Is it ever justifiable to execute criminals?
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
The principle of capital punishment is that certain murderers deserve nothing less than death as a j...
The principle of capital punishment is that certain murderers deserve nothing less than death as a just, proportionate and effective punishment. There are problems with the death penalty, but these are with its implementation rather than its principle. Murderers forgo their rights as humans at the moment when they take away the rights of another human. By wielding such a powerful punishment as the response to murder, society is affirming the value that is placed upon the right to life of the innocent person. Many more innocent people have been killed by released, paroled or escaped murderers than innocent people executed.
Execution is, in simplest terms, state-sanctioned killing, and it devalues the respect we place on human life; how can we say that killing is wrong if we sanction killing criminals? More importantly, the whole principle is outweighed by the proven risk of executing innocent people. 23 innocent people were executed in the USA in the 20th century. The avoidable killing of an innocent person can never be justified, in any circumstances.
Capital punishment is 100% effective as a deterrent to the criminal being executed; that killer can...
Capital punishment is 100% effective as a deterrent to the criminal being executed; that killer cannot commit any more crimes. As a deterrent to others, it depends on how effectively the death penalty is applied; in the USA where less than 1% of murderers are executed, it is difficult to assess the true effect of deterrence. But for example, a 1985 study (Stephen K. Layson, University of North Carolina) showed that 1 execution deterred 18 murders.
Higher execution rates can actually increase violent crime rates. California averaged 6 executions a year from 1952 to 1967, and had twice the murder rate than the period from 1968 until 1991 when there were no executions. In New York, from 1907 to 1964, months immediately following an execution showed a net increase of two murders - an average over a 57-year period.
If and when discrimination occurs, it should be corrected. Consistent application of the death pena...
If and when discrimination occurs, it should be corrected. Consistent application of the death penalty against murderers of all races, and in cases where the victims were of all races, would abolish the idea that it can be a racist tool. This could be done by making it mandatory in all capital cases.
Implementation of the death penalty, particularly in America, can suffer from social or racial bias and in fact be used as a weapon against a certain section of society. In the USA nearly 90% of those executed were convicted of killing whites, despite the fact that non-whites make up more than 50% of all murder victims.
Opponents of the death penalty prefer to ignore the fact that they themselves are responsible for it...
Opponents of the death penalty prefer to ignore the fact that they themselves are responsible for its high costs, by causing a never-ending succession of appeals. Prisons in many countries are over-crowded and under-funded, and this problem is made worse by life sentences or delayed death sentences for murderers. Why should the taxpayer bear the cost of supporting a murderer for an entire lifetime?
Capital punishment costs more than life without parole. Studies in the US show that capital cases, from arrest to execution, cost between $1 million and $7 million. A case resulting in life imprisonment costs around $500,000.
Different countries and societies can have different attitudes towards the justifiability of executi...
Different countries and societies can have different attitudes towards the justifiability of executing mentally incompetent or teenaged murderers. If society is against such executions, then in cases where they happen it is a problem with the implementation of capital punishment. For opponents to seize on such cases is to cloud the issue; this is not an argument against the principle.
Defendants who are mentally incompetent will often answer 'Yes' to questions in the desire to please others. This can lead to false confessions. Over 30 mentally retarded people have been executed in the USA since 1976.
Some criminals are beyond rehabilitation; it may be that capital punishment should be reserved for ...
Some criminals are beyond rehabilitation; it may be that capital punishment should be reserved for serial killers, terrorists, murderers of policemen and so on.
By executing criminals you are ruling out the possibility of rehabilitation - that they may repent of their crime, serve a sentence as punishment, and emerge as a reformed and useful member of society.
What do you think?