Death Penalty Essay

Should the death penalty be abolished?

The execution of criminals has been used in almost all societies since the beginning of the recorded history. Before the introduction of more human ways of death penalty used today, punishments included burning, crushing, boiling to death, crucifixion, stoning, and slow slicing. The main aim of the death penalty is to discourage the people from unlawful actions. If criminals are sentenced to death, potential lawbreakers will think twice before committing a crime for fear of losing their own life. However, the capital punishment has always been a debated topic in every country. Is the death penalty a good solution? Or should it be abolished for the reason of being cruel and inhuman?

The fight between those who support the capital punishment and those who oppose it never stops. The question whether or not it is morally acceptable to execute people has been discussed for centuries. Today, the capital punishment is used in many countries around the world. The execution in the US is used for treason, murder, espionage. In China, the serious causes of corruption and human trafficking can be punished by death. In the Middle Eastern countries, people are sentenced to death for rape, sodomy, and incest. 2015 saw a dramatic rise in the number of people executed – more than 1,600. This is the highest recorded number since 1989. Nearly 90% of these happened in 3 countries – Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan. (1)

What are the arguments for the death penalty? Why is it still used in many countries? The argument number one: death penalty prevents future crimes. If murders are sentenced to death, they won’t harm anyone anymore. Moreover, would-be criminals will consider twice before killing someone. The death penalty is a proven deterrent to future crimes. In addition, a just society requires a capital punishment for the taking of life. The balance of justice is disturbed, and the death penalty restores it. It allows the society to demonstrate that a murder is an unacceptable crime that should be punished the same way. “Eye for an eye” means life for a life.

On the contrary, many people consider that the death penalty is wrong. A majority of the US public now supports the alternatives over the capital punishment. Sentencing someone to death is cruel. It denies the right to life stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Execution is an ultimate punishment, and there is always a risk of executing an innocent. Since 1973, more than 150 prisoners sent to death in the USA have been exonerated later. (2) In addition, you are more likely to be sentenced to death if you are poor, or belong to the religious or racial minority due to the discrimination in the justice system. Poor groups don’t have enough resources to protect themselves.

What about the costs of the procedures? Capital punishments are too expensive. New York paid out over $170 million over a 9-year period but in result had no death sentences. New Jersey invested $250 million for the last 25 years but had no executions too. (3) We pay many millions for the death penalty system. Moreover, very often the capital punishment is used as a tool by politicians. The government in some countries, such as Sudan and Iran, use the death penalty as a way to punish political opponents.

There has been a global trend towards abolishing the death penalty over the last 50 years. In 2015, 4 countries totally abolished this kind of punishment. (1) Executing people is cruel and degrading. Everyone has a human right to life, and sentencing a person to death violates that right. No civilian’s job description should include killing another person. So, should a death penalty be abolished? Each society needs to make choices for themselves. But it is a fact that the death penalty is often handed down in the procedures without adequate fair trial safeguards.


1. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2016/04/death-sentences-executions-2015/
2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/capitalpunishment/against_1.shtml#section_2
3. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty