Capital Punishment


Capitalpunishment, also referred to as the death penalty, is the executionof criminals sentenced to death after they have been found guilty bya competent court of law for a criminal felony. Grishamstates, “Theexpression of death penalty is often used interchangeably with thecapital punishment, although imposition of the penalty does notalways lead to immediate execution” (76). This is because of theprospect of commutation to a life sentence looms. Death penalty isstill persists in the U.S. in spite of controversy regarding itsmerits and its success in deterring crime (Grisham76).Presently a death sentence may be executed in any of the followingapproved ways hanging, lethal injection, electrocution, or in gaschambers. Capital punishment does not sufficiently lead to thedeterrence of crime. This paper is going to expound and criticallyexplain the flaws associated with the continuous imposition ofcapital punishment.

Althoughcapital punishment is view by some to be an effective way of reducingcrime in the society, its administration is inconsistent with otherlegislation. Grisham states, “capitalpunishment contravenes stipulations of the Eighth Amendment thatprohibits both state and federal governments from imposing extremecruel punishments” (101). According to the stipulations of theEighth amendment, the sentencing discretion in decisive offensehearings should be addressed as per the predetermined targetprinciples of eliminating unpredictability and inequality (Grisham68). Also the death penalty violates a victims’ right to life,their free will, and right not to be subjected to brutal, insensitiveand undignified handling or sentencing. When reporting about theabolishment of the death sentence in Illinois, Quinn stated “thisis a difficult decision and quite literally, the choice between lifeand death” (1). This suggests that capital punishment deny suspectstheir fundamental of life, which is given by nature. This reserve iswell outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as wellenshrined in other global human rights civil societies.

Capitalpunishment propagates social injustices in a number of criminaljustice systems. In most part of the globe, the death sentence isundeservedly imposed on the underprivileged citizens. Most of thesetypes of persons mainly come from minority groups (such as thementally ill persons), ethnic and racial groups as well as those withdifferent religious affiliations. When responding to a capitalpunishment awarded to a mentally ill suspect who was accused ofmurder Broadcasting Interactive Media reported, “This is clearly avery ill man and we need to stop criminalizing mental illness” (1).This implies that capital punishment is often imposed on individualsneed psychological and mental help, instead of execution. Quite anumber of condemned underprivileged inmates would have avoided thisform of punishment if they hailed from the wealthy and influentialclass. It has also been documented that some inmates stand highchances of facing the death sentence as a result of having divergentperspectives with powerful individuals in governments. Human beingsare an imperfect lot, hence the possibility of executing an innocentperson can never be ruled out. Such errors can be attributed tounethical inaccuracies and impartialities found in the criminaljustice systems.

Sincethe onset of the 20thcentury, several studies have been carried out to ascertain theeffectiveness of capital punishment in deterring crime. Mostly theresults of such studies have not provided hard conclusive evidence tosupport the commonly held opinion that death sentences will deterfelons from their actions. On closer examinations, the reverse istrue for instance, states that use capital punishment record highercases of homicides than states that lack a death sentence in theirpenal code. For example, Texas ranks among the states with thehighest crates of crimes, and yet it executes the highest number ofinmates. Broadcasting Interactive Media reported, “The state ofTexas State executes the highest number of inmates than any otherstate in the country” (1). By sentencing criminals to death, thestate sets an example to budding and hardcore felons that it isacceptable to kill individuals who offend them.

Accordingto Henderson &amp Stephen “capitalpunishment at times presents criminals with undue publicity that theydo not deserve” (35).For instance, the famous case involving Steven Judy and Gary Gilmoregot a lot of media publicity as their execution day neared. They werepresented an opportunity to explain to the whole nation about theirideologies concerning crime, country, punishment and anything elsethat came in their minds at the time. It is difficult to visualizethese two men getting unnecessary attention they did not deserve.While proponents of capital punishment insist that the publicity wasintended to deter future criminals, there is proof that such actionsmotivate others specifically the unstable ones who may be attractedto media immortality like moths to a flame. This is even worse whenthe suspect receives a lot of publicity and ends up being exoneratedfrom the death sentence. For example, the case of Alstory Simonreceived a lot of publicity in the year 1999 and the respondent wassentences to death, but was exonerated following an appeal. Inresponse to this case Capitalpunishmentstates “the state attorney found major problems with the waySimon’s confession was taken” (1). This implies that thepublicity had tarnished the name of an innocent man.

Grisham(68) states that “thefinancial repercussions of the death sentence are momentous to thetax payers”. Thefinancial cost of capital sentences ranges between 2-5 times morethan the cost of maintaining a convict on a life sentence. Theseextra charges can be attributed to the constant appeals, legalwrangles and additional mandatory procedures that slow down the wholeprocess. For this reason, it is usual for inmates to be on death rowfor over 15-20 years. Such scenarios would necessitate additionalcourt facilities and staff such as Judges, Clerks and attorneys. Thiswould warrant a significant investment to be axed from taxes. Suchresources would have been used elsewhere to boost governance. Whileannouncing the abolition of the capital punishment, Quinn stated,“The sums expended by the state to maintaining a death penalty lawswould be better spent in assisting victim families overcome grief andpain and preventing crime” (1).Alsothe seemingly endless court appeals, mentions and appearances usuallyutilize a lot of the courtrooms as well as personnel’s time. Thisis constitutes of valuable time that can be used in to attend toother equally important cases. Consequently, the judicial system endsup getting clogged up with backlogs of pending cases.

Whenthe life of someone is cut short by another person, the balance ofjustice is upset. Unless this balance is reinstated, society gives into a culture of violence. Research by (Melusky,Joseph Anthony &amp Keith) indicate that “itis only by also taking the murderer’s life that can restore such abalance and allow society to manifest that murder is an insupportablecrime”.This is the notion that proponents of the death sentence assert.However, society should shun the philosophy that upholds of an eyefor eye perspective. With such a vengeance ideology, society willnever move forward or resolve anything. In response to theabolishment of the capital punishment in Illinois, Denise states “weare a human society” (1). This suggests that the society at largehave not been satisfied with the authority of the players in thecriminal judicial system to take the lives of other people. Forinstance, the Middle East has been in turmoil for over sixty yearsnow due to this vengeance ideology. It is important to pass a messageof forgiveness and reconciliation since hitting back at your foesdoesn’t fully grant satisfactory retribution (Melusky,Joseph Anthony &amp Keith 47).

Capitalpunishment has an effect of terminating the life of an offenderinstantly. For example, the execution of a suicide bomb planner mightmake him appear a hero or some sort of a martyr as compared to lifeimprisonment. To such individuals, capital punishment appears to bean easy way out than suffering in prison for the rest of their lives.On the other hand, with life imprisonment convicts have time toreflect upon their transgressions. With proper rehabilitation suchconvicts can amend their mistakes and be sources of inspiration tothe others. After realizing this, many political leaders are eitherabolishing capital punishment or commuting the death sentences. Forexample, while reporting about the decision of the Governor Quinn,Quinn reported “He also commuted the sentences of 15 death rowinmates to life without parole” (1). This was a measure intended togive he inmates an opportunity to reflect on their actions.

Fromthis paper, we have seen that capital punishment is the highest levelof punishment that any offender can get at any one time. However,when a court of law gives out a death sentence to an offender, theexecution does not follow instantaneously. Also, we have seen thatcapital punishment violates the Eighth Amendment stipulations as wellas the Universal Human Rights requirements. According to Henderson&amp Stephen (88), Capitalpunishments lead to unfair executions of the underprivileged in thesociety).Additionally, capital punishment does not guarantee deterrence fromcrime. We have as well seen how capital sentences may give offendersundue publicity as well as act as motivators to others. The deathsentence causes a financial burden due to its costly nature as wellutilizing a lot of time that would be used to solve other cases. Wehave also seen that retribution is not guaranteed through deathsentencing. Finally the death sentence might make some offendersheroes and instead of rehabilitating them to become better persons.


BroadcastingInteractive Media. Texas appeals court stay execution of mentally illman. BIM.December 3. 2014. Web. December 18 2014.

Denise,J. Death penalty reaction. AGranite Broadcasting Station.March 9. 2011. Web. December 18 2014.

GraniteBroadcasting Station. Murder conviction overturned in landmarkIllinois case. GBS.October 31. 2014. Web. December 18 2014.

Grisham,John.&nbspTheInnocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town.New York: Doubleday, 2006. Print.

Henderson,Harry, and Stephen A. Flanders.&nbspCapitalPunishment.New York: Facts on File, 2000. Print.

Melusky,Joseph Anthony, and Keith A. Pesto.&nbspCapitalPunishment.Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood, 2011. Print.

Quinn,Q. Governor Quinn abolishes the death penalty. AGranite Broadcasting Station.March 9. 2011. Web. December 18 2014.