There have been cases where people are convicted and sentenced to death although they were innocent and committed no crime. "In the United States not only do countless men and women get arrested for murders they did not commit -- they get convicted and often sentenced to death as well. Occasionally they are even executed" (Robert M. Baird, et al., p.141). When such executions are likely and they do occur then death penalty should be abolished. Advocates of death penalty would surely not take the responsibility of any such faulty convictions.
IS the DEATH PENALTY JUST?
When the system is infected with diseases like discrimination then death penalty is definitely not just. Moreover with wrongful executions taking place the whole idea of death sentences should be abolished. There are many aspects to death sentences which should be taken into consideration before one can come to a conclusion whether it is just or not. Some of these points would be to analyze whether death penalty violates sanctity of life and if it is cruel and unusual.
Death Penalty Violates Sanctity of Life person kills another and the state kills the person. The difference between the two remains less. Who should cast the first stone? Jesus gave the answer to this question many years ago. He knew that capital punishment violates the sanctity of life and thus prohibited people from keeping death penalty as an option. The bishops of Philippine stated that the abolition of death penalty was a huge step "towards a practical recognition of the dignity of every human being created to the image and likeness of God and of the value of human life from its conception to its natural end" (John Langan, p.111).
Death Penalty is Cruel and Unusual
Many people have been awarded death penalty, some being innocent and yet others who mentally retarded or had some other psychological problems. The root to such causes should be analyzed, examined and solved. It is no doubt cruel to execute a person and end his life for a mistake he committed. There should be room for repentance and rehabilitation of people with psychological problems. "The Court also found that excessive punishments are prohibited and concluded that, since life imprisonment is as effective a deterrent as execution, capital punishment was excessive" (Robert Grant, p.25). Death penalty is no doubt unusual and with the civilized form which we have acquired today, it should be abolished.
THE INNOCENT on DEATHROW
It has been observed that people who are innocent and have not committed any crime are often sentenced to death and are executed. Such injustices are inappropriate for the civilized nation that we claim ourselves to be.
Mistaken Executions Cannot Be Corrected
The problem about death sentences is that once awarded and carried out, they cannot be corrected. Maybe the authorities do get a hold of the actual convict and the courts do try him and sentence him to death as well but what about the person who was killed by the state? This would make the state a criminal for taking away the life of an innocent civilian.
Once executed, the sentence cannot be reversed. An innocent life would be wasted for no reason and how would the state do justice to the person's family whom the courts awarded a death sentence? What would then be the compensation? Death sentences are irreversible and where there is room for error, such actions should not be an option.
THE LAW of CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
Capital punishment has been in effect since recorded history. The law of capital punishment is the death sentence awarded to people who have committed crimes like murder. In countries like Pakistan, such a law is exercised in cases of blasphemy. Capital punishment might be awarded for different crimes in different nations but the point is whether death penalty should be awarded. Executing a person is not the best way of doing justice or ensuring a safer tomorrow.
Weighing the Factor
Death penalty does not seem worth it especially when there are chances of the innocent being executed for the crime they never committed. Keeping in view all the negative aspects of death penalty and hardly any positive ones, death penalty is not worth it and should definitely be removed from being an option.
Nature of Circumstances of Offense
People commit crime under certain circumstances. While one might end up killing a person in self-defense, the other might do the same for psychological reasons. Killing another in self-defense is not something wrong nor can any law sentence one to death for doing that. What circumstances can make a person eligible for death role is what is important and who are we to decide these? Circumstances change an action from being bad to good and to define such circumstances is difficult because the authorities never experienced the circumstances which led to or in which the crime was committed.
Life is something precious which was handed over to man by God. The importance of life is understood by man today much better than it was during the yesteryears. With a civilized society, it is important to act in a civilized way as well. Governments should make their nation a safer place for the civilians but such methods should not be adopted which are unjust and cruel. People have been debating on the issue of death penalty for a very long time and both sides have their own points to present to the audience. It is then on the audience to decide which side is presenting facts and talking sense and which side is not. Death penalty does not cause the deterrence that proponents claim it does. Deterrence can be caused by a high conviction rate and thus authorities should try to function as more efficient units of law enforcement, apprehending criminals when they commit any crime. This would be a much better deterrent than capital punishment. When one looks at cases where the innocent has been executed, one wonders what the state would do to compensate his life for an error on their part. Will the judge who ordered his death sentenced be tried and executed for ordering such a heinous act? Would the person who injected the innocent with the lethal serum be executed for killing an innocent being? How easy is it for us to forget such incidents and insist that death penalty is the right form of punishment? A family lost their child, a wife lost her husband, the children lost their father and for what reason? Advocates think that it acts as deterrence and would keep the society free from ills hence death penalties are awarded. Innocents have been executed for no reason and this reason alone should be sufficient to end all forms of death penalties because they are irreversible. The system in the world today regardless of which ever nation one studies is full of discriminatory behavior and when death penalties are awarded with a discriminatory behavior, it would be better not to award them at all. Is law only for the weak, poor and the oppressed? Does not death penalty act as deterrence for the rich that they are not awarded such? Death penalties have more downfalls than any benefits and hence the only civilized way to go about it is to abolish this practice.
1) Peter Black. "Do Circumstances Ever Justify Capital Punishment?" Theological Studies 60.2 (1999): 338.
2) Jennifer C. Honeyman and James R.P. Ogloff. "Capital Punishment: Arguments for Life and Death." [Online website] Available at http://www.cpa.ca/ogloff.htm[Accessed on: 11/11/2007]
3) Anonymous. "Pro Death Penalty Webpage." [Online website] Available at http://www.wesleylowe.com/cp.html[Accessed on: 11/11/2007]
4) Hugo Adam Bedau and Paul G. Cassell. "Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? The Experts on Both Sides Make Their Best Case." New York: Oxford University Press, 2004: 52.
5) Charle SL. Black Jr. "Capital Punishment, the Inevitability of Caprice and Mistake." New York: Norton, 1974: 25.
6) Ronald J. Tabak. "Racial Discrimination in Implementing the Death Penalty." Online website] Available at http://www.abanet.org/irr/summer1999humanrights/tabak.html[Accessed on: 11/11/07]
7) Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum. "Punishment and the Death Penalty: The Current Debate" Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995: 141.