Updated: Jan 12
Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process when a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that someone be punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the person is an execution. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. Capital punishment has been practised by most societies. Currently 58 nations actively practise it, 97 countries have abolished it de jure for all crimes, 8 have abolished it for ordinary crimes only (maintain it for special circumstances such as war crimes), and 35 have abolished it de facto (have not used it for at least ten years and/or are under moratorium). Amnesty International considers most countries abolitionist; overall, the organisation considers 140 countries to be abolitionist in law or practice. About 90% of all executions in the world take place in Asia.
Capital punishment is a matter of active controversy in various countries and states, and positions can vary within a single political ideology or cultural region. In the European Union member states, Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits the use of capital punishment. The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states, also prohibits the use of the death penalty by its members. The United Nations General Assembly has adopted, in 2007, 2008 and 2010, non-binding resolutions calling for a global moratorium on executions, with a view to eventual abolition. Although many nations have abolished capital punishment, over 60% of the world’s population live in countries where executions take place, such as the People’s Republic of China, India, the United States of America and Indonesia, the four most-populous countries in the world, which continue to apply the death penalty (although in India, Indonesia and in many US states it is rarely employed). Each of these four nations voted against the General Assembly resolutions.
ii. Problem/Thesis statement
Death penalty is a denial of human rights and it must be abolished.
iii. Content and Development/Body
Argument 1. Possibility that innocent person will be put to death.
We should not forget that it is just a people like us who adjudge and there is always a possibility of a mistake. The risk of executing innocent people exists in any justice system. There have been and always will be cases of executions of innocent people. No matter how developed a justice system is, it will always remain susceptible to human failure. According to statistic, since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 142 men and women have been released from Death Row nationally. Moreover, in the past two years evidence has come to light which indicates that four men may have been wrongfully executed in recent years for crimes they did not commit. This error rate is simply appalling, and completely unacceptable, when we are talking about life and death (Death Penalty Focus, 2013).
For example, in Russia in 1978-1990 there was a serial killer Andrei Chikatilo Romanovich nicknamed the Butcher of Rostov, the Red Ripper, and the Rostov Ripper, who committed the sexual assault, murder and mutilation of a minimum of 52 women and children. Chikatilo confessed to a total of 56 murders and was tried for 53 of these killings in April 1992. He was convicted and sentenced to death for 52 of these murders in October 1992 and subsequently executed in February 1994 (Conradi, 1992). However, until the real Chikatilo was caught, a lot of innocent people were suspected in his crimes and three of them were sentenced to death by the court.
Argument 2. Talented lawyers.
Often, a sentence depends on top talent lawyers who will work for little or no cost due to the publicity of the case and their personal beliefs against the morality of the death penalty, increasing the chances a technicality or a manipulated jury will release a guilt person. These lawyers know how to cover up facts and misdirect thinking. They know how to select juries sympathetic to their side. They know how to find obscure technicalities and use any other means necessary to get their client off without any punishment. Fortunately, most criminal defendants cannot afford to hire these lawyers in terms of money; they must make do with a low-paid public defender. However, a death penalty case changes everything. First of all, a death penalty case almost always attracts the attention of the public and press. Second of all, a lot of lawyers have built their careers on such cases.
For an example, the Casey Anthony trial, in which a pool of top lawyers took on a high profile death penalty case and used voir dire and peremptory challenges to craft one of the stupidest juries on record, who ended up ignoring facts and common sense or release an obviously guilty woman who killed her daughter. After the “not guilty” verdict was reached, lawyers such as Cheney Mason went into long-winded speeches for the media about the evils of the death penalty (Messerli, 2003).
Argument 3. The death penalty does not deter crime.
The most compelling argument that lead people support the death penalty is a wrong statement that death penalty or capital punishment prevents people from committing a crime. This assertion was refuted by statistics that shows that in the USA states without the death penalty have much lower murder rates. The South accounts for 80% of US executions and has the highest regional murder rate (Death Penalty Focus, 2013).
To sum up, I would like to say that we should not forget that despite the fact what the severity of the crime was committed by a murderer; we should not support the use of death penalty. The reason is that when we accept the idea of implementation of death penalty as a decision made by court, we become accomplices in the murder. If you still want the offender was justly punished, life in prison is a worse punishment and a more effective deterrent. With a death sentence, the suffering is over, when in prison, criminals are forced to live deprived of their freedom and their rights.
vi. References 1. Conradi, P. (1992). Andrei Chikatilo. Retrieved December 25, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrei_Chikatilo. 2. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. (December 24, 2013). Retrieved December 25, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment. 3. Messerli, J. (2003). Should the death penalty be banned as a form of punishment? Retrieved December 22, 2013, from http://www.balancedpolitics.org/death_penalty.htm. 4. ICDP. (2013). Why the Death Penalty should be abolished? Retrieved December 22, 2013, from http://www.icomdp.org/arguments-against-the-death-penalty/. 5. Death Penalty Focus. (May 31, 2013). Working for alternatives to the death penalty. Retrieved December 22, 2013, from http://www.deathpenalty.org/section.php?id=13.