Finding common ground essay | MyPaperHub


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.

Introduction in opposition to death penalty

The crushing 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 (

Introduction in support of death penalty

Punishment is 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 punishment.

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 (

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 ( 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 (

Studies on 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 ( 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 (

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 ( 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 (

Common ground

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. 

Works cited,. 'Deterrence (In Opposition To The Death Penalty)'. N.p., 2015. Web. 10

Dec. 2015.,. 'Deterrence (In Support Of The Death Penalty)'. N.p., 2015. Web. 10 Dec.


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