Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?

Do two wrongs make a right? Since the introduction of capital punishment in the United States in 1608 ( this has been a debate; a debate that will probably continue well into the future. But there are always two sides of a debate; a right and a wrong, depending which side of the fence you are on. In this instance, the death penalty is a fair punishment for the crimes committed. For this reason capital punishment should be kept in existence and practiced for the following reasons: deterrence, retribution and closure for the victim’s families.

A major purpose of criminal punishment is to deter future criminal conduct. True that only a small portion of those sentenced to death are in time executed, but the concept of the fear of being put to death for crimes committed does in fact deter criminals from performing heinous acts. The homicide rate dropped by nearly 10,000 from 1993 to 1999, during this time there was an increased use of the death penalty ( With this in mind, “the death penalty saves lives by repeat murders being eliminated and foreseeable murders being deterred.” (Sharp)

“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19), in a word – retribution. When an individual takes the life of another, the moral balance in society will remain upset until the killer’s life has also been taken. As opposed the some sort of rehabilitative treatment, death is final. A finality not only for the convicted, but also the family of the victim.

The victim was not given a choice in the crimes committed against them. In fact, the person who committed said crimes made a choice to carry them out. Once convicted, those offenders have the time spent on death row to make peace not only with the God of their choice, but also with their families for the acts they have done. For the families of the innocent and more importantly for past victims, the death of the perpetrator means that no one else will have to suffer at the hands of that person again.

The question of whether capital punishment is right or wrong has opponents and proponents and thusly each side should have the chance to voice their opinion. Just as proponents believe deterrence, retribution and closure are all reasons to keep the death penalty as a form of punishment. Those that oppose it believe that the cost, arbitrariness and the thought of killing an “innocent man” are all reasons to kill capital punishment.

Most would believe that the cost of housing an inmate for life would be far less than that of putting the convicted to death. Be the truth is that the years of appeals and additional required procedures that are allowed to these people in the end costs 2.5 times more. The only way to make the death penalty financially better than life is to reduce the due process and the appellate review: “the defendant’s only protection against the grossest miscarriages of justice.” (

Arbitrariness by definition is “the trait of acting unpredictably and more from whim rather than from reason or judgment” ( In relation to capital punishment, fairness requires that people who break the same law should meet the same punishment. However, statistics show that a black man who kills a white person is eleven times more likely to receive the death penalty than a white man who kills a black person and black on black crimes has an even lower chance of being condemned to life than either of the situations previously mentioned. (NAACP)

Lastly the idea of an innocent person being put to death is a great crime than the original crime committed. Since 1970, 116 convictions of those sitting on death row have been overturned for various reasons. Should the justice system be allowed the oversight of someone being executed, only later to find out that they were in fact innocent?

Is it fair to put someone to death for crimes committed? Do two wrongs make a right? That debate is ongoing and varies by state, but even the Bible advocates death for murder and other crimes. No longer should the idea of you do the crime, you do the time have any relevance in the justice system, but rather you do the crime, you pay the price – “an eye for an eye.”

Arguments for and against capital punishment. (n.d). In Capital Punishment UK. Retreived November 13, 2009, from

Sharp, D. (1997, October 1). Innocence issues – the death penalty. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from Pro-Death Penalty website: