Saturday, March 6

Advantages and Disadvantages of Capital Punishment

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. The suitability of this punishment is a topic of heated arguments with each person having their viewpoint. The question remains that if a person commits such a brutal crime, should the punishment be similar, or is this going way beyond the lines of humanity?

What is Capital Punishment?

Capital punishment or the death penalty is a state-sanctioned form of punishment where there is the execution of someone for a specific crime after they are given a proper legal trial. It is usually used as a punishment for heinous crimes like murder, rape, treason, etc. 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. Likewise,  the act of carrying out this punishment is known as an execution.

According to Amnesty International, currently, 56 countries practice capital punishment, 106 countries have completely abolished it. Moreover, 8 countries have abolished for ordinary crimes and 28 countries are abolitionists in practice which means that they retain the death penalty for crimes like murder but have not executed anyone in the past 10 years.

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 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.

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 to give various justifications for the appropriateness or the inappropriateness of this punishment.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Capital Punishment

Advantages of Capital Punishment

  • It discourages people from thinking of committing such crimes

Proponents of the death penalty state various examples of 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 1960s, there was an increase in the crime rate by seven percent in the years when this law was overthrown. Whereas, with an increase in the 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 a death penalty is directly proportional to the increase in the 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 turns out to be much higher than that required to carry out 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. Thus it is 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 constitutional and does not violate any rights

The main reason for 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.

Disadvantages of Capital Punishment

  • Can be too extreme in some cases 

For people who commit crimes intentionally or pre-plan it this punishment can seem justified. However, there are many instances where the accused is suffering from a mental illness and requires 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 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 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.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Capital Punishment

  • It is discriminatory

Protesters claim that the inmates who are on a death row are generally by a high percentage of African Americans or minorities. 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. But it is a form of revenge to kill them for the crime that they commit. Opponents claim that it is 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 what they have done. Hence, 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. Therefore, it is important to understand all the repercussions and culminations before making a law that affects all the citizens of a country.

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Pros and Cons



Discourages people from thinking of committing such crimes

Too Extreme

Lack of death penalty is directly proportional to the increase in crime rate

Additional overall cost and effort

Costs less money in comparison to other punishments

Wrongly accused die for no reason

Fair Punishment


Constitutional and does not violate any rights

Form of Revenge