The debate on whether capital punishment should continue to characterize our justice system is one that will simply not go away. The populace is always divided on the benefits derived from abolishing it while an equal or even higher number argues abolishing it would lead criminal tolerance. An objective look at the issue shows the intensity of the debate and it becomes impossible to sit on the fence. The intensity of the debate is seen in the points raised by proponents of each side of the debate. Since this paper requires the support of only one side it will seek to provide the cons of the death penalty.
Death penalty in history
Death penalty has been in use in many societies throughout history these punishments have come with thorough beatings and amputations or condemning a wrongdoer to slavery. This punishment has been preserved for extreme offenders involved in such crime as rapes, murders or kidnapping. In some absolute societies such as the Muslim death penalty has been administered to minor offenders of crimes such as stealing. The origin of the death penalty is thought to be the ancient civilizations of the Greeks, Babylonians and Egyptians. The strictest of these was the Greek penal code which was christened Draconian. Later on with civilization and dominance of religion it was replaced by a more relaxed death penalty which recognized exceptional cases and alternative punishments (Stearman 9). United States seemed to take a cue from these later developments in the death penalty code, of course in its adaptation the State required adequate and thorough investigation before condemnation. This reduces the chances of condemning innocent individuals to death, and this has been further boosted by availability as state of the art equipment and technology. This paper recognizes the importance of thorough investigations as bases of retaining the death penalty. If the justice system can ensure that no innocent person faces execution, then the death penalty would be sufficient justice for capital offenders.
Historically, the most vocal voices are those in opposition of the death penalty however; statistics have portrayed a different picture. In a poll conducted in 1997 testing attitudes towards the death penalty, “75% of a U.S national sample indicated that they approve of capital punishment” (Aiken 213). The largest population in support of the death penalty is men; many more whites are also in support of the death penalty as compared to their black counterparts. However, it is still astonishing how such a large population would support the death penalty irrespective of the many pleas against it. One of the major reasons is that the opponents have not provided concrete prove on the ills resulting from these sentences. On the other hand, proponents have produced countless accounts on why the sentence should be upheld. One of the reasons is “satisfaction of the demand for retribution by making the criminal pay with his or her life” (Aiken 213). Secondly, the death penalty acts as a deterrent against capital crimes. Lastly, it acts as a safeguard against the society by getting rid of the capital offenders who may repeat the crime on release.
The theme for the death penalty is best captured by the sentiments of Gleason Archer, dean of Suffolk Law School who contended.
Without the death penalty, criminal element will seize control of society. Life imprisonment does not crush the killer’s spirit, lifers are rosy with the hope they might be paroled or pardoned, they are also likely to escape and become “beasts of prey” again, executing a murderer rids the world of a “human mad-dog” (Rogers 337).
There are many fronts against which the death penalty can be supported; this paper looks at two approaches the economic approach and the social approach. Economically, the death penalty is much cheaper than life imprisonment, which is taken to be the alternative. In normal circumstances or borrowing from the Canadian Justice System which has since substituted the death penalty with a life imprisonment constituting not less than 25 years. This economically is a long time to sustain a life, which typically means giving this person another chance to perpetrate the same crime once the sentence elapses. Instead of spending resources to sustain these individuals it becomes easier to incarcerate them, this in light of the fact that the cost of sustenance continues to rise (Aiken 214).