The Death Penalty
Capital punishment or death penalty is a form of punishment that puts an individual who has committed a capital offense to death. There are numerous countries that use this form of punishment in deterrence of crime. In other words, capital punishment is called death sentence. Crimes that carry the death sentence are known as capital crimes which include; murder and treason among others (Waller, 2010). Death penalty has raised debates in the society over the ethical view points of the sentence with some people advocating for it, but others are against it. This paper will discuss the advantages of death penalty in deterring crimes and saving national resources among others. It will also provide an ethical view point of death penalty and the disadvantages of capital punishment to individuals and the society.
According to several philosophical viewpoints, death penalty is an ethical means of administering punishment to individuals in the society. There are two theories namely; Utilitarianism and Deontology, which argue that the death penalty is ethically allowed as a form of punishment in the society. The two theories provide different arguments in line with their moral foundations.
Utilitarianism Theory is based on the idea that the morality of an action is judged depending on its ability to promote greater good to the greatest number of people. According to utilitarianism, capital punishment is administered not to punish the offender, but to deter other people from committing the same crimes. Death punishment reduces chances of future crimes because it instills fear in other people. There are high chances that someone who commits murder may not do it once. Therefore, capital punishment also serves a way of protecting the society by preventing a criminal to go back to the community and commit crime (Guernsey, 2009). Proponents of utilitarianism argue that it is ethical to take an individual’s life if that will be able to protect other innocent lives.
Another major advantage of the death penalty, based on the Utilitarian law is the idea that death sentence is ethical because it allows the government to save public funds and channel to other important sectors. Life imprisonment, which is an alternative punishment in most places where death penalty is not applied, uses a lot of money (Waller, 2010). This is because housing criminals is more expensive compared to execution. Therefore, imprisonment denies the society the opportunity to have important amenities such as hospitals because money is spent on taking care of prisoners. In this case, the greater good of the society is more important than an individual’s life.
On the other hand, Kant’s Deontological Theory argues that death penalty is ethical because it ensures that justice and equality is served in the society. This theory points out that anyone who does a crime should be able to accept the same act when done to him. Therefore, if an individual commits murder, he should be killed to give justice to the dead and to pay the criminal with his own action. It also protects the existence of law and order in the society (Bohm, 2011). This is because without fear of the law, individuals would engage in actions that violates other people’s freedom without fear. In addition, death penalty works in line with the laws of universality, which point out that a criminal makes the environment insecure for him and others. For instance, if a person steals one renders personal and public property as insecure regardless of where the action took place. The theory also points out that every person has the freewill to make rational decisions. Therefore, any action is based on a person’s choice, which makes an individual liable to take the consequences of his act.
On the other hand, death penalty is also considered unethical because it is the most unusual form of punishment on humans. This is because it involves inflicting a lot of pain and also denies people of a basic right, which is the right to life. In addition, death sentence treats human beings in an undignified manner just like animals (Bohm, 2011). The right to life is one fundamental, therefore, no one should be allowed to take away this right from an individual. In other words, death penalty does not give life the respect that it deserves because even the government does not have a right to take away life.
Secondly, there have been cases where an individual who is innocent is executed. This is a clear indicator that death penalty should not be administered because it has the potential of taking an innocent life. Some investigations are done slowly or inadequately leading to conviction of innocent people. Because death sentence is irreversible it becomes a dangerous way of punishing offenders. The fact that the criminal justice system is not perfect just like other systems makes death penalty a risky procedure.
Death penalty is a good form of punishment that helps in deterrence of crimes, upholding law and order as well as ensuring that the government cuts costs of housing prisoners. Death penalty instills fear in people, which helps in preventing crimes in future. In addition, the government is able to save a lot of money that can be used in upgrading other facilities and providing quality services (Guernsey, 2009). On the other hand, opponents of capital punishment argue that death sentence violates human dignity and the right to life by giving the government powers to take away life. In addition, those against death penalty point out that death is a very severe punishment that should not be applied for any reason.