Death penalty, or capital punishment, is not a topic for lunch discussion. It is much more serious. It is, on one side, someone’s life taken by murder, with relatives and friends in tears and despair of loss; and it is another man on the other side, whose life can be taken by death sentence. Does this death penalty make equal justice? Before unswering the question it is worth to try to imagine yourslef deciding on adequate punishment for some real man. Would you personally be able to decide ending his life?
I understand the grief of people whose beloved ones were taken from them by someone’s cruel action. I remember my feeling when I was looking at a newspaper’s photo some years ago. The photo was of Beslan’s children killed at their school, rows of little bodies and fragments, and parents wondering among the remains in search of their dearest ones. I just could not help howling of the horror. And I am sure that if being given a chance, those parents would tear those who did it to pieces by their own hands, and who could blame them?
However, I do not support capital punishment. And it is not just about humanity to the murderers.
My first objection is that there is a possibility of error in judgement. Before starting to write this paper I made some research into last decade of sentenced and executed and, to my surprise, found that there are several definite cases when executed people were then found not guilty. Someone might call it an accidental death, but it is not fully accidental, as there are people directly responsible for that decision.
My second argument against capital punishment is that it is unfair in its administration. Statistics show that the poor and minorities are more likely to receive the death penalty.
Another argument is that the length of stay on death row, with its endless appeals, delays, technicalities, and retrials, keep a person waiting for death for years on end. It is both cruel and costly. It costs approximately 2.5 to 5 million dollars for a death penalty case to go from arrest to execution, depending on the state.
Also, to be able to tell what is the right penalty, one should determine first what are those penalties for? Is it a revenge to satisfy someone’s feelings? I doubt that a revenge, even really desired, could help those poor victims’ relatives, and it is certainly not needed for the victim himself. Is it an act of justice to keep others in frames of the law? However, the claims that capital punishment reduces violent crime is inconclusive and certainly not proven. Main thing the justice should do in those cases is to provide security for common people. Jailed for life criminals would not disturb others any more.
There are also moral aspects of the capital punishment which should be addressed as they are not the least on this list. These are the responsibility of those deciding whether the person should live or not, which is a heavy burden for any normal man, and adequateness of the punishment to the deed. I would even use the word usefulness’, meaning if it makes any good to the soul of the sentenced murderer, helping him to understand his guilt, or just cutting him out without any possibility to expiate what he had done.
It is a difficult question. But I think that death should not be applied as punishment, as it is not practical, and leads to a lot of moral problems, because it is unnatural for a human to take other’s life.