The use of death penalty has been a subject of many debates among legislators, criminologists, or journalists. This discussion can be related to a variety of issues such as the ethical implications of this practice or the risk of judicial errors. Moreover, these disputes are partly influenced by the political ideologies. This paper is aimed at discussing the effectiveness of death penalty. The supporters of capital punishment argue that it has the potential to deter people from committing violent crime. Moreover, in their opinion, retribution is an inseparable component of justice. Yet, many of these claims are not supported by empirical evidence.
Moreover, these assumptions do not accurately reflect the real-life behavior of people. Overall, one can argue that death penalty is not effective because it does not make the community safer; moreover, the alleged benefits of this policy do not justify the risks associated with this practice and its financial costs. This is why the use of death penalty should either be abolished or reduced to the minimum. This is the main thesis that should be examined more closely.
It is often conjectured that capital punishment can prevent people from risk-taking behavior and using violence. Nevertheless, one should mention that the evidence about the deterrence effect is rather conflicting. In particular, the number of violent crimes in the community is not always directly related to the number of executions (Kirchgässner 465). Furthermore, the abolition of capital punishment does always lead to the increase in violent crime in the community (Kirchgässner 465).
Moreover, it is important to remember that the impact of other external factors should not be overlooked. For instance, one can speak the economic development of a region, the level of unemployment, or the efficiency of law-enforcement agencies. They also play a critical role in the prevention of crimes. Moreover, researchers note that the possibility of life imprisonment can also be a powerful deterrent that prevents people from becoming involved in the violent crimes (Hood and Deva 305). Therefore, one can say that the importance of capital punishment as a deterrent should be evaluated more critically. This is one the points that can be identified.
It should also be noted that many people, who commit violent crimes, know that their actions can entail death penalty. Nevertheless, they are willing to accept this risk. This is one of the issues which are not discussed by the supporters of death penalty. Furthermore, many people, who perpetrate horrible atrocities, can be mentally impaired. In turn, one cannot say that they accurately weigh the positive and negative consequences of their behavior.
Therefore, it is rather difficult to argue that the use of capital punishment can have any deterrent effect on them. In fact, they do not take this threat into account. Overall, this practice is partly based on the premise that people always act rationally, but this assumption does not reflect real-life experiences of people (Hood and Deva 305). This is one of the limitations that should not be disregarded because it suggests that the use of capital punishment does not serve its primary purpose. In many cases, this practice cannot bring any tangible improvements into the life of the community. The key issue is that the decisions of legislators should be based on the findings of criminologists, sociologists, and psychologists. These people can assist many law-enforcement agencies in designing more efficient policies.
Apart from that, it is important to discuss such an issue as the costs associated with capital punishment. It should be noted that the majority of people, sentenced death, can spend decades in prison, and many of them are not even executed (Mandery 88). Nevertheless, the state has to spend more money on these people, especially in comparison with those individuals who were sentenced to life imprisonment (Mandery 88).
Moreover, it is important to mention the trials in which death penalty can be one of the possible sentences, are usually more expensive (Mandery 88). Moreover, the investigation of such cases is more time-consuming. This argument is particular relevant if one speaks about such a country as the United States in which the rights of citizens are properly protected. More importantly, it is rather difficult to reduce such costs. Thus, legislators should take into account these issues taking decisions about the status of death penalty. These people should make sure that the resources available to the state are used more efficiently. In many cases, life without parole can be an effective alternative capital punishment. In particular, this approach can help courts avoid many negative consequences of death penalty.
Certainly, one cannot discuss the use of capital punishment only from the economic perspective. Moreover, the functioning of the criminal justice system inevitably involves some expenses. Nevertheless, it is critical to remember that in many cases, these expenses can be compared to waste. Moreover, these resources can be used for proper investigation of crimes, including serious felonies. This is one of the problems that should be addressed.
Furthermore, it is important to remember about the risk of a judicial error. Admittedly, it is rather difficult to determine the number of people who were convicted and executed unjustly. However, researchers note that during the period between 2000 and 2010 there was 55 exonerations (Sarat and Martschukat 2). Moreover, these people were sentenced to death on the basis of evidence which was regarded as irrefutable. However, later investigation proved that it had been insufficient (Sarat and Martschukat 2). Admittedly, the number of exonerations is rather small in comparison with the so-called death-row population.
Nevertheless, these data indicate that the criminal justice system can be malfunctioning. Moreover, one should keep in mind that the representatives of law-enforcement agencies are often reluctant to recognize their mistakes since this admission can adversely affect their career. Certainly, the advocates of capital punishment may say that the system of justice cannot work flawlessly, and there is always a risk of mistake. Nevertheless, these people may not easily accept this argument if they will face the risk of capital punishment. Under such circumstance, their attitudes can change dramatically. This is one of the details should not be dismissed by policy-makers.
Moreover, it is important to remember that the verdict imposed on a defendant often depends on the skills and expertise of attorneys. These professionals can shape the opinions of the jurors and judges (Sarat and Martschukat 2). The main problem is that many people, who are accused of serious felonies, cannot afford the services of such professionals. The supporters of capital punishment may say that the poverty of people does not exonerate him/her of the crimes. Nevertheless, this argument is important for showing that some individuals can be more vulnerable when they have to interact with the criminal justice system.
In many cases, their voices can be disregarded. Additionally, it is important to remember that racist prejudices continue to shape the attitudes and decisions of many law-enforcement officers or judges, even though the racial discrimination is prohibited at the official level. This is one of the reasons why some groups such African Americans are overrepresented in the death row. These considerations should not be disregarded by the legislators who need to take decisions about the status of capital punishment. In turn, one can argue that such an option as life without parole can be a more suitable option since it can reduce the risk of various pitfalls such as judicial errors or excessive costs associated with capital punishment. These are some of the main suggestions that can be made.
The example, provided in this paper are aimed at showing that the use of capital punishment has several significant limitations that are not consistent with the concept of justice. The main problem is that it does contribute to the increased welfare of the community. Moreover, the hypothetical benefits of this practice do not outweigh its costs. Furthermore, it is important to mention that the debates about the arguments about the use of capital punishment may depend on the personal conviction of an individual. To a great extent, such debates are shaped by the political ideology that a person advocates. Nevertheless, the evidence provided in this paper is distanced from the political debates. Furthermore, it shows that the use of death penalty is not the best practice which is available to policy-makers.
Admittedly, one can argue that retribution is an inseparable element of justice. Furthermore, the supporters of death penalty can say that some felons may deserve capital punishment. For instance, one can speak about people who are guilty of crimes against humanity or serial killings. Nevertheless, such cases are not numerous, and they are not related to the daily practices of judges or law-enforcement officers. They constitute only a minor fraction of all violent crimes.
Certainly, one can argue that say that the concept of efficiency may not be relevant to people whose relatives or friends became the victims of violent crime. These individuals do not want to hear arguments about the costs of capital punishment or deterrent effect. Nevertheless, legislators should consider the interests of various stakeholders. Therefore, they cannot regard revenge as one of their top priorities. Such an approach can undermine the work of the state and legitimize the idea of violence. This is one of the aspects that should be taken into account by policy-makers.
On the whole, this discussion indicates that death penalty is not effective for several reasons. Much attention should be paid to such issues as its costs and the risk of judicial error. Moreover, the deterrent effect of capital punishment has not been fully demonstrated. More importantly, one can say that life without parole can be a more effective solution. By focusing on the need for retribution, legislators may fail to bring any improvements into the life of the community. This is why the use of death penalty should be either abolished or reduced to the minimum. In the majority of cases, life without parole can be a more suitable option. These are main aspects that can be identified.
Hood, Roger and Surya Deva. Confronting Capital Punishment in Asia: Human Rights, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.
Kirchgässner, Gebhard. “Econometric Estimates Of Deterrence Of The Death Penalty: Facts Or Ideology?.” Kyklos 64.3 (2011): 448-478. Print.
Mandery, Evan. Capital Punishment in America: A Balanced Examination, New York: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2011. Print.
Sarat, Austin and Jurgen Martschukat. Is the Death Penalty Dying?: European and American Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.