for the prisoners to live in a humane way. Now, imagine a case of a person serving a life term for murder. This person is going to be taken care of by the state until the day he dies. By the time he would have finished serving his life term, he would have ended up costing the taxpayers a lot. But if such a person were executed, the state would have cut down cost drastically. This is the reason why many say that capital punishment is cost-effective.
- To the average person, the severest punishment on Earth is the death penalty. Certain crimes are so heinous that they deserve nothing but the death penalty. Let’s take an example of a terrorist who deliberately murders dozens of innocent civilians. Is it fair to hand such a criminal a life term in prison where he is going to be taken care of by the same society he harmed? The severity of his crime deserves a severe punishment like the death penalty. Not until such a person is executed by the state, justice hasn’t been served. It is only fair that a person who deliberately commits murder should also have his life taken away from him by the state through the death penalty. Justice isn’t really served until the punishment a criminal receives is equivalent to his or her crime.
- There are some very violent and hardened criminals such as serial killers who are not meant to live among the general population because of their high tendency to continue killing. It is therefore in the public’s interest that these people are kept in prison forever. But being sentenced to life imprisonment doesn’t always guarantee that a very violent criminal such as a serial killer will be kept away from the general population forever. There are instances where these criminals who have been sentenced to life imprisonment escape from prison and end up in society where they continue to commit their violent and heinous crimes. Over the years, there have been several cases of cold killers escaping from jail and going on to hurt and kill more innocent people. Now, the lives of these innocent people could have been saved had these murderers been executed in the first place. That is another reason why the death penalty is very important.
Disadvantages of Capital Punishment
There are so many disadvantages of capital punishment, which is the reason why so many countries have abolished it. Currently, over 100 countries all over the world have abolished capital punishment. Some of the countries where capital punishment has been abolished include South Africa, Gabon, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Below are the disadvantages of capital punishment.
- It is a sin to kill. One of the biggest sins a person or a society can commit is to take the life of a person. Since Christianity is the largest religion in the world, and since majority of the places where the death penalty has been abolished have populations that are predominantly Christian, let’s take a look at the issue of killing from the point of view of a Christian. Anybody familiar with the Bible is aware of one of the Ten Commandments which goes like this: “Thou shall not kill”. This means that so far as you are a Christian who believes in the Bible, killing is something you can never endorse. And since capital punishment is all about killing someone for a crime they have committed, many Christians don’t support it because of the belief that it is a sin and God frowns upon it.
- The death penalty is inhumane. Many consider the death penalty as nothing short of a barbaric and an inhumane act. These people argue that no matter how severe the crime a person committed was, it is inhumane to punish the person by killing him or her. They argue that the death penalty is too barbaric to be practiced by a civilized society. Think of it this way: society condemns a person for murder and goes on to punish the person by killing him. What makes society any different from the murderer?
- Most of the methods used in carrying out the executions are crude and inhumane because the offender has to go through a lot of pain and suffering before eventually dying. Some of these crude methods include shootings, hanging, and stoning.
- Innocent people can end up being killed. The saddest thing about capital punishment is the fact that there are certain unfortunate instances where people end up being executed for crimes they didn’t commit. There have been several cases of people who got framed for heinous crimes such as murder and drug trafficking and ended up being condemned to death. Sadly for some of these innocent people, the truth takes a long time to come out, and by the time the evidence that proves they are innocent comes out they would have been already executed. This is why many opponents of the death penalty fight night and day to get this type of punishment abolished.
- Another reason why capital punishment should be discouraged is because of the fact that sometimes certain crimes are committed on impulse. Let’s take the case of a person who murders someone on impulse and instantly regrets his action. Maybe he committed the murder in a state of anger or some other strong emotion. While it is totally true that the person has committed murder and deserves to be punished seriously for his crime, it is sometimes too harsh to give such a person the death sentence considering the fact that the murder wasn’t planned. Unfortunately, in many places where the death penalty is practiced, a capital offence (whether it was committed on impulse or not) warrants a death sentence.
- The death penalty clearly violates one of the fundamental and natural rights of every human being which is the right to live. Every human has the fundamental right to live and not be deliberately killed by an individual or the state. This is the reason why many human rights advocates strongly kick against the death penalty saying that the state tramples upon the important natural right of a person to live.
- Certain crimes don’t deserve the death penalty. Justice is only served when a person’s punishment is equivalent to the severity of his or her crime. However, in certain countries – especially Islamic countries, certain minor crimes or crimes which are not very heinous to warrant a death penalty easily see the offenders being sentenced to death. A good example of such ‘crimes’ is apostasy (abandoning of one’s religion). In many Islamic countries across the world, the crime of apostasy can easily see one being sentenced to death.
- Some criminals regret their heinous crimes and repent while in prison. They later go on to become model prisoners and advise others against a life of crime. They use their lives as an example to show people that crime doesn’t pay. Unfortunately the death penalty prevents these people from reforming and becoming useful people in society in future.
Now that you have seen the major advantages and disadvantages of the death penalty, do you really think that the death penalty is something that should be abolished? Do the advantages of capital punishment outweigh the disadvantages or is it the opposite?