Capital Punishment: Debates in Society
Death penalty also known as capital punishment has imposed a heated and long lasting debate on whether it should be eliminated from the judicial system or continue being incorporated. A couple of the countries in the entire world are employing it as a mechanism to eradicate crime, violence and terrorist attacks. America is no exemption. Under its constitution America still holds the opinion that certain crimes should be punished using the capital punishment. In respect to the American history, capital punishment was only legal until 1972 where thereafter it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. In 1976 it was again reinstated in the new constitution by the Supreme courts, but at this point in time most of the nations declined the adoption of capital punishment in their subsequent constitutions. The integration of capital punishment in the constitution of most of the nations has brought in an impassionate debate whether it is operative to use capital punishment in punishing for certain offences.
The debate also revolves around whether it should be “an eye for an eye” for a crime committed or the sanction of death penalty is wrong. These two facets have been the main contributing factors in establishing this heated debate between all the stakeholders in the political arena and the judicial system of most of the nations in the world. But we as rational beings should aim at establishing how effective is the use of capital punishment in reinstating the morals in our society. We should ask ourselves the question; does it contravene the moral obligations of the society in terms of restoring the human dignity and value? With this in mind we should be in a position to have a wide perspective in analyzing this issue so as to evaluate its effectiveness in rehabilitating good morals in the society without inflicting more problems to other people.
Punishment is used as a mechanism of reinstating good behavior in the members of the society. It should be inflicted in accordance to the values, norms and belief of the society where the majorly opinion is taken into account. However, the problem arises when people hold different opinion about the way the sanction is imposed on the offender. Some may feel that it is not appropriately impacted to deter the occurrence of crime in future whereas others may feel that it contravenes with the moral obligation of protecting human life. Whether people will hold different opinion about capital punishment it should be abolished and eliminated from the judiciary system in the nation. Have you ever thought the negative implications that accrue from capital punishment either socially, economically and psychologically to both the society and individual? These are some of the questions that will help us understand the preference of life imprisonment in relation to death penalty and also the reason why it should be abolished.
Death penalty should be abolished on the opinion that:
- It is expensive in nature: The amount of money that is used to house an inmate who is on death row is 2 to 5 times more than the expense incurred in housing an inmate who has been sentenced to life imprisonment. The expense results from the legal procedure that should be followed when dealing with capital offences cases. This involves the process of pre trials and appeals of the capital offender courts. According a report released by IDP, it indicated that the government of America incurs an expense of about $63.3 million dollars in housing death row inmates every year. Do we imagine how much effect that has on the economic development of our nation? The government should use such lump sum of money in investing in other projects that are more profitable than housing death row inmates in prisons. They money may be used to improve the education system and also embark on establishing programs that will reduce crime in the nation.
- Death of innocent people: Capital punishment has led to death of innocent people. There are many innocent people who have been executed on death penalty for the mistakes that they never committed. The judicial system in most of the countries is not in a stable position to handle matters that deal with capital punishment. These countries are also compelled with lack of adequate trained personnel as well as enough resources to deal with such cases. The problem has been made worse with the issue of corruption which has paved its way through all the arms of the government. The legal system has been turned out to be machine that is operated on flawed mechanism yet the government allows it to be used in restoring fair justice and order to the people.
A good example is the cases of Nathos Field who was among the 120 death row inmates who escaped the wrath of death penalty by a whisker. In his case he was given another trial after it was realized that the judge who had sentenced him to death penalty had been bribed $10, 000 dollars. Consequently, the accused judge was sentenced to six months imprisonment for committing such a crime. Was this fair in relation to the defender? This means that the life of an innocent man was going to be terminated in exchange of $10, 000. How many such cases take place behind the scenes without being mentioned? How many more men are we going to lose through the fraud judicial system in the name of capital punishment? It is with respect to this draw backs that capital punishment should be abolished from the legal and another kind of punishment be reinstated in place.
- Ineffectiveness in deterring crime: The ideas and notions that capital punishment is the most appropriate punishment imposed on the criminal offenders with the objective of deterring them from committing more crime in the society are misinformed and often not the case. In some instances it has turned out that instead of deterring crime from occurring it accelerates the act. After a death penalty has been executed it may trigger more criminals act committedly with the aim of revenging against the government on behalf of those who have been executed. A good example it what happened after Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death penalty by the American government in 2005. For the subsequent years there have been more terrorists and threat attacks directed to the American government from other malicious groups that aim at taking vengeance. When the court states that one should be sentenced to death penalty it does not solve any problem but it worsens the situation (McClellan, G.). Capital penalty is also ineffective in the way it is carried out. The process involves a long and tiresome judicial procedure that should be followed to the later. This in turn means that the death row inmate will spend more time in prison before being persecuted thus making them to suffer more psychologically.
- The moral Argument: Life is the most valuable attribute that is accorded to every human being by God and no man whatsoever has the right to take another person’s life (Richard 2007). Society formulates laws to protect human life but it is quite ironical and hypocritical that the same society instead of protecting the human life it propels the inhumane act through death penalty. The judicial system has been obliged to execute the life of the offenders who commit criminal offences. Furthermore, it’s validity in protecting human life is a question that imposes another heated debate as it may lead to execution of innocent people. It is therefore an obligation of all people to uphold the moral attributes imposed to them by God in protecting human life.
- Psychological effects: Death penalty leads to stress and psychological torture to both the offender and his family hence interfering with their normal functioning. It is one of the most difficult moments in the life of the offender’s family because they have to withstanding the emotional feeling that come with appeals and eventually the real execution of their beloved one. It is so painful to lose one of your beloved family members in such a case (Layson,2005). While the other family is happy that justice has been attained it is causes more suffering to the defenders family. The situation becomes worse if it is realized later that the victim was innocently convicted by the law thus causing more hatred and seek for revenge from the offended family. Will this solve any problem or develop a vicious cycle of violence? The wrangles and quarrels that crop out of such hatred will contaminate the good reputation one’s family had before the revenge took place.
- Its effectiveness in rehabilitating: Sentencing the offender to life time imprisonment is more effective in rehabilitating good morals to the individual than death penalty. The fundamental goal of punishment is to assist the victim come to realization of their mistakes and to inculcate skills and knowledge that will aid them in developing themselves at a personal level. When one is executed through the capital punishment it does not add any value to the offender or the society because the victim is not given time to reflect on their behaviors. Through the process of internal reflection the offender is in a position to change for the better hence taking part in developing the nation. At the same time it impacts others who may be of similar conduct to change their behavior and engage in constructive activities.
- Judicial biasness in execution: Often, capital punishment is imposed unfairly and in a biased manner to different people in the World. Some people depending on their social economic status are treated unfairly by the judges thus convicting many innocent and poor people to death penalty. There have been many incidences where offenders have escaped the wrath of conviction of committing capital offences because they bribed the judge. The implication of such action is that the defender who comes from a low economic class ends up in jail for tarnishing the offenders name in the public. In a report released by the Joshua Marquis, J.D. indicated that about 43 per cent of the death row inmates convicted for capital punishment were American-Africans. This portrays the level of discrimination that does exist in different walks of people that in turn jeopardize the judicial system.
- Poverty: Capital punishment has been found out to escalate the level of poverty in the society. The government incurs a lot of expenses in housing the death row inmates compared to when such amount of money is used in other profitable projects. The money can be used to improve the state of infrastructure through constructing of roads, improving the living standards of its people through establishment of industries, building of more learning institutions, just to mention but a few. This is one of the contributing factors that have led to low economic development in most of the third world countries. This in return has a negative implication on the nation’s economy. Looking it from another perspective the victim of death penalty in most cases is the sole bread earner of the family.
This will mean that the family will lavish in poverty because they would not have anyone to provide the basic needs of the family thus living in poor conditions. On the other hand if the offender is sentenced for life imprisonment it will mean that some skills and knowledge will be impacted on him or her which in turn will help in eradicating poverty from the society. Some of the inmates have started small scale businesses that are faring on so well. This in turn has helped them to improve their living conditions as well as improving the economic state of the nation. It is evident enough that death penalty has less merits in restoring the moral values in the society compared to the life imprisonment.
- Insight of the exemption cases: In some circumstances victims of death penalty are convicted of committing capital offence under unclear circumstances. Some due to passion they are unable to control themselves therefore compelling them in committing such crimes. A good example is the case where a police officer shoots a criminal in front of his son. The son due to the pain and emotional feelings of his father commits another crime by shooting the police officer. According to the law the son is convicted of committing capital offence which should be charged with death sentence. In such cases is the judicial system fair in prosecuting the victim? If this is the case it means that many people are going to be killed under unclear situations.
Some of the crimes that we do commit are out of our making and in that context we have less control of them happening. Just on the same point some people are born with some mental or biological impairment that makes them engage in such crimes as rape, murder, violence and kidnapping. According to the law such people should be convicted of committing of capital offences which should be charged of death penalty but in reality the underlining reason has not resolved in any way (Young). Because it is not their own wish to commit such crimes but an internal or external attribute that outweighs their superego. In such cases victims should be placed under special programs such as counseling and rehabilitation centers where they can be assisted and led to live a normal life.
In conclusion the issue of death penalty will continue to raise more debate as long as sanctions and crime do exists in our society. Death penalty has been the main root course of the most of the problems that the entire world faces ranging from political, social and economically. It has led to death of innocent people, crime increase, poverty, psychological torture, and ineffectiveness in its application, just to mention but a few. Countries across the globe have been reconsidering their constitutional grounds on capital punishment and some have actually abolished the sentence.