Capital punishment,should it be put to deathFor thousands for years humans have deemed retribution as a suitable form of punishment.
As a species we previously saw it acceptable to take a life to punish those who had wronged. Today in a far more modernised society the death penalty has gone out of fashion and was abolished in the United Kingdom in 1964. Whether you believe the death penalty to be wrong or right most can certainly agree it is the most extreme form of punishment. The death penalty will mean different things to different people and groups I am hoping to explore whether we should revert back to our old ways and bring the form of punishment back.Firstly I wish to explain the idea of capital punishment. The idea of capital punishment is putting a person to death if convicted of a serious enough crime. The term “capital” actually originates from the Latin word capitalis which translates to as head, this is because originally capital punishment want the removal or severing of the head.
Probably the most predominant factor surrounding the death penalty has to be ethics. Ethics are a person’s moral principles that help to govern behaviour, this ties very closely to the death penalty topic because there is a lot of controversy about whether it is ok to put somebody to death. Most people nowadays would see the death penalty as a more barbaric form of punishment but to others they may see it as perfectly acceptable based upon what they believe in.
Different religious believers will have varied views upon the death penalty depending on whether they would describe themselves as a religious fundamentalist. Christianity being the most practiced religion in the UK actually has quite a confusing view when it comes to retribution and seems to change its view over time. A quote from Exodus in the Old Testament states ” Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, foot for foot, wound for wound”.
This quote seems to solely focus on the idea of getting even and reciprocate any wrongs done to you. The old testament would heavily support the idea of capital punishment as it believes in the idea of a life for a life. Although this view seems to be heavily outdated as in the New Testament Luke seems to write an almost polar opposite statement saying ” If your brother sins , rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him”. This quote seems to suggest that we should forgive those who have wronged if they appear to have asked for forgiveness.
This quote excellently highlights how people’s ethics have changed during the course of writing the bible. The Old Testament seems to deem the idea of capital punishment as far more acceptable while the New Testament more believes in an idea of forgiveness. Modern day Christianity does not hold the beliefs of retribution over forgiveness and most modern day Christians would properly not agree with the death penalty because they would be more interested in the idea of preserving life and trying to reform those who have done wrong. Although there will still be a very select number of Christians that do believe in the teachings of the Old Testament and would side with the idea of the death penalty. This information would seem to suggest that most Christians would not want to see the death penalty be reintroduced.Islam is a religion with increasingly popularity within Britain, there are currently around 2.7 million practicing Muslims within the UK. Just like Christianity Islam has its own set of views surrounding capital punishment.
Islams views appear to be harsher and more in favour of the death penalty than Christianity. A quote direct from the Qur’an states ” As to the thief male or female, cut of their hands : a punishment by way of example”. This quote seems to indicate that Muslims seem to lean more towards harsher punishment to help try to deter crime. In this case the crime is theft and the thief got his hand cut off to stop them stealing again in the future. Just like the Christians the death penalty will not appeal to all Muslims as different people have different opinions based around the morality of capital punishment.There are certainly positives that can be seen to bringing the death penalty back the first being the cost implicated with keeping a person in prison. It costs taxpayers around £ 40,000 to keep one inmate incarcerated for a year opposed to the price of a lethal injection which costs around £ 960 pounds.
To put this in perspective the average murderer with prison will serve around 16 years this means during his stay he will accumulate a bill of almost £ 640,00.The cost of keeping a person in prison is a huge financial on both the taxpayer ad the the government and with a crumbling health care system can the government keep setting aside large amounts of the countries annual budget to house people who have clearly proven that they have no respect for others and the rules of this country. Although the medicine used in the death penalty is fairly inexpensive there are also a lot of unseen costs during the prosecution of a criminal who may be receiving the death penalty. According to the Independent business times in Britain the average murder costs more than £1 million in social costs, £530,000 in economic costs – including “lost output” – and £174,000 in direct costs to the NHS, police and criminal justice agencies, making a total of £1,778,000. A standard murder trial is no way near as complicated as a death penalty trial and is far shorter. An increased trial length means greater legal fees and even further costs. A death penalty trial could easily end up costing an excess of £ 2 million.
This is money that could easily be spent elsewhere and with an average murder cost of already around £ 1.8 million as a society are we prepared to squander even more of our country’s money on a single case.Cost is not the only other positive that can be associated with the death penalty it can be argued that the death penalty acts as a very effective form of deterrent. This is because of the extremity of the death penalty. Losing your life can be seen as the ultimate punishment and because of the severity of this it may cause potential criminals to think about their actions more as it could result in devastating consequences.
The problem with this is there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that the death penalty actually acts as an effective deterrent. According to Eighty-eight percent of the United States top criminologists they do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide. This information was taken from a new study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology and authored by Professor Michael Radelet.
Professor Radelet saw no correlation between a lower murder rate and a state that had the death penalty. Another possible advantage of the death penalty is the protection that it can possibly offer. The use of the death penalty can protect society from the most violent criminals. In the U.K. life imprisonment does not last a person’s entire lifespan but for only a maximum of 25 years.
Of these 25 years it is highly likely a person will only have to serve around 15 before being paroled. If the prisoner is granted parole based on good behaviour on the inside they could be let to walk free with 10 years off their sentence. This is no real justice for the families of the victim the death penalty would ensure that justice was had and possible bring closure to the family. One article I found by the daily mail told the story of serial killer by the name of George Johnson. Johnson was involved in a brutal murder back in 1986 where he forced a man called Gerald Homer to strip naked before stabbing him with knives and scissors over 35 times, Johnsons motive was he was owed £ 3 by Gerald Homer. Sadly this is not where the story ends , after being sentenced to life Mr Johnson only served 20 years out of a 25 year sentence.
Five years after he was released in 2006 he went onto beat to death an 89 year old widow in her home caving in her skull in a brutal attack. This same situation is far too common, killers being released early from life sentences to kill again. The death penalty would put an end to this and protect society from those who wish to destroy it.The death penalty seems to be ingrained into British history ever since the death William the Conqueror in 1087. William the Conqueror abolished the death penalty back in the 11th Century just to have it reintroduced by his son. After that later proposals were put forward in both the 1700’s and the 1800’s but both were opposed. In the 1800’s hangings were seen as an excellent day out for people of all classes but as time progressed and capital punishment was beginning to grow out of fashion more crimes were being punished by life imprisonment.
The only crime still punishable by death was murder. 58 countries across the world still uphold the idea of capital punishment but since 1985 around 50 countries have abolished it all together showing it is beginning to fall out of fashion. Previously in the U.K.
hanging was the preferred way of execution but this was abolished in 1969. There is no way the U.K. could ever go back to hanging people because of how cruel it was but if the U.K was to reintroduce capital punishment it would have to find another method of execution. Currently around the world the six main methods of execution include electrocution, lethal injection, beheading, shooting, hanging and stoning.For ethical reasons lethal injection would be the only one deemed more ethically suitable because it is pain free and quick.
Another huge negative of the death penalty is the margin for error. Over the years there have been many a time where innocent people have been put to death. Currently in the USA at the moment it is presumed around 1 in 25 people on death row are actually innocent. This is an alarming him statistic which shows errors are being made and innocent people are actually being put to death. Since 1976 there have been 1,389 executions a staggering 144 of those people have been presumed innocent after the event.
On the other hand now modern day technology is now so advanced and reliable there are far fewer mistakes when it comes to convicting someone so this may not be such a problem any more. Although there is still a margin for error for modern technology to be incorrect it is so slight and happens very infrequently.Crime is everywhere and has become a far more normal part of society although it is heavily frowned upon we see crime everywhere from Tv to real life. Despite what the media seem to portray crime is not always a bad thing. It teaches people how to behave without crime there would be no wrong so how would we know how to behave right. Sociologist Emile Durkheim held this same belief and said ‘The only common characteristic of all crimes is that they consist.
.. in acts universally disapproved of by members of each society… crime shocks sentiments, which, for a given social system, are found in all healthy consciences.’ Crimes like murder will always be seen as beyond unacceptable but more petty crimes like theft help to remind people that stealing is wrong and that there are serious consequences if you get caught doing so. If the death penalty were to be brought back there would have to be a new criteria drawn up to who would receive the punishment.
A poll taken back in September 2010 on the site YouGov asked the people of Britain the question what they thought of capital punishment. For the murder of children, 62% supported it while a YouGov poll in November 2010 found 74% of people supported the death penalty for murder in some circumstances, though only 16% supported it for all murders.In September 2010, YouGov conducted the last opinion poll to ask directly if people want the death penalty reinstated. It suggested that 51% did.So why haven’t we reinstated it if it appears to be what the public wants.
The simple answer is the public do not make the decisions. In Britain we vote for Mp’s to make decisions on our behalf and MP’s are not prepared to vote for the death penalty despite the public’s beliefs. MP’s not listening to the people over the death penalty has sparked controversy with a few speaking out on the matter. An article by the BBC found a statement by House of Commons leader Sir George Young. Sir George warned that it would damage democracy to ignore strong opinions among members of the public “or pretend that their views do not exist”.Douglas Carswell MP then went on to agree, saying, although he was firmly against the death penalty, he was in favour of Parliament debating it and would support a referendum on whether it should be brought back.The issue is ever since the Second World War attitudes toward capital punishment changed drastically.
The holocaust massively swayed public opinion when it came to the removal of the death penalty. When in 1965 the English people were being asked the question should the death penalty be removed there was no way people could vote no especially after the horrors caused in the Holocaust where millions of Jews were put to death. Upon looking back at history we can clearly see the deaths of the Jews were in no way justifiable and they were killed for no reason other than hate. This should not be confused with the death penalty where only guilty criminal would be eligible.
The final reason that some people may disagree with the death penalty is the adverse effects can cause on both the family of the victim and the family of the accused. Psychologist Dr Robert Miller looked and reported on various studies that looked at psychological trauma caused by the death penalty. According to Dr Miller’s report the University of Minnesota found that just 2.5% of co-victims gained a sense of closure from the death penalty being acted upon.
The study also found that 20.1 % of people asked said that the execution did not help them heal. One victim speculated on why people did not gain closure from capital punishment based on their own personal experience they said that ” healing is a process, not an event”. What the victim meant by this was , a single event will not help her bereavement it’s a process that has to be carried out. Putting a person to death will not fix anything but it could possibly offer closure to some people. Another study conducted by Marquette University in 2012 reported that co-victims had improved physical and psychological health in cases where perpetrators earned a life sentences, rather than a death sentence. The individual running the study said co-victims “may prefer the finality of a life sentence and the obscurity into which the defendant will quickly fall, to the continued uncertainty and publicity of the death penalty.
” Therapist Lula Redmond works very closely with family members of murder victims and has helped families through many different cases that has resulted in the death penalty. Mrs Redmond spoke out and said “more often than not, families of murder victims do not experience the relief they expected to feel at the execution. Taking a life doesn’t fill that void, but it’s generally not until after the execution that families realize this.” A large proportion of people expressed sympathy for family members of the castigated but the use of capital punishment can lead to the obstruction of healing for both families which can have very adverse effects. Another study conducted by Professor Michael Radelet describes the effects of the death penalty on the friends and family of death row prisoners.
Professor Radelet then goes on to compare the effects on the family of prisoners who relied life without parole. From the study the conclusion Professor Radelet came to was ” the death penalty often punishes the family just as much as the inmate, and after the execution the full brunt of the punishment falls on the family. This added impact disproportionately punishes women and children.”Radelet then went on to say “undermine the principle that the criminal justice system punishes only the guilty and never the innocent. The final thing Radelet expressed wasexactly how much the death penalty “affects everyone who knows, cares for the death row inmate.
“So where is my stance on capital punishment. I would put myself in the bracket of people that feel capital punishment should only be used in some circumstances. Every crime is different that’s why I feel every crime should be sentenced differently I do not feel a blanket punishment is suitable in any scenario. I believe the death penalty should only be given out to killers who show no remorse for their actions and are only really sorry they got caught. It is human nature to forgive which I think we should do but we should also remain firm within the law.
In more cases I would like life too mean life because some people seem to get away with crimes without taking full responsibility for their actions. Just recently a black cab driver called John Worby has been called to be released after drugging and sexually assaulting nine women. Mr Worby served less than 9 years for his crimes, police worry he may have assaulted up to a hundred women.
This is not justice. A criminal like him is likely to reoffend and he has in no way paid for his crimes. The fact that he is being released not only shows the leniency in the justice system it also sends a very negative message to women in the fact that their own judicial system is not protecting them .
In cases where the capital punishment is not appropriate but a serious crime has been committed there should definitely be larger sentences to help protect the public from offenders.In conclusion I do not feel there should be a complete reintroduction of the death penalty. I feel that under some circumstances the death penalty should be used as an additional form of punishment. If an offender is deemed to dangerous to be released or too dangerous to be around other inmates and shows no remorse for the crime they committed, I believe then they should be eligible for the death penalty.