The Death Penalty, the Practice of Capital Punishment

The death penalty is the most arguable and notorious practice today. The concept of capital punishment is a way of deterrence, retribution, restraint or incapacitation rehabilitation and restoration is not new and it is very much understandable from the way human psychology is molded by the fear of happening, the same with themselves. The idea a of deterrence associated with capital punishment has weight and sense, making capital punishment a public example serves it purpose but any judicial system which works on any other principal than the principal of justice cant be trusted.

The general moral question of whether government has the right to punish wrongdoers by killing them has long plagued philosophers and theologians. Supporters of the death penalty often argue with those who oppose it about the implications of certain verses in scripture and about the general question of whether people forfeit their right to life when they commit murder. Similar moral arguments focus on whether it is ever legitimate to execute someone for a crime committed as a juvenile or to execute the mentally impaired. Many opponents argue, moreover, that it is senseless for government to kill to show that killing is wrong. (Lawrence C. Marshall, Why the Death Penalty Should be Abolished). In the present day, what is required is a better and more influential judiciary system rather than just sentencing people to death or even long lifetime sentences. It is accepted that one must pay for his ill doings but for that the difference should be made at the level of justice. Justice should be equal for all. The arguments against capital punishment are many and convincing and very influential rather than the ones, which are in its favor, they are not just few but are fallacious.

Anthony Porter, thought to be a killer, was found guilty in a case of murder of two people back in the year 1982 and was to be sentenced to death in 1998. Just 48 hours before the implementation, a stay order was approved based on issue about his mental proficiency. A team of journalism students from Northwestern University took the interest and began to examine the case against Porter and after interviewing many witnesses who had testified or were somehow related to the case. After several months of investigation, what came to light was an astonishing fact that Anthony Porter was absolutely innocent and had nothing to do with the killings. On the contrary, the real culprit was found to be Alstory Simon not Anthony Porter. He himself admitted of his crime after his wife told that she was there when he killed them. Even afterwards the chief witness confessed that he had not seen the face of the killer, he just mentioned Ported because the police forced him to do so. Later in February 1999, based on these new facts, Anthony Porter was released and Alstory Simon was charged with murder. Taking this example, we won’t be wrong to say that in the case of Porter Anthony his luck was there to save him, but is this the case of all the innocents being killed, just because they were bound to be killed? There are many arguments against the capital punishment, and on the other hand many people prove the arguments wrong, but what is the point here is how the punishment is enhanced. If we look at the previous record, it is quite cleat that most of the punishments were under the influence of prejudice.

The death penalty may not deter but aggravate the crime; it is true with all such acts where justice is over come by discrimination. Death penalty was once practiced in most of the nations, but has been sanctioned by many still yet. In the late 20th century, some countries abolished the death penalty, imposing life sentences instead. Which is another debate? Is the capital punishment is actually a reason for a better social and judicial system? We don’t find any evidence supporting this question. The nations or states were death sentence is prevailed are at the same rate of crimes where there is no death sentence, but if we look at the figures we would see that in the past 20 years Texas, was the state with highest rate of crimes and is also the state with most death sentences given, infect taken into action hence it is not persuasive thus its practical value to society appears to be zilch. If we look at the other side of the image we would find that the fear of being caught and punished makes a person become very keen in doing what he wants to do, but the equality in the judiciary is a must. Still there is a lot of evidence that the decision making process in capital cases is enormously inaccurate. The courts have reversed more than two thirds of the death sentences that have been appealed; on retrial fewer than 20% of these defendants were found to deserve the death penalty, and 7% were found to be innocent of the crime itself (Leibman, Fagan, & West, 2000). It is far a debate that in our system, race, wealth, status, geography and cast play a determining role of who should be charged or not. Harry Blackmun once declared, “Race continues to play a major role in determining who shall live and who shall die.”

The judicial system is so biased that we find that when a person has power he will get away; the one with more power is seldom seen paying. The one with low status and race is the first one to be paying for what he has done, and even for what he hasn’t done. This difference of color, creed, status, race and language make the decision of death sentence so fake that it seems it must be stopped.

Apart from the racial difference what is the other fact hindering in the way of justice is the fact that legal orders designed to inform the jurors’ decision between the death penalty and a life sentence are inexplicable, resulting in decisions that are capricious or legally wrong. The death penalty is discriminatory. Wealth, social status, race and geography play an obvious role in determining who is charged with a capital crime, convicted, and sentenced to death (Bright, 1994, Costanzo, 1997). Decades of research have failed to produce any persuasive evidence that the death penalty is more effective than life imprisonment as a deterrent to murder (Bailey & Peterson, 1981).

Punishment is supposed to be for the protection of society, and for the reformation of the wrongdoer. A punishment should make the person get cautious and should give others the sense of protection. Capital punishment though removes the culprit but is unable to remove the problem, and what is the use of just killing someone when one can’t make the problem solved? Taking a pain killer may stop the pain for the time but won’t make the problem vanish; it will reappear with time and with a much worse effect. Death sentence will no doubt remove one person but would not fill up the flaw, what is needed is to fill the flaws, not to make the flaws. Homicide rates from 1907 – 1963 in New York (which carried out 692 executions during that period) showed an average of two additional homicides in the month following an execution. (Bowers and Pierce 1980)

Taking into account the extremity of the punishment, we know that life has been cut short, devoid of what the person, innocent in real or not, has in mind; he is not given a chance to reform himself. He may become a better person if given a chance, but it is on chance, but life itself is on chance. It is normal practice that kindness prevails; if once a person is given chance he may overcome his faults. But it is again on chance. The people committing murders or very much offensive crimes are mostly mental patients. So if they are really mental patients, then their fate should be treatment not a death sentence. In a 1987 study covering a period between 1900 to1985, it was found that 350 people were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death; 23 of these people were executed. (Radelet, Bedau and Putnam, 1992)
Capital punishment is irreversible, and the errors of justice cannot be resolved when that person’s life is gone. All possibility of reassessment is taken away. What if an innocent person is hung, electrified, or given a lethal injection and has been punished for something he has never done. Then who should be the one paying for his life? The jury? The witness? The society? Or whom? “In view of the very uncertain and unequal character of our merely human endeavors to meet out justice, no proceedings of ours should be of this irrevocable character. So complex and uncertain is the process of sifting whereby finally a few individuals are sorted out from the mass and consigned to punishment, that the selection seems largely arbitrary, and we find that the actual convicts are no worse, and some perhaps even better, than many whom the hand of the law never reaches. What principle of equity or reason can justify us in singling out for our harshest treatment, by so haphazard a method, a few individuals who for the most part manifest no particular reasons why they and they alone, should be so treated?” (To Abolish Capital Punishment: A Plea to the Citizens of every Country, Point Loma, 1914)

The facts are that, using capital punishment will not make the crime vanish; it will only kill one more person and put one more family through hell. The real thing to be done is to make that person realize how bad is the effect of what he did, or what is awful. Just giving a death sentence would take away all hopes of many people. The only way to destroy a criminal is by changing his inside and the only way to do that is to give him time, this process may be long, but is far more influential that death sentence. And the duty of judicial system is to isolate such criminals so that there crime is washed away not their life. It is also a fact that when we cut short the life of a criminal, we just prompt the crime rather than giving it an end people who are found guilty are mostly found saying that “something came over mean I don’t know why I did it?” this shows that with the end of a culprit physically the crime prevails, the real end of a crime is to make people strong enough to take over everything which tries to overcome them.

Mercy is what makes others to over view what he has done, and this is the basic theme of every religion too. If one has done zealous crime, he must be punished, but not giving him a chance to amend is notorious.

The role of the government has been very important but unfortunately it has done actions to take care of culprits but not to treat them as human beings. They have aright Io live, and being humans they have their full right to avail the human rights. If one does a wrong act the other should not repeat it would only enhance its effects rather than suppress it. The best way would be kind enough to make the other person realize of the severity of the crime. It should be included in the course and educational system to make the children aware of the hazardous effects of crimes. But should given them the difference at childhood so that when they grow they know the difference of good and bad, rather them just enforcing the laws. No one is perfect, every one sins, but why is it that we take our own sins for granted but when we see any other person has committed a crime we forget all laws and just want him to be punished, forgetting that every man commits sins, this is why he is human. For those who find themselves hysterical over these habeas corpus reform efforts, who believe that speeding up the appeals process will threaten the lives of those convicted and innocent, please contemplate the following question: What innocent or otherwise improperly convicted inmate would wish to linger a bit longer on death row as their attorney, snail-like, labored to prolong their wrongful stay on death row with a series of delayed and frivolous appeals? (

“The movement to abolish the death penalty needs the religious community because the heart of religion is about compassion, human rights, and the indivisible dignity of each human person made in the image of God.” -Sister Helen Prejean

The government should immediately call on to halt executions just to make sure that the unjust justice is checked. Capital punishment has been eradicated by most modern industrialized nations; it is not a deterrent to murder. Though the terror of being killed makes a man give a second thought to what he is doing, but the death penalty itself is engraving devastating effects. Even it has been observed that though with the severity of this crime, it is not the deterrent. It isn’t the end there are ways to make others realize their faults. And make them pay for it. But death penalty is not the disincentive.What we assume as an end in not the end, it is merely the beginning. Death is not the end of every crime; it is rather the way to more destruction. Giving time and attention to many prisoners have proved a very positive effect of them. If we want to amend the faults we all must take steps to stop the barbarous punishments as death penalties. And even if it is to be enhanced, it should be fully just, apart from prejudice, race, color, and creed and all such differences. Justice is for everyone not just rich or powerful. All that is just has a good effect, and even if justice would be enhanced to treat the real culprits, and to eradicate the crime our judiciary system needs amendments not death penalties. It is a well-known fact that when one is guilty and he is ashamed on that thing, then his half of the crime is washed a way. What is the flaw here is that the judiciary system does not give a loophole, for those who don’t have anything to prove. But on the contrary there is not just one but many ways for those who have power, race and a status. This proves to be a big flaw. Justice is for everyone devoid of cast creeds and colors and this is what is needed to prevail justice.

Hence we can finally conclude that the deterrent power of the death penalty can never be proven with absolute certainty. The question still remain, is death penalty the solution? Or we should make amends in the justice system so that better and more influential judiciary system can be established.


Liebman, J. S., Fagan, J., & West, V.Capital attrition: Error rates in capital cases, 1973-1995. Texas Law Review. (2000)
Uniform Crime Reports, 1980-1989
Lawrence C. Marshall, Why the Death Penalty should be abolished
Bright, S. Counsel for the poor: The death sentence not for the worst crime, but for the worst lawyer. Yale Law Journal (1994)
Costanzo, M. Just revenge: Costs and consequences of the death penalty (1997)
Bowers and Pierce ‘Deterrence or Brutalization’ in Crime of Delinquency (1980)
Bailey, W.C., & Peterson, R. D. Murder, capital punishment, and deterrence (1997)
Radelet, Bedau, and Putnam, ‘In Spite of innocence’ (1992)
Point Loma, To Abolish Capital Punishment: A Plea to the Citizens of every Country (1914)