Capital Punishment and Its Ethics

The problem of the death penalty is complex and multifaceted. It affects the political and legal, socio-economic, moral-religious, cultural, psychological, and other areas of people’s life. In developed countries, the death penalty is always preceded by a lengthy trial at various levels, and the defendant is given the opportunity to appeal. Often this leads to the fact that years or even tens of years elapse between sentencing and its execution. Execution can only be carried out by an authorized representative of the state, otherwise, this action is considered murder and is punishable by law. It is highly difficult to state with certainty if the concept of capital punishment is ethical and plausible, but there are a number of sound arguments against it.

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In most modern states, the death penalty is carried out non-publicly, that is, only persons defined by law have the right to be present. In some cases, the death penalty may be commuted to life imprisonment or long-term imprisonment by court order. A court sentenced to death may also be pardoned by a senior state or state official. Thus, to date, there are 68 countries that maintain and continue to apply the death penalty and 130 countries in the world revoked this measure both practically and legally. Only ten nations retained capital punishment as a punishment approach during extreme cases, such war crimes and population scale misdoings.

In addition, it important to note that 89 countries eliminated the death penalty as an answer for any severity of a crime (Whitehead 456). Another 30 countries are either introducing some type of moratorium to abolish the death penalty or already adhering to one (Foglia and Connell 221). These countries have abolished the death penalty in practice, that is, they have not carried out the death sentences for the past ten years.

The previous argument of believing that people will be more satisfied with appropriate punishment is not fully accurate. In the case of capital punishment, the situation must severe, and the ramifications of the crime must be irreparable. I do not believe that it can fully or partially satisfy the victims, but instead, it might only worsen the circumstances. Historical data show from ancient to medieval ages, people gathered as an audience for executions and various death penalty practices. Numerous cruel methods of the death penalty were invented, where the victim undergoes a severe form of suffering before his or her death.

However, the give approaches did not frighten people away because these events were perceived as entertaining spectacles. Constant indulgence in cruelty and violence creates an atmosphere of violent behavior on a societal level. Thus, the concept of the death penalty can be considered as a remnant of the past, which should not be endorsed and praised. In fact, the UN report showed that countries where capital punishment is legal, people tend to implement it in a more regular manner (“Death Penalty”).

In addition, nations assign legal killers as executioners, which creates a moral breach in regards to human rights and murder. The only difference between executioners and murderers is the fact that one performs an act of violence on behalf of the state (Trahan et al. 457). The primary ramification of the given approach is the fact the state itself justifies the idea of killing in the consciousness of a society.

Another argument is based on the “eye for an eye” approach, which is perceived as intuitive and fair, but it requires the perfect justice system. There is always a chance for an error in any juridical system. The given fact cannot be altered by more competent investigators, lawyers, judges, and legal documents. The alleged criminal has an opportunity to gather more evidence to prove his or her full or partial innocence, which will not occur under the capital punishment system (Whitehead 463).

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Even if the alleged criminal is guilty, the concept of the death penalty gives him or her no chance for redemption and change under various rehabilitation programs and counseling. Therefore, the presented approach does not serve justice for the victims of error, who will not get a chance to at least partially enjoy life.

Furthermore, there is an argument that claims that societal coexistence is improved with the concept of the death penalty. If a person commits a crime, he or she will expect punishment, which means that the given individual will try to avoid it with any means necessary. Thus, in this regard, there is no difference between capital punishment and life sentence (Foglia and Connell 219). In addition, under the death penalty, the most violent criminals might get a sense that there is nothing for them to lose, which could lead to a series of violent crimes (Whitehead 468). For instance, radical jihadists or terrorists are not bothered by the death penalty because their extremist philosophy revolves around giving their lives for the better one.

The primary factors inducing crime rates are mental deviations, inequality, lack of education, and poverty of a particular criminal. The death penalty does not address the root causes, but it only serves justice to the consequences. For instance, the UN report claims that the vast majority of criminals are more afraid of extreme isolation and life-long imprisonment rather than the death penalty (“Death Penalty”). Moreover, the concept of capital punishment serves no correctional purposes, which should be a cornerstone justice system alongside with justice itself.

Lastly, the argument of closure and justification for families is not completely plausible. The biggest reason is the fact that capital punishment is not considered as an actual punishment in legal terms (Trahan et al. 462). It is one of the most compelling and sound arguments against capital punishment. It is critical to note that punishment is a compulsory measure, where an individual possesses a certain status and legal obligations.

However, the process execution simply deprives one’s life, which might not be considered as punishment in legal terms. In addition, the modern forms of death penalties do not involve pain and suffering because they are designed to be quick and effective. It removes the punishment component, thus, severe cases must contain a certain amount of suffering, which brings people back to barbaric practices, which is a regression of society.

In conclusion, it is important to note that I am not fully against the concept of capital punishment, but every individual should realize that there are plausible arguments against it. I believe it is possible to practice the death penalty, but its practical implications must be tightly limited and strictly regulated. In addition, the alleged criminal should not be sentenced to death immediately, thus giving some chance and time for him or her to redeem himself or herself. It also might reveal more evidence of the alleged criminal being not guilty.

Works Cited

Foglia, Wanda D., and Nadine M. Connell. “Distrust and Empathy: Explaining the Lack of Support for Capital Punishment Among Minorities.” Criminal Justice Review, vol. 44, no. 2, 2019, pp. 204-230.

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Death Penalty.” OHCHR, 2019. Web.

Trahan, Adam, et al. “Public Opinion of Capital Punishment: An Intersectional Analysis of Race, Gender, and Class Effects.” Criminal Justice Review, vol. 44, no. 4, 2019, pp. 452-469.

Whitehead, John. “Book Review: Capital Punishment’s Collateral Damage.” Criminal Justice Review, vol. 24, no. 1, 2014, pp. 452-469.

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