A Review of the Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty

Table of Content

Pro death penalty

The death penalty is a legalized process where a convicted criminal is executed under the rule of the criminal justice system. Majority of the cases resulting in the death penalty are from murders, treason, espionage, and other crimes. From 1977 to 2016, over 1400 people were executed in the United States. In fact, the United States is one of the very few western countries to still practice the death penalty. Supporters of capital punishment argue that the death penalty is significant in deterring crime and preserving law and order. “An eye for an eye” will help mourning families, honor the victim, and guarantees that the criminal will never be able to commit additional crimes. The death penalty has gained wide acceptance in the United States over the thousands of years it has been practiced. Deterring future murders, and other crimes, is one of the main intentions of the death penalty. Many studies that track the effects of the death penalty, across a long period of time and across countries/states, show a deterrent effect. Majority of recent investigations consistently show a strong correlation between reduced murder rates and executions.

The best form of punishment to prevent murder is capital punishment. By apprehending and executing individual criminals, the death penalty extinguishes any probability of the criminal breaking more laws. The death penalty is trying to protect the public from potential murderers. Retribution plays a main part in the idea of capital punishment. The balance of justice is interrupted when someone murders another person. When the murderer is executed, it shows society that no crime goes unpunished, and only then will the balance be restored. The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association stated in an article, “The prisoners currently of California’s death row have murdered more than 1000 people. Of those, 229 were children, 43 were peace officers, and 294 of the victims were sexually assaulted and tortured.” Getting rid of the death penalty means that the victims and their families would not have justice. Having a functioning death penalty law protects the public from the society’s criminal. It will bring closure to families who have gotten their loved ones taken from them. Retribution has its fundamentals in religious morals and has shown over time that it’s right to take “an eye for eye” and a life for a life. Capital punishment is an equitable form of punishment. The punishment should fit the crime. Opponents of the death penalty believe that it is racially biased. They argue that the death row population is more than 40% black, which is about three times the proportion of the general population. The reason behind this error in the execution rate amongst blacks and whites is that juries choosing whether to force capital punishment have resulted in more cases including black defendants that there were facts that reduce the seriousness of a crime weighing heavily in favor of a lesser punishment.

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In the article “Statistics Show That The Death Penalty Is Not Racist”, Edward Koch found that the racial breakdown for those sentenced to death since 1977 is 48.6% white, 40.9% black, 8.9% Hispanic, and 1.6% other and the race of the defendants in the U.S. since 1976 is 56% white, 35% black, 7% Hispanic, and 2% other. For the most horrific crimes, the offender deserves the most severe punishment under our law, which is the death penalty. Any lower consequence would lessen the morals that society puts on protecting lives. In the United States, the death penalty is reserved for the most monstrous murderers. This is not a kind of lottery that chooses random, unlucky people for the death penalty. The capital punishment system selects the worst of those convicted of murder, treason, espionage, etc. Executing someone isn’t murder. It is punishment from the society for a deserving criminal. Remember, the death penalty saves lives.

Con death penalty

The death penalty is a legal process in which a person, convicted of a serious crime, is executed under the rule of the criminal justice system. Most cases of the death penalty result from murders, treason, espionage, and other crimes. In the United States, from 1977 to 2016, over 1400 were executed. In fact, the U.S. is one of the very few western countries to practice the death penalty. Opponents of the death penalty say that it wrongly gives power to the government to take a human’s life. Capital punishment will prolong social discriminations because it targets people of color and people who can’t afford successful attorneys. The death penalty is an ineffective and expensive way of dealing justice to people. Capital punishment violates the Eighth Amendment because it is ethically unacceptable. The Eighth Amendment does not allow cruel and unusual punishments to be inflicted. The Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty violated the Eighth Amendment in 1972 in the case of Furman versus Georgia. The states reviewed their laws regarding the death penalty after this ruling. However, in 1976 in the case of Gregg versus Georgia, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was not unconstitutional. In the U.S., the most common methods of executing someone are lethal injection, hanging, a firing squad, the gas chamber, and the electric chair. Each of these are cruel and unusual in their own ways. For example, it takes approximately three minutes for a person to be executed by electrocution. The person is strapped to a chair and the voltage is increased and decreased.

Three minutes might not seem very long, but to a person awaiting their death, three minutes can feel like forever. In one case, it took almost 20 minutes for Alpha Otis Stephens to die. The death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment and should be outlawed in the United States. Capital punishment is immoral in principle and unfair in practice. In our society, we should reject the idea of doing what the criminal does to the victim. The punishment for rape shouldn’t be rape and the punishment for arson shouldn’t be burning down their house. Therefore, we shouldn’t punish a murderer with death, especially since it guarantees the execution of some innocent people. In the past years, over 150 people have been taken off the death row because they were proved innocent. There is DNA evidence to prove that innocent people were killed for crimes they didn’t commit. Pope Francis, the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, stated in an article, “It is an offense to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice. It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance. It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right also belongs to the criminal.” Capital punishment takes away the God-given right of life by killing innocent people, which is an irrevocable mistake caused by something that can be abolished. A lifetime in jail is more severe and less expensive than the death penalty. Proponents of capital punishment argue that the death penalty causes guilty pleas which can save money on trials. However, this is a common misconception of the death penalty. In the article “Costs of the Death Penalty and Related Issues”, Richard C. Dieter, an Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, stated “If the cost of the death penalty were to be measured at the time of an execution, that might indeed be true. But as every prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge knows, the costs of a capital case begin long before the sentence is carried out.

Experienced prosecutors and defense attorneys must be assigned and begin a long period of investigation and pretrial hearings. Jury selection, the trial itself, and the initial appeals will consume years of time and enormous amounts of money before an execution is on the horizon.” This means that over time, it takes more money to have the jury, a trial, prosecutors, attorneys, and more. Many studies show that the death penalty system costs additional amounts of unnecessary money than life in prison. Capital punishment is a corrupt form of legal justice. People have been executed, only to be found out later that they were innocent. At that time, there isn’t much that can be done. Instead of deterring crime like expected, it only makes the death penalty seem unfair and unjust. When used incorrectly, innocent people suffer from the mistakes of the government, police, and prosecutors. It is cheaper and easier to put someone in prison for the rest of their life than have them be executed. The death penalty, as shown from history and studies, doesn’t seem to be the answer to stop people from committing crimes. One would wonder why it still practiced.

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A Review of the Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty. (2022, Jun 10). Retrieved from


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