What is the appropriate punishment for inexplicable crimes? Is the death penalty a definite deterrent or a wasted opportunity?

The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the 18th Century BC in the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon. Death sentences were carried out by such means as crucifixion, beating to death, drowning, burning alive and impalement. In the 10th Century AD, hanging became the most common method of execution with as many as 72,000 people executed during the reign of Henry the 8th in the 16th Century.

Currently, 56 countries still use the death penalty, while 106 countries have completed abolished the penalty, 8 have abolished it for ordinary crimes, and 28 are abolitionist in practice. There have been many calls for the end of capital punishment, including non-binding resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly over the past decade. However, over 60% of the world’s population live in countries where the death penalty is retained, such as China, India and the United States.

The death penalty is a failure. Its goals are limited, its impact is limited, and it neglects the value of life. The punishment is inhumane and irreversible.

Firstly, the death penalty breaches the right to live and the right to live free from torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment which are protected rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We must value life and understand that the death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it.

Many supporters of the death penalty argue that it is morally justified when applied in murder. This is due to the belief that the punishment must be painful in proportion to the crime. Personally, this is a revenge approach which fails to consider the capacity for rehabilitation.

These comments draw me to the lives of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. These two men were sentenced to the death penalty in Bali for their role in a drug-smuggling group and executed in 2015. Both men completed extensive rehabilitation and education and utilised this knowledge to grow from their failure and achieve new things in their life. Andrew Chan was ordinated as Christian minister, while Myuran Sukumaran turned to Art. The death penalty did not need to be used in this scenario. Both men had fully rehabilitated and could have gone on to live successful lives.

The death penalty does not deter crime, Countries who execute commonly cite the death penalty as a form of deterrence. However, there has been no evidence of the death penalty reducing crime than life imprisonment. Moreover, the death penalty is discriminatory towards those with a less advantaged socio-economic background. This includes having limited access to legal representation, which impedes the capacity for a fair trial.

The death penalty achieves none of its limited and short-sighted goals. I believe that punishment should be given to offenders, but that should not extend further than a life sentence with no opportunity for parole.

“Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars” – Martin Luther King.

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39 thoughts on “Why we must abolish the Death Penalty

  1. Some people are too dangrous to continue to live. They ar a danger to their fellow inmates and their jailers. I also have a strong Old Testament morality, and believe in vengence for such people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Too dangerous? I think the prison system adequately deals with this threat. The security classification within prisons is utilised effectively without any major consequences.

      I’m not sure what you are implying by stating that you have an Old Testament morality? Do you also follow the New Testament?

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      1. For the survival of a healthy species or destruction from over-population? is the question Nature asks. Humans have no natural enemy but each other – unfortunately we take all too much advantage of that fact.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Imagine you live with your wife and three children on an island with three other families of similar size. One day, a raft drifts ashore on which a single man lies nearly dead. Your island village revive him, as humans are wont to do, and soon it becomes apparent that this castaway is not of the same altruistic, cooperative nature as the rest of you.
    One morning, after return from collecting clams from the far lagoon, you arrive to find your wife, two daughters and son murdered, their bellies cut open and their hearts torn out and left as gore upon the sand.
    The foot prints all around the bodies is that of a man missing three of his right toes, the same footprints of the foundling man.
    You gather the village together and capture this vagabond who has hidden in a cave. You present him with the evidence and without remorse he admits to the killings.
    “Just came into my mind,” his only excuse.

    What do you do with him?
    • Build a single-cell prison, just for him? Waste the resources and time and hope that you can alter his psychopathic tendencies?
    • Set him back adrift, with the knowledge that the current may return him to your shores?
    • Execute him?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What we’re doing with this scenario is establishing whether you believe the death penalty appropriate in any circumstance. If you believe the above setting does not warrant capital punishment then we’re done discussing the topic.

    If that seemingly unlikely situation does provide a baseline of when you believe the death penalty is due, then we can divine the line where you might switch from yes to no by altering the circumstances.

    And although unlikely, I would posit that such a similar situation, has arisen in the history of humanity, more than once I’d wager.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand where you are coming from, but I’d rather debate actual circumstances. Yes, in the history of humanity I am sure it has happened at least once, but due to my previous response I consider it largely irrelevant as no use of the death penalty in the last 100 years I would bet has been for that exact same scenario.

      Do you think a school shooter who is a child should be given the death penalty?

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      1. I can only assume from your avoidance of my question, though out of applicable context, that there is no situation under which you think the death penalty should be applied.
        That even if I dream up an equivalent, current-times context, you would still take the position against the death penalty.

        To your question: “Child?” A ten year old? A seventeen year old? Mental state? Situation? One room school house on Tuvalu? Under the right circumstances – death: yes. Under others? Life long imprisonment: yes.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am happy to be presented a real-life situation and be persuaded as to why the death penalty is necessary.

        Personally, I never believe a child (ANYONE under the age of 18) should be sentenced to the death penalty. The age of youth is full of growth and brain development. The death penalty at this age is a serious crime and a waste. The prospects of rehabilitation are hugely significant.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. In today’s society, where spare resources flow like water, where the prison system is a for profit enterprise, killing the most heinous of humans, Hitler, Mengele, Himmler, Goebbels, Goring even, though socially acceptable, demanded even, would be pointless to pursue as there would be $ to be made off of imprisoning them.
        My supposition, which you continue to ignore (a simple Y/N would suffice) requires a resource constrained system. Do you expend the manpower to build/maintain/monitor/provision a prison system, even for one man, when your resource limited social group cannot afford it?
        Today’s government states that 18 is the childhood limit. I hold that humans don’t fully mature until 25 or so. But a psychopathic child of 12, in a resource constrained social group, would die in my world.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. There are many different incapacitation options that just prison. Periodic detention, home detention, preventative detention, continued detention, offenders registration and control orders are alll different forms of incapacitation which still allow for community safety and rehabilitation for offenders, allowing them to be reintroduced to society. Yes, we have limited resources. But we have many more facilities than just ‘prisons’.

        I will never ever support the killing of a child. Regardless of the crime.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Someone who is considered for the death penalty must have committed premeditated murder and should never be allowed back in society no matter how many times you watch Shawshank.
        Your incarceration options only apply to lesser crimes. Murder? Prison for life @ $50k+ per year cost. If a society has the luxury of abundant resources then spend away. Otherwise, alternatives must be considered.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Continued and preventative detention for lesser crimes, definitely not. Moreover, utilising other methods such as community service orders, control orders, and bonds can be useful in moving people who commit lesser crimes out of jails. This then free’s up jails for people who commit more severe crimes, and make it less expensive because the prisons aren’t so full.

        Do you have sources for your 50k per year evalutation?

        42 death sentences were imposed and 25 people were executed in the US in 2018. It is incredibly more expensive to issue the death penalty! A study (which I can cite if you don’t want to believe it) found that a death row inmate costs $1.12 million more than a general population inmate! Considering all the Americans currently on death row, that almost an extra $3 billion in additional expense than if they had just been given a life sentence! That is insanity! That is money coming out of our pockets!

        Liked by 1 person

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