Capital punishment refers to the legal process through which a state puts a person to death as a punishment due to a crime (Steiker, 2010). People refer to such crimes as capital offences or capital crimes. Many doctrines in the criminal laws have tried to limit the number of executions against capital crimes (Altheide & Coyle, 2006). For example, in the eighteenth century, murderers in the United States experienced death penalty, but Pennsylvania started classifying murder into the second-degree murder and the first-degree murder, which were punishable differently. The offenders, who the court found guilty of the first-degree murder, went through the capital punishment, while the second-degree murder offenders underwent imprisonment. In some places, penal codes always ensured a death penalty for serious offences (Homans, 2008). However, in the jurisdictions, discretional powers to replace death sentences with other alternatives expanded in a gradual manner. A lesser penalty replaces a more severe penalty, for instance, replacing a death penalty with life imprisonment (Seiter, 2008). In today’s world, capital punishment continues to be legal in a number of countries including Japan and Turkey, but statistics show that executions decrease over time (Grimes, 2010).
In the contemporary society, many people are against capital punishment because of various reasons (Homans, 2008). Many nations consider capital punishment as a brutal way of life because of lack of enlightenment. It may be in the form of hanging, electrocution, lethal injection, stoning to death, beheading, and execution by the firing squad. Capital punishment is incompatible and incongruous with the current standards of humanity and civilization. Therefore, many states and countries have abolished capital punishment. Some countries have a variety of reasons to why they prefer capital punishment as the most effective way of punishing those, who break the law (Steiker, 2010). Whether countries and states should support, or abolish capital punishment is a debatable topic, which people have continued to discuss over many years. This discussion will consider the reasons to why some countries prefer capital punishment, while others consider it as an inappropriate way of dealing with serious criminal offences.
Reasons for Capital Punishment
Many countries support capital punishment as the most effective strategy of dealing with criminals in the society. They focus on various reasons, which include reduction of expenditure, appropriate punishment, safety, extreme punishment, and deterrence of crime (McKelvie, 2006). Due to these reasons, various countries and states have failed to abolish capital punishment and adopt less severe forms of punishment. Discussing these reasons will result in an understanding of the usefulness of the capital punishment.
Reduction of Expenditure in the Correction Facility
Imprisoning an offender for a long time in the correction facility will be extremely expensive. Execution of the prisoners will reduce the number of prisoners in the correction facility, which can be manageable (Homans, 2008). Building many houses for the correction facilities will cost countries and states substantial amount of resources. The correctional facilities should include unique housing for the death penalty offenders to ensure safety of the correctional facilities, prison guards, and other prisoners (McKelvie, 2006). Such buildings require an enormous amount of money to establish. Apart from the establishment and maintenance of the buildings in the corrections facility, federal and state tax payers will pay for the food and medications that the prisoners require on a daily basis. When the offenders spend a lot of time in the correctional facility before execution, the country will spend a substantial amount of money cumulatively. Some countries are not ready to spend a lot of resources to deal with offenders who have committed serious crimes in the society. Therefore, execution becomes the best option to do away with such offenders and create enough space for other criminals with less serious offences.
Some people consider capital punishment as the most appropriate way of dealing with murderers. Many believe that the punishment of a criminal should be equal to the offence (Altheide & Coyle, 2006). Therefore, a burglar or a thief should pay a restitution fee equal to the value of the properties the offender obtained illegally. If a person kills another person, then he or she should face the death penalty as a compensation.
Capital Punishment Enhances Safety
Capital punishment ensures that the most violent people do not go back to their respective societies upon conviction of serious criminal offences. Execution of such offenders can be a significant safety measure to the people in society, the guards of the prison, and other inmates. If the Criminal Justice System allows sentence such individuals under life imprisonment with parole, then people in the society are likely to suffer as the prisoners may still be violent (Steiker, 2010). Research, shows that some offenders undergo recidivism upon release from their prisons, which is a threat to society.
Deterrence of Crime
Some countries consider the death penalty the punishment that will deter crime irrespective of the fact that statistics have not shown any proof of the fact. People may be afraid of committing serious offences, such as second-degree or first-degree murder because murders undergo capital punishment, which is a painful punishment. To some extent, capital punishment reduces criminal offence in the society based on the fear of murder. However, this will not be applicable for those individuals who commit crimes under the influence of temporary madness (Altheide & Coyle, 2006).
Capital punishment is appropriate for severe crimes such as manslaughter because it is a severe punishment. Many people consider execution as the most severe punishment ever. When people consider execution as an extreme punishment, they avoid involving themselves with antisocial behaviors and activities (Steiker, 2010). However, other people consider life imprisonment as the most severe form of punishment. Therefore, people have varied perceptions on different forms of punishment for offenders.
Reasons against Capital Punishment
Most countries and states have abolished capital punishment due to a number of reasons. Some of them include discouragement of offender reformation, against the will of God, violation of human rights, execution may not deter crime, capital punishment may lead to wrongful conviction, painful way of punishing wrongdoers, capital punishment may be unfair, and it is a costly process (Steiker, 2010). People consider that the drawbacks of capital punishment are outweighing the advantages.
Capital Punishment discourages Offender Reformation
The best practices for punishment should allow for the reformation of the offenders (Grimes, 2010). They should purport to protect societies by preventing offenders from repeating criminal offences, as well as serving as a measure that will discourage other prospective offenders from committing crimes. It is true that capital punishment ensures that the murder culprits and other culprits of serious offences do not repeat their crimes, but some individuals may commit murder or other serious criminal offences once stop forever (Homans, 2008). Therefore, due to the capital punishment, criminals experienced a reduced likelihood of seeking forgiveness for the crimes they committed. Forgiveness should be governments’ valid concern because some offenders may become influential people in the society if they take their time in the corrections facilities for counseling (Homans, 2008).
Against the Will of God
God Himself forgives those who commit sins upon repentance. The fifth commandment in the Holy Bible is against killing other people. Therefore, Christians violate this commandment when they kill their fellow human beings, regardless of what the victims committed (Homans, 2008). The criminal justice system should use a different method to punish offenders, whose crimes do not involve killing or shedding blood. Among the most appropriate approaches is life imprisonment. This will also allow the offenders to repent their sins to God. Surely it is a person’s privilege and duty to serve as the agent of divine mercy and justice, as well as exerting the God-given powers with the aim of helping the offenders repent (McKelvie, 2006).
Violation of Human Rights
Every person has a human right to live, even those individuals who commit felonies such as murder. Therefore, no person has the right to terminate another person’s life except the Creator. According to some people, capital punishment violates an offender’s right to live because it involves death.
Capital Punishment may not Deter Crime
The criminal statistics reveals that the capital punishment is not the right way of deterring crimes compared to other alternatives such as imprisonment without parole. Some people commit serious criminal offences under the influence of temporary insanity. Therefore, capital punishment cannot discourage insane people from committing serious crimes because they do not think soundly (McKelvie, 2006). However, capital punishment effectively deters crime when the offenders are sane. In some cases, it might be hard to determine the exact force that led an offender to commit an offence. The criminal justice system should look for the most effective punishment techniques, which can deter crimes in the contemporary society (Phillips, 2009).
Wrongful Conviction of Innocent People
Capital punishment may lead to wrong conviction of people who did not commit the criminal offence. The Criminal Justice System has proven the executions of wrongfully convicted people when it is too late to exonerate them. Wrongful conviction results from the ineffective means of identifying people as the real perpetrators (McKelvie, 2006). These include incompetent lawyers, eyewitness misidentification, informants, invalidated forensic investigation, government misconduct, and false confessions. Innocent people will continue dying states and countries support capital punishment as an effective crime deterrent. Therefore, as long as it is possible to convict and execute innocent people, states and countries should abolish the practice of the death penalty as a way of punishing the offenders (McKelvie, 2006). An example of a person who experienced execution due to wrongful conviction is Gary Graham in Texas. He faced execution in 2000 after the conviction that happened in 1981.
Capital Punishment may be Painful
Some capital punishments are extremely painful to the offenders, especially when they persist for a long time. The method and pain due to capital punishment is subjective to the norms of the society because some cultures do not prefer suffering. Surely, capital sentence is not a humane way of punishing the criminal offenders, irrespective of the offence they committed. Less painful punishment methods such as life imprisonment are humane, and the states and countries should adopt them (Phillips, 2009).
It has been common that minorities and poor people experience unduly infliction of capital punishment than the rich. Some rich offenders may bribe their lawyers or afford effective lawyers, who will enable them to avoid capital punishment because it is severe (Grimes, 2010). Poor people may fail to get just treatment because of ineffective, cheap lawyers. Racial discrimination may also occur in various countries, especially when the wrongdoer is a native in the country where the conviction takes place. Ineffective and cheap lawyers may even result in losing the case. If a poor offender wants to appeal, he finds the process extremely burdensome, which results in the denial of fair judgment. Therefore, because of bias and prejudice, poor people and minorities become a target for capital punishment (Phillips, 2009).
Capital Punishment is Expensive
Capital punishment is an expensive process because the country and individual spend money in the judicial process, for additional security, purchasing food and establishment of shelter, and the right to representation. For the judicial process, the requirement of the constitution is that the accused capital offenders must have the right to the entire process. Financial requirements of the process consist of the costs that relate to expert witnesses, legal counsel, and court operations (McKelvie, 2006). The government spends money to provide additional security both for the violent offenders and the public. The security costs increase during the transportation of the prisoners to and from the hearings as well as the payment of additional police officers to guard the offenders at the prison facilities (Grimes, 2010). Countries and states spend a substantial amount of money for purchasing foods for the inmates as well as establishing additional accommodation structures for those, who are awaiting execution. All of the above occurs as the appeals for the death penalty and executions take many years to accomplish. Therefore, expenses on food and housing keep increasing for the number of years the inmates spend within the correctional facilities (Phillips, 2009). The death penalty offenders should be in unique housing for maximum welfare and safety of staff, other inmates, and prison facility. Offenders have the right to representation for the criminal charges that they should answer during court hearings. Some defendants may not afford attorneys because they do not have any money. Therefore, the federal and state tax payers will cater for these services so that the capital punishment cases will not undergo any intervention (Phillips, 2009).
In modern society, countries and states should abolish the application of capital punishment, which some individuals consider as the most severe way of punishing the offendersr (Grimes, 2010). Life imprisonment without or with parole, is the most significant punishment technique that countries should use in various correctional facilities to punish the offenders with serious offences. This is the result of a number of reasons, including allowing the offender a chance to ask for forgiveness, acting in a humane manner, avoiding the sin of killing, reducing the cost of taking care of violent offenders, and allowing offenders to reform and become acceptable in their societies (McKelvie, 2006).
Many countries have already abolished the use of capital punishment within the criminal justice system in punishing the offenders (Grimes, 2010). They have substituted the severe methods such as beheading, electrocution, and lethal injection, with less severe punishment methods like a life sentence. As many countries have abolished capital punishment, they have taken responsibility to counsel the offenders until they become useful members of the society. Various states in the USA have established the correctional facility to accommodate the growing number of offenders, who need rehabilitation. Statistics show that execution has not reduced the number of crimes that people commit on a daily basis. Therefore, life imprisonment is an appropriate way of punishing the offenders in the correctional facility (McKelvie, 2006).
In the past, capital punishment was common in many countries because most people considered it as the most effective method of dealing with criminals. Capital punishment involved hanging, electrocution, lethal injection, stoning to death, beheading, and execution by the firing squad (McKelvie, 2006). These were severe forms of punishment, and it was not a humane way of dealing with offences. However, people perceive capital punishment differently. Some support the applications of capital punishment, while the rest are against it. According to statistics, the number of crimes that people commit every day in the countries that continue to practice capital punishment has not reduced. Proponents of capital punishment consider that people remain safe when the offender has gone though execution (Phillips, 2009). Therefore, adoption of alternative ways of punishment such as life imprisonment is the best solution.