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Why the death penalty should be abolished

The Criminal Procedure Code provides for an exception to a class of persons who cannot be sentenced to death. By virtue of s. Up to 1978, it was thought that by virtue of the provisions of ss. Section 82 of the Penal Code provides for the age of criminal responsibility of a child i.

Section 83 further provides that nothing is an offence which is done by a child above 10 years of age and under 12, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequence of his conduct on that occasion. This case, no doubt, created quite a stir and reaction among the legal fraternity and the public as well. On appeal, the sentence was upheld by the Federal Court. However, the sentence was finally commuted and the offender sent to the Henry Gurney School.

This case clearly shows that juveniles are on an equal footing with adult offenders where capital punishment is involved. Case for and Against the Abolition of the Death Penalty The question whether or not the death penalty should be abolished must be as old as the legal systems that have the death penalty as a punishment, and right up to today, this question is still being raised and whenever raised, it will, no doubt, spark off a lively and emotional debate as to whether the death penalty should finally be removed from the statute books.

The death penalty can be defended or criticized on grounds of either justice or utility.

Should the Death Penalty be Abolished?

Abolitionists, on the other hand, will argue that human life is sacred and may never be taken deliberately, even by the State. Further, society ought not to encourage sentiments of vengeance or cater to morbid interest in ritual executions! However, this issue is becoming an antiquity and of academic interest only in the many countries that have already abolished the death penalty. In Australia, the State of Queensland abolished capital punishment in 1922 and in New South Wales, it has been abolished for murder in 1955.

In the United States of America, many states have abolished the death penalty. Among them are Maine 1876; 1887Alaska 1957. Hawaii 1957 and Michigan 1963. In Europe, the death penalty is applied in many countries of eastern Europe and the Balkans, but it has been substantially abolished in all of western Europe except France, Greece and Spain. It is retained in Canada. As for Asian and African countries, as at 1970, the death penalty remains as a form of punishment except for Israel which abolished capital punishment in 1954 except for offences of treason and Nazi collaboration.

Nepal abolished the death penalty in 1931. In view of the many countries that have abolished the death penalty, the issue that other countries in the free world why the death penalty should be abolished follow suit, commands real attention. Those who argue against abolition will highlight the pros of the death penalty while those who advocate abolition will highlight the ugliness of capital punishment.

Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965

The Retention Movement The Deterrence Viewpoint In brief, people are believed to refrain from crime because they fear punishment. Since people fear death more than anything else, the death why the death penalty should be abolished is the most effective deterrent, so runs the argument.

The point has often been made that it is not so much the legal existence of the death penalty that deters potential murderers, but rather the certainty of its being used.

In fact, a common criticism of the death penalty is that juries do not convict readily if the punishment is death, thereby reducing the certainty of punishment, and, in consequence, its deterrent value. One of the most common arguments advanced against the death penalty is that it is not a superior deterrent to potential homicide offenders, as compared to alternative punishments.

While no one has conclusively proven that the death penalty has greater deterrent effectiveness than alternative punishments, neither has it been shown that the death penalty is not a superior deterrent to homicide.

The supporters of capital punishment will rigidly maintain that it has a unique power to deter others from committing crimes. Capital punishment is also considered the just retribution to heinous crimes like murder and rape. In the final analysis, the case against the abolition of the death penalty lies on one paramount singular reason that death is the most potent deterrent to would be offenders. For in words of Sir James Fitzjames Stephen supra: No other punishment deters men so effectually from committing crimes as the punishment of death.

It was largely on the grounds of this sort that the death penalty was recently 1950 restored in New Zealand and after a ten — year period of abolition.

Effectiveness of Capital Punishment In the controversy over capital punishment that has persisted throughout the civilized world since the eighteenth century, the arguments have generally been of two sorts. Abolitionists have frequently pointed out the irrevocable nature of the death penalty which prevents the State from justifying miscarriages of justice in cases of conviction of the innocent.

Retentionists, on the other hand, have urged that the death penalty is essential because of its deterrent consequences. It should be noted, however, that the crucial issue is not whether any deterrent potential can fairly be ascribed to the death penalty but whether capital punishment posesses a deterrent efficacy lacking in rather less drastic, non-lethal punishments suitable to the State when maintaining law and order.

Social and Economic Costs In the United States in 1979, public opinion supported utilisation of the death penalty. Objection to the utilisation of the death penalty on the grounds that offenders can be rehabilitated is also without basis. Retentionists argue that rehabilitation does not work, but that we have continued to believe that it can use it is more pleasant to believe that we are rehabilitating than it is to know we are punishing!

The fact that the death penalty is irreversible has also been cited by some as an argument against its use. They claim that, since it is possible for an innocent person to be executed, it is better not to execute anyone. The chances of executing an innocent person, however, are extremely slim.

  1. However, as can be seen, figures have in fact remained constant.
  2. While the views so presented may tend to indicate a stronger inclination towards the abolition of the death penalty, I am however, essentially a retentionist.
  3. Since people fear death more than anything else, the death penalty is the most effective deterrent, so runs the argument.
  4. Section 83 further provides that nothing is an offence which is done by a child above 10 years of age and under 12, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequence of his conduct on that occasion. To quote Jeremy Bentham.
  5. I shall ask for the abolition of the death penalty until I have the infalability of human judgment demonstrated to me.

It has been argued by retentionists that the risks of not executing are greater than the risk of executing.

In the United States, the amount of money sent to maintain in prison about 3,000 persons annually convicted of first-degree murder is much greater than the cost of execution. This is for maintenance only and does not allow for construction costs and inflation! American society could no doubt benefit more if this large amount of money were used in any of many other ways.

The Value of Life The death penalty does not cheapen life — it increases the value of life and elevates the importance which we attach to it. The real reason that abolitionists oppose the death penalty is that they find killing of human beings under any circumstances deplorable.

Murderers reduce the quality of life. By causing others to fear for their lives, the quality of life in society generally is also reduced. The large amounts of time, effort, manpower and money expended on murderers reduced the quality of life for those others who could have benefitted from such resources.

Human life is of relative value. What is valuable about human life is the quality of life, not the mere fact of its existence. The question that may then be asked: Is there evidence for the usefulness of the death penalty in securing the life of the citizens? Researchers in the past found no statistical evidence for the effects sought, i. The essential moral question: Beccaria was the first writer to urge the complete abolition of capital punishment, and this is perhaps the most influential volume of the reform of criminal justice ever published.

In the countries where capital punishment has been abolished, there is no evidence todate that there has been a significant and permanent increase in homicidal crimes as a result of abolition: The experience of these countries indicates that the death penalty need not necessarily be a deterrent. Further, there is no convincing proof that capital punishment is a better deterrent than any other form of punishment.

It is only generally assumed to be so. As when the death penalty for murder was abolished in England in 1965, it was anticipated that the rate of murders would take a drastic turn for the worse. However, as can be seen, figures have in fact remained constant. Obviously, if capital punishment were a complete deterrent, these murders would not have been committed. Another reason for the abolition of the death penalty will be argued by the abolitionists that errors of justice could lead to executions of innocent persons, even though rare.

But, with capital punishment abolished, this will never be feared. To quote Jeremy Bentham: Error is possible in all judgments.

Why the Death Penalty should be abolished

In every other case of judicial error, compensation can be made to the injured person. Death admits of no compensation. But I think, if a man today is executed for a crime by the State, the likelihood is as close to a certainty as possible that the man committed the crime. And in the immortal words of Lafayette: I shall ask for the abolition of the death penalty until I have the why the death penalty should be abolished of human judgment demonstrated to me.

Yet in the words of Ernest Van Den Haag: Justice requires punishing the guilty — as many of the guilty as possible, even if only some can be punished — and sparing the innocent — as many of the innocent as possible, even if not all are spared!

The duty of society is to redeem the offender, not eliminate him. As of October 1974 twenty-nine States had already restored the death penalty. On 17 January 1977, the execution of Garry Gilmore by firing squad in Utah was the first instance of the utilisation of capital punishment in almost ten years. As a result, the sentences of over 600 persons condemned to death were altered to life imprisonment.

Probably the majority of those advocating for the abolition of the death penalty will share the sentiments expressed in the following words: And the grave is not its goal. The short span, a period between birth and death bestows a man to live life as he so wishes and it is this freedom of choice that determines whether he lives it well or he lives it badly.

The death penalty is of course handed out to criminals found guilty of the most horrendous acts that could ever be bestowed on another human being or for defying other certain strict penal statutes of the land. While it has been established that a prison is a necessary institution for the safety of society, the question that must be considered is whether any crime can justify the taking of a life by any legal body.

  1. In Europe, the death penalty is applied in many countries of eastern Europe and the Balkans, but it has been substantially abolished in all of western Europe except France, Greece and Spain. The large amounts of time, effort, manpower and money expended on murderers reduced the quality of life for those others who could have benefitted from such resources.
  2. The Value of Life The death penalty does not cheapen life — it increases the value of life and elevates the importance which we attach to it. The point has often been made that it is not so much the legal existence of the death penalty that deters potential murderers, but rather the certainty of its being used.
  3. Beccaria was the first writer to urge the complete abolition of capital punishment, and this is perhaps the most influential volume of the reform of criminal justice ever published. It is retained in Canada.
  4. Abolitionists have frequently pointed out the irrevocable nature of the death penalty which prevents the State from justifying miscarriages of justice in cases of conviction of the innocent. Unlike prison sentences, the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable.
  5. Assembly Adopts Resolution on Crime Prevention. It is the job of leading figures and politicians to underline the incompatibility of capital punishment with human rights and human dignity.

More often than not, an act of crime has been done out of desperation, out of a need or on a sudden impulse of the moment as a reaction provoked. Whatever the reasons are, and the reasons must be sought by the appropriate authorities, death is not the answer, to the problem. For crime is a social problem, and all problems should be worked at through sweat and effort instead of being got rid off.

Rather, while punishment has already been meted out in the form of a regimented life within closely guarded prison walls and the inability of the prisoner to live his life in freedom, there should be an equal effort in attempting to restore the wrongdoer on or more socially meaningful paths. Efforts should be made to try to pinpoint the actual reasons for the commission of the criminal acts, and subsequently approaching the problem with a view to reform the individual to the best of his ability.

A prison is an institution, not solely for dishing out punishments alone but far more importantly to provide its inmates in as far as it can, with a fresher and more hopeful insight into the purpose of survival. Death, it would seem, would be the easiest way of dispensing of a few bad apples and in its severity justify itself that the crime committed is that of a totally unforgivable nature in the eyes of the law. But crimes of such equal severity are subjective, as evidence in the varying circumstances in different countries where the death penalty is imposed.

Thereby, there is no standard definition of the crime which merits the death sentence and justice should not demand that a man should pay for it with his life. The hands of justice should rather direct itself to the serving of a sentence within the rigid, why the death penalty should be abolished environment yet incorporating measures in which there are opportunities for self-appraisal and self-development for the wrongdoer.