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Morality of Capital Punishment

The morality of capital punishment that is used by the legal system as a form of justice has been in dispute for a long time. Think about a serial killer who murdered more than 100 people, will it be justice if he/she is killed in return? Will it still be morally right? What about an innocent person who is legally represented by a drunk and inexperienced lawyer and is condemned to capital punishment? Bearing in mind that life is inalienable right of every person, nobody should be able to give or take it. Actions that tend to threaten the lives of other human beings are treated with tough punishment. Rules and laws that govern the way human beings co-exist are sometimes harsh and immoral when it comes to punishing a wrongdoer. Some of the most popular punishments are imprisonment and death penalty. The decision about who is imprisoned and who gets the death penalty depends on the intensity of their wrongs. The judges are the ones who have the responsibility to decide. This paper will focus on the morality and justice of capital punishment in regard to when it is used by the system of justice.

According to Aharoni and Fridlund (2013),

The decision of any judge depends on the capability of the parties involved to convince him or her. This means that the judge’s decision can be biased and an innocent person can get jailed or even a guilty person may be set free due to lack of enough evidence. (p. 213)

It has then been said that capital punishment is meant for people who are economically disadvantaged. This is because they do not have enough money to hire the best lawyer that could discharge them. Bearing in mind that death is irreversible, it is then very unfair and immoral for the innocent to be sentenced to death.

On the other hand, capital punishment is seen as a form of retribution where someone who has been involved in rape, killing another person or other serious crimes highly discouraged in the society is punished. The capital punishment has been used to prevent people from getting involved in similar or the same crimes done by the punished people. The punishment may have positive results, but the question remains: is it the most efficient way to punish people? Besides, does it justify the actions taken by the one who goes through the capital punishment? Capital punishment abuses two major human rights. It abuses the right to life and the right not to be tortured. As people await their execution, they suffer psychologically, which is a form of torture (Meltsner, 2011).

Most of the states of late have abolished capital punishment, and instead, opt for life imprisonment. However, the United States, Japan and South Korea still implement capital punishment (Meltsner, 2011). There are several ways in which capital punishment is done. Hanging and guillotine are among the ancient ways that have been used for several decades. Those two methods were highly criticized and are no longer used as they are very painful. Hence, some other methods that are less painful and more human, such as the use of electric chair and gas chamber, are used. Lethal injection is new, but seems to be more popular than the rest of other methods nowadays. Capital punishment may be satisfying to some extent, but it does not provide justice and it is morally wrong.

Steiker and Steiker (2012) found that “Statistics have shown that most of the criminals in jails who have committed “big crimes” have a poor background and others with parents who had been imprisoned once or severally in their life” (p. 10). In a society where individualism is highly upheld, the basic needs are obtained through the effort put by the family members. The limited finances might be inadequate to satisfy the basic needs of some families, and the children are left to look for some extra income for themselves. As a result, they become involved in crimes. Some parents who are imprisoned are not good role models. This is morally wrong, and it has contributed to the implementation of capital punishment. Some time ago, some countries legalised abortion stating that it would reduce major crimes and the number criminals. This is correction of a wrong with another wrong. Abortion is killing of innocent lives, which is even worse than capital punishment.

Capital punishment may be legalised, but the truth is, it causes more pain not only to the convicted but also to the society at large. The moral values of a society are supposed to be preserved and held high, which is not the case if a society permits capital punishment. It is evident that some innocent people are executed day in, day out, and nothing can be done to reverse the situation. There are several ways in which the system of justice can substitute capital punishment that will surely serve justice, and life imprisonment is one of them.


Aharoni, E., & Fridlund, A. J. (2013). Moralistic punishment as a crude social insurance plan. The Future of Punishment, 213.

Meltsner, M. (2011). Cruel and unusual: The Supreme Court and capital punishment. Quid Pro Books.

Steiker, C. S., & Steiker, J. M. (2012). Entrenchment and/or destabilization? Reflections on (another) two decades of constitutional regulation of capital punishment. Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, 30(2), 13-02.