That Capital Punishment Is Not Justifiable Term Paper

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Capital punishment refers to termination of life of someone accused of a serious crime. But how justifiable is this type of sentencing? In olden days, people would be sentenced to death because they defied authority. And today too, some other kind of injustice may come into play when a person is being handed death penalty. The reason capital punishment is wrong because it takes away chance of repentance, which is so integral to human life. It might serve as deterrence for others but to what extent that is entirely true will be examined in the paper. Previously the forms of execution were very painful. Many were beheaded while many were crucified. Crucifixion was the method used to execute Jesus according to Christianity. Such methods aimed at prolonging the pain before death. There have been cultures that have also practiced stoning as a method of execution and even today in countries like Iran, stoning is carried out as a legitimate form of capital punishment for crimes like adultery. "Some may attempt to argue that there is scriptural authorization for the death penalty and so capital punishment will never be listed as an intrinsically evil act" (Peter Black, p.338). This seems to be true when one consults religious scriptures like the Old Testament for example identifies it to be a legitimate form of execution. The New Testament however talks about crucifixion being used but itself prohibits capital punishment. Hitler used gas chambers to execute people while the United States has been formulating different methods and using it. It came up with the electric chair, which would fry the person's brain at high voltage, and blood would seep out from his eye sockets. Later on came the lethal injection that was supposed to be painless but the question is that can death ever be painless? In 1976, Canada however ended capital punishment to be an option however some of its people want it to be there as an option. While many talk against capital punishment due to its inhumane nature, there are many people who talk for capital punishment. Both sides come up with their ideas and beliefs regarding death penalty and this topic have been hotly debated in the past.


Advocates of capital punishment state that it is an effective method and should be kept as an option. They often list their reasons, which are based on a couple of points. One of their reasons is that death penalty serves as a deterrence. This, they explain, means that sentencing people to be executed for a crime, like murder, would cause a decrease in the rates of homicide in a nation. This would be because potential murderers would refrain from committing such crimes as they would fear an execution if convicted. "Indeed, in a USA Today Poll, 68% of respondents agreed that the death penalty deters crime" (Jennifer C. Honeyman, et al.). Proponents of death penalty also present their case stating that it is economically cheaper to execute a person rather than sentencing him to life imprisonment. They feel that it is better to execute a person who has committed a crime like murder as it is economically feasible. Then there are others who follow the religious doctrines very literally and claim that God prescribed these punishments for man if he commits certain crimes. Hence the advocate that God has the right to prescribe the punishments and man does not have the right to change it according to what he feels is correct. Moreover people feel that life imprisoning a convict always leaves that room for him to commit the crime again and there have been cases where fellow inmates and guards have been killed. Pamela Moss, a 14-year-old was raped and strangled in 1962 by James Moore. Her parents decided that they would not appeal for a death sentence provided that the courts sentence him for life without parole. In 1982 with the new change in sentencing laws, James Moore became eligible for parole every two years. Such they say is not justice being done (Anonymous). However are these reasons good enough to end someone's life?

Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? The Experts on Both Sides Make Their Best Case by Hugo Adam Bedau and Paul G. Cassell

In this book the authors also refer to an essay by Louis P. Pojman titled "For the Death Penalty" and they contend why death penalty should be allowed. They state that death penalty is something which is morally justified. To support their argument the authors state that the criminal committed a planned out heinous act and thus deserves to be put to death even if it is by using an electric chair. Further they state that using painless lethal injection "seems too good for someone who in callous disregard for his victim shed innocent blood" (Hugo Adam Bedau, et al., p.52). While the books goes over both sides of the story, at places it talks about the advocates of capital punishment and how they justify that death penalty is not inhuman.

The Death Penalty Affirms Sanctity of Life

Life is a gift from God and we should do all within our capacity to prevent any harm to it whether it is our life or someone else's. Proponents of death penalty claim that people who have caused harm to life should be executed without any question because they deserve it. They say that letting such people back in to the society remains to be a threat. Such people might end up harming or killing some other person and to support their end of the argument they quote cases where such criminals have killed fellow inmates and prison guards. Execution, they say, would keep others from practicing this type of crime.


There have been studies to determine whether death penalty serves to be a deterrent or not. "On raw data, there has been somewhat more homicide in capital punishment states than in non- capital punishment states" (Charle SL. Black Jr., p.25). If it truly did serve to be a deterrent then the statistics would have suggest otherwise. Life imprisonment could cause a more deterrent effect due to the psychological torment that criminals have to go through. They are cut off from their friends and families and many are boycotted even if they do return to them on parole.

The Death Penalty Will Not Discourage Crime

Death penalty would not have a deterring effect on people, which has been observed in studies that have been conducted. Criminals who are serial killers need psychological attention and death penalty does not act as a deterrent because they do not even think nor care about getting executed. Similarly as it was seen, countries, which do award death penalties, have a high rate of homicide than those, which do not award death penalty. Hence death penalty does not discourage a person from committing a crime.

High Conviction Rate Is a Stronger Deterrent than Death Penalty

Criminals fear getting arrested because they know that they will be sent to jail. That is the first thing which deters many from committing crimes. A nation can boast about awarding death penalty to convicts but the point remains what are the chances for the law to apprehend a criminal. If the law enforcement agencies do not arrest such people then no matter how horrific the death penalty might be it will not act as a deterrent. The most important factor for a nation to have is a high conviction rate. If the criminal knows that he cannot escape the law and will be sent to prison then that would act as a bigger deterrent than death penalties.


Advocates of capital punishment should bring their attention to the question whether death penalty is applied fairly. They should answer whether in practical all people of all races are equal in the sights of the law. If death penalty is not applied fairly and justly then what is the law there for? The whole concept of deterrence and humanity which the proponents raise falls apart if death penalty is not given to everyone without a difference. Man whether black, white, yellow, rich or poor, are all the same without a question. There should be no difference between them and all should be equally answerable to the law.

Death Penalty is Discriminatory

In this age when man has become advanced and civilized we bear within us the evil seed of discrimination. Like in other fields of life we encounter and see racial discrimination at play, similarly, death penalties have been awards to those who have been racially profiled. There is discrimination no doubt in awarding a death sentence to the criminal. It was observed in studies that the defendant whose victim was a White was more likely to be awarded a death sentence as compared to a White defendant whose victim was a Black. "In the most validly… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "That Capital Punishment Is Not Justifiable" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

That Capital Punishment Is Not Justifiable.  (2007, November 11).  Retrieved September 23, 2020, from

MLA Format

"That Capital Punishment Is Not Justifiable."  11 November 2007.  Web.  23 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"That Capital Punishment Is Not Justifiable."  November 11, 2007.  Accessed September 23, 2020.