A case against capital punishment

Acase against capital punishment


Acase against capital punishment

Capitalpunishment is a matter that continues to draw conflicting opinions inregards to whether it should be an allowable form of punishment.Proponents of this form of punishment believe that it is a necessaryevil that the society needs to contend with if cases of capitaloffenses are to go down. However, those opposed to this line ofthought argue that there is not statistical evidence to date whichhas been presented to support purported benefits of the use of thedeath penalty in the justice system. Additionally, though there arenations that still use this form of punishment, recent trends showthat more countries around the world continue to reject its use. Thistrend needs to send a clear message that this is not the way to go ina society that purports to uphold the sanctity of life. The paperpresents a case in favor of abolishing capital punishment in thejustice system. It seeks to show that the application of this form ofpunishment does not lead to deterrence or provide equitableretribution for offenders, but it is a kind of barbarity that shouldnot be condoned in this day and age.

Argumentagainst capital punishment


Thosewho favor capital punishment are of the opinion that it leads todeterrence. They bank on the notion that would be offenders are moreafraid to die than they are of spending the rest of their lives inprison. This point is an outright manipulation of facts. This isbecause there is not statistical evidence to show that there was areduction in capital offenses where a state that did not use thisform of punishment reverted to it (Tifft, 1982). Additionally, statesthat have abolished the death penalty have not seen an increase inthe number of capital offenses. The crime rate has continued tostagnate no matter the form of punishment that has been applied bylaw.

Thereare other forms of evidence that show there is no correlation betweenthe use of death penalty, and the level of capital crimes committedin an area. Firstly, research has shown that any form of punishmentcan be a deterrent. In other word, legal consequences have been putin place to ensure people do not engage in the said act. However,this does not stop offenders from committing the crime once they havemade up their mind to do so. Additionally, many crimes are usuallypremeditated, and most of them believe that they will get away withthe crime (Tifft, 1982). Thus, the argument that the death penalty isa form of deterrence is highly misinformed.

Theabove points noted, if there is some truth in assuming the form ofpunishment can be used to deter crime, then, long prison sentencesare more likely to prevent capital offences than the death penalty.From time in memorial, freedom has been the most valuable thing toman and taking this away has been the greatest source of agony. Theknowledge that a person is going to spend the rest of their lifebehind bars without the possibility of ever acquiring their freedomback because of a capital crime is more of an incentive to not committhe offense than the death penalty.


Theother reason that those who favor capital punishment present inproving their case is that it is it is a form of retribution forcrime committed. Additionally, they argue that it brings closure tothose affected by the actions of the offender. It is important tonote that abolitionists are aware of the seriousness of capitaloffenses and the impact they have on the lives of the victims. However, this should not be used to bend principle under which thelaw has been founded. If the policies require that a person ispunished in a manner that equates to their action, then the deathpenalty is acceptable. However, the principles require that theseverity of the crimes committed be equitable to the punishment. Thedeath penalty is not equal to capital crimes and applying it is amiscarriage of justice against the offender (Tifft, 1982). The lawshould be fair and equitable to all regardless of their offenses.However, killing someone because they have killed another would thenmean a rapist should be raped or a person convicted of torture shouldbe abused. But since this is not the way the law works, and it ishigh time that proposers of the death penalty should stop bending thewill of the law to serve their needs.

Inevitabilityof errors

Thelegal system, just like any other system created by man, is prone tohave errors. However, it is important for people to be given anopportunity to rectify those mistakes if and when they are noticed.However, when a person is wrongfully convicted of a capital crime,there is no chance of correcting that mistake and the legal systemwill be guilty of killing an innocent man. Proposers of the deathpenalty want to create an exemption for this principle. In theirview, there will always be people who will pay the price for thebetterment of the society (Van Den Haag, 1985). Though this is true,it is the duty of the community to limit the prevalence of suchoccurrences. The fact that capital punishment is irrevocable shouldbe enough reason to abolish it as this will ensure no innocent personwill ever be killed for a crime that he did not commit.


Themanner in which the death sentence is conducted has evolved overtime. However, there are those practices that have remainedapplicable event to this day and age where science has providedbetter and more efficient methods for carrying of the sentence. Instates where this form of punishment is allowable, hanging,electrocution and firing squads remain as options to be used. Theseforms of instilling justice are barbaric, and they underscore thestrides made toward upholding the sanctity of life. Abolitionistsview the use of these methods as a step towards an era when humanitywas at its worst form. The fact that a person has committed a capitaloffense does not mean they stop being human (Tifft, 1982). Thoughtheir actions are not acceptable, they are still entitled to theiruniversally guaranteed rights.

Moreover,engaging in such acts put into question the concept of justice. As ithas widely been noted, one does not stop a monster by becoming onehimself. There is a need to have a clear distinction between theoffenders and the rest of society. Additionally, capital punishmentprovides ground for making a case for illegal killings. When thesociety accepts the use of the death penalty as a form ofretribution, the practice is likely to be replicated in other areasoutside the justice system, and this should not be allowed.


Theabove points noted, those favoring the use of the capital punishmentpoint out the following. Firstly, they note that the issue ofmiscarriage of justice will always be there regardless of the form ofpunishment. It is their view that sending a person to jail for therest of their life for a crime they did not commit is no better thankilling the person. However, the death of the person will have morevalue in that it will deter other offenders. Secondly, they are ofthe opinion that event though those who get deterred by capitalpunishment do not amount to a number that is of statisticalsignificance, this should not underscore the fact that the possiblenumber of capital offenses to be conducted are reduced as a result ofthis action.

Lastly,pro-capital punishment individuals argue that justice should not beevaluated on the basis of equality, but rather by whether the personbeing punished is guilty (Van Den Haag, 1985). This is to say thatevery case should be evaluated by itself with the end goal ofensuring that justice is served as opposed to evaluating the overalleffect of such convictions. This, they believe, though will lead tounfairness in some cases, it will have a positive effect in the longrun.

Thepoints raised above have some merit in that they are focused onensuring justice is served regardless of the cost. However, this isnot how society works. The nature of the law seeks to ensure that noone is unfairly victimized by the justice system (Tifft, 1982).However, applying the policies stated will have some consequence interms of victimizing innocent people, and this is an unacceptableoutcome regardless of the wider goal.


Fromthe above discussion, it is evident that capital punishment does notlead to deterrence or provide equitable retribution to offenders, butit is a form of barbarism that cannot be encouraged in this day andage. The case presented by those who favor show that they are notinterested in justice, but making a public statement regardless ofthe resultant consequence. In a society that is on a continuous pushtowards ensuring that the rights all human being are upheld, capitalpunishment in the justice system is a compromise that the society canno longer offered. Thus, it is important for members of the societyto come together and demand for the abolition of this form ofpunishment as its continued use is a continuous erosion of stridesmade toward ensuring the sanctity of life if upheld for all. This actwill be the first step towards moving into a future where the rightof life of all individual will be upheld and life will be viewed withthe dignity it deserves. It will also ensure that cases of illegalkilling are reduced globally.


Tifft,L. (1982). Capital Punishment Research, Policy, and Ethics: DefiningMurder and Placing Murderers. Crime and Social Justice, (17), 61-68.

Vanden Haag, E. (1985). Ultimate Punishment: A Defense, The. Harv. L.Rev., 99, 1662.