Capital Punishment



Capitalpunishment is a way of punishing people who have been found guilty ofa crime after a proper prosecution in a court of law. This kind ofpunishment can only be meted by the state. When executionsare carriedout by groups or organizations rather than the state, such groups areactually guilty of murder. The types of crimes capital punishmentwhich it can be used are clearly specified in the law. It is used topunish people who have committed serious crimes such as murder, fraudand treason in some countries (UN, 2010). This form of punishment iscommon in many parts of the globe. However, many countries haveabolished it either through legislation or in practice. AmnestyInternational reports that there are 141 countries across the worldthat had abolished this form of punishment as of May 2012.

In2008, there was a growing reluctance among those countries that doretain the death penalty to use it in practice. In 2008, only 25 outof 59 countries that retain the death penalty carried out executions.

AmnestyInternational, March 2009

Thehighest number of executions is recorded in countries that do notembrace democracy with China in the lead. In 2008, about 1,718 peoplewere executed in China. The actual figure of executions could behigher since Chinese authorities do not release information aboutexecutions to the public. Many countries are changing their laws toabolish the death penalty. On 18thDecember2008, resolution 63/168 was adopted by the UN. This resolutionreaffirmed its earlier call for the abolition of the death penalty.Through the resolution, member states are called to freeze the deathpenalty with a view of complete abolitions (UN, 2010). In 2002, TheWorld Coalition against the Death Penalty was formed in Rome. October10th2006 was marked Death Penalty day globally. This essay aims to showthe arguments for and against the death penalty.


H1, reduces crimes

H2, takes away innocent lives

H3, should be abolished

H4, increases crime

Argumentsin Favor of

Thereare many arguments in favor of and against the death penalty. Thoseagainst it feel that it is too harsh and that it puts the lives ofthe innocent at risk. Opponents argue that other forms of punishmentshould be considered to be used in its place. They further argue thatthere is no human being who has a right to take away the life ofanother. It is exploited by dictators in some parts of the world tostifle any opposition against them (Cawthorne, 2006). On the otherhand, the proponents argue that it is the only way to deter seriouscrimes such as murder. However, it is not possible to know whethercapital punishment has helped to reduce the number of crimes in theworld.

Whena person makes a mistake or breaks the law, there should beretribution for it. All the guilty have to be punished. Guilty peoplehave to be punished in accordance to the crime they have committed.For real justice to be serviced, a guilty person deserves to bepunished. Therefore, a murderer should only be punished by death.Many individuals concur with this argument. Another reason given byproponents of capital punishment is that it deters crime. It is hopedthat when people know of the severity of committing some crimes, theywill avoid them. The effectiveness of capital punishment as adeterrent is hampered by the time taken before a crime is punished(Goldstein, 2006). The legal system is not very fast and it may takesome time before the offender is punished. Additionally, people stillcommit murder and other serious crimes despite being aware of theconsequences.

Whenan offender is executed, it rids the society of one person who couldcommit the same crime in future. Although it is true the person willnot be able to commit crime again in death, it does not justifytaking a life (UN, 2010). Other methods of preventing an offence fromoccurring should be sought. Proponents of capital punishment mayargue that the guilty can find their way out of prison and repeat thecrimes again. Keeping the murderer in prison may remove the threatfrom the rest of the public but other inmates and prison staff may beat risk. This has happened in some cases but it is not very common tojustify capital punishment.


Opponentsof capital punishment feel that every human life is valuable andshould be preserved. They argue that even the vilest offenders shouldbe allowed to live. The bad conduct of the offender is not enoughjustification to take a life even if it is through a court process.They argue that every person has a right to live and this should notbe taken away in any circumstances (Goldstein, 2006). Sentencing theoffender to death through execution is violating that cardinal right.However, a person who is a threat to the rest of the society shouldbe killed in order to maintain the safety of the society.

Perhapsthe strongest argument against capital punishment is that theinnocent can be wrongly killed out of flaws in the justice system.The justice system is not perfect and it is possible to accusesomeone wrongly. This can lead to the death of a person who has notcommitted the crime. It is better to jail such a person as there maybe a chance to prove his innocence later (Cawthorne, 2006). Whencapital punishment applies, it is difficult to make things right oncea mistake has happened. There have been instances where errors havetaken place in the justice system. In the US alone, about 130 peoplehave been wrongfully been found guilty of murder. Since the justicesystem is not perfect, it is better to eliminate the capitalpunishment to avoid condemning innocent people to death.

Onthe international scene, the United Nations have passed a resolutionto ensure member states implemented a ban on capital punishment. Amajority of the members voted in favor of the UN resolution seekingto abolish the death penalty (Goldstein, 2006). Regional bodies suchas the European Union and Council of Europe require new members toabolish the death penalty as a requirement to being accepted asmembers.


Manypeople in the world feel that it’s time to do away with the deathpenalty. Opponents of the death penalty feel that there should beanother method of punishing offenders of serious crimes. Although itis argued that executing offenders helps deter crime, it is notpossible to provide sound proof to support this argument (UN, 2010).Some innocent people in America have been sentenced to die only fortheir innocence to be proved later. This is dangerous as innocentpeople can be killed due to flaws in the justice system. It is betterto hold such people in prison which gives them a chance to provetheir innocence before they are executed.


Cawthorne,N. (2006). PublicExecutions: From Ancient Rome to the Present Day.pp.&nbsp6–7. ISBN&nbsp978-0-7858-2119-9

Goldstein,W.(2006). Defendingthe human spirit: Jewish law`s vision for a moral society.Feldheim Publishers.

UnitedNations, (2010). GeneralAssembly Will Call for All States to Establish a Moratorium onExecutions with View to Abolishing Death Penalty, under Text Approvedby Third Committee. GA/SHC/3996.Retrieved From,[Accessed on March 22, 2015].