Capital punishment happens to be one of the most debated topics. It entails punishment by execution levelled on an individual established to have committed a capital crime. The issue has pitted the public into two sides with some who are pro-execution of capital offenders while others perceive the punishment as too harsh and inhumane (Zimring, 2003). The latter believe that execution as a means of punishment is retrogressive and goes against natural justice. The punishment is futile in nature as it defeats the purpose of reforming criminals. It employs a rather uncouth way of executing justice where the eye for an eye mantra takes precedence. Capital punishment is defeatist in its mandate and it ought to be struck out of the law.
The death penalty should be disallowed to its ethical and religious controversy it generates. It violates the protection of life as enshrined in the constitution. It is also a barbaric law that does not fit in the contemporary society. It also disregards all religious conventions regarding the sanctity of life as it gives the state the right to play God in making vital decisions on who should live and who should not. The ethics further disallow the capital punishment as it does not achieve fairness (BBC, 2014). It is less harsh sentence to a life sentence as murder does not pay fully for his crimes through execution. In fact, statistics indicate, states in America that carry out capital punishment have high cases of murder rates. According to 2015 statistics, there was a 46% lower rate of murder crimes in states that do not recognize the capital punishment law. Radelet in his 2009 article Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists admit that over 88.2% of criminologists do not believe that capital punishment is a suitable deterrent to criminals. There is strong data from countries that have abolished the capital punishment that the lack of the punishment has not led to the increases of murder. It has also been argued that capital punishment encourages a phenomenon dubbed attempted suicide by homicide (Lamperti, 2003). In such a scenario, a person commits a capital crime with the intent of getting a legal death through the court system. Lamperti in his paper, Does Capital Punishment Deter Murder? argues that many wardens have encountered individuals that kill in order to have a court death courtesy of the capital punishment laws. This example serves to show that capital punishment does not deter crime at all.
With past erroneous judgements, capital punishment does not provide room for correction of wrong judgements. It is prudent to note that not all cases are free from errors. The law also portends a situation where sooner rather than later the innocent may be condemned wrongly for capital offences due to flaws in the judicial system. All lawmakers and law practitioners are human and thus are prone to make mistakes (BBC, 2014). Coupling these probabilities, it is inevitable that wrongly accused individuals may be convicted of crimes. In other cases, mistakes can be made right through emergence of new evidence where an innocent party can receive a fair trial and proper compensation. With capital punishment the law does not have an avenue to make it right to the wrongly executed due to flawed judicial pronunciations. According to the Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, since 1976 reinstatement of capital punishment, over 138 innocent individuals have been freed from death row. It is a risky affair for many states as execution of innocent individuals may dent public trust in the courts.
The death penalty system is expensive to maintain for many states. The capital punishment-related cases are strongly seen as costly as they incorporate numerous processes. The complexity in processis established due to the need to make accurate judgements to avoid wrongful executions. In America, it is estimated that death penalty cases cost the authorities approximately, $1.26 million while normal ones cost $740,000. It is also notable that the cost of maintaining a death row prisoner costs the taxpayers about $90,000 more annually as compared to a prisoner within the general populace(OADP, 2016).California as a state is projected to save $1 billion over a half decade if it were to do way with the capital punishment decree(OADP, 2016). Economically speaking, the law is not viable and it may end up hurting the economy rather than meeting its core mandate of reforming individuals and creating a just society.
The death penalty is an unnecessary law that is founded on political grounds rather than the ethical ones. It only looks at the state fulfilling its legal mandate in the least harmful, invasive and restrictive manner possible. It is prudent to note that the state has an obligation of punishing crime as a way of preserving a contented and orderly society. However, in the execution of this role the state must pursue the least harmful ways possible. Capital punishment in many respects is harmful and thus, it goes against the aforementioned fact regarding the nature of law (OADP, 2016). There is need to pursue other legal ways of punishing individuals other than capital punishment by the governments at federal and state level. There are other better remedies that have been tried and tested by states and countries that do not practice capital punishment. There is also observable social change that has seen many countries drop the stringent laws surrounding capital punishment. Many countries are doing away with capital punishment. Drug companies are also refusing to allow their brands to be used in carrying out death punishment. The statistics also cite that in the recent decades the numbers of executions have plummeted and so has public support for the law.
In replacement of capital punishment, the authorities can carry out a feasibility study of the cost of carrying out executions and also maintaining death row convicts. The analysis can be integral in allowing governments to initiate sobering conversations regarding the retrogressive law. A cost effective reform can be incorporated to ensure that the prisons rehabilitate those guilty of capital crimes (Henderson & Flanders, 2000). Life sentences, in particular, have been essential in ensuring that criminals are deterred from participating in capital crimes. It is prudent for states that have successfully abolished capital punishment to act as models for countries or states practising it (BBC, 2014). The court systems also need to appeal to natural law which believes in the right to life. Death penalties are barbaric and thus are retrogressive when it comes to the development of a country and its reputation on the international platform. Capital punishment notably contradicts moral claims and beliefs in justice and fairness in governance. It is self-defeating to pursue death punishment while many countries that are deemed liberal and progressive have done away with the law.
As a solution, public awareness should be made to highlight the ills of capital punishment. It is only by involving the public that governments can do way with controversial laws that are subject to never-ending debate. It is true that the benefits of capital punishment are far low than those derived from disallowing it. The authorities thus need to have frank conversations which are anchored in the cost, natural law, legacy and mandate of law to all. The public needs to understand why capital punishment is retrogressive in the 21st century. Governments also need to establish alternative legislation which ought to be equivalent to the capital crime committed by individuals.
In conclusion, capital punishment is a retrogressive law that ought to be done away with. The law is unethical and immoral in that it relishes from the taking away of lives. It promotes the government by making it play God by deciding how and when to take lives of people. In this day and age, the law takes back a government to the medieval ages where death was seen as the ultimate punishment. With the wealth of research available for perusal regarding capital punishment it is prudent to appreciate that as a means of executing justice the law has fallen short in various ways. There is thus the need to look critically at the law through a cost-benefit analysis as well as through the perspective of other countries that have abolished it in totality.
BBC. (2014). BBC - Ethics - Capital punishment: Arguments against capital punishment. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/capitalpunishment/against_1.shtml
Henderson, H., & Flanders, S. A. (2000). Capital punishment. New York: Facts on File.
Lamperti, R. (2003). Does capital punishment deter crime? San Diego: Greenhaven Press.
OADP. (2016). The Facts: 13 Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty | Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Retrieved from http://oadp.org/facts/13-reasons
Radelet, M. L. (2009). Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates?: The Views of Leading Criminologists. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology:, 489-508.
Zimring, F. E. (2003). The contradictions of American capital punishment. New York: Oxford University Press.
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