33 Advantages & Disadvantages of Death Penalty or Capital Punishment.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Death Penalty: Capital punishment is when a perpetrator, or one who has committed a crime, is punished by being put to death. The way the perpetrator dies will come in a variety of forms. Examples include firing squad, using lethal injection, hanging, stoning, and so on.
Capital punishment is the same as the death penalty. Today, capital punishment is a refuge for violent and heinous crimes, such as first-degree killings. Some countries are expanding the death penalty for repetitive violent crimes, such as rape, sexual assault, or drug offenses.
The reason why it continues to be in criminal justice systems is that spending life in prison is a disproportionate penalty compared to the actions that were taken. These are the death penalty pros and cons to review as we head into 2020 and beyond.
List of the Advantages of the Death Penalty
1. A sentence of life in prison is disproportionate to the capital crime.
Almost all death sentences handed out by the United States or state-level justice systems are for aggravated murder. Only two people were on death row for a non-murder offense when the Supreme Court last ruled on the validity of the death penalty in 2008.
Both inmates were convicted of the aggravated rape of a child under the age of 13, including Patrick Kennedy who was sentenced for raping his step-daughter.
If a convicted criminal receives life in prison for taking a life, proponents argue that this is not justice because the outcome is disproportionate to the action taken.
2. The death penalty can provide a deterrent against violent crime.
The practice of the death penalty reduces the number of very grave criminal activities in society. Some of these grave criminal activities include murder, terrorism, armed robbery, etc. This is because criminals or potential criminals are afraid of death.
3. It doesn’t need to be carried out with brutality.
The focus of the death penalty in the United States today is focused on ending life as quickly and as peacefully as possible. That is why the process is typically carried out through the use of lethal injection, creating a medically-imposed death that involves the least amount of pain possible.
At various points in history, the death penalty was carried out by beheading, stoning, crucifixion, electrocution, shooting, or hanging. Saudi Arabia still carries out sword-based executions, while India, Japan, and Singapore use hanging.
China uses a single shot to the back of the head, while Indonesia uses a firing squad.
4. The death penalty does not re-victimize the affected family.
There is rightful sympathy or empathy directed toward the family of someone accused of a capital crime. These people are losing a loved one because of this legal structure.
The family of the victim has also lost someone as well. The person who does not deserve sympathy is the criminal who decided to commit the capital act (usually aggravated murder) in the first place.
When the death penalty is one of the possible consequences that someone faces for their conduct, then it shields the family of the victim from another form of victimization.
If given life without parole, there is always the possibility that the criminal could discuss their side of the case, describe the actions they took, or issue threats to other members of the family. Capital punishment eventually stops this issue so that the victim’s family can feel like they can be safe again.
5. It eliminates the possibility of an escape and future victims.
When there is life in a prison sentence, then an individual has nothing to lose with their effort to escape. What can the criminal justice system do to that person except add more time to their life sentence?
By using capital punishment, this threat disappears – which means there will be no future victims either.
6. The application of capital punishment in just ways can limit prison overpopulation issues.
California’s criminal justice system became so overcrowded with prisoners that the federal courts had to step in to order changes or risk letting convicted prisoners loose because there was no room to house them.
The state has the largest death room in the country, and with new capital convictions happening every month, their prison ran out of room.
By managing this process of death sentence so that it is efficient, including any appeals or pleadings which are legally permitted, it becomes possible to manage the population and limit costs without creating the potential for harm in the rest of society.
7. It brings down the overall crime chart
The individuals who are sentenced to the death penalty admit that without it the crime rate such as homicide and murders will rise as the convicts’ will fearless for committing such monstrous crimes.
And in the absence of such cruel punishments for such serious felonies, criminals will naturally take advantage of the weaker and innocent victims and people.
8. It is clean, safe, and humanitarian.
The distinguished and renowned advocates take it that the death or the lethal injections being taken into practice and consideration by more and more states and nations in comparison with the various other forms of a death sentence, it is a much viable option.
Death sentence by these lethal injections is much better than the barbarian or inhuman practice such as firing (encounter) or hang till death is much messy as well as painful.
9. To Protect Innocent Citizens from Dangerous Individuals
It is true that some very hardened criminals are beyond reformation. When a person is beyond reformation, nothing can change that person – not even sentencing the person to prison.
The only thing the law can do to protect innocent citizens from dangerous individuals is to execute them. This is another reason why the death penalty is very important.
10. It Lessens the Amount of Money Spent By the Government
Another argument for capital punishment is the fact that it lessens the amount of money spent by the government on feeding certain criminals who are beyond reformation and who are of no use to the world.
11. Protects Against Prison Breaks
Prison is meant to keep bad people away from the general population, but as we all know, there are certain instances where prisoners break out of prison and end up never being caught by the police.
Now imagine if a prolific and hardened serial killer manages to escape from prison. Such a person would end up mixing into the general population and continue killing people. The death penalty is the only logical way to handle such hardened criminals.
12. Peace for the Family
There are certain times where families and friends of victims of murder can only get some peace when they see the killers facing the death penalty.
They take solace in the fact that the killers of their loved ones are also made to face death. It is more like tit for tat. To these people, the death penalty is very important as it is a form of ‘sweet’ revenge.
List of the Disadvantages of the Death Penalty
1. It is the ultimate denial of human rights when implemented.
Amnesty International describes the implementation of capital punishment like this. “The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights,” the organization says.
“It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. It violates the right to life. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. There can never be any justification for torture or cruel treatment.”
2. The death penalty can execute someone who is possibly innocent.
The primary disadvantage of the death penalty is that it can’t be taken back — there’s no way to “make someone whole” in any way if it’s later discovered that they’re actually innocent of the crime they were accused of or if their civil rights were violated by the State in the process of investigating and convicting them.
3. The cost to prosecute the death penalty is much higher than in other cases.
When the state of Oklahoma examined the differences in cases where capital punishment was the desired outcome sought with a conviction rather than life in prison, the overall cost of pursuing the death penalty was 3.2 times higher.
This data is similar to that found in a review of 15 state studies that looked at the cost of this issue and found that seeking the death penalty raises the average cost of a case by over $700,000. Even the most conservative estimates from this information find that there is a $110,000 increase in expense.
When you incorporate the time spent on death row, the cost of the lengthy appeals process in the United States, and the issues with secure housing, it can cost over $1 million more to proceed with capital punishment instead of a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
4. There may not be any deterrence to crime with the death penalty in place.
“I know that in practice, the death penalty does more harm than good,” said Police Chief James Abbot of West Orange, NJ.
When examining data between states with and without the death penalty, there are five specific conclusions to draw.
States with the death penalty have higher murder rates than those without it.
National trends do not impact local decisions by criminals to break the law, whether the death penalty is present or not.
There is no apparent correlation between the death penalty and changes in murder rates.
Capital punishment has no discernible effect on the killing of law enforcement officials.
The abolition of the death penalty occurs most often in states where the murder of police officers is a very low percentage of all homicides.
5. It is used to control political messages.
The United States uses the death penalty exclusively for the punishment of crimes as defined by legal code and precedent. It is a principle that is not consistent with other countries in the world.
Some countries use the death penalty as a political tool. It becomes a way to punish political opponents who might want to take their country in a different direction.
6. Children are sometimes put to death through the use of capital punishment.
There are at least 97 kids who were put to death by capital punishment laws in Iran since 1990. Another 145 child executions have happened in China, the Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria – and the United States.
Scott Hain, Toronto Patterson, T.J. Jones, Napoleon Beazley, Gerald Mitchell, Shaka Sankofa, Glen McGinnis, and Steven Roach were all put to death in the United States for a crime that they committed at age 17. Sean Sellers was executed when he was 29 for a crime that he committed when he was 16.
7. There is no going back after the execution takes place.
When we carry out a death sentence, it is an irreversible sentence. Over 160 people sent to death row in the United States have either been exonerated of the crime or released because there was direct evidence of their innocence.
If the death penalty were not in place, then there would be time to reverse an unjust conviction.
8. The evidence obtained to justify the death penalty is sometimes tainted.
There are specific guidelines in the United States today that limit how and when law enforcement can obtain evidence during questioning. This structure of protection is not always available around the world.
Numerous people have been executed after being convicted during an unfair trial, often on the basis of evidence or confessions obtained through the use of torture. Some defendants were not given adequate legal representation.
Some countries even use the death penalty as a mandatory punishment for specific offenses, which means the judge cannot consider the circumstances of the crime during the sentencing phase of a trial.
9. It tends to be applied in a discriminatory way.
“The weight of the death penalty is disproportionally carried by those with less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds or belonging to a racial, ethnic, or religious minority,” writes Amnesty International.
The Women Donors Network found that 95% of the elected prosecutors in the United States are white, and 79% of them are white men. In nine of the death penalty states, there was not a single elected prosecutor who came from a minority group.
Professor Katherine Beckett of the University of Washington found that jurors were 4.5 times more likely to impose a capital punishment sentence on a defendant who was black compared to a white defendant in a similar circumstance in an examination of 285 cases.
10. Family members of a victim are adversely impacted by the death penalty.
The Marquette Law Review found that when family members go through the capital punishment process after someone they love becomes a victim, they have higher levels of mental, physical, and behavioral health problems when compared to when the perpetrator receives a sentence of life in prison.
Although this issue does not happen in every circumstance, some family members can feel responsible for the fact that the government is putting this criminal to death.
Proponents would argue that capital punishment provides relief because it guarantees that a person can no longer harm another, but there are many families who do not feel a sense of satisfaction with this action.
If they are the ones who experience loss, then there should be a way to provide input for them.
11. There are very few prison escapes that occur, and fewer that involve violent criminals.
The number of escapes from prison in the United States declined by more than 50% between 1998-2013, falling to a rate of 10.5 escapes per 10,000 prisoners in 2013.
At the same time, the number of life sentences handed out by the court system has gone up by 500%. Most of the incidents that contribute to a prisoner’s escape come from low-security situations, like when 16 prisoners walked away from a worksite and another 3 disappeared from a community work center.
Out of all of the reported escapes in 2013, only one inmate from a secured facility was able to get away.
12. Some people just don’t care.
There are people who will always decide to operate outside of the rules that society sets for safety and security. These are the criminals that filter into and out of prison consistently until they end up spending their life there. Rehabilitation doesn’t work because there is no investment to be different.
The death penalty is not going to stop someone from hurting another person in this situation because the criminal is living for the thrill of the moment instead of thinking about their future consequences.
13. It can result in dejection and emotions of guilt on people.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the death penalty is the truth that the majority of the people who unknowingly get involved in such activities often suffer from dejection and guilty of being forced to put an end to others who can live their life ahead for the forthcoming years of their left life.
It is in the handful of cases observed that such people end up putting a full stop on their life depressed with the cruel thought. According to the experts, there are many people who have been involved in death sentences for the convicts who have a much-disturbed life ahead.
While on the other hand, some people have turned to drugs so to overcome the problems.
14. Victim’s family rights.
Because it takes so long in some states to put an inmate on death row to death, the families of the victims are often left hanging for years waiting for the sentence to be carried out. This denies them the closure they need and desire.
In many cases, one inmate may be sentenced to death, while another who did a similar crime will get a life. It can be an inconsistent process. This can be related to race, but not always.
16. Legal Representation.
Some inmates have gotten put on death row for inadequate legal counsel. A more affluent person who can afford a better attorney at least appears to have a better chance of getting a lesser sentence or life in prison as opposed to someone who is poorer.
17. The death sentence is a sin.
It is a grave sin to kill anyone. Many opponents of the death penalty see the act of killing someone such as a murderer no different from the crime the murderer committed in the first place.
According to these people, God does not endorse killing. One of the Ten Commandments that God gave the world is to avoid killing any person. He categorically said this in the Old Testament, “Thou shall not kill”. It is therefore considered a sin to kill anyone regardless of their crime.
18. Some people can change.
Not everybody is recalcitrant or beyond reformation. There are some people, who after committing very grave crimes, can turn a new leaf and be very productive people in society.
There have been numerous cases where very hardened criminals find religion while in prison and change dramatically to the point where they act as inspirations for other negative people in society to change from their negative or criminal activities.
But once these people are executed through capital punishment, there is no chance for them to change and help society. This is another reason why the death penalty should not be encouraged.
19. The death penalty is considered by many to be a highly barbaric and inhumane act
This makes a society no different from the murderer being punished with death. There is a popular phrase used by opponents of the death penalty which goes like this: “How can you kill someone in order to tell them that killing is bad?”
20. Certain Crimes are committed on Impulse
Another reason the death capital punishment should be abolished is because of the fact that there are certain crimes that are committed on impulse.
Here, the perpetrator of the crime did not deliberately decide to commit the crime. For example, there are cases where people have been labeled as murderers and have been executed when in actual fact they committed the murder on impulse. They never planned or decided to kill anyone.
21. Death Might Not be a Good Punishment
Others argue that the death penalty should be abolished simply because of the fact that death might just not be a punishment. They argue no one knows whether death is enjoyable or not.
So why not sentence a criminal such as a murderer to life imprisonment so that he or she suffers right here on earth in order to atone for his or her crime rather than killing the person.
For all you know death might just be something not as scary as we make it look like. So why make a hardened criminal who has hurt so many people rest in peace when he or she could be locked up for the rest of his or her miserable life?
What if death is like paradise? This is the question some opponents of the death penalty keep asking.
In conclusion, with the disparate views pointed out by proponents and opponents of the 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.