Death Penalty Pros and Cons
The death penalty is a difficult and emotive discussion topic for many people. Although it has been abolished in two thirds of the world's countries, it has a long history and is still used in many places, including many states in the USA, and its use continues to divide people.
It is seen as the most suitable punishment for the worst crimes by those in favor, as well providing an effective deterrent. Those who oppose it, however, see it as inhumane, expensive, plus they argue that there is no evidence that it deters criminality when compared to places where it has been abolished.
In this article I look at and list all the key pros and cons of executing people who have committed serious criminal offenses - first of all looking at the essential arguments in favor of the death penalty, followed by the arguments against it.
I have created a summarized list of the main death penalty pros and cons below, I hope that you find the list useful and interesting.
I was personally opposed to the death penalty, and yet I think I have probably asked for the death penalty more than most people in the United States.— Janet Reno
I will admit, like Socrates and Aristotle and Plato and some other philosophers, that there are instances where the death penalty would seem appropriate.— Jack Kevorkian
Death Penalty Pros
- The death penalty deters criminals from committing serious offenses. Common sense tells us that the most frightening thing for a human being is to lose their life, therefore the death penalty is the best deterrent when it comes to discouraging people from carrying out the worst crimes.
- The methods of execution have gradually become more humane over the years, so the argument that the death penalty is cruel and unusual is not valid.
- Just because it is feasible that a wrong decision could be made by the legal system, it doesn’t mean that the death penalty is wrong. Every effort is made in the US to give death row prisoners opportunities to challenge decisions. Modern methods of crime detection, such as DNA testing, also give greater certainty of guilt than existed in the past.
- The death penalty can provide families of victims with some closure, which may help them to deal with their suffering.
- The death penalty acts as a deterrent for prisoners who are already serving life sentences in jail from committing more serious offenses.
- The idea put forward by abolitionists that it costs more to execute someone than imprison them for life is simply not true and there is plenty of evidence to show this.
- Retribution is not the same as revenge. Retribution is a necessary part of the punishment process - without it, friends and family of the victims, as well as the public generally, would not feel that justice had been served.
You know, the Bible is so clear. Go to Genesis chapter nine and you will find the death penalty clearly stated in Genesis chapter nine... God ordains the death penalty!— - Rafael Cruz
The death penalty, I think, is a terrible scar on American justice, especially the concept of equal justice under law, but also of due process. And it goes state by state, and it's different in different states.— Burke Marshall
My objection to the death penalty is based on the idea that this is a democracy, and in a democracy the government is me, and if the government kills somebody then I'm killing somebody.— Steve Earle
Our criminal justice system is fallible. We know it, even though we don't like to admit it. It is fallible despite the best efforts of most within it to do justice. And this fallibility is, at the end of the day, the most compelling, persuasive, and winning argument against a death penalty.— Eliot Spitzer
Death Penalty Cons
- There is no credible proof that the death penalty works as a deterrent. In US states where the death penalty has been abolished, there has been no significant change in the rates for serious criminal offenses, such as murder.
Did You Know?
- Japan is the only advanced democratic country, besides the United States, that has the death penalty.
- The 5 countries that carry out the most executions in the world are China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the USA.
- Since 1976 there have been 273 clemencies granted in the US.
- The death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment, where basic standards of human dignity are compromised or undermined.
- Retribution is just another word for revenge and simply continues the cycle of violence – it is essentially just a form of the flawed concept that two wrongs can make a right: the pro argument is that killing people is wrong, therefore you should kill people for doing it, which just doesn’t make sense.
- The death penalty affects the poorer segments of society and racial minorities disproportionately, in part because they are unable to afford the costs of good legal support. In the USA, although only 13% of the US population are African American, but 50% of death row prisoners are African American.
- America’s image would be improved in places like Europe, if the death penalty were abolished. The other places where executions happen regularly include repressive regimes like Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
- The justice system is bound to make mistakes. In the case of people who are wrongly imprisoned, they can be released from prison and given compensation, but a wrongful execution can never righted.
- When all the practical and legal costs are taken into account, it is clear that the death penalty is more expensive than imprisoning prisoners for life.
- A life spent in prison is a worse punishment than an execution.
The campaign against the death penalty has been - while a powerful campaign, its participants have been those who attend all of the vigils, a relatively small number of people.— Angela Davis
Death Penalty Poll
After reading all the pros and cons, are you in favor of the death penalty or against it?See results without voting
© 2011 Paul Goodman
More by this Author
This article gives the essential arguments for and against gun control laws, listing the main pros and cons that people use in the debate.
Should people have the right to die? Euthanasia is a hotly debated topic. In my euthanasia pros and cons, I have attempted to summarise the main arguments for and against.
Tourism can be a great way for places to generate income and jobs, as well as raise their profile, but it can also have downsides. I list the main advantages and disadvantages of tourism.