Death Penalty as a Cruel Murder


Death Penalty or Capital Punishment is the lawful infliction of death as a punishment of a crime called capital offence or capital crime. The death penalty has lately become an increasingly controversial issue not only in the world, but in the U.K too, with many in this country calling for its reinstatement. While many arguments have been put forward for and against it, there is no doubt that the Death Penalty is nothing but a cruel murder perpetrated by the State that deserves to be totally banned.

Arguments against the Death Penalty

Life Imprisonment is a better alternative

Life imprisonment without parole (LWOP) is much better for two reasons. Firstly, it does not involve murdering any human being. Secondly, it delivers a more appropriate punishment that is prolonged for a longer period. In case of the Death Penalty, the convict’s suffering is limited to a few years, whereas LWOP makes the punishment continue until the end of the convict’s life. This is especially better in the case of convicted terrorists, who would love to be ‘martyred’ by the Death Penalty {thereby giving them heroic status among their people} rather than bear the shame and suffering of undergoing lifelong imprisonment without parole (Messerli).

No real deterrent effect

Murderers do not examine risk/reward charts. Criminals will not commit crimes if they believe they will be caught. And when they are caught, it is improbable that they will be worried about what form of punishment lies in store for them. Therefore, it is unlikely that a few executions each year via the Death Penalty will have any significant deterrent effect on the crime rate of a country. For example, although Canada has banished Capital Punishment for many years, there are hardly any bad effects to social life (MVFHR).

Mental torture of the executed person’s family

In addition to the ones executed, their family members are very adversely affected. They are made orphans or widows and their agony is prolonged by mandatory appeals and ever probing media coverage (MVFHR). The family and friends undergo a period of suffering, mental torture, desperation and social exclusion during the time leading up to and during the execution; it will often cause them serious trauma even for many years later.

Capital Punishment has no moral basis

Nearly every major religion including the Bible’s New Testament denounces the Death Penalty as an ineffective and socially destructive punishment (MVFHR). Every person’s right to life is given by God and only He can take life. The State has got no right to interfere in God’s divine rules. This stance is supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights {Articles 3 and 5} which declare that the Death Penalty goes against two basic human rights – the right to life and the right against torture or subjection to any merciless, unfeeling or humiliating punishment (Amnesty International).

High possibility of miscarriage of justice.

One cannot expect the law machinery {police and courts} to hit the right spot every time. There have been several cases where convicts have been freed from death row due to wrong sentences caused by prosecution mistakes. In almost all such instances, the mistakes came to light due to the efforts of third-party groups or persons, and not due to any court procedure (MVFHR). Secondly, all jurors selected in Death Penalty cases have to be ‘death eligible,’ namely, he or she should be ready to pronounce a guilty verdict while well aware that such a sentence can result. This ensures that the defendants already have ‘the decks stacked against them’ because nobody who is anti-Death Penalty is going to be present on the jury (MVFHR). Thirdly, many nations have been guilty of not totally and properly adhering to the terms of The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that need authorities to provide foreign nationals in their custody the right to meet and seek legal help and advice from their consular officers. There also have been several cases where Death Penalty executions have taken place without the convicts having been informed about their right to seek consular advice (University of Alaska). Lastly, the Death Penalty has been used disproportionately against racial minorities. For example, since the U.S reinstated the Death Penalty in 1976, 35 percent of all executed persons have been African Americans (Sarat, 18), and the same racial group accounts for 42 percent of all death row convicts (MVFHR).

High Cost of Execution

The Death Penalty is a very costly mode of punishment which puts a huge burden on the country’s budget. On the other hand, incarcerating convicts for the remainder of their lives costs 2 – 5 times less than it (Messerli). For example, it cost $ 13 million to convict and execute the notorious U.S criminal Timothy McVeigh, while the families of all the victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing got a total amount of only $ 250,000 to be split between them (MVFHR).

Arguments favouring the Death Penalty are inconclusive

The first group of 3 arguments {it permanently removes the worst criminals from society, it has a strong deterrent effect on crime, and criminals and the victims’ families feel vindicated} is well countered by the first 3 anti-Death Penalty arguments presented herein. The fourth pro-Death Penalty argument that internationally respected documents directly or indirectly permit the practice is counter balanced by the fourth anti-Death Penalty argument presented herein which projects the hugely revered Bible and all other religious books {plus the Universal Declaration of Human Rights} that denounce the Death Penalty as much more ethical as compared to other man-made documents. The fifth pro-Death Penalty argument that it is based on the vengeance principle of ‘an eye for an eye’ is countered by the anti-Death Penalty stance that such vengeance philosophy results in nothing but never-ending violence. A good example is the Israeli-Palestine problem that has been festering for the last 5 decades in which thousands of people have lost their lives in revengeful ‘tit-for-tat’ killings (Messerli). A far better solution would be to abandon the quest for vengeance and make efforts at reconciliation and social reconstruction (Sarat, 15). However, there is one pro-Death Penalty argument that largely outweighs the fifth anti-Death Penalty argument presented herein, namely there is no possibility of mistake when a Death Penalty verdict is delivered. This is because DNA testing has recently emerged as a strong tool that denotes a person’s guilt or innocence beyond doubt. However, it must be remembered that DNA testing is effective only in cases where such evidence can practically be used, and even then it cannot condone the procedural inconsistencies pointed out in the fifth anti-Death Penalty argument.


While the anti-Death Penalty arguments presented above clearly hold a lot of weight, the fact that the world in general is against the practice is highly significant. This is evident from two revelations. Firstly, over two-thirds of the world’s nations have chosen to eradicate the practice {these include the U.K which did so in 1998}, while only 59 nations {including the U.S} have chosen to persist with it. Secondly, during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in December last year, 106 member nations voted in favour of a stop to the use of the Death Penalty, as compared to 46 countries that voted against the moratorium, and 34 nations that chose not to vote (University of Alaska). As the U.K is among the current world leaders, other nations are expected to have a favourable image of it. This will not come about if it reinstates the Death Penalty thereby projecting an image of a country that is angrier, less compassionate, more intolerant and more divided (Sarat, 15), a nation that patronises violence and revenge – nearly the same perception Europeans had of the U.S when it persisted with the policy of slavery after the practice had been prohibited in Europe (Messerli). The Death Penalty should not be allowed to become a part of our country’s culture {unlike the U.S whose people’s support for the Death Penalty is attributed by scholars to their support for the ‘an eye for an eye’ vengeance policy (Sarat, 12)}. Instead, we should all work together to prevent it from being reinstated so that it can endanger our personal values, the moral norms of our society and the reputation of our country.

References used

“An International Perspective on the Death Penalty.” University of Alaska Anchorage. 2009. Web.

“Death Penalty.” Amnesty International UK. 2009. Web.

“”. MVFHR. Web.

Messerli, Joe. “?” 2000. Web.

Sarat, Austin. “When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition.” USA: Princeton University Press. 2001.

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!

Place New Order
It's Free, Fast & Safe

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!