Death Penalty Pros and Cons Essay

Death penalty


Death penalty is a kind of capital punishment which follows a legal process in prosecuting and killing people through the state for the crime the committed especially murder. It has been practiced widely in many societies’ who believe that criminals must be punished proportionally to the crimes they commit. It is seen as a fair deal because it forces one to give up their life just the way they took away another’s. United States is one of the countries of the world that practices death penalty as a punishment for some crimes. This sentence is seen as cruel and violation of values in America while some other people think it is a good way of fighting murder and related crimes. However some innocent people are put to death due to prejudice which makes this penalty questionable but there are terrorism issues which make it practical in punishing the perpetrators. It is a mutual feeling in many countries that death penalty is not part of civilization and therefore should be abolished.


Financial costs incurred to taxpayers for capital punishment is high compared to that given for life imprisonment. A death sentence costs several times more than being sentenced for the rest of the criminal’s life. This is because of the many appeals requested, additional procedures needed, and wrangling in the legal formalities that end up dragging the process further. Sometimes the death row can take as long as 20 years and the government needs a significant investment on the side of attorneys, reporters in court, judges, facilities in court, and clerks which is expensive.

Death penalty is a cruel act that violates the rights of an individual according to the Bill of Rights. Whichever the means used, gas chamber, hanging, electric chair, lethal injection, or firing squad, it barbaric and cruel to permit such an action in front of a crowd. There is a restriction of using unusual and cruel punishment in US and death penalty is seen as a violation of this clause. The process of a death penalty requires endless appeals and many needed additional procedures that make the court system clogged. Court systems go through a huge task before giving a go ahead for the carrying out of a death sentence. There are numerous motion, briefs, appeals, and hearings that that monopolize the attorneys, judges, and other employees of the courts’ time and at the same time using up courtrooms and their facilities. This space and time could be useful for other unresolved issues. The system of the court has a tremendous back up which would help to move things (Messerli, 2010).

Death penalty practices the “eye for an eye” slogan which is not a good moral in the society. For advancement of civilization to take place the mentality of revenge should be scraped from the peoples’ minds. Revenge does not solve anything but instead it leads to a repeated violence cycle. This could explain the conflict between Palestine and Israel which is unending. Just like the conflict revenge has led to endless gang violence. The society should be educated on the wrongs of vengeful ideas. Killing people sends the wrong message to the society at large. Killing people who kill does not prove that their deed is wrong. If it were wrong then death penalty is wrong too. Even with the urge to make it a surety that the criminal is accountable for the crime or placing an effective deterrent, killing does not solve it. Instead it gives the society a reason to revenge. They will want to kill the people who persecuted their blood. All in all murdering someone who murdered another does not make sense (Burgado, 1969).

A death sentence does not serve the murderer right. A life in prison would be worse a punishment for them and an effective deterrent. This is because the suffering in a death sentence is over in a short while. Imprisonment for life on the hand makes the prisoner suffer in pain for several decades. Prisoners are treated like animals in some prisons where they are caged in an internal environment. They are exposed to rape and violence in their daily life there. This is a worse punishment for those who seek revenge for their loved ones who have been killed. Terrorists for example, may prefer being sentenced to death to life imprisonment. This is because they do not have to suffer humiliation in a country that they hate so much to an extent of bombing it. Countries that still perform death sentences have a deterred image on the face of other countries. For example there is a rampant spread of anti-Americanism in the whole world. This is because America continued to use the death penalty in it courts. The state is seen as vengeful and violent for insisting on a killing policy.

A poll is required by states for any jury member during pre-trials in order to ensure that they can stomach giving someone a death sentence in an actual court. Most of them are forced to lie in order to get a place on the panel, this is their career. The thought of passing such a sentence makes some members of the jury to acquit instead of risking the death. Prosecutors may also opt to give a lesser charge option instead of forcing the jury into the choice of death or acquitting. In such cases the sentence passed is not just and justice is not served. A death penalty makes the family of the prisoner suffer. Seeing a loved one being put to death by the state is traumatizing enough not to mention the emotional pain the family goes through during the appeal process. By passing a death sentence double suffering is triggered by the state. This is because the family of the victim, which is innocent, has suffered their loss and the family of the prisoner will have to go through the same trauma.

There is a probability that not all people sentenced to death are guilty of the crime. Various cases have been documented in the past where DNA test results showed that the wrong persons had been murdered by the state. This shows the imperfection in the justice system where the rich talk. Poor defendants are not given legal attention as required and the little they get is from less qualified individuals, the only one they can afford (Clegg, 2001). There are also cases of mentally ill persons being put to death. It is not their fault to be that way and no amount of schooling, reinforcements, drugs or rehabilitation can change them. It is not fair to judge someone who committed a crime due to their lack or poor reasoning capacity brought about by a brain defect. The constitutions of several countries state that it is wrong to sentence a mentally ill individual to death but this rule is vague since the jury and judge need convincing and proof of the illness in the defendant. Criminals are often despised by the society but killing them brings a feeling of sympathy. It makes the society shift their sympathy to the criminal from the victim.

Death penalty has a way of bringing lawyers on board. They do not care about the money given to them or performing justice but are more concerned about the case’s publicity and their beliefs on the death penalty morality. In most cases the defendant is pronounced guilty. Attorneys know how to manipulate, cover facts up, and make the jury sympathetic on their side. They can find obscure technicalities which would make their client plead innocent but that does not happen because criminals cannot afford them (Joshua, 2005). Death penalties are different because lawyers avail themselves to earn a reputation. The judgment made in their attempt to showcase their power is wrong, guilty persons are released. A death sentence is useless because it does not bring the already dead (victim) back to life. It should thus be banned because the fact that the victim is never coming back cannot be changed. All kinds of emotions; revenge, anger and hate will never fill up the emptiness felt for losing a loved one. Forgiveness should be the way forward to creating a morally upright society.


A penalty of death gives closure to the family of the victim. They take long to shock and loss while others do not recover at all but recovery could be hastened by receiving this kind of closure. If the criminal is imprisoned for life it means that he will haunt the victim’s family for life. They believe a death penalty brings finality to them. It is also a way of deterring crime otherwise it would be so rampant. Even though life in prison is enough some crimes and people need more, death penalty being one of them. By giving a death sentence there is better service on the line of justice because the punishment given fits the crime committed. It is sensible that a brutal killer be submitted to his own medicine.

By not giving the sentence the justice system would be depriving the victims of something. This act would show sympathy on the side of the defendant other than the victim. For a person to have committed murder in most cases it means there is a line of other crimes he has done and all the victims in each would be relieved to finally get justice and it means that justice for the past and current crimes is served. A death penalty deters prisoners serving a life imprisonment. They could murder people when in prison. Other life imprisoned persons could escape and continue killing people outside as a way of revenging. A death sentence is the only effective deterrent in such cases (Haag, 1983). Due to the advancement of technology there is a very minimal possibility of error. DNA testing combined with other science on the crime scene eliminates almost all uncertainties regarding a person’s predicament. All doubt cannot be cleared but recently it is very close. The effectiveness of DNA for example is 99% while the appeal and trial process remains a thorough one giving no room for errors (Ellerin, 2006).

If a life imprisonment is passed there could be a possibility of prisoners escaping or parole. This would give them another opportunity to kill. The ultimate reason for a death penalty policy is to avoid repetition of the crime. The system of parole does not make sense. There is no way a prisoner can be multiple sentences to life in which he/she still has a chance to escape or kill fellow prisoners. Sentencing a prisoner to life means overcrowding in the prison systems which over exploits the resources there; cell portion, clothing, guard time, and food. If the option of death penalty is removed then the prisons will have a problem of overpopulation because these criminals are there for life. A death penalty gives prosecutors a chance to bargain a plea with the defendant. This makes the defendant admit to the crime in exchange for a lenient sentence. It is difficult to get a criminal to take blame in a court of law but a death sentence does. It is an advantage because the persons arraigned in court are already guilty. The victims’ families feel satisfied just knowing the real killer is on trial and the possibility of sentencing an innocent person is minimal. A plea bargain saves on time, personal requirements and costs of a criminal case. Death penalty existence thus gives power and flexibility to prosecutors to ensure justice.

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