“If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call.”
Professor John McAdams, Marquette University
The worst punishment in the world is being given a death penalty, according to a personal opinion. The definition of the term death penalty is ‘putting a condemned person to death’. This means that if a person kills someone, in most cases, he himself will get adjudged to death. The issue of death penalty has been of concern since times immemorial; however, people all over the world have different ideas of what a death penalty actually is. At the same time, it is pertinent to note that many countries around the world have abolished the charge of a death penalty to their citizens despite the heinous acts that they may commit. Other countries, for example, India, still make use of the death penalty in the rarest of rare cases. Modern society should do away with the death penalty because in some cases, an innocent person may be charged with death, and furthermore, it is not considered ethically correct in order to deliver a death punishment on anyone. This essay helps in unravelling the mystery behind the ethics, as well as the use of the death penalty, and also focuses on the main causes of concern related to a death penalty.
Death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is a legal process that takes place under the purview of a state, for putting a criminal to die as a punishment for a crime committed by him. These crimes may be regarded as capital crimes or capital offences, and the term “capital” has been used because it refers to ‘the head’ in Latin. 58 nations around the world till date practice the grant of a death penalty whereas others have successfully abolished its use. Amnesty International considers the death penalty to be “the ultimate denial of human rights.” According to the organisation, “It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice.” (“Death Penalty in 2011”) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that awarding a death penalty to any human being violates the right to life and Amnesty International, thus, holds absolutely no exceptions for awarding the death penalty, despite the heinous acts that the criminal might have committed.
One of the main reasons behind abolishing the death penalty is that in many cases, an innocent person just might be executed. For example, in India, when the terrorist Afzal Guru had attacked the Indian Parliament, he was caught and sentenced to prison. He has been condemned by the courts and slapped with a death penalty. However, it is only the delay in the execution of the same that has still kept him alive. Guru had written numerous letters to various lawyers, the Supreme Court, as well as other eminent personalities in the Indian nation. Journalists and writers, like Praful Bidwai and Arundhati Roy, have helped his case by stating that he just might be an innocent bystander – a mere scapegoat caught in the entire rift of the attack and blamed for its happenings. According to his personal plead, he states that it was not his fault and that he is an innocent man. (Chandra)
This has put the Indian judiciary in a dilemma whether or not to go ahead with the death sentence granted to him. The delay has been taking place because of conservative jurists in the country, taking their time out in order to make a final decision which will not be regretted later. If the man turns out to be innocent, there will be a lot more like him that might stand up and actually take revolutionary actions against the nation. The country may turn against its judiciary and ten more terrorists may be given birth to. Putting condemned people in a death row or a kind of waiting line for their execution is also quite unethical, according to the Amnesty International, as well as other nations around the world. This is because the death row is as good as a convict being put in prison and, thus, why would that individual have to serve both time in prison as well as be hanged as per a death sentence?
Since a long time ago, capital punishment has been awarded to those that have committed terrifying crimes that have shaken the conscience of society on the whole; for example, murder, espionage, treason etc. The death penalty has definitely been regarded as one of the cruellest forms of punishment; in countries around the world methods like injecting lethal poisonous substances, putting the convict on an electric chair, suffocation in a gas chamber, as well as hanging till the spinal cord gets cut and the person is asphyxiated have been used. The last country in the world to abolish the death penalty was Gabon, in the year 2010. One of the main reasons that it has been criticised is that it leads to the miscarriage of justice due to wrongful execution of people.
Capital punishment should be used only in the rarest of rare cases; for example, Ajmal Kasab, the terrorist behind the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai awaits his execution. The Robert Pickton case, where a serial killer committed second degree murders of six women was extremely terrifying, yet the murderer was granted life imprisonment and not a death penalty. Human dignity is a right of every individual and despite the wrongful doings of people; they still deserve a right to life. Furthermore, it is the media that fuels the minds of people and makes them believe that living in a society where everyone is granted a death penalty for their wrongdoings will help in creating a better world. If this were true, then killing people would lead to a Utopian destination, however, capital punishment is still wrong and should only be granted to the worst kind of criminals, and that too after a good amount of deliberation.
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