Death Penalty, also known as Capital Punishment, is a legal process whereby a guilty person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. It can only be used if the person as committed capital crime such as drug trafficking, treason, act of terrorism and murder.
Many countries in the world are discussing whether such action should be abolished or not even now. In fact, this matter is still debating even now. Some countries have abolished the use of death penalty while some retain it. According to Muhlhausen (2009), in Gallup’s most recent poll, 67 per cent of Americans favour the death penalty for those convicted of murder while only 28 per cent opposed it. Here are some of the arguments about whether the action of death penalty should be abolished or not.
For the people who oppose the idea of death penalty, one of the many reasons is because it is a barbaric, cruel and inhuman action of murder. Rutherford (2012) says that is a barbaric act of murder executed in a clinical fashion at the time of the State Governors choosing. Which could also be regard as a flagrant violation of a person’s right to live. He also added that the death penalty is contrary and in violation of Human rights norm. César also added that not only death penalty was an injustice itself but a futile exercise.
Secondly, by sentencing a death penalty for the criminal, it does not guarantee that crime rate will deter but increases the rate of beheading innocent defendants. This is because the mistakes caused by careless judges and juries. According to Rutherford (2012), studies around the globe prove that the error rate is surprisingly high. He also added that the Governor Ryan of Illinois in 2003 found not only error in the state’s system that saw innocent prisoner sent to death row, but also other factors of race, geographic and socio-economic factors determine who should and should not receive death penalty. Other factors that lead innocent lives to be executed and tearing the system of trying capital cases into disrepute are lawyers who slept through their trial, lawyers who use drugs or alcohol to excess during the trial and forcing witnesses to provide false information (Rutheford, 2012).
Other than that, death penalty does not really improve the protection of citizens’ safety. According to Rutherford (2012), death penalty does not serve as an effective deterrent for preventing crime because the recidivism rate of murderer or manslaughter is the lowest of all crimes and misdemeanours. This is because maybe the criminal or the criminal’s family member might have close relationship with the police forces and juries or bribed them.
Furthermore, the use of capital punishment is a racial discrimination. According to Salant (2009), the blacks and whites in America are murdered in about equal numbers, but the punishments for the killers are another different story. This is because there is a disproportionate number of those executed were black and many were convicted by non-black juries. To support this fact, the statistics from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice shows that the blacks comprise 12 per cent of the U.S. population, but 41 per cent of those on death row and 35 per cent of those executed between 1977 and 2001 were black (Salant, 2009). A study from Illinois shows that the juries were three times more likely to sentence a person to death if the victim was white rather than the black. Dieter (1998) says that in 96% of these reviews, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both. The gravity of the close connection between race and the death penalty is shown when compared to studies in other fields. He also added that there is latter evidence has produced enormous changes in law and societal practice, while racism in the death penalty has been largely ignored.
Despite the cruel but realistic facts provided by the opposition, but on the other hand, the other party that support the use of death penalty state its usefulness.
It is true to say capital punishment is an inhuman act of killing; however, it is a powerful way to scare and threaten the criminal’s mental state. Since capital punishment is a brutal action of murder, it can be set as a chilling example for potential criminals. It also dissuades wannabe professional killers by instilling fear in their minds. Sgt Don Bell of the Salt Lake Police Department stated that “law without force is impotent” and the only way to deter crime is to make the penalty fit the crime (Rayburn, 1989). In one study, higher rates of homicide was found in 91 per cent of the states but after the suspension of the death penalty, the reinstatement of capital punishment legislations was followed by a decrease in homicide rates in 70 per cent of states across the United Sates (Ulrike, 2012).
According to Muhlhausen (2009), he has proven that sentencing death penalty to deserved criminals can reduce crime rate. How capital punishment affects murder rates can be explained through general deterrence theory, which supposes that increasing the risk of apprehension and punishment for crime deters individuals from committing crime. For example, Muhlhausen (2009) says that mostly thieves make their decision based on their benefits by maximizing their own self-interest such as utility subject to constraints that is the prices of the item or incomes. They might resort to murder other people in order to achieve their goal. These thieves will be judged on how heavy the crime is by using deterrence theory that provide a basis for analysing how capital punishment should influence murder rates.
Capital punishment also saves the lives of citizens and the prison inmates. By using a panel data set over 3,000 countries from 1977 to 1996, three professors from Emory University of United States discovered that each execution lower 18 murders on average (Muhlhausen, 2009). The three professors also discovered that every execution, on average, is associated with three fewer murders as well as increasing the citizen’s safety. The deterred murders included both crimes of passion and murders by inmates.
In addition, there is no solid evidence that death penalty is a racial discrimination. Cramer (2010) do not claim that the black murders are more likely to get the death penalty than white murderers once aggravating circumstances are taken into account. He also adds that the murderers of whites (mostly white) are more likely to get the death penalty because they are likely to have more aggravating circumstances and fewer mitigating circumstances. On the contrary, beheading criminals, especially criminals with passion of murder, it actually improves the society’s safety and protects innocent lives. O’Reilley (2012) assures that capital punishment serves as an effective deterrent to reduce crime from a 2008 report in the Journal of the institute for the Advancement of Criminal Justice, they found significant evidence that when the death penalty is actually enforced. A few studies has been summarized in the report show that, depending on the years and geographic areas studied, along with other variables, each execution results in anywhere between 5 and 74 fewer murders the following year. Tanner (2007) also supports O’Reilley’s fact through his survey. A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that has been re-examined the data, found that each execution result in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means reducing another five more homicides. He also added that by executing each convicted killer, it could save 3 to 18 lives.
It might be difficult to believe but executing criminals save more money rather than imprisoning them, especially those who will be serving for a lifetime. According to O’Reilley (2012), the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation estimates the cost of housing a 37-year-old prison inmate to be $49,000 per year. At age 55, the cost would increase to $150,000 per year and that if the inmate lives to age 77, our state could spend as much as $4 million to keep him in prison for life. He also added another issue about financial problem caused by a long-term prisoner with certain health diseases. Although no one disputes that the health care costs increase with age, it is not easy to obtain reliable data. A prisoner with life without possibility of parole (LWOP) sentence means the state will be responsible or that prisoner’s health care for the rest of his life. By viewing solely on the financial standpoint, researchers calculated that each murder costs taxpayers approximately $426,000.
Although a few researches claim that, some of the facts are not entirely true or false. Nevertheless, I do not wish to abolish death penalty. Thinking in a logical state, when a criminal commits a severe crime, he should receive a harsher punishment. Some might say that it is ‘an eye for an eye’, but I find that this kind of logic is fair. Furthermore, by imprisoning a criminal, there is no guarantee that he will turn over a new leaves once he has been set free from prison, specifically criminals that take joy in killing.
In conclusion, death penalty protects and maintains the safety of community and it should be remained as it is. However, in order to prove death penalty is fair and not to discriminate races, judges should be fair and consider carefully of the punishment the criminals should receive without being bias.