What is the meaning of capital punishment? And what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of capital punishment?
Ruby, United States
Capital punishment is simply punishment by death. With capital punishment, the offender or one who has committed a crime is punished by being put to death. The manner of death the offender suffers can come in a variety of ways. Examples include: through the firing squad, through the use of lethal injection, through hanging, by stoning, etc.
The capital punishment is the same as the death penalty.
Over the years, there have been numerous debates all over the world on the motion, “Should capital punishment be abolished?” While many have called for a total abolishment of the capital punishment, others insist that the death penalty is a very important thing because of its strong power as a deterrent. For example, in New Zealand, a recent poll showed that 55 percent of the people in that country oppose the practice of the capital punishment. But in South Africa, a poll found out that 76 percent of young South Africans support the death penalty and want it to be re-introduced in their country. Presently the death penalty or capital punishment has been abolished all over South Africa. So why are some people in favor of the death penalty whereas others are against it? This means there must be some positive and negative aspects of it, which is what we are going to take a look at in this article.
The advantages of the capital punishment (death penalty)
Supporters of the practice of capital punishment give so many reasons why capital punishment should not be abolished. Among the many reasons they give include the following:
- Capital punishment or the death penalty is arguably the greatest deterrent. The purpose of punishment is to serve as a deterrent to others who would like to follow the footsteps of the one being punished. When someone commits a grave crime such as murder and is given the death sentence and actually executed, this of course strikes massive fears in the hearts and minds of anyone who would love to follow that person’s footsteps. No one wants to die. So criminals are deterred from committing certain heinous crimes if they know that they will face the death penalty if caught.
- The practice of the death penalty reduces the number of very grave criminal activities in society. Some of these grave criminal activities include murder, terrorism, armed robbery, etc. This is because criminals or potential criminals are afraid of death.
- It is true that some very hardened criminals are beyond reformation. When a person is beyond reformation, nothing can change that person – not even sentencing the person to prison. Let us take a hardened serial killer for instance. Nothing can change such a person. No matter how many years he or she is sentenced to prison, he or she cannot change. Such person can’t help him or herself from killing and will continue to kill in prison and outside the prison if released. The only thing the law can do to protect innocent citizens from such a dangerous individual is to execute him or her. This is another reason why the death penalty is very important. Some criminals or offenders just aren’t supposed to live among the human race because of how extremely lethal they can be.
- With the presence of capital punishment, society is able to wipe out hardened criminals from society.
- Another argument for the capital punishment is the fact that it lessens the amount of money spent by the government on feeding certain criminals who are beyond reformation and who are of no use to the world.
- Prison is meant to keep bad people away from the general population, but as we all know, there are certain instances where prisoners break out of prison and end up never being caught by the police. Now imagine if a prolific and hardened serial killer manages to escape from prison. Such a person would end up mixing into the general population and continue killing people. Here, it is obvious that it would have been very reasonable for authorities to have given him the capital punishment instead of letting such a person live and making the tax payer keep spending money in feeding and clothing him only for him to escape at the end of the day and continue killing innocent people. The death penalty is the only logical way to handle such hardened criminals. A typical example of such a case was that of American serial killer Ted Bundy who escaped from prison and went on to kill more people. Supporters of the death penalty say that such people should be killed instantly.
- There are certain times where families and friends of victims of murder can only get some peace when they see the killers facing the death penalty. They take solace in the fact that the killers of their loved ones are also made to face death. It is more like tit for tat. To these people, the death penalty is very important as it is a form of ‘sweet’ revenge.
The disadvantages of capital punishment (death penalty)
While some people are in favor of the death penalty, others are strongly against it. According to these people, there are so many reasons why the death penalty should be abolished. Some of their strong arguments against the death penalty include the following:
- The death sentence is a sin. It is a grave sin to kill anyone. Many opponents of the death penalty see the act of killing someone such as a murderer no different from the crime the murderer committed in the first place. According to these people, God does not endorse killing. One of the Ten Commandments that God gave the world is to avoid killing any person. He categorically said this in the Old Testament, “Thou shall not kill”. It is therefore considered a sin to kill anyone regardless of their crime.
- Another reason the death penalty or capital punishment should be abolished is because of the fact that some innocent people end up being given the death sentence when in actual fact they are not guilty. Over the years there have been numerous cases of innocent people being sentenced to death and actually getting executed simply because they were framed or because there was no evidence in their favor to disentangle them from the crime that led to their arrest and sentence. The saddest thing here is that for some innocent people who have been condemned to death, the truth only comes out after they have been executed. The abolishment of the death penalty can prevent some of these unfair deaths.
- Some people can change. Not everybody is recalcitrant or beyond reformation. There are some people, who after committing very grave crimes, can turn a new leaf and be very productive people in society. There have been numerous cases where very hardened criminals find religion while in prison and change dramatically to the point where they act as inspirations for other negative people in society to change from their negative or criminal activities. But once these people are executed through capital punishment, there is no chance for them to change and help society. This is another reason why the death penalty should not be encouraged.
- The death penalty is considered by many to be a highly barbaric and inhumane act, which makes a society no different from the murderer being punished with death. There is a popular phrase used by opponents of the death penalty which goes like this: “How can you kill someone in order to tell them that killing is bad?”
- Another reason the death capital punishment should be abolished is because of the fact that there are certain crimes that are committed on impulse. Here, the perpetrator of the crime did not deliberately decide to commit the crime. For example, there are cases where people have been labeled as murderers and have been executed when in actual fact they committed the murder on impulse. They never planned or decided to kill anyone.
- Others argue that the death penalty should be abolished simply because of the fact that death might just not be a punishment. They argue that no one knows how death is. No one has died before and returned from death, so no one knows whether death is enjoyable or not. So why not sentence a criminal such as a murderer to life imprisonment so that he or she suffers right here on earth in order to atone for his or her crime rather than killing the person. For all you know death might just be something not as scary as we make it look like. So why make a hardened criminal who has hurt so many people rest in peace when he or she could be locked up for the rest of his or her miserable life? What if death is like paradise? This is the question some opponents of the death penalty keep asking.
Now that you have seen all the advantages and disadvantages of capital punishment, you decide if capital punishment should continue or be abolished.