Death Penalty and Its Impact on Families

As a rule, there are several examples of resonant cases for any sufficiently controversial and acute social issue. For example, the death penalty by Troy Davis in Georgia caused an outcry around the world (Brown-Dean and Jones 323). The protracted trial was complex on the families of both Davis himself and the police officer McPhail who died in the shootout. This example illustrates that even after the execution was carried out, the deceased’s family did not receive satisfaction or acceptance; on the contrary, unrest around the world drew attention to the problem again and again (Brown-Dean and Jones 326). While proponents of the death penalty argue that this type of punishment can bring acceptance and lack of vindictiveness to the victims’ families, the result is, in fact, a negative impact on both families.

A considerable amount of research has been carried out on this, indicating precisely the adverse effect. Only 2.6% against more than twenty indicated that the offender’s death penalty helped them heal after bereavement, while twenty, even after a long time, did not find peace (Usman 89). Healing, they say, is like a process rather than a one-time event, and the victims’ families are much safer when the perpetrators receive life sentences rather than death sentences (Usman 92). Since the death penalty is made public, it often causes a resonance in society and draws attention to the victim’s family and the family of the perpetrator. The death penalty has a psychological effect on the victim’s family, children, and relatives of the deceased, which undermines the basic principle of the justice system to punish the guilty and never the innocent (Albert et al. 873). Finally, the death penalty processes take much longer, sometimes even several years. All this time, the victim’s family is forced to participate in the processes of the legal system to be present at the courts. The transfer of loss is immensely complicated by such processes.

The main alternative to the death penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of early amnesty. Studies comparing the well-being of victim families in states that allow the death penalty versus states that use life as an alternative show that family members have higher psychological, behavioral, and physical health rates in states without the death penalty (Usman 93). This approach can correct a miscarriage of justice, which, with the death penalty, is one of the most important arguments against this punishment. Building a highly cultured society can also suffer in the presence of a death sentence, mainly when it is carried out in public. These measures lead to the dehumanization of society, “accessibility and legalization of death” (Albert et al. 891). Finally, life imprisonment excludes the possibility of lynching and the increase in violent activity on the victim’s family. Punishments for crimes should be preventive, proactive concerning future crimes, and not only fulfill the reactive function of prescribing the law.

On the other hand, life imprisonment has several disadvantages, which can be solved individually. First, an aggressive offender is a danger to inmates and prison staff. This issue presupposes a solution in the form of an individual approach in dealing with certain hazardous criminals. Secondly, a deterrent, also confirmed by numerous studies, is when a death sentence could save dozens of lives in various cities and countries (Usman 99). This issue needs to be addressed by strengthening prisons in order to eradicate escape opportunities, as well as working more seriously with each offender to identify possible determinants of future relapse. Finally, psychological work with criminals will help to dive deeper into the underlying problems that have become the causes of crimes, enabling justice to deal with more than just symptoms.

Works Cited

Albert, Ashley, et al. “Ending the Family Death Penalty and Building a World We Deserve.” Columbia Journal of Race and Law, vol. 11, no. 3, 2021, pp. 860-894. Web.

Brown-Dean, Khalilah, and Ben Jones. “Building authentic power: a study of the campaign to repeal Connecticut’s death penalty.” Politics, Groups, and Identities, vol. 5, no. 2, 2017, pp. 321-342. Web.

Usman, Jeffrey Omar. “The Twenty-First Century Death Penalty and Paths Forward.” Mississippi College Law Review, 37, 2018, pp. 80-120. Web.

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DemoEssays. "Death Penalty and Its Impact on Families." October 30, 2022.