Table of Contents
The criminal justice system handles criminal cases by judging an issue, giving sentences, and implementing them. Such implementations include the death penalty. Also referred to as capital punishment, McFarland (2016) defines it as the government executing a person convicted of a capital offense. These capital offenses include murder, treason, arson, and in some countries, corruption. The judicial system accords capital punishment to these crimes as a deterrence to individuals committing them (Flanders, 2019). However, the fundamental principle guiding the nation has been the rights to life, property, and liberty. These rights, the process being irreversible, and the errors made in executing innocent individuals are catastrophic and align with the reason for its abolishment. The essay tackles these issues and investigates the contrary proposition favoring capital punishment.
The basic principle of punishment lies in rectifying and owning one’s wrongdoing (Trevaskes, 2019). This principle guides the corrective systems from committing dehumanizing sentences. Capital punishment is a disciplinary measure, but its application limits the preservation of human rights (Barry, 2019). First, the system confines prisoners in death row facilities before execution. These facilities warehouse the prisoners by providing solitary confinements awaiting execution. As a mode of pacifying the criminals for their offenses, solitary constrained confinement diminishes the human spirit in these criminals (Trevaskes, 2019). Besides, these confinements take months, even decades, killing the will to live. Trevaskes (2019) affirms that this works to turn the prisoners into worn-out individuals inherently defeated by the time, isolation, and pressure in the facilities. This process gambles the fundamental factor of the prisoner’s rights.
However, the most significant factor against death sentences is the irreversibility of the process, especially after wrongful convictions (McFarland, 2016). Mostly, the criminals convicted of capital punishment lack the expert representation to exonerate them from the hangman’s noose. The less wealthy have fewer chances of getting the best legal counsel that can work in their favor (Flanders, 2019). Good representation works to deter capital punishment sentencing or divert it to lesser sentences. According to Flanders (2019), a more significant percentage of the capital punishment sentences that the system later overhauled occurred due to these inadequate representations and counsel. In retrospect, the long waiting time on death row enhances the chances of withdrawal of capital punishment. But once done, even with the collection of exonerating evidence, the execution is irreversible, failing to provide the victim justice.
Consequently, executing the death sentence takes a toll on the victim’s family. First, the process attracts much local and sometimes national or international media attention (Sahni & Junnarkar, 2020). The exposure forces the family to contend with the process and its eventuality. The media frenzy creates loss and trauma and opens up wounds to the affected families of both the criminal and the victim alike regarding the case. Nevertheless, some victims’ families feel that the execution is unfair as sometimes the media targets the families directly, worsening the whole experience. Mostly these intrusions force the families of both the victim and defendant to seek psychiatric assistance, costing them economically and productively.
Lastly, capital punishment offers no chance for reform. Better alternatives are more utilitarian than capital punishment (Sahni & Junnarkar, 2020). Mostly, criminals turn to capital offenses due to inadequate options and opportunities to make an honest living. In these dispersed scenarios, standard sentencing would work to instill valuable skills in the criminals giving them a chance to make better choices later (Sahni & Junnarkar, 2020). Moreover, the corrections department facilitates critical evaluation of criminal activities and their repercussions, limiting future delinquencies. Ironically, according to Sahni and Junnarkar (2020), regarding murder, some of the victims’ families feel that imprisonment offers better judgment to the criminal instead of execution. Thus, abolishing the death penalty would be prudent as it provides the defendant a chance to reform.
Nonetheless, proposers of capital punishment consider it a necessary evil for the entire country in various ways. Foremost, the idea of being executed for certain crimes deters the delinquency dispositions in committing them. Subsequently, the weight of capital punishment on the criminal and its effect on the family psychologically limit an individual’s chances to practice it. Secondly, capital punishment is necessary in some cases, especially for hardened criminals with witness and victim harassment cases. It prevents such instances as escapes or organizations projected towards harming the individuals concerned with the imprisonment of the individual. Still, issuing death penalties deprives defendants of their right to life and must be abolished.
The death penalty is the most severe sentencing inflicted on a criminal. However, the process is flawed since it is not retractable, goes against the fabric of human rights, and is catastrophic due to the significant errors made. First, capital punishment offers justice to victims but fails to observe fundamental human rights in its applications. Second, most capital offenses that attract the death penalty are intense and delicate, needing time and extensive investigation. Capital punishment eradicates the chance of the criminal to exonerate themselves in case of the case evaluation to their favor. Subsequently, capital punishment affects the social and economic standing of affected families. Lastly, it offers the criminals no chance to correct their mistakes, yet most of them are circumstantial. All these factors highlight the need to abolish capital punishment. However, analyzing and considering both sides, there is a stronger argument against the execution of capital punishment since several challenges such as victim harassment and escapes can be addressed through stricter prison guarding and providing witness protection programs, respectively.
- Barry, K. M. (2019). The Death Penalty and the Fundamental Right to Life. BCL Rev., 60, 1545.
- Flanders, C. (2019). What Makes the Death Penalty Arbitrary (And Does It Matter If It Is). Wis. L. Rev., 55.
- McFarland, T. (2016). The death penalty vs. life incarceration: A financial analysis. Susquehanna University Political Review, 7(1), 4.
- Sahni, S. P., & Junnarkar, M. (2020). Psychosocial Factors Associated with Death Penalty: Impact on Families of Victims, Families of Defendants and the “Others”. In The Death Penalty (pp. 77-91). Springer, Singapore.
- Trevaskes, S. (2019). The death penalty and human rights in China. In Handbook on human rights in China (pp. 425-443). Edward Elgar Publishing.