One must be cognizant of the fact that some arguments have been coined for and against the death penalty. The society has in most cases resorted to using punishment as a means of discouraging wannabe criminals. It is in the interest of the community to prevent murder using any methods available therefore it must invest in the most substantial punishments that could be used to achieve this (Hays, 2014). In this case, this punishment is referred to as death penalty. It is important to note that potential murderers are likely to think twice when they are made aware of the consequences of their actions. Many people fear to lose their lives and would resort to living a straight life as a means of not being caught on the other side of the law. For some years, criminologists have managed to analyze a series of murders with the aim of finding out whether they fluctuated (Cromie & Zott, 2013).
This research led to inconclusive results. This is based on the fact that there was no clear correlation between murderers being arrested and prosecuted. Other researches have managed to show that for every inmate executed at any particular point in time, at least seven lives were spared since there are others who got deterred from committing murder. As much as there are other inconclusive studies about deterrence, it has been found out that this trend has majorly been influenced by the fact that either death penalty is rarely being used or it may take a relatively long time for execution to be carried out. Sure and swift punishments are considered to be the most effective deterrents (Cromie & Zott, 2013). The fact that there are countries that are not in favour of the death penalty and at the same time have the lowest number of murder cases cannot be used as evidence of the failure of deterrence.
The most exciting thing about the death penalty is that it has managed to draw a lot of support from not only scholars but also the public in general. Research has shown that many abolitionists are of the opinion that they would still favour abolition regardless of whether the death penalty deters more murder than other alternatives. In addition to that, they seem to put more emphasis on the life of the convicted murderer compared to that of victims who might be lucky if potential murderers are deterred. In this case, it is essential that there is a lot of favouritism when it comes to retention of the death penalty (Scherer, 2011). The death penalty has managed to get a lot of support as a result of its finality and the net effect it has on potential criminals.
Before its introduction into the legal scene, there were a lot of debates questioning its effectiveness of having death penalty within the societal framework, something that cannot be overlooked whatsoever. Another thing that has managed to draw a lot of support for death penalty is the manner in which it is feared compared to other punitive forms such as imprisonment. Sparing lives of victims by deterring murderers is way better than preserving the lives of convicted murderers (Derrida et al., 2015). This is based on the notion that detaining them is likely not to discourage other characters who are yet to engage in such criminal act. The life of the victim is considered to be valuable and must be protected at all times. On the other hand, that of the murderer is considered to be of less value because of the magnitude of crime committed. Criminal law is therefore structured in a manner that it is solely responsible for protecting potential victims from criminal characters.
According to the justice system, threatening punishments are often put in the public domain as a means of deterring crime. In addition to that, these punishments are imposed to justify crimes that were not deterred, something that is becoming a common occurrence in many countries. Punishments and threats are deemed necessary to deter. A practical justification for both is deterrence. Other arguments are of the opinion that by committing the crime, the criminal was much aware of the consequences of any actions taken with that very regard. Therefore the punishment that he or she is likely to be subjected to is one that was taken voluntarily, something that could have easily been avoided. Thus, the death penalty is just to the convicted criminal (Nardo, 2008).
It is important to note that people who hold a belief that deterrence is a form of justification when it comes to execution of various offenders have an uphill task of proving that death penalty is deterrent. Some studies have concluded that death penalty is considered more deterrent compared to life in prison. Several supporters of the death penalty are shunning away from deterrence. Interestingly, States in the United States which have no emphasis on the death penalty have fewer murder cases compared to States that do. This applies to countries compared against the US (“DPIC | Death Penalty Information Center”, 2017). Murder cases in the U.S. are higher than that in countries in Canada or Europe. In this case, it is important to note that death penalty is not deterrent since many people committing murder are either confident of not being caught or are carefully weighing on the possibility of life in prison or execution. In most cases, murder is committed out of frustration, anger by persons who either acted impulsively or are abusers.
Research has shown that there is no proof whatsoever that death penalty is a good deterrent than the threat of being in prison for life. It is important to note that once in prison, criminals serving life sentences are put into a routine and are less likely to commit violence compared to other prisoners. In addition to that, a number of states have introduced life sentence without parole. Therefore, prisoners with this sentence are less likely to be released (Isenberg, 2009). This guarantees the safety of the society as a whole without using the death penalty. In most cases, when an organized crime is planned, the criminal tends to concentrate on escaping arrest, detention and conviction. The threat revolving around being subjected to the most severe form of punishment does not discourage criminals whose aim is escaping both detection and arrest. The legal system finds it hard to imagine the manner in which threat of facing any punishment would prevent a crime yet to be premeditated (“Death Penalty”, 2017).
Studies conducted on murder and suicide have managed to reveal that capital crimes ate often committed at a time when one if facing depression or is under the influence of alcohol, characterized by suspension of one’s logical thinking. If by any chance severe punishment can prevent crime, long-term imprisonment is therefore considered to be comprehensive enough to prevent any person from engaging in heinous crimes such as murder. Research evidence has shown that as much as the death penalty is considered to be a useful measure of deterring murder crimes, it cannot be classified as being better than life in prison (Isenberg, 2009). This is evident from the fact that states that support the death penalty do not have fewer murders than states that do not support the death penalty.
The religious aspect of this matter brings in an entirely new dimension when death sentence comes into play. The New Testament, for instance, insists on the right that a state has been given when it comes to executing criminals in the name of God (Brenner, 2006). According to the scriptures, every person must be subjected to the authority with emphasis that all authority comes from God. Interestingly, the scripture goes ahead to insist that anyone who goes against authority will be subjected to God’s judgment. One must, therefore, be cognizant of the fact that religion has also been on the forefront when it comes to death penalties. As much as it may not be directly quoted, verses such as Romans 13:1-4 are categorical when it comes to one’s deeds. “If you do wrong, be afraid, for [the authority] does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.”
Therefore, the Bible gives authority to punish which is inclusive of the death penalty. On the other hand, there is need to appeal when it comes to justification of capital punishment (Berlatsky, 2010). The state is therefore under the jurisdiction of ensuring that there is justice regardless of the crime committed. Any criminal must be made aware of the consequences that their actions lead to and these judgments must be administered in equal measure. Some people are likely to argue that death penalty is essential since it acts as a means of retributive justice. This is a reflection of a natural concern of any liberal society with special focus on victims and their families. On the other hand, we believe that we need to look for an elevated road when administering punishment to the guilty.
- Berlatsky, N. (2010). Capital punishment. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.
- Brenner, S. (2006). The death penalty. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press/Thomson Gale.
- Cromie, J., & Zott, L. (2013). The death penalty. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press.
- Death Penalty. (2017). Amnesty.org. Retrieved 22 December 2017, from https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/death-penalty/
- Derrida, J., Rottenberg, E., Bennington, G., Crépon, M., Dutoit, T., & Kamuf, P. (2015). The death penalty (2nd Ed.). New York: New York University Press.
- DPIC | Death Penalty Information Center. (2017). Deathpenaltyinfo.org. Retrieved 22 December 2017, from https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/
- Hays, S. (2014). Capital punishment. Vero Beach, FL: Rourke Corp.
- Isenberg, I. (2009). The Death penalty. New York: H.W. Wilson Co.
- Nardo, D. (2008). Death penalty. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books.
- Scherer, L. (2011). The death penalty. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Greenhaven Press.