Is the death penalty effective?


The effectiveness of the death penalty can only be evaluated throughits ability to deter crime. If the death penalty deters and lowersthe rates of crime such as homicide, then it can be conclusivelyargued that it is effective. On the contrary, if the death penaltydoes not deter crime in a specific area, it is prudent to argue thatit is ineffective. There is a general assumption made that deathpenalties deter crime. However, research has indicated that there isno connection between the death penalty and the deterrent of crime(Bedau, 2012). This has resulted in the conclusion that the deathpenalty is not effective. Numerous analysts have argued that thepenalty is unusual and cruel and it goes against the bill of rights.There is no doubt that this form of punishment is one of the mostfeared across the world. However, this fear does not result indeterrence to commit crime. The death penalty has been in place inover a hundred countries but such countries continue to recordincreased instances of crime. The death penalty has attractedtremendous criticism from the people especially due to its cruelnature, as well as its lack of effectiveness (Bedau, 2012).

Homicide rates have been identified as being higher in states withdeath penalty punishments than in states without the capitalpunishment. This is a clear indication that the capital punishment isnot effective. Research has indicated that states such as Canada thathad adopted capital punishment experienced an increase in the numberof homicides. These homicides reduced significantly when the deathpenalty was abolished (Bedau, 2012). This indicates that the abilityof death punishment to deter crime is ineffective. Research hasindicated that there are 9.1 homicides in every 100,000 people instates with death penalties as compared to 5.7 homicides in stateswithout the death penalty. Such research findings have made people toview the death penalty as highly ineffective.

Research has found out that the death penalty has been surrounded bycontroversy in terms of the people that are sentenced to death. Thereis enough evidence to show that people of color are more likely to besentenced to death as opposed to the whites. In other words, thedeath penalty has been racially biased and has largely targeted blackcriminals. For instance, research has indicated that between theyears 1930 and 1940, there were only 12 percent blacks in America,yet 51 percent of the criminals executed were blacks (Bedau, 2012).There is likelihood for juries to sentence a black person to deathand give a less severe penalty to a white person who is accused of asimilar crime. It is clear that a form of deterrent that is raciallybiased cannot be effective and can hardly receive public support.

There are instances where people have been convicted and newevidence has emerged to acquit the person. If a person is sentencedto death and new evidence emerges that acquits such a person, thereis no chance of brining such people back to life. It is clear thatwhen a person is jailed for life without parole and later found to beinnocent, he can still be released. However, once a person is dead,there is no way of bringing them back to life (Bedau, 2012). This canbe well illustrated through the case of Randall Adams who wasreleased 72 hours before he was to be sentenced to death. This wasafter a young 16 year old boy confessed to killing the officer thatAdams was accused of killing.

Death punishment is not only cruel and inhuman, but it also goesagainst the bill of rights. Although the death punishment may bejustified in certain situations where the accused engage in inhumanbehaviors, it is clear that there are other cheaper and humaneoptions such as life in prison without parole (Bedau, 2012). Theconnotation of racial bias that surrounds the death punishment makesit ineffective. The fact that the death punishment has failed todeter crime is also evidence enough to assert that it is ineffective.


Bedau, H. A. (2012).&nbspThe death penalty in America: Currentcontroversies. New York: Oxford University Press.