The death penalty is when the government takes one’s life as a punishment for wrong doing. The death penalty is the most extreme punishment a government can use on its citizens. It has been used at different times in many societies in all parts of the world, though mainly as a last resort in a small number of cases. At the beginning of the 20th century, many countries practiced some sort of capital punishment, but it is no longer applicable in some nations. The death penalty pros and cons are among the contemporary issues that are widely debated. This paper finds out whether death penalty should be abolished.
Death Penalty: Abolish it or Not?
Proponents of death penalty say that it is fair. The fact that the administration of the death penalty varies from one place to another reflects the diversity of the nation in the basis of the United States criminal justice system within the context of federalism. Every crime is unique, and every jurisdiction has the right to administer justice within the demands of its own community. Because the Supreme Court demands individual attention to each case rejects the idea of a mandatory death penalty, the differences among jurisdictions celebrate the system of justice rather than compromise it. Also, they argue that the racial statistics about death penalty are false. They claim that more crimes are committed by blacks than the whites, therefore more blacks are executed. The fact that not everyone who deserves to be executed gets executed does not make the penalty unfair. The people who speed do not get caught, yet the speeding laws are not eliminated. Rather, the goal should be to make sure, in as many cases as possible, those folks who deserve to be executed are (Gershman, 10-12).
According to supporters, death penalty seems to be keeping with the current mode of dispensing punishments. Criminal Law exacts proportionately harsher penalties for crimes based on their seriousness; this practice is testimony to a retributionist philosophy. Therefore, the harshest penalty for the most severe crime represents a logical step in the process. For example, a mass murderer deserves to be executed. They supporters further argue that death penalty is sometimes the only threat available to deter crime.
For example, prison inmates serving life sentences can be controlled only if they know that further transgressions can lead to death. Or a person committing crime that carries with it a long prison sentence might be more likely to kill the witnesses in case the threat of death does not exist. In addition, death is regarded as an ultimate incapacitation. The proponents of death penalty say that some offenders are so dangerous that they can never be safely let out in society. The death penalty makes a sure way of preventing these criminals from harming others. Finally, they argue that death penalty is cost effective. Considering the huge crowds in the prison systems and the expenses of keeping the inmates locked up for several years, an execution makes a significant financial sense (Siegel, 630-632).
If killing is immoral in the eyes of society, then for the state to kill its citizens is equally barbaric. Two wrongs do not make a right and it is never right to put someone do death no matter the degree of crime. The death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment, especially in the view of psychological torture inflicted on the people on death row who know that they are supposed to be executed but are not aware of the exact day. Also, prisoners should not be killed because it is too expensive to keep them in prison. More money should be found for prisons if the funding is currently insufficient; law and order should be one of the priorities in the government’s budget (Sather, 256-257).
Another distressing factor is the support of the public opinion for the death penalty, as it is constant and frustrates any political effort to provide appropriate free legal aid to individuals convicted of crimes that are punishable by death. This politicization of capital punishment extends even to the judiciary, since in America the judgeships are elected offices. As a result, defendants are generally represented by inexperienced or poorly paid attorneys, increasing the risk that death sentences will disproportionately affect the most underprivileged sectors of society. Recently, laws have been passed that attempt to ensure the appointment and compensation of attorneys to represent convicted prisoners in post-conviction appeals.
However, this legislation includes no requirement regarding the appointment of competent counsel, and the courts encounter numerous obstacles in attempting to find sufficient attorneys for all cases that need the majority of habeas corpus petitions following a superficial review. The undeniable, distressing deficiencies in the legal process applied in Texas in a capital punishment case have been the subject of hot debates both nationally and internationally. Part of the work done by the amnesty international is a constant struggle to improve the legal representation provided in the trials of those accused of capital crimes in America. Among the organization’s concerns is the fact that the absence of effective assistance of counsel at trial is further worsened by the lack of determination by the courts of appeal to examine properly the legitimacy and constitutionality of death sentences (Ampudia and Susan, pg 62).
The capital punishment system is ripe with administrative problems that increase the danger of executing innocent people, particular in minority communities. Despite the compelling arguments for reviewing the capital punishment system, some people continue to repeat his answer that his confidence in criminal justice system is intact and not a single person has been wrongly executed in the United States. Critics of death penalty including some retributionists, argue that the practice of imposing the death penalty is a seriously unjust. First, critics argue that the death penalty is applied unfairly and in a discriminatory manner. For example, evidence suggests that a black person who murders a white person is far more likely to get death penalty a white person who murders a black person.
Further, critics argue that there is no remedy for a mistaken execution, one in which an innocent person who was mistakenly believed to be guilty is killed. Therefore, there are complex issues even if they do not strike as decisive refutations of the permissibility of death penalty. While the first, which changes discriminatory on the basis of race, probably in the most serious, the concern that lies behind it might be met by reforms in the way death penalty is assigned rather than by its elimination. Perhaps death penalty should be mandatory for those who commit certain terrible mistakes regardless of race. Perhaps more whites should be executed. Perhaps all states should be monitored and allowed to execute criminals only if the overall assignment of capital punishment in its courts is found to be fair and non-arbitrary. Thus, it is not self-evident that possible bias in the way capital punishment presently is administered counts against allowing it at all. However, we acknowledge that if bias cannot be eliminated by reasonable methods within a reasonable amount of time, the case for capital punishment is significantly weakened, and the practice probably should be eliminated (Bowie and Robert, 188).
Generally, the abolition of death penalty does not come easily. This is a very sensitive subject which touches upon our deepest instincts and provokes a multitude of emotions which influence people’s opinions. I strongly believe that the consensus among the researchers in the world today is that the threat of death penalty has little effect on the rates of murder. Therefore, death penalty should be abolished.