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Both Sides Of Capital Punishment Essays

Capital Punishment

There have been many controversies on the topic of capital punishment and its role within society. Capital punishment is also known as the "death penalty." This is when a person has committed a crime that is punishable by death via fatal injection. When a person is convicted of a crime that is punishable by death, he or she is then placed on what is known as death row. This is the line, or waiting period, before the actual death sentence is administered. Many times while people are awaiting his or her capital punishment, there is a process or series of appeals that are filed in order to try to get that person off of death row. However, attorneys are not always successful and there are still people who are put to death.

In regards to the acceptance of capital punishment, the use of this punishment is not always active in all states across the nation. There have been many states that have banned the use of this punishment, and then a couple years later a new administration will reactivate the punishment. The act of using capital punishment to atone for one's actions or crimes is used all around the world in different countries. It is a controversial issue because so many people feel very strongly for the use of the death sentence, and others feel very strongly against the use of it. The people who feel strongly for the use of the death sentence typically site the fact that they feel as though it is only right to take the life of someone who has taken the lives of others. Then there is another side to the argument where people site the fact that they feel as though it does not justify killing a human being just because he or she did it to another. Both sides of the argument make valid points and support their arguments with strong evidence.

When it comes to capital punishment, the various societies around the world have to come to a majority decision on what is right for them. There is no one "right" answer for the entire world, because the different governments through out time will ultimately change the regulations again, and again. This is a difficult decision to make especially because it is the matter of putting another person's life in the hands of the people and the government. It is not likely that there will ever be a unified view on this topic.

Introduction

Officially, thousands of people are sentenced to death every year in countries where the death penalty is practiced. The death penalty is still prevalent in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa, with notable countries including Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and the USA.

Given the prevalence of the death penalty in the modern world, it is fair to assume that there are perhaps justifications for it, though there are plenty of people who categorically oppose it. Without going into the details of any given judicial system, there are number of reasons to support both sides of the argument.

The Death Penalty: Pro

There are a number of practical arguments made for the death penalty. Because the death penalty is such a powerful construct, many argue that it decreases crime rates through deterrence. While many believe that the death penalty is more of a deterrent than a lengthy prison sentence, the very concept of ‘deterrence’ is argued by many as inapplicable to criminal psychology, especially if mental illness is involved. Criminals rarely think about the consequences of their actions and this is especially true with crimes of passion.

By killing felons, the death penalty removes the burden of housing them within the penitentiary system. Prison overcrowding and overstretched resources are key issues in prisons in many countries. Due to the severity of prisoners’ crimes on death row, it costs much more to feed, house, and seclude these often dangerous inmates than if they were simply put to death. And if they were paroled, there is always the chance they could re-offend, which is completely eliminated with the death penalty. The concept of retribution, that the perpetrator is punished in a manner fitting to the crime, is also used to support the death penalty.

The Death Penalty: Con

There are many arguments against the death penalty that are both practical and ethical. It is very difficult to know the exact moral status of the death penalty, though many see it to be a degrading, barbaric, and amoral. The opponents of the death penalty argue that it causes incredible suffering and pain for the sentenced and brutalizes society as a whole where it operates. Both of these factors could have negative effects on crime and criminality. The vast majority of people would at least argue that human life is highly valuable and should be preserved, though the extent at which preservation should make-way for retribution is where things become very debatable.

Misconduct in institutional systems can also lead to incorrect sentencing. While this is bad enough for non-death sentencing, these constitute a heinous breach of justice if the death penalty is involved. A psychological argument that may become prominent in the future is the concept of self-control and free will. Do we have free will or not? If not, this could bring into question not just the death penalty but all forms of sentencing whether it is capital punishment or not. New neurological research can now predict the likelihood of someone becoming violent and may help with future awareness on these issues.

From a global perspective, far fewer countries operate the death penalty when compared to countries that don’t. More importantly, there appears to be a general reduction in the number of death sentences even in the countries continuing to uphold the death penalty.

Conclusion

It is arguable that countries still using the death penalty do so purely in response to criminality and try to deter future criminals with it. Ironically, many of the countries that have the death penalty suffer from higher crime rates. The death penalty does not cause the problem but it is merely a response to it. And while the death penalty is usually implemented by autocracy or religious doctrine, it is almost never used in response to actual modern societal values.

Therefore, the case against the death penalty is much stronger than the case for it. This would be the same for anyone who believes that ethics are more important than any of the possible practical benefits.