The death penalty
punishment has been an issue that has raised controversy over time not just in
the United States but also with the rest of the world. The public and also law
enforcers have remained split on the issue with activists for and other against
the death penalty raising arguments in support of their stance on the issue.
However, it is of an essence to note that one of the fundamental reasons that
the law offers punishment is to deter the criminal from committing the crime in
future and to discourage other potential criminals from engaging in the crime
as well. Therefore, every law and consequence of breaking it should be
sufficient to offer deterrence to the criminals and potential criminals.
opposition to death penalty
evidence from years of research is that the death sentence is no more of
deterrence than life in prison and hence those who argue that deterrence
justifies the execution of offenders have little advantage to show that the
punishment is a deterrent. In fact, there are some studies indicating that the
death penalty leads to an opposite effect since the society is brutalized
leading to the further likelihood of murder. Therefore, there is little faith
in deterrence as a justification for the use of the death penalty (Deathpenaltycurriculum.org).
support of death penalty
majorly used to discourage potential criminals from committing unlawful acts.
Therefore, the society seeks to prevent murder at all costs and hence the need
to use the strongest punishment to deter murder, which is the capital
punishment. If the murderers are sentenced to death and then executed then, the
potential murderers will have to rethink due to the fear of the ultimate
Death penalty and
the murder rate
Those who support
the death penalty assert that according to research by Isaac Ehrlich in 1973,
for every inmate executed, there was an average of seven innocent lives soared
because others were deterred from committing murder. There are similar results
produced in later researches. The studies on the deterrence of the death
penalty are inconclusive because the majority of the states take too much time
before carrying out executions. The punishments that are fast and certain are
the best deterrents. Moreover, the fact that some of the states that do not use
the Capital punishment experience low murder rates than those that have the
Capital punishment is no sufficient evidence of the failure of the sentence to
deter crime (Deathpenaltycurriculum.org).
In opposition to
the death penalty as deterrence, there is an argument that countries that
employ the death sentence have higher rates of murder than those that do not.
The rate of murder in the United States is significantly higher than that of
other countries that have banned the capital punishment such as Canada and
countries in Europe. Moreover, the Ehrlich studies have been largely
discredited by a majority of the scholars and, therefore, the studies on
deterrence of the capital punishment remains inconclusive. The death penalty is
no deterrent because a majority of the people that commit murder either do not
expect to be caught or that they do not weigh the options between execution and
life imprisonment before they act (Deathpenaltycurriculum.org). The majority of
the times, murders are committed in moments of extreme emotions such as anger
or by criminals who are abusers of substances and hence act in an impulsive
manner without considering the consequences. Jim Mattox, who previously served
as the Attorney General of Texas, stated that in his experience witnessing the
execution of several inmates, in most cases it was evident to him that most of
the victims were not deterred by the existence of the death punishment as a
consequence. He reiterated that majority of times; the murder was committed
under the influence of drugs and other substances (Deathpenaltycurriculum.org).
deterrence of the death penalty
In support of the
death sentence as a deterrence, a Professor of Jurisprudence at Fordham
University called Ernest van den Haag argued that even with the absence of
conclusive statistical evidence in support of the notion that death penalty
deters crimes more than any other form of punishment due to the strong fear of
death among individuals. The majority of individuals are bound to fear death
that is inevitable and scheduled by the courts (Deathpenaltycurriculum.org). Therefore, the
fear is the source of deterrence among the individuals since they are aware
that the punishments mean that they would not get a second chance at life but
will have to pay the ultimate price. The thought of dying may instill fear even
in the moist stone cold killers that will deter crimes in the future. Hence,
the death penalty is the only punishment that can deter prisoners that are
already serving life sentences from getting tempted to kill other inmates or
the guards. It, therefore, offers a form of security to the guards in the
prisons, and also the other inmates since those who are already on life imprisonment
are aware that any mistake of committing the act may lead to death and hence
deter them. It is the only deterrence for such criminals since there is no
other punishment that is worse than life imprisonment. The supporters of the
punishment also argue that even though such criminals are not entirely deterred
there is not any other punishment that would be as effective as the execution
since it is the highest level of punishment (Deathpenaltycurriculum.org).
In opposition to
the capital punishment, there is no actual proof that the death penalty in
itself is a better deterrent than the threat of life imprisonment. A survey
conducted by the former and present presidents of the country’s top criminology
societies indicated that 84% of the experts rejected the premise that research
had indicated any deterrent effect of the death penalty (Deathpenaltycurriculum.org). Moreover, those
that get into prison settle into the new routine and are little if any threat
to anyone. Moreover, there is majority of the states that have adopted laws
that have a life imprisonment without any parole. It means that those
imprisoned for life without parole would never be released, and, therefore,
they pose no threat to the public. They can also be placed in solitary
confinement that would ensure the safety of other inmates and to the guards
instead of resulting to a crudes manner of executions (Deathpenaltycurriculum.org).
Both the opposers
and the supporters of the death penalty agree that every punishment on a criminal
should act to deter the criminal from committing further crimes and other
potential offenders from committing the crime as well. The society has used
punishment as a way of discouraging the would-be criminals from committing an
unlawful act. Moreover, the punishment given to a criminal or offender should
also be of the same magnitude as the crime committed. They also agree that
there are not any conclusive statistical demonstrations on the deterrence of
the death penalty.
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