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The Death Penalty Should Not Be Enforced

TheDeath Penalty Should Not Be Enforced

TheDeath Penalty Should Not Be Enforced

Sincetime immemorial, the death penalty has been widely used by differentjurisdictions in the world. The ongoing controversy of the deathpenalty emanates from religious, philosophical and ethicalperspectives. Valid evidence should always inform policy making.Proponents of capital punishment focus on the logical argument ofdeterrence as a useful measure for deterring murder (Nagin andPepper, 2012). This penalty is regarded as a mockery of justice as itis not correlated with the democratic principles of the country.Furthermore, it leads to the disownment of civil liberties. Thenotion adopted by most jurisdictions about murder cases stating thatan “eye for an eye” is outdated and should not be the basis forits enforcement (Derrida, 2013). This paper aims to provide anin-depth perspective and supportive facts against the implementationof the death penalty.

Capitalcrimes cannot be deterred by the adoption of capital punishment as aremedy. Most proponents tend to argue that the criminal behavior ofthe perpetrators is likely to be influenced by the threat ofexecution as opposed to long-term imprisonment. Even though thisclaim may appear plausible, capital punishment fails as a deterrentdue to numerous reasons. The consistent and prompt employment ofpunitive measures is the basis for considering the effectivedeterrence of disciplinary action (Nagin and Pepper, 2012). TheConstitution does not allow for the compulsory death sentence. Thereis usually a long time taken before the execution can be initiated.This situation is further worsened by the possibility of appealsafter conviction, thereby increasing the costs and time of dispensingcriminal justice (Van den Haag and Conrad, 2013). For example, in thestate of California, four billion dollars were spent between 1980 and2012 in capital punishment cases which involved the execution of onlythirteen individuals (Gillespie, Bragg and Swain 2014).

Mostof the perpetrators of capital crimes commit them in the heat of themoment when logical thinking cannot be embraced. Most commonly, suchacts arise as a result of alcoholism or use of drugs in addition toemotional instability among the perpetrators. Most of theseindividuals are psychologically ill hence cannot appreciate theconsequences of their actions not only to themselves but also to thevictims and their relatives. These traits necessitate forrehabilitation rather than execution. Even in instances when thecrime is planned, the primary focus of the perpetrator is to avoidbeing detected and convicted. Therefore, even the most severepunishment will not deter offenders who are determined to avoidarrest. Preventing unpremeditated crimes with the consequence ofsevere punishment is difficult. Therefore, it is justified to saythat capital punishment is not a solution to the problems facing thesociety today as it does not offer specific reasons for theoccurrence of the crime. The prospect of rehabilitation is denied asa result of enforcing the death penalty. Both the society and theconvicts benefit from rehabilitation efforts. The occurrence offuture heinous crimes may be prevented while at the same time, thecommunity will know the motivations behind the act. Permanentimprisonment should, therefore, be adopted as a deterrence towardsengaging in further crime (Nagin and Pepper, 2012).

Racialbiases are the other concept that is vital in arguing against capitalpunishment. In instances where the death penalty is involved, a fairtrial and sentencing are mandatory as provided by the constitutionaland elementary judicial system (Unnever and Cullen, 2012). Racialbiases have been observed in the manner in which people are sentencedto prison, while others are condemned to death. African Americansform a majority of the population under death row. The race of theoffender has played a significant role in the issuance of guiltyverdicts on capital offenders. African Americans accounted for almosthalf of those charged with capital crimes between 2001 and 2006,despite forming only thirteen percent of the population (Unnever andCullen, 2012). Notably, most states that embrace the capitalpunishment once belonged to The Confederacy. Even though things havechanged, the south is still plagued in racial disparities as comparedto its northern counterpart. Other offenders from minority groupssuch as Caucasians and Hispanics have also endured the wrath ofcapital punishment.

Thedeath penalty is also barbaric in nature. Five different methodsexist for executing capital offenders. These include the shooting ofoffenders, the use of electric current, exposure to toxic gases,hanging and injection with lethal drugs. Most of these techniqueshave had instances of botched executions during the process ofimplementation as has been the case of failed lethal injections(Sarat, 2014). The process of administering a lethal injectionnecessitates for the presence of a physician which goes against thevirtue of their occupation. Responsibilities of Physicians have to beguided by the ethical and lawful standards which focus on thepreservation and dignity of human life. Therefore, the prerequisitethat medical personnel has to be present and initiate theadministration of the lethal injection goes against the provisionsand dogmas established by the American Medical Association. Theethical part of the medical profession is grossly infarcted in ascenario where medical personnel relinquishes their initiallypartaken oath to engage in the termination of life.

Anotherfactor for consideration is the concept of retribution. This mainlyfocuses on the murder victim and their relatives. The affected familyis usually motivated by the urge to revenge. This is usuallyemotionally driven and catalyzed soon after the incident hasoccurred. Passion should not be the basis under which judgment isdispensed in the criminal justice system. Factual evidence andfairness must be the foundation for the efficient decision-makingprocess. Furthermore, healing for murder victims has not beenrealized through revenge or the “eye for an eye” attitude. Theloss of a loved person will not be negated by terminating the life ofthe offender. The health and healing of the victim’s family arefastened when forgiveness is embraced. Proponents argue that thosewho commit murder should be punished by death, thereby upholding thefundamental principle of crime punishment. However, it would beunjust to say that the penalty has to be similar to the offensecommitted. This law is insupportable (Manski and Pepper, 2013). Thiswould mean that other offense such as torture or rape will bepunished through a similar act of torture and rape respectively.There is no denial of the need to punish offenders with the primaryfocus on ensuring that the severity of the punishment correlates tothe crime committed. However, limits of punishment should be observedas established by the justice system and the concept of humandignity.

Thereis no doubt that capital crimes are reprehensible. However, there isno justification showing the need for implementing death penaltyagainst those who are accused of committing the act. It ishypocritical to use the death penalty as a solution for capitaloffenses given that murder is the same crime that we are trying todiscourage potential perpetrators from committing. Socioeconomic andracial biases have been reflected in modern incarceration centerswhereby less privileged convicts are likely to be subjected tocapital punishment as compared to their well-off counterparts(Unnever and Cullen, 2012).

Noprice tag can be put on the life of a human being. Capital punishmentis not a cheaper option to imprisonment as long as the essentialsafeguards are created against misjudgments. More costs may beincurred in the adoption of capital punishment over imprisonment(Manski and Pepper, 2013). The total costs of realizing the deathpenalty double that suffered in prison. The general prison populationcan be reduced through a change in policy so that the term of servicefor minor offenders can be reduced. This will create sufficient spacefor long term imprisonment of those who have committed long termoffenses. The duration of a murder trial is usually longer when theexpected outcome is capital punishment. The taxpayer bears the bruntof the litigation costs associated with all the stakeholders involvedin the case, for instance, prosecutors and judges.

Inconclusion, it is clear that the death penalty is an insult to theshared values of society and the violation of human rights. Life is asacred, and even though murderers have committed a heinous crime,there are better ways to which they can be held accountable for theiracts. Not all cases are premeditated hence justice should always beallowed to prevail instead of mere condemnation of the perpetratorsdue to anger. Most countries have legally forbidden theimplementation of the death penalty.


Derrida,J. (2013). Thedeath penalty(Vol. 1). University of Chicago Press.

GillespieN, Bragg M and Swain J. (2014, September 9). 3Reasons to Get Rid of the Death Penalty.Retrievedfromhttp://reason.com/reasontv/2014/09/09/3-reasons-to-get-rid-of-the-death-penalt

Manski,C. F., &amp Pepper, J. V. (2013). Deterrence and the death penalty:partial identification analysis using repeated cross sections.Journalof Quantitative Criminology,29(1),123-141.

Nagin,D. S., &amp Pepper, J. V. (Eds.). (2012). Deterrenceand the death penalty.National Academies Press.

Sarat,A. (2014). Gruesomespectacles: botched executions and America`s death penalty.Stanford University Press.

Unnever,J. D., &amp Cullen, F. T. (2012). White perceptions of whetherAfrican Americans and Hispanics are prone to violence and support forthe death penalty. Journalof Research in Crime and Delinquency,49(4),519-544.

Vanden Haag, E., &amp Conrad, J. P. (2013). Thedeath penalty: A debate.Springer Science &amp Business Media.