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Death Penalty Validity as a Form of Punishment


This paper attempts to assess the validity of death penalty as a form of punishment for controlling the increasing crime rates. In doing so, it will first examine the arguments for death penalty, analyze whether the gist of these arguments are met by awarding capital punishment. Then the paper will dwell on the arguments against capital punishment and weigh the pros and cones of both sides. Finally, the paper will try to provide a solution or an option that can eliminate an extreme step.

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Capital Punishment

Humans are a constantly evolving species not only by their physical appearance but in the emotional as well as philosophical context also. For thousands of years, every ruler in every country has regarded death penalty as an effective deterrent for people who jeopardize the general peace and tranquility of a society, by indulging in crimes. However, with time, the human civilization has developed and people gained a better understanding of the implications of death penalty. This form of capital punishment resorts to physically eliminating the criminals to prevent chaos and bring order in the society. In the year of 1764, Marquis of Beccaria, an Italian philosopher and politician, proposed the abolition or strictly limited use of death penalty for the first time in his masterpiece, On Crimes and Punishments. Death penalty, the oldest and easiest way of punishment, has become a complicated topic and an everlasting controversy in the modern world, and many countries have abolished it as a form of punishment. [Although death penalty may be a deterrent for criminals, it still is a barbaric way of punishing a human being and, therefore, it cannot be allowed to sustain in a civilized society.]

There is no doubt that death penalty has its own reasons for existing over thousands of years, and it has remained a tool for rulers to curb the human tendency of committing crimes. This form of punishment reflects the government’s attitude towards criminals, and the law and order system believes that it is responsible for the safe and peaceful existence of people in a country. Those in power generally have felt that death penalty is much more effective than other penalties to control crimes. However, as human civilization evolved, more and more countries in the world have abolished death penalty obviously on humanitarian grounds as these nations have perceived it as barbaric. Amnesty International’s latest information shows that “76 countries and territories have abolished the death penalty for all crimes.” Thus, it transpires that as humans keep evolving into a higher plateau of civilization, chances are that death penalty will be eradicated as a form of punishment.

Those who argue in favor of death penalty contend that crimes keep increasing and only drastic punishments can check the trend. However, the irony remains that despite having this system of deterrence in practice for centuries, the authorities have not been able to curb the tendency of humans to commit crimes. As stated earlier, most of the countries around the world have been implementing capital punishment as a crime prevention strategy. However, the prevalence and increase in the crime rates are indications that severe deterrents alone cannot check the evil of crime. If capital punishment were the right answer, the world today would not be facing the challenge of ever increasing crimes. The futility of death penalty, as a countermeasure to dissuade criminals, becomes evident from the contention of Dr. David A. Hoekema who points out in one of his articles titled, Capital Punishment: The Question of Justification, that “When studies have compared the homicide rates for the past 50 years in states that employ the death penalty and in adjoining states that have abolished it, the numbers have in every case been quite similar; the death penalty has had no discernible effect on homicide rates.” (Hoekema). The information that the author provides nullifies the notion that death penalty is an effective tool to curb crimes.

The proponents of death penalty argue that capital punishment is necessary to provide retribution of the crime. They hold the view that the victim’s family goes through a traumatic experience and in order to bring then justice it is necessary that the perpetrator is punished with an equal measure. However, if we examine the ethical side of it, we can see that killing or taking a human life, whether it is done by an individual, ruler or government, is not a right thing. It is obviously against God to take a life before it ends naturally. Religions all over the world hold the same philosophical view that we should not take a human life as it is against the spirit of humanity. So far the question of retribution is concerned, will the bereaved family of a victim find happiness of retribution when the killer is executed? Not likely! On the other hand, if the criminal is incarcerated the family will have a solace that the wrong doer has been put away in prison and will not remain a threat to the society. This, no doubt, is the right punishment for the crime rather than killing the person which is against the laws of nature.

Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez, in an article titled, Capital Punishment: Our Duty or Our Doom, maintain that “death penalty is not necessary to achieve the benefit of protecting the public from murderers who may strike again. Locking murderers away for life achieves the same goal without requiring us to take yet another life.” (Andre, Velasquez). Obviously, these authors have a valid point to make. The proponents of capital punishment always stress a theory that it is necessary to eliminate hardcore criminals because they are a threat to the society and their liquidation will rule out the chances of further crimes. In this context, it can be well understood that if it were a simple question of preempting the criminals from committing more crimes, putting them behind the bars will serve the same purpose. Therefore, death penalty cannot be justified even as an essential preventive measure in controlling crimes in the modern society which has other means to do it.

From the above discussions, it becomes amply clear that death penalty cannot be tolerated as a mode of punishment for curbing crimes in the modern society. Its validity is challenged both in terms of its ineffectiveness in controlling crimes as well as our need to eschew barbarianism as a civilized society. It is more than time the authorities concerned focused on positive measures that will educate people by making them aware of the effects of crimes on our society rather than waiting for them to commit crimes and punishing them for it. While desisting from deeds that make us abettors to the act of taking human lives, our focus should be to improve human conditions by providing equal opportunity to all humans irrespective of caste, creed or race, and to eliminate depravity which apparently is the root cause of crimes.

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Works Cited

Andre, Claire and Velasquez, Manuel. Capital Punishment: Our Duty or Doom? Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University. 2009. Web.

Hoekema, David. A. Capital Punishment: The Question of Justification. Religion Online. 2009. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 11). Death Penalty Validity as a Form of Punishment.

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"Death Penalty Validity as a Form of Punishment." StudyCorgi, 11 Nov. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Death Penalty Validity as a Form of Punishment." November 11, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Death Penalty Validity as a Form of Punishment." November 11, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Death Penalty Validity as a Form of Punishment." November 11, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Death Penalty Validity as a Form of Punishment'. 11 November.

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