Capital punishment or the death penalty as it is also known refers to the legally authorized killing of someone as punishment for a crime. The most common forms of capital punishment include electrocution, gas, firing squads, lethal injections and hanging. Australia abolished the death penalty in 1975 and since then, there have been many debates about whether it should be re-introduced. Capital punishment is uncivilised, represents solely revenge and is commonly a miscarriage of justice. Consequently, Australia should not re-introduce capital punishment.
Capital punishment is both uncivilised and barbaric. Firstly, it brutalises witnesses. An example of this is Dr Phillip Opus, the man who defended Ronald Ryan and was present at his execution. He never got over Ryan going to the gallows and says “Before the Ryan case, I favoured capital punishment… when he died, a little bit of me died too.” Secondly, capital punishment brutalises the executioner. When an execution is carried out through a firing squad, a blindfold is placed over the firing squads eyes. This was done so that the shooters did not know who fired the killing shot, therefore, they didn’t have to live with the guilt and shame of killing someone. Australia believes in justice, but we don’t believe that a brutal hanging is the type of justice that we feel comfortable with as a nation.
Capital punishment represents only revenge and we are all human, thus, we don’t have the right to determine who lives and who dies. There is nothing in the world that gives another human being the right to kill another, and when it’s done out of revenge, it’s worse. There is also a human rights issue as capital punishment breaks the declaration of Human Rights. This is like the government breaking its own laws. Capital punishment is stooping to the level of the criminal and killing offenders only lowers us to their standard. Is it right to punish violence with more violence? Killing another human being is wrong; “he did it first” is not a valid excuse.
The worst thing about capital punishment is that it is possible to make tragic mistakes; hence, it is a miscarriage of justice. Executions cannot be reversed or undone. There are atleast 40 confirmed cases of wrongful executions in the US alone. Colin Ross was a wine bar owner executed for the rape and murder of a child despite there being evidence that he was innocent. In the 1990’s, old evidence was re-examined with modern forensic technology which showed that Ross was innocent. This proves that capital punishment is a miscarriage of justice and we should only consider re-introducing Capital punishment in Australia when dead people can be brought back to life after being executed through wrong convictions.
Capital punishment is also a miscarriage of justice in being that an execution is sometimes a punishment not fitting the crime. This is shown through Van Nguyen an Australian from Melbourne, Victoria convicted of drug-trafficking in Singapore. Drug trafficking carries the mandatory death sentence in Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act and despite pleas of clemency from the Australian government, Nguyen was hanged on the 2nd December 2005. Evidently, capital punishment also raises the issue of disproportionate punishment.
111 countries including Australia have abandoned the death penalty. From 1900 – 1967, 115 criminals were executed in Australia alone and there should never be anymore. Capital punishment is brutal, represents just revenge and is regularly a miscarriage of justice. This clearly shows, that Australia should not re-introduce capital punishment.