The Death Penalty Is Unjustifiable Discussion Philosophy Essay

“The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. Its use is unjustifiable” Discuss?

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Death penalty or Capital punishment has been defined by some people as a punishment that “constitutes cruel and inhuman punishment” (Rae, 2000, p 215). In countries that apply death penalty, for the offence to deserve capital punishment, the crime must be led to a death of the victim and the offender has to be done his crime in purpose. There is no agreement around the world about whether Capital punishment is a right punishment and whether it can bring justice. In this assignment, the focus is on discussing the views, which agree or disagree with capital punishment.

The traditional view about the reasons of death penalty, is that some societies believe that capital punishments prevents people from committing crimes which can lead to the death of other people, and therefore to prevent and reducing murders, capital punishment can play an essential role (Michigan State University and Death Penalty Information Center, 2000). Therefore, the major purpose of capital punishment according to this view is achieving justice. On the other side, others disagrees with this view and says that capital punishment carries a high risk in extreme in justice specially when many cases in different crimes has led by time to discover different criminal and proofs the innocence of the convicted person. For example, Michigan State University and Death Penalty Information Center, (2000, p 8) mentioned that people who are oppose capital punishment argue, “Once an inmate is executed, nothing can be done to make amends if a mistake has been made”. This means that capital punishment can lead to a huge mistake that equals the original crime and causes the death of another innocent people.

Some people go further than that; the capital punishment cannot achieve justice, to consider that the capital punishment does not contribute to the deterrence of crime, but can result in increasing the crime rate (Ott, 2004). Ott (2004) mentioned a study posted by the Death Penalty Information Center reported that in USA, the crime rate is the states, which apply capital punishment, were 30 % higher than the rate in states that do not have capital punishment.

Furthermore, Michigan State University and Death Penalty Information Center, (2000) mentioned that there is strong evidence which suggests that convicting people of killing is not accurate, where mistakes has been done for accusing people of killing or sentencing them to death with a ratio of 1 to 7 of those sentenced were innocent. These results support the direction and the view of those who oppose capital punishment.

People who support death penalty argue that people who kill others must not be given the chance to live, otherwise justice is not achieved. They stresses that the criminal in the death row have the time and the chance to decide on the way he die and have the chance to see his/her relatives and parents before the execution, while the victims did not have these chances (Ornellas, 2001). In addition, supporters of death penalty believe that death penalty gives closure to the victims’ families (Hinton, 2009). Moreover, supporters of death penalty considers that the main reason for the opposition of death penalty is the fear of mistakes in convicting, and nowadays with the high technology and the DNA testing, and the development of forensic sciences makes it accurate for the judge to sentence the right criminals (Hinton, 2009). Michigan State University and Death Penalty Information Center, (2000), mentions that although in some cases innocent people were saved from the execution row, however, there is no strong evidence that proofs that an innocent person has been executed, and most of the people who were proven innocent before they executed were because of judicial technicalities. However, not all people who oppose death penalty base their justification on justice. For instance some argues that the cost of death sentences and the procedures to appeal cost the taxpayers a lot of money, which in many cases can be more expensive then putting the criminals in the prison (Hinton, 2009). Furthermore, imprisonment may not fix the criminal, and in fact, the criminal might be more violent and hate the society because of the prison environment.

Remi (2010) did not agree with that, death penalty can deter crime, because many crimes when they happen, the criminal is already 100% convinced that he will not be caught, and therefore death penalty cannot deter him/her from killing since he/she is not going to be caught. Moreover, people who oppose death penalty describe it as revenge, which is not acceptable in civilised countries. According to Andre and Velasquez (1988, paragraph 2) “Capital punishment is often defended on the grounds that society has a moral obligation to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens. Murderers threaten this safety and welfare. Only by putting murderers to death can society ensure that convicted killers do not kill again”. However, as mentioned before many statistics about the rate of crime proves that in USA, states that apply capital punishment have higher rate of increasing crime than the states that do not apply capital crime.

Are these arguments right?

From this previous discussion of the views on death penalty, it can be noticed that the people who oppose the capital punishment base their refusal for this penalty on different reasons. First of all the first reason is that judges and investigators may do an error when convicting the suspect of the murder, and therefore capital punishment may not achieve justice if the wrong person is executed. In this point, and as discussed in this essay, the supporters of the capital punishment defend their views by saying that these days technology has made it easy for investigators to know the real criminal, such as DNA test and Computer software. However, it is important to mention here that when discussing the death penalty whether it is right or wrong, we should separate the error issue from the death penalty itself. When people oppose the death penalty, they oppose it in itself as a punishment for killing even if the convicted person is the right criminal.

Secondly, the second reason which the oppose of death penalty base on is that it is expensive and it cost the taxpayers a lot of money because of the legal procedures which has to follow the first sentence (appeal procedures and lawyers). While the supporters of the death penalty say that the cost of the putting the criminal in jail for life would be more expensive. From this point, it is not a strong reason which the oppose or supporter of the death penalty rely on, because it is based on financial reasons and not on ethical reasons or human reasons.

The third reason or argument of the death penalty is related to crime control. Supporters of death penalty say that it reduces crime rate and reduce the amount of violence because people will be scared from the punishment they will get. On the other side, the opposition of the death penalty strongly refuse this reason, and the statistics, which provided in this essay show that it do not necessary, reduce crime. This point of argument can be considered as good argument because it is not based on money saving or error, but because it is based on preventing more crimes.

The last argument of the death penalty is based on the suffering of the person who is sentenced to death, because it takes some times about a year until he or she executed and some people as a cruel justice describe this. However the supporters of death penalty says that for the criminal to suffer because his wait to be executed is fair because he made the person who killed and his family suffer.


In conclusion, and same as many arguments in the justice systems and rules, death penalty remains a complicated argument across the world, since many people believe that death penalty really help in preventing crimes and violence, and where many other people provide solid evidence that it is not helpful in reducing the crime level. Despite these arguments, people should keep in mind their different communities and regions have different look and views about what is ethical and what is not, where what is ethical here is not necessarily ethical in other part of the world. Although we should not forget that many people and views are based on believes and religion where it is almost impossible for them to do the opposite of their religion even if they think it is not right.