Capital punishment, sometimes also referred to as the death penalty, is a practice that is sanctioned by a government in a few countries. The state punishes the accused for the crime committed by putting them to death. The declaration that a criminal is to be punished in such a grave manner is known as a capital punishment and the act of carrying out this punishment is known as an execution.
Offences such as murder, rape or war crimes are known as Capital offences and are generally punishable by death. Fifty six countries still practice capital punishment, a hundred and two countries have completely abolished it no matter how grave the offence, six countries have terminated it for average crimes, and thirty two are strong opponents of this practice.
Capital punishment is an issue of an on-going controversy in various states and countries, and the stances of governments on this matter can vary within a single region. The public opinion on capital punishment differs a lot by the nature of the crime and the country in question.
In Countries like New Zealand, majority of fifty five percent of the people are against and oppose execution, in other countries like Australia only twenty three percent of the people support this type of punishment, and in Norway only twenty five percent are in favor of this sentence.
A poll shows that sixty four percent of Americans support capital punishment for murder. Since 2010 the use of capital punishment is growing in India due to anger over many brutal cases of rape in the recent times. Although the support for this type of punishment for the crime of murder is still very high in China, the actual number of sentences has dropped unexpectedly.
The suitability of this punishment is a topic of a heated argument with each person having their own viewpoint. The question remains that if a person commits such a brutal crime, should the punishment be of the similar nature or is this going way beyond the lines of humanity?
Many even think that this type of punishment sets an example for others and warns them from doing anything wrong. Activists often tangle into a heated argument from time to time in order to give various justifications for the appropriateness or the inappropriateness of this punishment. Listed below are a few pros and cons of capital punishment.
List of Advantages of Capital Punishment
- It discourages people from thinking of committing such crimes
Proponents of death penalty state various examples on how imposing capital punishment or overthrowing it has had a direct relation to the crime rate and how they have been influenced by it. According to a study in the late 1960’s, there was an increase in the crime rate by seven percent in the years when this law was overthrown. Whereas, with an increase in number of inmates sentenced to capital punishment lesser crimes were committed as it intimidates criminals and keeps them from committing such acts. Advocates of capital punishment claim that these numbers clearly show how this practice is a good way of preventing crimes in the first place.
- The lack of death penalty is directly proportional to the increase in crime rate
If there are no laws like capital punishment for crimes like murder and assault or the intensity of the punishment is not sufficient, criminals have nothing much to fear about and have no grave consequences to face which encourages them to commit more such monstrous crimes. Such cases of brutal crimes increase due to a weak system and insufficient punishments. Therefore, it is almost imperative to have systems like capital punishment in place.
- Costs the government less money in comparison to other punishments
Although the government has to spend a substantial amount to carry out this punishment, those in favor of it say that it is still lesser when compared to the expenses the government would have to meet to support life without parole. The cost for maintaining the lives of criminals which includes health care, food, prison maintenance and so on collectively turn out to be much higher than that required to carry out a capital punishment.
- Fair punishment
It is only a basic right of every citizen to be safe and have a peaceful life free from crimes. But sadly, in today’s world brutal crimes like murder, terrorism and rape are growing in number. Criminals who do not value the life of others are committing such crimes with no fear whatsoever. These crimes go against the right of a citizen and thus it only fair that they be punished in a manner that they deserve. If a person is given the freedom to behave in any manner that he or she likes then they should also be ready to face the consequences of doing so.
- It is only constitutional and does not violate any rights
The main reason of controversy linked with capital punishment is the pain that the criminal goes through during the process of execution. However, more humane methods have already been adopted to make the process as painless and easy as possible. The pain is almost non-existent as a drug is used to put the criminal in a coma like state before execution. Therefore, no rights are being violated by carrying out capital punishment and it is no form of torture.
List of Cons of Capital Punishment
- Can be too extreme in some cases and cannot be a general punishment for a said crime
For people who commit crimes intentionally or pre-planned it this punishment can seem justified. However, there are many instances where the accused is suffering from a mental illness and is in need of professional help. They often have no control over their actions and thus cannot be sentenced to such a grave punishment. There are also situations where a crime has been committed impulsively, without the intention of actually doing so. Here again this punishment can seem too extreme. Hence it cannot be generalized as to which crime deserves what kind of punishment.
- Additional overall cost and effort
Although life imprisonment without parole comes as an additional cost to the government and the taxpayers’ money, antagonists claim that the government is more likely to spend more money in dealing with cases of capital punishment. This is because such cases are far more complex and need to be deliberated over and over again. The time these trials take is much more than the regular cases.
A large numbers of defenders need to be hired in order to carry out the trial. The state ends up incurring costs for two trials. The first trial would be for the verdict and the second for the sentence. There are chances of many appeals throughout which the accused has to be kept secured. Therefore, considering the whole process that goes into finally resolve the case the costs go much higher than life imprisonment.
- Wrongly accused die for no reason
It is not very uncommon for innocent people to be sentenced for a crime that they did not commit. Many a times, a person’s innocence has been proven after the accused was executed. In cases like these, capital punishment can seem too brutal where a person does not stand a chance to prove his or her innocence.
- It is discriminatory
Protesters claim that the inmates who are on a death row are generally by a high percentage African American or minority. They contend that these sentences are mostly and evidently due to racial discrimination. Furthermore, those who are poor and do not have the money to appoint a good attorney are mostly the ones who get the death penalty. It is completely unfair that those who are not in a financial condition to pay for a powerful defense end up getting capital punishment irrespective of their innocence. Those who can afford it, even if they are guilty, find a way out.
- Capital punishment is a form of revenge
Some people find this form of punishment too brutal. Although it is important to punish those who commit such brutal acts, it is a form of revenge to kill them for the crime that they commit. Opponents claim that it just not a humane way to punish anyone. One crime being committed to punish another is no way of bringing about justice to the victim. This only brings about more violence and not peace. Everyone deserves a chance to live and regret for what they have done. Killing a person is no way to achieve this claim the opponents.
Contrasting views are presented by both advocates and the antagonists. Some people feel this punishment is not good enough for those who commit such brutal crimes, whereas others feel it is way too harsh and against humanity. It is important to understand all the repercussions and culminations before making a law that affects all the citizens of a country.