Death penalty, also known as capital punishment is a legal process where the state sends a death row inmate to execution as a punishment for a grave offense committed. Although not all crimes are punishable by death, there are strong opinions shared by both pro-death penalty and anti-death penalty supporters.
In some countries, it is still practiced while in the United States, it has been abolished in some s and still observed in several states. Whether it should be carried out or not has been a long standing argument between the two parties.
List of Pros of Death Penalty
1. Death penalty costs the government less as opposed to life imprisonment without parole.
Proponents say despite expenses incurred by the government from imposing capital punishment, death penalty is still cheaper compared to the costs of life without parole. Although there is no contention that the cost of the former is high, life imprisonment is accumulatively higher given the expenses for food, health care and other costs of sustaining the lives of incarcerated individuals serving life.
2. It deters would-be criminals to commit felonies.
Advocates of death penalty cite examples on how imposing the death sentence or abolishing it have affected crime rate. According to a study conducted in the late 1960’s, there was a 7% crime rate increase on the years when this law was abolished. On the other hand, fewer crimes were committed with the increase in number of inmates in the death row who were executed each year. Proponents say that these figures clearly indicate the efficacy of capital punishment on deterring crimes.
3. The absence of death penalty is synonymous to crime rate increase.
As reported by time magazine, an estimated 2,000,000 people in the United States have been victims of crimes, from assault to murder. With insufficient laws to address this problem or the lack of teeth in these laws, criminals become careless and bolder to commit heinous crimes because of the leniency in punishments and loop holes in the justice system. For these reason, there is a need for death penalty.
4. It is constitutional and does not violate the Eight Amendment which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, fines and cruel and unusual punishments, including torture.
Advocates of death penalty say that the pain associated with the execution of a death row inmate is not improbable. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the Eight Amendment challenge which stated that the drug used to render the criminal coma-like unconscious before injecting the lethal drug is not capable to do so completely. The Supreme Court was firm on its stand that any method of execution definitely will inflict some pain and states with capital punishment have already adopted more humane methods to carry out executions.
5. Death penalty is a just punishment for crimes committed against the rights to life, freedom and safety of victims.
It is the right of an individual to live peacefully and be free from harm. Unfortunately, crimes like murder, rape and assault are committed by perpetrators who have no regard for life and property of others. Since they violate other people’s lives, it is but fair that they are brought to justice and suffer the fate they rightfully deserve. People who are for capital punishment also talk about free will wherein an individual is given the right to do things in his or her own volition and he or she is responsible for his or her own fate.
List of Cons of Death Penalty
1. Innocent people are wrongly executed.
One of the arguments of opponents of death penalty is the inevitability of sending innocent people who are wrongly accused to death row and eventually execution. The sad thing about this, according to those who are opposed is that innocence is proven after the execution has been carried out.
2. In relation to free will, some criminals are suffering from mental illness or are having clouded judgment at the time of the crime.
Opponents contend that there are instances where people commit pre-meditated crimes and are aware of what they are doing. However, it does not discount the fact that crimes can also be committed out of passion or extreme anger triggered by a situation which makes an offender act on impulse. There are also those who are suffering from mental illnesses and are not taking medication which can lead to them committing offenses they have no control of.
3. It is an added cost to the government and taxpayers’ money.
With the argument that life imprisonment with no parole is more expensive, opponents say that in general, the government spends more taxpayers’ money in handling cases of death row inmates. This is due to the length and complexity of trials, the number or defenders to be hired and the overall process. They contend that there are two trials the state will spend for. One is for the verdict and another for the sentencing, not including the number of appeals that will be submitted while keeping the convicted prisoner inside maximum security.
4. Death penalty is a form of revenge.
While proponents say that imposing capital punishment is a form of retribution, that is, to punish who has committed a crime, opponents argue that it is revenge. For the latter, to avenge a crime committed to another individual may be understandable but killing someone for murdering another person is also unconstitutional. It is crime in itself that is only masked by the term capital punishment and in truth, only continues the series of violence.
5. It is a platform that is anti-poor and discriminatory.
Those who are death row inmates and sentenced to death are mostly based on racial discrimination as evidenced by a high percentage of inmates being African-American and members of the minority. Moreover, accused individuals who are poor are mostly the ones who get the death penalty for the reason that they lack the finances to seek for great and powerful defense attorneys. They don’t have the money to pay for good defense.
With the disparate views pointed out by proponents and opponents of death penalty, deciding on which group was able to prove a more logical perspective on the issue can be challenging. Legislators should consider all the issues presented by the public and listen to what they have to say. In a nutshell, they should let the voice of the people be heard.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.