Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is often equated to a life sentence in terms of its severity. Any citizen who has committed a serious crime may be deprived of their life as a punishment. Execution happens when a person is found guilty and sentenced to death. It has various forms ranging from stonings and beheadings to lethal injections, but their result is always the condemned criminal’s death. Although capital punishment is still a highly controversial topic, accompanied by heated debates against the existence of such a practice, for any civilized person death sentence must be abolished in all states due to its inhumane and unjust nature.
Death penalty usage has been decreasing over the years of the 21st century, consequently, the majority of first-world countries have already abolished it completely. One of the terms of the European Union membership is the absence of capital punishment as a method of criminal activity regulation (Johansson-Nogués et al., 2019). However, the USA, as well as Japan and South Korea, still utilize it to punish the vilest cases of crime. They include but are not limited to, gang rape, murder, child rape, child murder, terrorism, treason, war crimes, and genocide.
Although the unacceptability of capital punishment is not a matter of question for any humane person, those supporting the death penalty see it as just retribution for murderers because instances of murder should be punished, from their viewpoint, by ending the criminal’s life, which deters further criminal activity and ensures that the condemned will not be able to repeat the offense in the future. However, claiming that a life sentence is not a substitute for the death penalty since it does not equal another person’s life, this attitude only proves that violence escalates into more violence. A person who has committed a crime that is punishable by death will not hesitate to do the same again, knowing that his case is hopeless. It typically rockets into hectic arrests with police officers involved killed, simply because the offender has nothing left to lose. Furthermore, there were cases of prisoners volunteering for a death sentence by committing more crimes while in prison, rather than accepting death than living in custody for the rest of their lives. The aforementioned proves the point that a life without parole punishment is seen as worse than death by the majority of criminal offenders, making it a stricter sentence than capital punishment.
The death penalty for murder cannot be considered just even though a person has previously deprived somebody else of their life. Moreover, in the case of mass murder, rape, and war crimes, it is impossible to provide the same level of punishment for the criminal, making the argument of equality of punishment obsolete. It is virtually impossible to equate genocide and the execution of a single criminal who has committed a war crime; hence, a life sentence is considered a worthy replacement in such circumstances. It reassures that the criminal will not be able to go back to committing crimes and condemns him or her to a long and meaningless life in prison.
The death penalty is considered to have a deterrent effect on criminals. It is supposed to serve as a public example of serious crimes consequences, making them less likely to occur in the future. However, most crimes are committed when a person is enraged, under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or all the factors mentioned earlier. Such a person cannot be considered fully capable of controlling his or her actions, and responsibility for committing crimes will be the last thing that crosses one’s mind. Furthermore, the death penalty supports the idea of just retribution, making it seem acceptable for the public, thus, resulting in a much higher number of victims. People may murder out of revenge for their loss. Local nationalists often target Muslim minorities in India for a variety of reasons, including ethnic and religious causes. It has resulted in several acts of lynching, and the conflict escalated, with both sides losing lives in an attempt to avenge their fallen (Bhat, 2020). A public showcase of death penalties can inevitably degrade the society into a mob rule, lynching those whom they see guilty, therefore, leading to an enormous increase in the murder rates.
Another reason to abolish the death penalty is its irreversible nature. There were multiple instances of people getting wrongfully accused and sentenced to death throughout history. In most cases, the miscarriage of justice happens during investigations on serial killers. A sufficient example is Timothy Evans, a Welshman who was wrongfully accused and sentenced to death by hanging in 1950; however, further investigation proved his innocence (Henneberg, 2017). Because of that, life without parole is much more suitable for a fair and just society. In case of a life sentence, the supposed criminal may ask for further investigation, and if it proves that the sentenced was innocent, he is set free and given compensation for his wrongful imprisonment. In the case of capital punishment, any compensation ceases to be an option because modern science is not capable of resurrecting the wrongfully accused. A posthumous pardon is not compensation for the people who have lost their lives, more of admittance of investigation’s mistakes, and another proof of a capital punishment method failure.
Another concern connected with the inappropriateness of the death penalty is that racial and religious bias is still prevalent in the majority of capital punishment cases. People naturally try to alienate themselves from other races and religions and are more prone to believe those who share their way of life. If a citizen belongs to a racial or religious minority that substitutes a small portion of the state’s population, it is more likely that capital punishment will be issued in case of a severe crime. Although it is of crucial importance that courts remain as impartial as possible, the mistrust of foreign culture as an integral part of human psychology makes a fair judgment carriage a more complicated task, resulting in a great number of death penalties based on subjective biases and stereotypes.
Death sentence violates various human rights but, most importantly, the right to live. It is considered an integral part of any individual, regardless of nationality, race, and religion. The second most common human right affected by the death penalty is freedom of speech and expression. The North Korean government sees any divergence from the values of the communist party as an offense punishable by death (Son, 2020). Depriving someone of their life must not be an option regardless of the crime severity because human rights are of the highest respect under any circumstances.
The death penalty has already been abolished in the majority of first- and second-world countries due to its vastly outdated inhumane nature and unfairness. It deprives the condemned of their fundamental human rights, suggests the unacceptable nature of death as a punishment, and is biased against the minorities. Furthermore, its irreversibility leads to innocents being killed without a chance of redeeming themselves. Capital punishment is a remnant of the past that is incompatible with modern society; hence, it is vital to replace it with a life sentence.
Bhat, M. A. (2020). Mob, murder, motivation: The emergence of hate crime discourse in India. Socio-Legal Review, 16(1), 1-32.
Henneberg, M. (2017). Worlds apart: Cold case reviews and investigations into alleged wrongful convictions in England and Wales. Journal of Cold Case Review, 3(1), 25-35.
Johansson-Nogués, E., Vlaskamp, M. C., & Barbé, E. (Eds.). (2019). European Union contested: Foreign policy in a new global context. Springer.
Son, S. A. (2020). Chasing justice: Victim engagement with accountability for human rights abuses in North Korea. Asian Studies Review. Web.