The death penalty. The supreme punishment. The act of punishing injustice by the means of injustice. First introduced as capital punishment in the eighteenth century, but used since the beginning of time, it is safe to say the death penalty holds a key role in human history. The death penalty is still used globally, in 58 different countries around the world. The rules surrounding the death penalty and punishing crime have changed considerably over the course of the past few hundred years, but one thing remains the same. The act of taking someone’s life is, and always will be, the ultimate form of punishment. Some say it is wrong, inhumane even, to take a person’s life without giving them a chance to reform. Others believe that the death penalty can be justified in some cases, if the crimes they have committed are so extreme they are no longer fit to be released back into society. The death penalty has been the topic of discussion for a very long time, but before we can reach a justified conclusion we need to bring some important questions into light. Do we have the authority to take the life of another human being if we are all truly considered to be equal? Should a human be treated with the same rights and respect if their actions brings us to question their humanity?
(2)Despite the majority of toll takers agreeing that the death penalty should be abolished, a staggering 40% of people, from a survey of 10000, conducted by the GALLUP research centre, still would like the death penalty to be in practice. So why is it that 2 out of every 5 still think that the death penalty is a good idea?
(3)Firstly, a study on the economics of crime conducted by Gary S. Becker states that, criminals are no different from law-abiding citizens, they “rationally maximise their own self-interest subject to constraints.” This means that most criminals act to acquire something, they commit crime with intent but at the same time they weigh the benefits against the potential risks and consequences of their actions. This makes the death penalty a very effective deterrent as it makes the subject think twice about what they are about to do. No criminal commits a crime with the intention of getting caught, but it is something they have to think about. If the worst consequence for the crimes they are committing is simply a sentence of time, they may still be willing to pay the price in exchange for whatever it is they are about to commit. However, if the consequence for their crime is in fact life itself, the stakes of which they are gambling with become much more significant. This in turn causes people to re-evaluate and reconsider their decision, which does confirm the idea that the death penalty is an effective form of deterrent against crime.
Another reason why many people agree to keep the death penalty is because it is considered to be more economically justifiable to simply kill a person rather than keeping them incarcerated. The UK ministry of justice filed a report stating that the average cost of keeping an inmate in jail is £60,000 - £80,000 annually. Globally the cost of keeping prisoners varies, but is generally along the same lines. You also have to remember that this cost is the average of keeping one prisoner, and that there are approximately 18 million prisoners being kept incarcerated across the world. However, one thing can be agreed upon in all countries, and that is that the majority of the cost of keeping inmates in jail comes from tax payer’s pockets. This means that, globally, trillions of pounds are being spent on keeping people in jail, and the majority of this money is coming from our very own pockets. Why should society be responsible for paying for the maintenance of criminals? Individuals who have proven that they do not respect the very morals we live by. This money that is wasted on those who do not deserve it could be spent on building homes for those without shelter, providing food for those without families, and education to those who cannot afford it. This amount of money could greatly benefit the global economy and bring many people out of poverty, and potentially even give them a better chance at life that they may not have been subject to from the beginning.
Finally, the most prominent reason that a large proportion of individuals still wish to keep the death penalty in practice. A lot of people think that, if a criminal commits such a crime that makes us question their humanity, they have given up their rights as a human and the respect to be treated like one. If the crimes they have committed are so atrocious, so vile, that no length of time can reimburse the damage they have done, surely the only option left is to take away their chance of ever doing it again? Can we justify, under any circumstances, releasing a criminal who has committed a crime such as murder, such as rape, back into society, with the possibility of them potentially doing it again? This risk simply outweighs any potential benefit that it could have, any human who can commit one of those crimes can no longer be deemed a human. They must lack something, whether emotionally or psychologically it does not matter, any human that can do something like that to another human being are not fit for society. Another key argument for this is that, if the criminal did serve time, and was eventually released, and for whatever reason did commit a crime like that again, this blood would no longer be in their hands, but rather ours. It would be our fault for understanding what they have done and still giving them a chance to do it again.
So if there are many strongly justifiable reasons for practicing the death penalty, why is it that the vast majority of people would still like to abolish capital punishment? Firstly, the death penalty takes away the most important foundation of setting the stone for reformation, a second chance. It can be agreed upon within any room that humans are bound to make mistakes, and the very thing that makes us human is our ability to forgive those who have wronged us, and for those who have wronged, their ability to understand what they have done and overcome it. It is important for criminals to go through a phase where they must come to terms with their crimes, where they must understand the gravity of their own situation and how they have affected the lives of others. Only then can they reform and make changes in their lives and their mind set so that they can create a new beginning for themselves, so that they can change their own self image and the way they are perceived by others. It is not within our rights to take away this basic right that is given to all humans, we cannot be reason that the people in our society are not given a second chance to change themselves for the better and have a better life. Time in jail gives them a chance to evaluate what they have done and punishes them for it, but their release and how they change themselves after is the consolidation of the process. Their freedom is their ultimate reward for changing the way they were, it is the final stage of the process and it is fundamental in their reformation.
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