An Argumentative Essay on Death Penalty
Death penalty is the most severe punishment in the society. It is a punishment for criminals who commit high end crimes such as murder or robbery with violence. However, it is a controversial issue in most countries that is accepted and rejected by the citizens in equal measure. Death penalty should be practiced, as it ensures that the society achieves justice to those who have suffered and most importantly is the reduction of crime and criminals in our society.
Death penalty is a deterrent weapon that prevents other criminals from committing murders in future. The deterrent effect of capital punishment is higher than any other form of punishment. Van Den Haag asserts that one is most deterred by what he fears and hence criminals fear death penalty more than life imprisonment (69). Abolitionists argue that the deterrent effects of death penalties should be demonstrated statistically. A lack thereof cannot be used to claim the ineffectiveness of the death penalty since risks and rewards are often more felt than calculated. Deterrence is therefore a sufficient practical justification for death penalties.
Van Den Haag continues to say that those who are ignorant of the deterrent effects of execution would have to choose on one hand the certainty of the death of the murderer and the likelihood of the survival of future victims by other murderers, and on the other hand the certain survival of the murder and the likelihood of death of new victims (70).
Death penalty is used as a tool for retributive justice. A just society requires the execution of a criminal who takes away innocent lives. Abolitionists claim that death penalty is a revenge which is not good in the eyes of God. However it is not needed to appeal to religious justification for a death penalty. Death penalty is a matter of putting an end to a life that has no value for other human lives. Sentencing a murderer to death is in a favor to the society
Death penalty also ensures the society is safe from the inhumane acts of the murderers. Those criminals who are executed cannot take away other lives. Moreover, the potential murderers are deterred from doing so by the magnitude of the resulting punishment. Those who are against capital punishment argue that incapacitation through life imprisonment instead of death penalty would be sufficient to ensure the safer society. However, Van Den Haag argues that a life imprisonment would put other inmates and guards to the danger of being murdered, hence the need for capital punishment (71).
Anti-death penalty advocates use the irreversibility of death penalties to gain mileage in their campaigns against it. It is true that death penalties cannot be reversed, especially after the convicted person has been executed. However, the judicial system often takes a lot of time to gather facts to avoid incriminating an innocent person. In addition, several safeguards are in place for those who are sentenced to death. A right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction is granted and such a sentence can be made only when the evidence is clear and no alternative explanation can be made from the facts.
Therefore, death penalty is beneficial as it serves a definite purpose of reducing crime as well as bringing justice to the criminals and innocent. It must however be adjusted and made more effective and efficient. The justice system has changed in the recent past to ensure that the rightly accused are punished and to ensure that guiltiness is proven before execution.
Van Den Haag, Ernest. “On deterrence and death penalty”. The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, 1969: 67-72. Print.