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The Death Penalty: Pros and Cons

The death penalty has always been a way of punishment. The death penalty is also called execution or capital punishment. This term means a legal process when a person is sentenced to death by the government as a penalty for a crime. In the United States of America, the death penalty is restricted under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and is actually used exceptionally for aggravated homicides perpetrated by mentally competent persons. Nowadays, there are a lot of debates concerning this issue. The current paper will review all pros and cons and examine this question from religious, ethical and economic points of view.


In America, the first official death penalty took place in 1608, and the first executed person was Captain George Kendall. Since then, this mode has become a usual way of punishment for both serious and unserious crimes. Since the 18th century, most of the states have reduced the list of crimes that were punished with death penalty. Then, the common way of execution was either hanging or firing squad.

However, in the 20th century, much has changed in the U.S. legal system. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court put a ban on the capital punishment because it was violent and unconstitutional. However, in four years, execution was reestablished in the USA (“Introduction to the Death Penalty”). Nevertheless, each state had a choice as to allow or not to allow it. Thirty two states, including California, Florida, Alabama, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Washington, South Carolina and others, officially had death penalty as punishment.

Today, lethal injection is a principal method of death penalty in all states where it is justifiable; however, the following means may still be used in several states if the condemned person asks for it These means are gas chamber, electrocution, firing squad, and hanging. In accordance with the Death Penalty Information Centre, since the restitution of the capital punishment, 1,365 people have been executed in the USA. Every state has different regulation arranging capital crimes; therefore, all of them comprise homicide on their list. Also, this list of capital crimes includes treason, drug trafficking, rape of a child, aggravated kidnapping, espionage, and others (Garland, McGowen, and Meranze 39).

As of March 2014, there are 63 women confronting capital punishment, composing two per cent of the detainees on death ward. From 1976, forty two per cent of prisoners on death ward have been black, while forty three per cent have been white, and thirteen per cent have been Hispanic; also, approximately two per cent of people have been of another ethnicity. Also, since 1973, about 140 persons have been liberated from death ward “with evidence of their innocence.”


The issue of death penalty has been a topic for discussion for many years, and nowadays, it is also challenging. As for me, I am against it. In my opinion, in the modern civilized world, such punishment is unacceptable, and it is vestiges of medievalism. Nevertheless, it is important to examine different points of view concerning death penalty.

Arguments against death penalty. At first, it is necessary to review arguments against the execution. Of course, banning the capital punishment would bring the USA in correspondence with the global community. This action would make other countries more inclined to recover criminals, which are charged of essential crimes in the United States. The capital punishment results in the execution of an inconsistent number of people of low income and color accused individuals as well. Thus, if it is not employed justly, the execution should be prohibited (Garland, McGowen, and Meranze 88). Often, the DNA evidence has demonstrated that a lot of individuals on death ward are in fact innocent. It is proved that in the United States, about 25 individuals have been illegally executed during the 20th century. It has happened because the legal system is not absolute, and the government should not designate unconvertible penalty. Also, there has not been a reduction in crime number in those regions that have kept the capital punishment confronted to those regions that have precluded it. Moreover, there is no proof that the execution is effective in restraining felons. Some dispute that it is ethically not tolerated by the state to extinguish its people’s lives, even if they are culprit of a crime.

Prohibiting the death penalty all over the USA would streamline the criminal administration system in different states. This action would make penalty for same crimes more equal in the United States of America. By virtue to the continuous appeals process needful to condemn a person to death, it comes out that the state government is more inclined for executing a person than for holding him or her in jail for the lifetime. Moreover, criminal defendants may be condemned to consecutive terms of existence in jail and not have any chance of liberation or parole. Capital punishment of criminals does not give back their victims and can make their families feel guilt and be less able to overpass their loss. Opponents of the execution believe that it teaches the convicted nothing. His or her period in jail is meant to divest him or her of the right to go wherever he or she wishes and do whatever he or she prefers. This is a real penalty, and the majority of individuals do learn from it. In principle, nobody desires to return to prison. However, if a person murders another person for money or just for fun, and they are condemned to death, they learn nothing, as they are no longer alive to understand and adopt it. Moreover, it is impossible to reeducate anybody by killing him or her (Garland, McGowen, and Meranze 94). Another point is that death penalty does not dissuade. So, if the aim of any penalty is meant to dissuade the condemned from accomplishing the criminal act, why do persons still kill others? In 2012, the United States had a murder rate of 4.8 persons per 100,000. This means that nearly 15,000 people become victims of murder per year. Death penalty does not seem to be performing this function. Execution does not appear to be changing every condemned person as for murdering innocent people. Thus, if it does not dissuade, then it has no sense. The admonition of life in jail without parole should in equal measure dissuade felons.

Execution is also disingenuous. As the purpose of any punishment is to explain people those issues that they should not do, then the legal system is more capable of teaching the delinquency of murdering by the prohibition to participate in it. Nevertheless, capital punishment is always violent. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that nobody will be exposed to abuse or violence, excessive or humiliating penalty or treatment. A lot of people have claimed that prison is real hell on the Earth, so it is a good punishment. For example, consider a pedophile that murders an infant child by raping him or her. In jail, there is a tacit “code of honor” that indeed demands inmates to murder such individuals. In most cases, such offenders are placed in individual cells for his or her security; however, there are often holes in such security, and the inmates can find their approach to offender. And in this case, pedophiles are often castrated, beaten to death, gang-raped, stabbed, and sometimes beheaded before the police that can consciously ignore the ongoing takes measures and saves the culprit (Bohm 318).

Thus, the death penalty is not the best way to castigate a person who has committed a severe crime. First of all, it is not ethical, but unconstitutional, and second, imprisonment is a much better way to punish the guilty individual.

Arguments for death penalty. Of course, there are also people that encourage this way of punishment. Therefore, it is needed to examine their points of view concerning this issue. First of all, in the United States, social opinion is entirely in support of the capital punishment. Moreover, the Supreme Court has claimed that it is a constitutional way of penalty. Felons can be restrained from accomplishing misdeeds by an opportunity of getting a death penalty for their actions. Some kinds of crimes merit a more serious punishment than life sentence, and the only method to properly respond to these awful actions is to employ the death penalty. The capital punishment and criminal administration system could be reorganized to deal with different problems of the modern system without prohibiting the capital punishment (Garland, McGowen, and Meranze 98). Also, it is known that some felons cannot be reeducated. Persons who have accomplished especially violent crimes will not be able to return their duty to the nation and come back to the regular life. Moreover, with life in jail there is a chance that felons may be paroled because of a deficit of prison space or escape and commit more misdeeds.

Nevertheless, death penalty is the implicit warning. Thus, if criminals would know for sure that they will be executed if they kill with forethought, a lot of them are much less affected to accomplish murder. A person may have no wish of murdering anyone in terms of robbing them; however, this person is more beware of the opportunity if he/she knows that he/she will be punished to death. Execution also offers closure for victims. Therefore, there are a lot of victims of one murder. The felon gets caught, impleaded and condemned, and it is clear that the sentence will be harsh. However, the person he or she has murdered no longer takes part in this. Unfortunately, the assassin has bereaved his friends and relatives of a loved person. Their grief starts with the killing and it may not end with the killer’s death; however, the execution does evoke a sense of alleviation at no more having to think about the judicum dei. It is a feeling that usually fails to be experienced while the killer still alive. So, only death penalty can grant justice.

People, who support this issue, think that capital punishment is not always violent. Of course, it is true that violence should not be legally allowed, thus the five ways of execution are rather effective in killing the sentenced person before he or she can feel it. Such penalty is also the best reaction to a serious crime. The legal system generally tries to apply punishment that suits the crime. Therefore, if homicide is a malicious deposition of a person’s charter to life, then the legal system’s malicious deposition of the felon’s charter to the same thing is a fair penalty that fits the most violent crime that may be accomplished. Without death penalty, it could be disputed that the court system makes no actions in response to the homicide, and thus gives no justness to the victim.

In my opinion, the above mentioned claims for the death penalty are not persuasive enough. I cannot agree with them, and I think that they are categorical and infringe the rights of people.


American citizens who visit religious institutions regularly are a little less likely to maintain the capital punishment than those who visit such places less commonly. Nevertheless, the major part of regular and irregular churchgoers maintains the execution. The statistics show that sixty five per cent of those who visit services every week or almost every week approved death penalty compared to sixty nine per cent of those who visit services once a month and seventy one per cent of those who visit it seldom or never.

Persons who identify themselves as Protestants are slightly more likely to approve death penalty than the Catholics and much more likely to do so than individuals with no religious favor. More than seven out of ten Protestants (seventy one per cent) support the capital punishment, while sixty six per cent of Catholics maintain it. Fifty-seven percent of individuals with no religious favor prefer the capital punishment for homicide (“Religion and the Death Penalty”).

A national interrogation among Catholic adults found that their support of the death penalty has essentially decreased during the last years. The poll has shown that only forty eight per cent of Catholics now favor the capital punishment. Moreover, the percentage of Roman Catholics who are intensely in favor of death penalty has divided in two, from a high rate of forty per cent to twenty per cent in the latest review. Moreover, the interrogation disclosed that frequent churchgoers are less likely to favor the capital punishment than those who visit it infrequently. Therefore, younger Catholics are less likely to support the capital punishment. A third part of Catholics who once maintained the employ of the execution is now against it. Among the main arguments Catholics stated as their objection to death penalty was esteem of life, and sixty three per cent voiced worries about what the employ of the capital punishment does to us as a nation and country.


Persons, who usually supported the capital punishment, claim that from the ethical and moral points of view execution is often protected on the basis that nation has a moral duty to defend the welfare and safety of its people. Criminals menace this reliability and welfare. Thus, the only way that guarantees that the convicted murderers do not commit murders again is to sentence them to death. Also, persons favoring death penalty confirm that people have to support those approaches that will fetch about the supreme equilibrium of good over evil, and death penalty is one of such approaches. In addition, death penalty is adventitious for society as it can constrain severe crime. Moreover, if individuals know that they will be sentenced to death in case they commit a specific action, they will be averse to do that thing. Of course, it is better for people to take a risk that the capital punishment restrains for the aim of defending the lives of innocent individuals than to take a risk that it does not restrain and in such a way defend the lives of killers, while venturing the lives of innocents (Andere and Velasquez). Thus, if demure risks are going to come to life, it is much better that these ventures are run by the guilty person instead of the innocent. Moreover, people who are in favor of the death penalty dispute that justice requests that those condemned of horrid crimes of homicide are to be casted to death.

However, on the other hand, justice is mainly an aspect of warranting that everybody is treated in such a manner. It is not fair when a felon purposely and amiss causes more severe harm to others than he/she is supposed to do. If the deprival nation applies on felons are less than those the felons applied on victims, nation would support felons, permitting them to get away with paying a less price than their victims are supposed to carry. Also, justice demands that people load the same losses on felons as on those they loaded on innocent victims (Andere and Velasquez). By causing death on those who consciously cause death on other individuals, the capital punishment guarantees justice for everyone. Nevertheless, the cases opposite the death penalty are usually made on the ground that people have a moral and ethical duty to defend a person’s life, and not take it. Moreover, the capital punishment is unfair because sometimes it is applied to innocent persons.


The question of the death penalty is also vital from the economic point of view because there are a lot of disputes that life sentence is cheaper that the capital punishment. Thus, it is highly important to examine this issue. According to some researches, the investigation has consistently and reasonably displayed that a capital punishment trial requires $1 million that is more than the cost for the trial, in which prosecution attorney imposes life sentence without parole. Therefore, such spending is being checked several times in the ongoing financial crisis with the help of some state legislators protecting a moratorium on capital punishment trials unless the economy stabilizes.

The Urban Institute examination of Maryland’s practice with the capital punishment disclosed that an ultimate capital punishment trial requires $1.9 million more than a non-capital punishment trial. Moreover, since 1978, the price to taxpayers for 5 death penalties the state government performed was $37.2 million dollars for one issue. And since 1983, taxpayers from New Jersey have rendered $253 million more for capital punishment trials than they would have rendered for trials not claiming death penalty. However, New Jersey has yet to kill only one felon. The Tennessee financial controller of the currency has lately evaluated that capital punishment trials price is an average of forty eight per cent more than the price for life sentence trials. And finally, Florida study revealed that the state government could decrease its costs by $51 million by precluding the capital punishment. Thus, the death penalty is an inexplicably expensive issue, and it is not profitable for the states (Gray 259).

In my opinion, death penalty is an inhuman punishment, and it has to become a history. I am wholly against it; moreover, the life sentence is a more severe punishment because in term of this period, a person will be alone with his thoughts and conscience. Sometimes, thoughts could be more frightful than the contemplation of death. Also, I am against any demonstration of violence and the capital punishment relates straight to it. Execution is a great waste for taxpayers, so the question is why decent citizens have to pay such money for misdoings of criminals.


In conclusion, it is necessary to highlight that the death penalty is a common way of punishment of murders and other felons in the United States of America. Nevertheless, there are many people who are against of it and those who are in favor. The major part of people who favor the issue claim that it is the fairest castigation, and people who are against claim that it unconstitutional and violating the human rights. Nevertheless, it is very expensive, and in term of the financial crisis, such way of punishment is an excessive measure that devastates the state treasury.

Works Cited

Andere, Claire, and Manuel Velasquez. Capital Punishment: Our Duty or Our Doom?. Santa Clara University. n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

Bohm, Robert M. DeathQuest: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States. Waltham: Elsevier, 2012. Print.

Garland, David, Randall McGowen, and Michael Meranze. America’s Death Penalty: Between Past and Present. New York: New York University Press, 2011. Print.

Gray, James P. “Facing the Facts on the Death Penalty.” Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 2.1 (2011): 255-264. Print.

“Introduction to the Death Penalty.” Death Penalty Information Center. n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014.

“Religion and the Death Penalty.” Death Penalty Information Center. n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.