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The Death Penalty: A Discussion On Its Pros And Cons

1293 words - 5 pages

The death penalty, a constant source of controversy and divided opinion, is the punishment of death given to criminals who commit severe crimes. As the severity of crimes that attract the death penalty is debatable, so is its correctness and effectiveness. The justice system is based upon punishment for crimes committed with emphasis on the punishment fitting the crime. Countries such as China and Singapore have used it to punish drug traffickers and therefore fuelled debate on how fitting the punishment is in such cases. For all it aims to achieve, the death penalty has well documented weaknesses, not least of which is its brutality and finality, and it is these frailties that lead to the calls for its abolishment. The death penalty is inhumane, wrongly applied and completely unjustifiable irrespective of the crime. Life imprisonment without parole or pardon achieves all that the death penalty seeks to achieve without costing the society its moral standing.
The human right to life is sacred and the constitution protects this right. Is it not ironic that the justice system based on the constitution should therefore seek to end life? One in support of the death penalty could argue that when a person takes a life, then they lose their right to life. That argument would be flawed because the justice system would be doing the same thing it is punishing the criminal for. It is also brutal and as Albert Camus claimed, “An execution is not simply death. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment on, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.” (qtd. in Capital punishment debate Wikipedia.org) Life imprisonment on the other hand does not go against the constitution while maintaining its place as a very effective punishment.
For the death sentence to be issued, numerous stages of a long process seek to verify the guilt of the accused. While these stages seek to rule out reasonable doubt, common among these stages is human involvement and thus the likelihood of error that human beings are susceptible to. Not just error though, opinions and perceptions of jurors come into play and this does little to ensure that the risk of an innocent person being sentenced to death is alleviated. Despite the best efforts of pro-death penalty activists to overplay the role of modern methods such as DNA testing in evidence validity (Joe Messerli balancedpolitics.org), it still does not rule out the chance of an innocent life being taken. Does what the death penalty aim to achieve outweigh the choice to overlook risk of loss of innocent life? It would if the death penalty was the only way to achieve justice, but it is not. Life imprisonment without parole is just as effective, but it is does not have the yoke of finality that the death penalty has since appeals could be made...

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