Basic Argument for and Against Death Penalty

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One of the most contentious issues in the modern world concerns the acceptability of the death penalty. The death penalty is still exercised in many areas as a punishment for heinous crimes especially murder. Communities from the Europe and North America embrace the death penalty as a suitable punishment methodology. However, pertinent issues concerning capital punishment are unlikely to be resolved soon due to the different justifications given by the different sides. Some religious groups have criticized capital punishment as inhuman and uncivilized act.

Basic argument against death penalty

Death penalty is an arguably harsh punishment as evident in the ideologies of religious communities such as the Christians. One of the explanations is that there is no offence, which warrants taking away the life of the offender. They argue that only God has the control over life and so the offenders should not be executed (Guernsey, 2010). The Christians further explain that God will punish those who implement the death penalty since it goes against the commandments. However, religions such as the Muslims still practice the death penalty. Most of the Islamic countries have adopted the religious justification of the death penalty consequently applying it as law. This has caused repeated argument between the Islamic countries such as Iran with the countries that abide more to Christianity (Walker, 2008).

The death penalty has been exercised in a manner that is not limited to religions only. Some countries such as United States are predominantly Christian but they still exercise the death penalty. In 2009, there were 52 executions in America which is a significant population considering that most of the citizens are Christians (Banner, 2002). However, the number of executions in relation to the population size indicates is not preferable in the country. Iran executed at least 388 in the same year and the population of Iran is far much less than that of United States.

Capital punishment is subject to immense criticism because it is irreversible (Bedau & Cassell, 2004). This is evident in the cases of innocent people killed in China and Saudi Arabia. Some offenders were killed; however, it was later discovered that their offences did not warrant death penalty. This necessitated criticism from Amnesty international and organizations that fight for human rights because the situation could not be reversed. It is rather obvious that reversing execution is impossible.

Death penalty has been subject to questions based on its effectiveness in controlling crimes. This is especially in the Islamic countries where Jihad is evident. The offenders face the punishment and view it as Jihad and so the executions have little impact in the decisions of offenders. The death penalty is continuously criticized since it enhances revenge from criminals (Pojman & Reiman, 1997). An example pertains to the increased cases of murder in states such as Georgia and Virginia even though the states continue to apply the death penalty. The criminal groups continued to kill their targeted enemies in revenge for the members of the groups executed.

There is also an argument that some of the offenders who face death penalty are innocent and their crimes do not warrant their deaths. Some crimes committed out of anger are interpreted as murder (Banner, 2002). The offenders may be unable to control their emotions and commit such crimes. Therefore, some critics view exercising death penalty as unfair to the offenders. In case of murders committed in crimes of passion, the offenders do not feel threatened by the death penalty. This nullifies the effectiveness of the death penalty thereby necessitating the importance of seeking alternative methods of reducing crime.

Basic arguments for death penalty

Although there is continued criticism on the effectiveness of capital punishment, it is viewed as an effective way of controlling crimes. Most of the countries where civil wars are persistent have adopted this as a control measure to reduce the otherwise massive deaths that usually occur (Guernsey, 2010). For example, the perpetrators of the civil war in Liberia were subject to the death penalty threats. Although external forces such as AU deployed armed forces, execution of the few perpetrators scared some political leaders and this helped to stop the war that would have led to more deaths.

Death penalty is satisfactory revenge for some people who equate the loss of life of the offender to that of the person whom he or she killed innocently (Walker, 2008). Those in support of the victims feel that the life of the offender that can serve as an ultimate pay for the loss they suffered. For this reason, the death penalty is preferred because it acts as compensation for the offender. However, this is not necessarily an equal pay because most of the crimes that are subject to capital punishment are devoid of suffering, which usually deters crime. This is because the loss of life is not equated to the suffering persistent in the society.


Death penalty has been in existence for a long time yet it is still not clear if it is the appropriate punishment for the related crimes. There is no concrete evidence showing whether applying the death penalty, has positive, or negative effect on the persistence of crimes. It is therefore important that proper research should be conducted to determine whether it should be allowed or not. People from different religions, political and societal sectors should be consulted and their opinions evaluated accordingly.

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