Arguments AGAINST the Death Penalty

1.) Human rights

The death penalty goes against our most basic human right – the right to life. Who’s to say that it is the authority of the state and law to take away life. Many religions don’t agree with the death penalty- see more on the religious views here.

2.) The method of execution is not always pain free and quick.

Being killed by lethal injection or being electrocuted is not always smooth and painless, sometimes it causes a painful death.

The death of Clayton Darrell Lockett occurred on April 29, 2014, when he suffered a heart attack during an execution by lethal injection in the U.S. state of Oklahoma.

3.) Is it the best solution for deterrence?

No-one has ever proven with numbers that killing murderers stops other people committing similar crimes.

4.) Innocent get executed

Mistakes are sometimes made in the law – there have been 144 death row inmates that have been executed and they were found innocent, who’s to say that those who have been previously executed were also innocent? The advances in DNA testing were not around before 30 years ago.

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Arguments FOR the Death Penalty

1.) Incapacitation of the criminal. 

Execution permanently removes the worst criminals from society and is safer for prison guards, fellow inmates and the rest of us (in the event of an escape) than long term or permanent incarceration.

It is self evident that dead criminals cannot commit any further crimes either in prison or after escaping from it. (Click here for a list of inmates who have been released or escaped and then murdered again.

2.) Cost 

Money is better spent on tax, the old, young and sick rather than the long term imprisonment of murderers, rapists etc.

However in the USA the cost of executing someone over giving them life in prison is often higher.  Cases with the death penalty is thought to cost $1.26 million.

3.) Retribution. 

Execution is a very real punishment rather than some form of “rehabilitative” treatment, the criminal is made to suffer in proportion to the offence. Whether there is a place in a modern society for the old fashioned principal of “an eye for an eye” is a matter of personal opinion.

Retribution is seen by many as a reason for favoring the death penalty.

It is also felt by many families of murder victims to be a strong reason for witnessing the execution of their loved one’s murderer, in states that allow this, as it provides closure for them. 

4.) Deterrence. 

Does the death penalty deter? It is difficult to be certain whether it does or doesn’t.  It is certainly not used as a deterrent by individual states, but rather, purely as a punishment.
In most states, executions are a very rare occurrence.

Survey 1

To truly understand people’s opinions and views towards the death penalty I have created a survey to gather this information. 

Below are the questions, that I ask in Survey 1.

If you would like to answer the survey click here 

1.) What is your age? 

  • under 18
  • 19-25
  • 26-35
  • 36-45
  • 46-55
  • 55+

2.) What is your gender? 

  • Male
  • Female
  • Other

3.) Are you FOR or AGAINST the death penalty?

  • FOR (yes agree with it)
  • AGAINST ( no don’t agree with it)

4.) What crimes would you have the death penalty as punishment for?

  • All murders
  • Worst murders
  • Serial / child rape
  • terrorism
  • serious drug crime

5.) How should executions of those receiving the death penalty should be carried out?

  • Hanging
  • lethal injection
  • shooting
  • electric chair
  • beheading
  • stoned 

6.) Should executions be…

  • private
  • public
  • publicised / tv or media

7.) What should be the miminum age to receive the death penalty be? 

  • 16
  • 18
  • 20

8.) If YOU were the criminal, receiving the death penalty – what method of execution would you choose for yourself?

  • Hanging
  • lethal injection
  • shooting
  • electric chair
  • beheading
  • stoned 

9.) If YOU had been convicted of murder in a country where the death penalty was legal, would you rather…

  • Method of execution chose in question 8
  • Life sentence in prison without parole

10.) Consider the answers below – why are you FOR the death penalty?

  • Stops criminals from committing another crime / being a danger to society
  • Deters crime
  • Retribution (punishes criminal)
  • Cost of keeping the criminal in prison for the rest of their life
  • Moral or religious reasons
  • Other (please specify)…

11.) Consider the answers below – why are you AGAINST the death penalty?

  • Danger of executing an innocent person
  • Cruelty of execution process
  • Moral or religious reasons
  • Effect of executions on society
  • Other (please specify)…

Islam

Islam on the whole accepts capital punishment. 

…Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, so that you may learn wisdom. Qur’an 6:151

But even though the death penalty is allowed, forgiveness is preferable. Forgiveness, together with peace, is a predominant Qur’anic theme.

Muslims believe that capital punishment is a most severe sentence but one that may be commanded by a court for crimes of suitable severity. While there may be more profound punishment at the hands of God, there is also room for an earthly punishment.

Methods of execution in Islamic countries vary and can include beheading, firing squad, hanging and stoning. In some countries public executions are carried out to heighten the element of deterrence.

Islamic countries that practise a very strict Sharia law are associated with the use of capital punishment as retribution for the largest variety of crimes.

In Islamic law, the death penalty is appropriate for two groups of crime:

  • Intentional murder: In these cases the victim’s family is given the option as to whether or not to insist on a punishment of this severity
  • Fasad fil-ardh (‘spreading mischief in the land’): Islam permits the death penalty for anyone who threatens to undermine authority or destabilise the state

(Content sourced from BBC: Ethics)

Judaism

Anyone reading the Old Testament list of 36 capital crimes might think that Judaism is in favour of capital punishment, but they would be wrong.

During the period when Jewish law operated as a secular as well as a religious jurisdiction, Jewish courts very rarely imposed the death penalty.

The state of Israel has abolished the death penalty for any crime that is now likely to be tried there.

One classic Old Testament quote does justify capital punishment;

Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth … Exodus 21:23-24

In 1954, Israel abolished capital punishment except for those who committed Nazi war crimes.

In the 54 years that Israel has existed as an independent state, only one person has been executed. This person was Adolf Eichman, a Nazi war criminal with particular responsibility for the Holocaust.

(Content sourced from BBC: Ethics)

Hinduism

There is no official Hindu line on capital punishment. However, Hinduism opposes killing, violence and revenge, in line with the principle of ahimsa (non-violence).

An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind. Gandhi 

India still retains the death penalty, and the reasons for this are likely to be similar to be those suggested with Buddhism.

The debate on capital punishment in India was revived in 2004 by the case of Dhananjoy Chatterjee who had been sentenced for rape and murder.

At present more than 100 people are on death row in India, although the number of executions in that country is actually very low and the Indian Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty should only be used in the rarest of rare cases.

(Content sourced from BBC: Ethics)