The death sentence (or capital punishment) is considered the gravest of all known punishments. It is an execution performed by a state or government for committing a serious crime. Crimes that are punished with the death sentence are called capital offenses or capital crimes. The death penalty remains one of the most controversial issues and central topics in the modern world. It still exists in many states such as China and the US. Each individual has his or her personal vision on the suitability of capital punishment, which often becomes a never-ending discussion of whether or not it must be banned. Activists, psychologists, and scholars take part in vigorous debates on whether death penalty is acceptable or it should be abolished. The question under consideration is whether the death sentence is suitable for the modern human society. Is it morally acceptable to take a person’s life if he/she has once turned into an animal and performed a brutal crime? Is it enough to treat him/her the same way? Proponents and theorists of different justice systems have debated on the acceptance for the government to kill people. This essay aims at proving that the death sentence is not morally acceptable under any circumstances. The US as a world leader that represents a democratic society has a moral and ethical standard and power to cease all executions.
The death sentence has been a universal practice in the world throughout the human history. Electrocution, shooting, hanging, and lethal injection are some of the most common modern ways used for capital punishment. However, it has been banned by the majority of countries either in practice or by law nowadays. Almost all democratic countries in Europe and Latin America have abandoned death sentence though it still persists in other countries throughout the world. The democratic society argues that capital punishment is an immoral and cruel act. Thus, the world is practically divided by half concerning the necessity to abolish the death sentence.
Drug trafficking and murder are the crimes traditionally punished by the death sentence in many countries (Sarteschi 1). However, in some states, individuals can receive a death sentence due to political activism or witchcraft. Many followers of theocracy and dictatorship such as ISIS, North Korea, and the Russian Federation retain capital punishment as a terror weapon against their population (Mamadaliev and Zadykyan 313). The others such as Iraq execute individuals due to their religion, sexual orientation, moral beliefs, political ideology, and other aspects or even people who abandoned the state religion in favor of another one. Thus, there are a variety of crimes punishable by death depending on the local laws and beliefs. Some regimes execute people due to their political beliefs whereas the others sentence their citizens to death due to their sexual orientation.
Generally, there are some reasons the capital punishment is considered as an immoral and unacceptable act. The researchers state that the real-life conditions disprove many arguments of people who defend the death sentence (Marcus 849). The death itself is a severe punishment in its enormity, finality, and pain. The most inadequate aspect in the execution is that individuals sentenced to death are treated as nonhumans or objects that can be discarded or toyed with. In addition, the moral question concerning the death sentence in the US consists in whether the persons convicted of crimes deserve to die rather than in whether the federal and state governments have the right to kill people imprisoned (Gupta 666). Thus, the capital punishment is called into question from different perspectives, including the moral and social ones. Many people are against it, and they have serious arguments to prove their rectitude.
The opponents of the death sentence claim of numerous reasons it should be abolished. First, the researchers have no evidence that the long imprisonment or capital punishment have any effects on the crime rates. Moreover, scientists have not proved that the death sentence deters crime more effectively than long-term imprisonment does. The countries with capital punishment have similar crime rates to those without such laws. In particular, in some states, the number of crimes is not reduced after the execution has been abolished whereas the countries that practice the capital punishment still suffer from increased criminality (Gupta 666). Therefore, the death sentence has no real effects on the society as it does not make people being afraid of committing crimes. Moreover, capital punishment has no deterrent effect. Marcus states that “In the most recent poll on point, 60 per cent of the US public stated that they did not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to the commission of crime” (847). However, it totally brutalizes the community in which it operates.
Second, there is always the chance that a verdict is wrongful, and it will send an innocent person to the death row. People make mistakes as well as the judiciary. For example, Clarence Brandley, who worked as custodian together with his four colleagues at Texas school, was wrongfully convicted (Warden 337). Consequently, innocent individuals are wrongly executed. If an individual faces a wrongful execution, he/she will most likely lose faith in justice as well as in law. An unfair judgment may be caused by an improper procedure. Thus, capital punishment is not an option due to a high possibility of a wrongful verdict. This type of penalty results in irrevocable consequences. Therefore, the inevitability of sending an innocent person who is potentially wrongly accused to execution is one of the main arguments of death sentence opponents.
Third, due to incarceration, security, and legal costs, performing a capital punishment is more costly than to keep a person in a jail. It is an added cost to the taxpayers’ and governmental money. According to Warden, the state spends more expenses at each stage in case there is a perspective of the execution as compared to the one when death sentence is not regarded (334). In addition, due to the complexity and length of trials, the overall process, and the number or defenders to be hired, the state spends more taxpayers’ money to handle death row cases. Overall, there are several trials for which the state makes an outlay, namely for the verdict and for the sentence. Furthermore, the costs include the number of appeals submitted while keeping the person in a jail. Thus, the death sentence is more costly as compared to a life-term imprisonment.
Fourth, the death sentence is unconstitutional and unacceptable in the civilized society. Avenging a crime committed to another person is understandable. However, life is a great value. The right to life is the basic right of any person, and human rights are the basic rights to be given to people to have respectable lives. Therefore, killing a person for he or she has murdered another individual is not constitutional (Gupta 666). No authority is allowed to kill a human being since, in this case, it would be also a crime masked by the definition of the death sentence. Moreover, it will only continue the unnecessary violence. The death penalty is associated with the stress and psychological tortures to both a prisoner and his/her family. Thus, the death sentence violates the basic human rights.
More importantly, the death sentence can be considered as a platform for all kinds of discrimination. However, it frequently bears no relation to social justice. For example, the vast majority of people who are death row inmates are the members of minorities or African-Americans. According to the investigation conducted by Bratina, Cox, and Fetzer, there is a connection between the Whites who support the execution and the color prejudice (140). The researchers state that this punishment is performed in a racial manner; therefore, it is biased (Steiker and Steiker 646). Gupta states that it is evident that the number of African-Americans as well as Hispanics who are sentenced to long-term imprisonment or to death is higher in the US (666). In addition, the death sentence is often used against individuals from lower strata of society, ethnic and racial minorities rather than against people from privileged groups (Steiker and Steiker 647). They are sentenced to death since they have no money to pay for good defense and to seek for experienced lawyers. In most cases, the poorest people and members of the minorities become the lone victims of this punishment. These facts make abolishing the death sentence on the grounds of morality not only defensible but also necessary for those who refuse to accept unjust and unequal sentencing.
Furthermore, some persons experience a clouded judgment or might suffer from mental illnesses at the moment when they committed the crime. Such crimes are committed out of extreme anger or passion triggered by situations that make a person act on impulse. For example, a criminal who is suffering from a mental illness and did not take his/her medicine is considered guilty. The estimation shows that half of the prisoners in the United States have mental illnesses (Sarteschi 1). Inmates who are not insane but are mentally ill can be executed. However, mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's daily functioning, ability to relate to others, mood, feeling, and thinking. Therefore, in fact, such a person has no control of committing offenses. Thus, many criminals who committed crimes and were sentenced to death have mental illnesses; therefore, they cannot be executed.
Moreover, everyone deserves to get a second chance in order to correct himself. All people are believed to be imperfect. Making mistakes appears to be normal as no person is impeccable. The offenders are also human beings; therefore, they should be given this privilege to improve themselves and make them fit for the community. Justice should be for everyone; therefore, its primary aim is to preserve human lives and remove the crimes in society rather than the offenders. Consequently, it would be fair to give a second chance even to persons who committed serious crimes since they all deserve to start a new life from scratch. Reintegration into society and rehabilitation are important and civilized ways of correction.
Finally, the death sentence is less grave than jail is. This reason is not coming from the moral perspective; however, it still has a right to exist. The capital punishment is condemned to individuals who have committed serious crimes such as rape, terrorism, treason, mass murder, and other violent acts. The death sentence takes away the life of the offender in seconds, which does not result in his/her repentance. Many people believe that these criminals deserve even more severe punishment. Instead, they should spend the rest of their lives in prisons in which they will be tortured in order for them not to cogitate repeating any similar act (Marcus 840). This step will contribute to further strengthening the trust of citizens in the judiciary. In addition, it will satisfy the party who has suffered out of the crime and will serve as an example to other people.
The US is a world leader where the death sentence as a form of punishment still was not banned. Considering the aforementioned reasons, the US authorities should finally make a difficult decision and abolish the death sentence. Taking into account the position of the US on the world scene, it can be assumed that it will be followed by other democratic countries. Thus, the US has enough power to cease all executions. The only aspect needed to perform this action is a political will of the US authorities.
In conclusion, there are many con arguments associated with the death penalty. The death sentence is the most serious among known kinds of punishment. It remains one of the most debated issues in the US. Although many people consider the execution an immoral and unacceptable act in the civilized society, it is still persisting in America. However, there are numerous reasons it should be abolished. Capital punishment is an act against morality, which has no strong deterrent effect, and it does not reduce the crime rates. Moreover, there is a high possibility that a verdict will appear to be wrongful. It means that an innocent person can be punished by death. The death sentence is more expensive than a long-life imprisonment. It is a form of revenge and a kind of discrimination that is unacceptable in a civilized society. The death sentence violates basic human rights, and it does not give a second chance to improve for a person who committed the crime that is not right from the moral perspective. The US as a world leader has moral, ethical standards and the power to cease all executions both on its territory and across the globe. The death sentence should be abolished in the civilized countries, and no state or person should have been given the right to perform such a type of prosecution. In addition, with the right help, offenders can start a new life and be useful for the society.