imposition, abolition or return of the death penalty has been an unsettling issue among the world's peace-loving nations over the years in the universal desire to control criminality and promote maximum peace and security in human society. Although strictly imposed in ancient times, capital punishment has been, in recent years, openly and indignantly questioned and condemned by certain organizations and abolished in some countries for certain reasons. These reasons we will consider and attempt to reconcile, as far as possible, with those that favor it.
Those that oppose the death penalty contend that it is racist, anti-poor, condemns even innocent prisoners to death, does not deter serious crimes, and a cruel and unusual punishment. They maintain that more than 75% of those in the federal death row are non-whites (Campaign to End the Death Penalty 2002) and statistics conclusively show that the death penalty makes being Black a crime. More than 90% of those accused of capital crimes are financially incapable of paying experienced criminal defense attorneys and that the rich do not get punished easily, much less sentenced to death. Records also show that there are death-sentence prisoners whose innocence is later discovered and they are released after wasting years in prison, if they have not been executed. And countries that retain the death penalty continue to be plagued by high crime rates in the same level as those countries, which have abolished it. And it is inhuman and unusual because it has claimed the lives even of those younger than 18 years old, and is waiting to claim the lives of other young people in the death row. It has also been reported that among those executed were mental retardates.
Amnesty International declares that more than half of all the countries of the world have done away with the death penalty and seldom reintroduce it. International human rights treaties also prohibit its application on young offenders. The 1988 United Nations report concludes that there has been no adequate scientific proof that indicates the efficacy of executions as crime deterrents. And there is always the risk of executing a guiltless prisoner whose innocence may be proved or discovered at some future time.
We should seriously note the trend set by many countries that have abolished the death penalty as a serious indicator in our times. Statistics tell us that more than three countries do so each year. Even a number of those that retain the death penalty actually carry it out and only in few cases. The seemingly growing and universal trend today is to do away with it.
Not only should racism cease to be a basis for the imposition of the death penalty. Racial discrimination itself, if possible, should be abolished for real justice to prevail. Not only are more Blacks sentenced and executed, there are also more Black murder victims than whites. It is also noted and bewailed that, of the 156 federal death penalty prosecutions approved by the Attorney General since 1988, ae% were not whites. Justice must be blind to color and creed.
. The poor should receive as much attention and assistance from defense prosecutors as those who can afford to pay sufficiently. This is a tall order, because capable legal counsels lose money if they diligently perform for low or no-paying clients. Court-appointed public attorneys, on the other hand, are inexperienced, inefficient because they are underpaid or indifferent to the cases assigned to them. There should be more government and private sector support to free legal resources to help indigent litigants, especially those accused of capital crimes.
Just as deplorable as the destruction of the lives of innocent victims is the destruction of the lives of innocent convicts, many of whom must first waste precious years in prison for crimes they did not commit before being pronounced innocent and then released. Yet a judicial error is not at all inevitable because even the wisest judge or justice is still human and fallible.
It does somewhat appear that, despite the imposition of the death penalty, crimes all over the world continue rising. It seems to indicate, as 65% of law enforcers believe, that the threat of capital punishment has not restrained would-be criminals, who according to studies, do not think about punishment at the time of their committing the crimes. And most sadly, it is imposed on young offenders less than 18, with some of them still in the death row. This indeed contributes to making the death penalty a severe, inhuman and unusual form of punishment.
Nonetheless, proponents of the death penalty assert that it is not racist, in that the impositions do not consider the skin color of the accused as a basis. The punishment is personal, not racial. Those who are meted out the death penalty are those who, after careful examination of evidence and deliberation, are found guilty of the charges, regardless of color. Justice is independent of distribution and maldistribution is an accidental feature of justice. Although it seems unfair that some guilty ones actually escape or evade justice, there is no injustice to those who could not escape.
The imposition of execution or death penalty still breeds fear in the hearts of would-be serious criminals. It still threatens more than life imprisonment. As such, it is still deterrent to serious crimes which reduces the number of would-be victims precisely by reducing the number of those who will commit serious crimes. But anti-death penalty advocates will still oppose it has demonstrably and effectively deterred such crimes.
The death penalty is not inhuman: it is a form of social retribution aimed at restraining personal or private vengeance. There is nothing to clearly tell us in any way or measure who between the innocent victim and the (guilty) criminal suffers more, but we are sure at least that the criminal deserves his sufferings.
Neither is it unjust: the guilty person essentially assumed the risk of punishment freely and deliberately. Injustice is done on the victim, on the offender or criminal. when society corrects his crime through the law. Nor is the death penalty excessive or debasing. German philosophers Immanuel Kant and Hegel that, when the execution is deserved, the convict actually restores or repairs his wounded humanity. This he does when he affirms his rationality and self-imposes responsibility for his acts. The punishment restores the very dignity of one who voluntarily debased himself by committing the crime. This kind of death is said to be a "deliberate" social imposition, whereby society recognizes the degradation that the criminal freely and knowingly inflicted upon himself, thus rendering himself unfit to coexist with peaceful members of society. And when society recognizes and acknowledges that self-debasement, it secures the essence of execution itself. The death penalty is, thus, not debasing or inhuman. Instead, it is most appropriate and just retribution or justice scheme there is. Additionally, life imprisonment is costlier than the death penalty. There are costs that must be counted and assumed as long as the accused are behind bars.
These arguments reveal and suggest in common that trials for capital crimes be made more public, stringent, slow and objective. Both proponents and opponents should attend such public trials to monitor attempts at or directions towards racial discrimination. The various media should be vigorously encouraged to cover and comment along with the private sector in order to reduce the incidence of executions of innocent convicts.
The public should also lobby for more congressional appropriations for better-qualified and more cause-oriented public attorneys devoted to handle capital cases. There should also be incessant checks on all public prosecutors and fiscals as well as judges sitting on such cases.
The government should periodically undertake conduct rigorous checks on the efficiency and performance of law enforcers, enhanced by an upgrade and update of their know-how…