The Death penalty is a form of penalty that involves the execution of a person after being found guilty of committing a crime especially a capital crime like murder (Bailey, 1976). The legal system of a state serves capital punishments to such criminals to ensure that the person cannot commit the same crime in the future. This is also to serve as a warning to potential criminals. Historically, the death penalty had been used as a form of capital punishment by the ruling monarchy. The ancient people believed that only the spilling of blood could make up for the crime, so the death penalty was viewed as the best way to pay for a crime. It was also used to deter other persons from committing more crimes in society.
Crimes that received the death penalty
The crimes deemed the worst by society absolutely received the death penalty. In western countries, capital crimes like murder, treason and or espionage received capital punishment in form of a death penalty for the accused. In Middle Eastern countries, sexual crimes that included rape, incest or adultery and sodomy were the worst crimes and the criminal received the death penalty. Other authorities recognized drug trafficking, human trafficking and religious crimes as serious crimes that deserve the death penalty. Most armed forces around the world deemed any crime committed by a soldier like disobedience or spying as a capital crime punishable by the death penalty.
Forms of the death penalty
In the past, the death penalty had been executed through some cruel and gruesome means; flaying alive, burning to death and crucifixion. Other forms included dismemberment and boiling people alive.
Since the forms of capital punishment in the past were more inhumane, there was a need for more humane forms of punishment and in the 18th century, most countries adopted modern methods to execute the accused. The guillotine was introduced in France, electric chair in Louisiana State. Other forms used by most western countries included death by firing squad and lethal injection.
Compare and contrast the use of the death penalty around the world
The death penalty has been in use in almost all countries in the world. In the recent past, most countries have done away with the penalty. Statistics show that 103 countries have abolished the use of the death penalty: 6 countries only use it for crimes committed in extraordinary circumstances like during war, 50 countries have not used it for almost 10 years, with the penalty under suspension. 36 countries use the penalty to date; it is in their law and practice.
In Algeria, the death penalty is given out for crimes like espionage, treason and attempts to overthrow the government, destruction of the country’s territory, terrorism, massacres and manslaughter, participation in rebellious movements. Other crimes include torture, kidnapping, counterfeiting and aggravated theft. The penalty is under suspension currently in Algeria.
In Botswana, the penalty is executed through the hanging of the criminal. Crimes that evoke this penalty include like murder, mutiny, desertion, and attempts on the life of the president. In Cameroon, the death penalty applied to crimes of espionage, incitement to war and secession of military personnel. In 2014, president Paul Biya, converted the death penalty to life imprisonment.
Egypt uses a firing squad or hanging. Crimes include kidnapping, murder, treason and organized drug trafficking while in Ethiopia death penalty was on murder, genocide treason, and armed conspiracy. In Somalia, the penalty is executed by stoning, hanging or squad firing. Unlike other states, Somalia carries the execution in public and it’s mainly for the criminals who have committed adultery and murder.
In the United States 37 states authorize the penalty, the federal government, and the United States military. 13 states in the United States did not approve the use of the death penalty the state of Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Lowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts. The penalty was executed for murder criminals, treason, and drug trafficking, terrorism, and child pornography. Forms of the death penalty vary by the state they include lethal injection, firing squad, electric chair, gas chamber and hanging (Smith, 2001).
In Barbados, the death penalty is applicable for crimes such as murder and treason. In Brazil the penalty is only applicable to military personnel to maintain military code. In Cuba, a firing squad was a death penalty for hijacking, murder, terrorism, political offense, child rape and drug trafficking. Other crimes included child corruption, piracy, production of child pornography and robbery with violence. In Guatemala, lethal injection was used. The death penalty in Guyana was on criminals of terrorism, rape, treason, torture, and murder but was not mandatory that the criminals receive a death penalty. In Jamaica, murder was the crime that received the death penalty. Suriname in March 2015 abolished the death penalty and increased prison terms from 30 to 50 years. Most countries in America have abolished the death penalty so far.
In the Asia-Pacific 20, countries have abolished the act but 23 countries still have it in their law and practice. In Afghanistan death penalty by hanging and shooting for crimes like apostasy, homosexuality, and murder. Bahrain death penalty is served on crimes of the attempt to withdraw the government, threatening the life of the Emir, defiance of orders from the military and when one collaborates with a foreign country, which is hostile to the country (French, 1998). In Brunei, the death penalty was served for crimes of murder, possession of heroin of more than 15 grams, possession of 30 grams of cocaine, possession of cannabis Sativa 500 grams and more was a crime punishable by death. Sexual acts like sodomy, homosexuals, rape, adultery and extramarital sexual affairs were punishable by stoning to death. Insulting the Quran verse and hadith was very offensive and was punishable by hanging, declaring one a prophet and denouncing their Muslim state was also a criminal act punishable by death.
China is the country with the most executions by far; it undertakes executions every year almost 68 people are executed each year by shooting and lethal injection. Crimes included piracy, trafficking of human beings, corruption, murder, and bombing. Other most outrageous crimes in China included poaching especially endangered species, terrorism, and fraud. A Chinese billionaire-mining tycoon (Liu Han) was recently executed being linked with a mafia-style gang. India’s use is firing squad on crimes as aircraft hijacking, murder, treason, and terrorism. In Iraq, a criminal received the death penalty for the execution of terrorism, drug trafficking, rape, and murder. The death penalty was executed by hanging.
In Japan, the death penalty can only be imposed on multiple murders. Saudi Arabia performs execution in public for criminals of drug offenses, witchcraft and sexual offenses were beheaded, and bodies displayed publicly. Homosexuality is also considered a crime in Saudi Arabia and falls under the penalty. Only one country in Europe in both law and practice has reviewed the use of death penalty. Belarus in Europe practices the death penalty. Murder, terrorism, treason, genocide and crimes against humanity are punishable by the death penalty (Berry, n.d.).
The death penalty should be abolished in the near future since most religions, and amnesty international does not approve of it and aims to end this kind of penalty. To date, most countries have abolished the penalty and replaced it with more human penalties like increasing jail terms and life sentence to perpetrators of the law, the same agenda is realized (Edwards et al, 2011)
The death penalty infringes medical ethics and the oaths sworn by medics. For lethal injection to be administered, a trained physician must cite an execution order and administer the lethal injection. The responsibility bestowed upon a physician is to preserve life as cited by the American medical association not to destroy life (Thuriaux, 1987). The death penalty denies the criminal an opportunity to be rehabilitated (Sotirovic, 2001). Some criminals always show signs of mental illness or drug abuse and rehabilitation could help prevent such crimes from occurring since the best understanding of potential criminals can help curb crime. People who feel mentally unstable can seek rehabilitation earlier to prevent serious happenings. James Gilligan said, “The only rational purpose is to restrain those who are violent while we help them change their behavior and return to the community.” Rehabilitation has helped reduce more crimes and help save lives thus death penalty needs to be abolished (Ki-Choon Song, 2013).
The penalty is full of moral hypocrisy; the belief that human life is important is cajoled by killing another human being after he/she kills a fellow person. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye will make the world blind.” Most penalties that have been executed prove that the poor are more susceptible to death penalties than rich people are. Therefore, justice is not served, and this is hypocritical. Since it involves cruel forms of punishment, it must be abolished. Forms like rectal infusion, waterboarding and nudity are very inhumane forms of punishing a human being. The death penalty is unconstitutional; most constitutions prohibit cruel and unusual forms of punishment that why I believe the death penalty will soon be abolished.
Another reason that may end the penalty is there is no proof that the death penalty has reduced crime rates in countries practicing it. Most criminals who commit murder always commit the act under the influence of drugs and some are proved mad and the death penalty will not help reduce crime since the crime committers do not focus on the penalty due to their mental state. Most people do not approve the death penalty in almost all countries in the world thus this will soon be abolished (Pew Research Centre Analysis, 2014).
Amnesty is prevented by allowing the death penalty; many innocent people are convicted and sentenced to death. Many innocent souls have been lost, as statistics show that four percent of prisoners given death sentences were innocent (Proceeding Of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America). Alanis Morissette sings “it’s a death row pardon two minutes too late.” To protect innocent souls, life imprisonment must be endorsed.
The death penalty is very costly as compared to other forms of punishment. To eliminate the death penalty one needs a good lawyer well paid, an expert witness who is also well-paid and extended court trials, which needs a lot of time and money. Most costs are driven to taxpayers as in the case of the U.S government. Life imprisonment is less costly as compared to the death penalty.
The Death penalty has been misused; racial discrimination is one fact proved by this. Most African Americans are more prone to the death penalty compared to their white counterparts. Studies carried out by the national coalition to abolish the death penalty show that the majority of criminals who are punished by the death penalty are African American, meaning justice is not served thus a reason to abolish the death penalty (Choi, 2014).
The death penalty has caused socio-economic discrimination. Wealthy people found guilty were released but the poor though innocent served the sentence because of a lack of defense lawyers. The death penalty is a form of state-authorized revenge on the crime committed, but this cannot offer solace but time and forgiveness can do. With time, the affected party will forget the past and the criminal serving life imprisonment can learn the weight of the offense he/she committed.
List of References
- Bailey, W. (1976). Use of the Death Penalty v. Outrage at Murder: Some Additional Evidence and Considerations. Crime & Delinquency, 22(1), pp.31-39.
- Berry, D. (n.d.). The Use of International Law by Domestic Tribunals in the Caribbean in Death Penalty Cases. SSRN Journal.
- Choi, K. (2014). Lessons in educational inequality: successful approaches to intractable problems around the world. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, pp.1-3.
- Edwards, G., Babor, T., Darke, S., Hall, W., Marsden, J., Miller, P. and West, R. (2011). Drug trafficking: Time to abolish the death penalty. J Subst Use, 16(4), pp.259-262.
- French, D. (1998). Discipline and the Death Penalty in the British Army in the War against Germany during the Second World War. Journal of Contemporary History, 33(4), pp.531-545.
- Hogrefe, C. (2006). Compare as Well as Contrast. Allergy & Clinical Immunology International – Journal of the World Allergy Organization, 18(06), pp.256-257.
- Ki-Choon Song, (2013). Declaration in Celebration of the 11th Anniversary of World Day against the Death Penalty. democratic legal studies, null(53), pp.384-386.
- Malkani, B. (2013). THE OBLIGATION TO REFRAIN FROM ASSISTING THE USE OF THE DEATH PENALTY. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 62(03), pp.523-556.
- Pollard, E. (1901). The Prophet’s Use of Contrast. The Biblical World, 18(2), p.96.
- Smith, D. (2001). The Death Penalty Capital of the Western World. Peace Review, 13(4), pp.495-501.
- Sotirovic, M. (2001). Effects of Media Use on Complexity and Extremity of Attitudes Toward the Death Penalty and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation. Media Psychology, 3(1), pp.1-24.
- The Death Penalty. (1955). BMJ, 2(4952), pp.1384-1384.
- Tooling in use around the world. (1987). Production Engineer, 66(1), p.31.
- Thuriaux, M. (1987). Doctors and the death penalty. BMJ, 294(6588), pp.1692-1692.
- Vollum, S., Longmire, D. and Buffington-Vollum, J. (2004). Confidence in the death penalty and support for its use: Exploring the value-expressive dimension of death penalty attitudes. Justice Quarterly, 21(3), pp.521-546.