Capital Punishment

Debate Against Capital Punishment

Amnesty International data on executions around the world

Human rights organization are openly objected to its brutality. For them the public dis-esteem associated with executions of offenders as public spectacles, involving cruel methods, in not effective. Moreover, capital punishment is not reserved for the most serious crimes. And the assertion of brutality has inspired two different responses by supporters of death penalty. The advocates contend that capital punishment is necessary for the wellbeing of the other citizens and therefore not gratuitous. Secondly, that the death penalty seeks to remove some of the most visibly grisly aspects of execution. Executions that were previously open to the public have been relocated behind closed doors. Governments have also replaced traditional methods of causing death. For example, execution with what are regarded as more modern methods like electrocution and poison gas. The search for less brutal means of causing death has continued to recent times. In 1977, Oklahoma became the first U.S. state to authorize execution by lethal injection, which is the administration of lethal amounts of fast-acting drugs and chemicals. Lethal injection is now the preferred method of carrying out death penalty in the majority of U.S. states. In reality however, these depersonalized and sterilized methods of execution do not eliminate the brutality of the action.

In the debate on human dignity and execution, the critics find very little common ground for capital punishment. At the very least, it’s degrading to the humanity of the person punished. As early as 18th century, those against the death penalty stressed the importance of requiring governments to recognize the importance of each individual. The sanctity of human life. On the other side of the debate, the supporters of capital punishment see nothing wrong with ‘governments’ calculatingly killing terrible people who commit terrible crimes. Therefore, they see no need to perimeter governmental power in this area. In the debate on its effectiveness, activists argue that inflicting death is not necessary to justly punish wrongdoers and control crime. Instead, alternative punishment (like imprisonment) could aptly isolate criminals from society, thus deterring likely offenders from crime and expressing society’s condemnation of those against the law. Beccaria’s essay “Crimes and Punishments” asserts that conviction of crime, rather than its severity, is a better deterrent. Backers of capital punishment counter that the penalty is necessary for the punishment of terrible crimes, because it provides the most complete condemnation and ideal retribution. Furthermore, that the threat of execution is a sui generis deterrent. Supporters contend that capital punishment self-evidently prevents more crime because death is so much more feared than restrictions on one’s benign liberty.

Social Science Perspective on Capital Punishment

Social scientists have over the course of time collected statistical data on trends in homicide after and before jurisdictions abolished capital punishment. They have also put together the homicide rates in places with versus places without capital punishment. Based on a summary of these studies, the vast majority of statistical comparisons indicate that the presence or absence therein of capital punishment or death penalties does not visibly influence the rate of homicide. These studies invalidate the argument that capital punishment deters crime. As an opponent, this post considers the deterrence argument fully negated and does not suffice to the debate. However, supporters of the death penalty dispute the analysis of the statistical analyses of deterrent effect. They note that because the death penalty is reserved for the most aggravated crime offenders and grim murders, the deterrent effect of capital punishment on such crimes may not be apparent in data on homicide rates in general. In reaction, we argue that the conflicting results of the statistical studies indicate that the deterrent effect of the capital punishment cannot not be proven or disapproved with real certainty. In the absence of beyond questionable proof, the threat of execution might not save some people from being killed; capital punishment should not be retained.

A Historical Perspective of Capital Punishment

In the debate on human rights, capital punishment is furthest-up as a human rights issue, rather than a contest about the proper punishment of criminals. This dissent on capital punishment is seen as a reaction to the glaring political history of the 20th century, and most notably of the distressing and harrowing Holocaust, which was the systematic mass killing of Jews during World War II. All the major nations in Western Europe utilized death penalty prior to World War II but after the defeat of the National Socialist and Fascist governments of Germany and Italy, the two nations became the first super powers in Europe to abolish capital punishment. The postwar movement to end capital punishment, beginning in Germany and Italy and then spreading, represented a reaction to totalitarian forms of government, remembered most for methodically violating the rights of the individual. The human rights focal point on the death penalty has continued, especially in settings of dramatic political change. When people view capital punishment as a human rights issue, countries that are becoming resolutely democratic have been eager to abolish the death penalty, which they associate with the former regimes and outright abuses of power. For example, a number of Eastern European countries abolished capital punishment shortly after the collapse of the communist regime in the late 1980’s. In like manner, the multiracial government of South Africa, officially formed in 1994, quickly banned death penalty (capital punishment) widely associated with apartheid – the infamous policy of racial segregation that was in effect since the late 1940’s.

Infographic on Current Trends of Capital Punishment. Published by Times of India
Infographic on Trends of Capital Punishment. Published by Times of India