Human life is sacred. This is an ideal that the majority of people can agree upon to a certain extent. For this reason taking the life of another has always been considered the most deplorable of crimes, one worthy of the harshest available punishment. Thus arises one of the great moral dilemmas of our time. Should taking the life of one who has taken the life of others be considered an available punishment?
Capital punishment is immoral and a violation of natural rights. It is wrong for everyone involved: the prosecuted innocent, criminals, victims’ families, and our nation. We need to replace the death penalty and capital punishment with life without parole, a safer and more inexpensive option. The death penalty does not guarantee safety for innocent victims, it does not follow the goals and promises of our nation, it does not effectively deter crime, and it does not give closure to victims’ families. Nothing good comes of hate, and nothing good can ever come from capital punishment. It cannot continue to be accepted by a nation that claims to have liberty and justice for all. The death penalty is murder on the sly and it’s dead wrong.
Capital punishment must not be implemented because it can lead to the possibility of wrongful execution. It is undeniable that there had already been many people sentenced of death penalty that were eventually executed even if they were truly innocent. Unfortunately, the crucial evidence that would have proven the innocence of these people was only obtained after their execution (McCafferty 71). It is because of wrongful executions that capital punishment must not be implemented in society. They only create doubts into the minds of the people that they cannot rely on the justice system especially once they badly need it. This is also hard to accept on the part of the families who already had members who experienced a wrongful execution as this is something that has a permanent impact. Obviously, the innocent people wrongfully executed can never be brought back to life anymore. Since the courts cannot be expected to make the best decisions all the time with regard to the people who deserve conviction and acquittal, it is difficult to guarantee that wrongful executions can be completely stopped in countries that have death penalty.
This is why capital punishment prevents the wrongfully accused people of the due process that they deserve to have in order to prove their innocence, something that is very unfair to them. There can be instances where the evidence that can prove their innocence is just so difficult to obtain so it takes a long period of time before it gets presented to the Court. However, because there is also a limited period of time to appeal for the death penalty sentence, it is usually the case that the wrongfully accused people are already executed before the evidence that could have set them free is discovered. This would not have happened if there is no capital punishment being implemented.
Aside from this, another detrimental impact of capital punishment is that it only helps to send a message to the people that the justice system is an advocate of revenge particularly on the part of the people who got victimized by heinous crimes. The capital punishment sends a message to the people that the justice system is just there to help the families of the victims of the heinous crimes and not for the accused people who could also be innocent (Kronenwetter 36). This can also be interpreted as a punishment that does not provide any opportunity for the offenders to correct their mistakes. In this case, the justice system can be viewed as partial and biased as it only helps the victims and not the accused party. The lawyers of the accused party will then have to work extremely hard to gather evidence to spare their client from capital punishment.
Finally, a society that values life does not intentionally kill people. The truth is that capital punishment is a traumatic case of homicide that has been approved by the government. This practically supports killing in order to impose a solution to the problems that are being faced by society (Mandery 58). This is something that is not very good particularly on the part of the youth who will grow up knowing that the government is approved of just killing people who violated the law. The funny thing is that governments all over the world have tried to validate capital punishment by stating what they think are the advantages of death penalty would provide to the people. The advantages of death penalty can be considered as illusory, but the chaos and the eventual annihilation of the decency of the society are very true. Thus, there is no sense to implement capital punishment.
The majority of Americans have a clear and strong stance when it comes to the death penalty, no matter which side of the debate they sit on. Supporters of this punishment argue that it serves as a deterrent to crime, and that justice is being served. My personal stance on the death penalty is that it is an outdated and ineffective punishment, serving no true benefit to society and causing more harm than good to society as a whole.
When looking at the argument that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to others thinking about committing the same crime, we need only look to other countries around the world as examples to disprove this. Throughout the world, we are able to see that, in those countries where there is no death penalty, murders and other violent crimes happen at a much lower rate than in the United States. It does seem counter-intuitive, but the evidence is clear.
We can also clearly see that, in the United States, many people still commit these horrendous crimes, knowing full well that capital punishment exists. In the heat of the moment, when a person is not thinking clearly and logically, the existence of the death penalty and the possibility that they could be facing this punishment does not typically cross their mind, and cause them to alter their behavior. The consequences of their actions are not at the forefront of their minds while they’re in the midst of carrying out those actions. We can see this in the consistent, and increasing, number of violent crimes being committed year after year in this country.
There have also been widely publicised cases of wrongly convicted individuals, who were either put to death or were awaiting their punishment, that were revealed to be innocent. In the cases where the death penalty had already been carried out, it was too late for those innocent people. And, in the cases where innocence was discovered in time, we can only be thankful that it wasn’t too late. There are definitely cases of people being wrongly accused and convicted, and for each case that’s brought to light, we must keep in mind that there are likely more that we’ve never – and will never – hear about. Having even one innocent person put to death wrongly is a crime unto itself.
We must also look at the mental competence of the individuals being convicted and sentenced to this punishment. If a person is not mentally capable of processing and understanding the actions they have committed, it is ethically wrong to execute them for this.
When looking at the ethics of capital punishment, it’s also essential to assess whether or not it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. There have been advancements in the technologies being used to enact the death penalty that are designed to lessen the pain and suffering a person endures. But, in reality, the only individuals who can attest to their effectiveness are those being executed. We cannot say for certain whether or not someone suffered unduly while they were being executed, whether everything worked as it should to ensure a quick and painless death.
And, yes, there are those who will argue that a death marked by pain and suffering is a part of the justice being served. But, as we try to hold ourselves as a nation to a higher standard than our worst criminals, we should at the very least allow our justice system to work as it should, according to the Supreme Court. And, nowhere in history has the Supreme Court ever advocated for the use of cruel and unusual punishment. We would like to think that we have more compassion and humanity than those who have committed such horrendous crimes, and as such, we should demonstrate this by showing them the humanity they denied someone else, not by sinking to their level.
The argument for or against the death penalty has been passionately argued throughout our nation’s history, with each side having their own strong viewpoints. When we look at the evidence from around the world on the effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent, as well as the ethical dilemma of potentially executing innocent or mentally incompetent individuals, it is easy to see that the practice of capital punishment offers no benefits to our society.