Death Penalty-Capital Punishment


Although the majority of supporters of capital punishment argue that, the sentence is a remedy to crime and to a larger extent a good retribution mechanism, one thing they fail to account for is the effectiveness of this sentence in achieving its mandate. In addition, supporters of this sentence fail to account for the morality of the sentence. This is because, although some individuals may or not be guilty of their offenses, many discriminations and inconsistencies occur in the judicial proceedings. That is, sometimes the Supreme Court; due to lack of enough evidence, or because individuals lack attorneys to represent them, may impose on individuals this sentence. In most cases, such imposition takes little consideration of individuals’ innocence, something that was evident and is still evident in Henry Skinner’s trial, a death row convict in the states of Texas (National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty: NCADP, 2010, p.1). Considering these facts, and considering the fact that, research findings show that the sentence is discriminatory; racially (Hawkins, 2002, pg. 39), the federal government should abolish it, by adopting morally acceptable and fair sentences to specific heinous crimes.

Why Abolish the Sentence?

Presently, capital punishment is legal in more than thirty-six states, which accounts for more than three thousand four hundred inmates on death row. Since time memorial, states have executed the death sentence on individuals, although the sentence receives a lot of antagonism from some factions of the American society. For example, in only 2006, states that still applied the death sentence, executed 53 inmates, whereby, Texas had the largest number of such executions. Although this is a great reduction from the previous numerous executions, for example, 1,004, between 1977and 2005 (National Center for State Courts, 2009, Para. 1-7), the validity of the sentence in achieving its mandate is still questionable.

Although some convicts on death row might be guilty of their offenses, sometimes courts sentence very innocent individuals to death. This is because; the Supreme Court sometimes may pass such sentences on no evidential basis; hence, violating the primary role of all judicial bodies of providing justice to all. Such lack of enough evidence was evident in the imposition of a death sentence on Try Davis, a case that has raised many controversies hence, its current state whereby, the district court has to reconsider the available new evidence (Death Penalty Information Center, 2010, p.1). In addition to these innocent individuals, what if individuals accept liability for their crimes, although they committed such crimes unwillingly? It is important to note that, only two individuals in a murder case know what transpired before the crime occurred, the accused and the deceased. Hence, considering this the courts may pass a harsher murder sentence, instead of convicting such individuals to manslaughter.

Considering the suffering, not only the convicted but also the convict’s family have to go through humanly arguing, the federal government should abolish the death penalty. Due to the slow procedure of most states’ judicial systems, the majority of individuals on death row spend very many years in prison, with hopes that one day the Supreme Court will accept their appeals. In addition, to such suffering by inmates, execution of the sentence can cause extreme psychological and mental torture to the concerned families, because of the sudden termination of their loved one’s life, using a crude method. This occurs in most cases where the courts convict individuals of crimes they never committed. This largely makes many questions the credibility and validity of a judicial system to achieve its mandate, if it cannot defend the innocent (Remi, 2010, p.1).

In addition to the unfairness and inconsiderate nature of the judicial system, on the effects of the death sentence not only to convicts but also on the entire society, the argument by most supporters of this sentence that, the sentence can deter or control crime rates is baseless. This is because, yes, execution of the sentence will eliminate such criminals from society however, does this work to all individuals who contemplate murder? The deterring effect only works for individuals who premeditate to commit a crime before executing their plan. On the other hand, its deterrence effect is questionable because some criminals always venture into crimes while fully convinced that law-enforcing agents cannot find them. The fact that most individuals commit unpremeditated heinous crimes, by obeying their emotions makes this argument void; hence, this sentence by any means cannot deter individuals from committing crimes (Remi, 2010, Para. 2).

On the other hand, the majority of proponents of this sentence argue that convicting murder suspects to death is the primary mechanism of achieving justice. This scenario was evident in the Gregg v. Georgia, Jurek v. Texas, and Roberts v. Louisiana cases, whereby the Supreme Court used the sentence as a means of ensuring these individuals paid dearly for their actions (Justia, 2010, p.1). Frankly, this is very hypocritical owing to the fact that, these cases involved the taking of these crime perpetrators’ lives in the name of achieving justice for all. In addition, this violated provisions in the Bill of rights, although the Supreme Court gave justifying reasons for executing the sentence. On the other hand, sometimes given a chance, most murder convicts are very remorseful of their acts hence, for those who the judicial system spares the hangman’s noose, most of the reform and are agents of peace in the society. A good example is the case of Wilbert Rideau, a Louisiana citizen, whom the Supreme Court reduced his previous murder sentenced to life imprisonment (Death Penalty Information Center, 2010, Para. 3). It is important to note that, courts cannot achieve justice by sentencing individuals to murder, but rather they should ensure such individuals live to realize their mistakes. This is achievable through sentencing individuals to life imprisonment, because possibilities of such individuals acknowledging their mistakes hence, eventual transformation are possible. This is crucial not only to the convicts but also to the entire society, for through it individuals will really acknowledge what it pays to murder or commit a heinous crime; hence, it may act as a crime-deterring factor.

Some proponents of this sentence support it on economic terms. That is because the handling of death row inmates has many associated costs, to reduce such costs its supporters argue that, courts should use the sentence on individuals with heinous crimes. To some extent this may be right however, morally, is it possible to calculate an individual’s life in monetary terms? Such an argument degrades the human dignity, and value of life hence, refutable and baseless. On the other hand, it is important for all individuals to note that, although the government spends thousands of dollars to maintain death row convicts, most of them have a variety of skills, which are utilizable in most penitentiaries; hence offsetting the government expenditure (Reiman & Pojman, 1998, pp. 93-112).

Finally, as Dawkins (2002, p.39) argues, because in most Supreme Court’s verdicts takes little consideration of individuals mental states, individuals with mental problems have and are still suffering innocently for crimes they never committed knowingly. Most U.S.’s penitentiaries are holding individuals who have mental problems, a fact that the Supreme Court never considers.


In conclusion, Compounding all these factors, and the fact that subjecting convicts to death sentences has achieved little, as far as the war on crime is concerned, there is a need for the government to abolish capital punishment-death sentence. Whereby, instead of using it, the government should subject heinous crime perpetrators to other forms of punishments, which will ensure they pay dearly for their crimes, but not through death.

Reference List

Death Penalty Information Center. (2010). U.S. Supreme Court orders historic innocence claim in Troy Davis case. DPIC. Web.

Hawkins, S. W. (2002). Do we need the death penalty? It is immoral and ineffective. The world and I Washington, 17(9), p.39.

Justia. U.S. supreme court: Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976). Justia. Web.

National Center for State Courts. (2009). Criminal procedure Capital punishment-the death penalty. NCSC. Web.

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty: NCADP. (2010). NCADP: devoted to abolishing capital punishment. NCADP. Web.

Reiman, J. H., & Pojman, L. P. (1998). The death Penalty: for and against. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Web.

Remi, M. (2010). Penalty of death. Truth Tree. Web.

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