Though death penalty law has received insurmountable onslaught from the opposing activists and human rights campaigners, a number of states have maintained a hard stance and stood their grounds, this has been with good reasons. It is also in the clear understanding of its benefits and the hollowness of the counter claims. The position of this paper is that capital punishment has a wide range of benefits to a nation. Capital punishment deters crime, curbs recidivism, controls overcrowding and reduces the cost of maintaining inmates serving life sentences.
A number of econometric studies conducted between 1978 and 2000 in the United States by a number of scholars bear the truth about the deterrence abilities of capital punishment (Paul R. Z. , 2006, 34). These studies have established the obvious, just as incarceration deters crime so does capital punishment. Capital punishment simply refers to an act by state of executing criminals found to have committed capital offenses. History has it that the origin of capital punishment was necessitated by the need to quell soaring rates of grievous crimes and political dissent.
There are various crimes that are punished using death penalty; these however usually vary from one country to another and are a product of a states traditions and societal expectations. In China corruption is considered serious enough to attract a death penalty. Majority of countries regard drug trafficking, rape and cold blood premeditated murders as capital offences. Zhiqiang Liu (2004, 12), an economist, is particularly categorical in his study of the ability of capital punishment to deter crime.
He goes forth and posits that one execution of criminal by state goes ahead to safeguard about eight lives of potential victims, this is in accordance to a study he conducted in the United States between the early 1930s and the late 1960s. This study is quite confident on the relationship between executions and crimes rate. These findings had earlier been echoed by H. Naci Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings (2003, 29) in a state level study conducted for a period of 20 years up to 1997. The conclusion of this study was reached after a careful analysis of the homicidal and imprisonment rates compared with the rate of capital penalties meted out.
The conclusion was that each execution carried out went ahead and reduced the number of homicidal cases after while rescinding of a death penalty generated a significant increase of murder cases. The issue of deterrence has received quite a sizeable proportion of interest from academicians. This interest is not only as a result of its relation to capital punishments only but also in regard to other crimes as well. One of the reasons behind incarceration in addition to locking out criminal elements away from the precincts of the society is to deter occurrences of similar crimes from potential criminals.
Theories have been put forward to analyze the effects of imprisonment and punishment as a form of deterrence. Most scholars have found a correlation between the two. The fear of imprisonment, fines and other forms of punishment is one big reason why many people would rather not go against the law. Early philosophers theorized about the origin of state saying it was brought forth to arrest the anarchical situation that reigned in the original state of nature.
The presence of state also gave birth to the need to create laws and spell out the nature of punishment for the violators, such punishment would be meant to deter. There is an undeniable link between deterrence and punishment and the harsher the punishment, the more efficient the deterrence (Van den Haag, E. , 1975). The idea hence that harsh punishment meted out against criminals does not deter similar occurrences is inconceivable; almost all scholars are in agreement that capital punishment should be given to the elements in the society charged with grievous crimes.
The basic argument here should be that the nature of crime one commits should attract an equally harsh punishment. Capital crimes rank the highest. None would be harsher than death and this would go ahead in preventing others with similar intentions. A total of 53 criminals were executed in the United States two years ago (Amnesty international, 2007). A bigger portion of those were in Texas. Critics admit that these executions went a long way in curbing crimes in the states that they were carried out and most studies agree.
The issue of deterrence hence is unquestionable. A secondary objective of capital punishment on capital offenses is to stigmatize grievous crimes like rape and murder. It seeks to portray the horrific nature of such acts. Nothing would portray this better than an execution. Capital crimes cannot be deterred effectively by imposing light sentences or life imprisonments with an option of a parole. It is not in question that prospects of imprisonment would deter future acts of crimes, but this might not be applicable in well mapped out and executed murders.
The prospect of a parole itself negates the deterrence that could have been achieved. The prospects of a death penalty on the other hand make any criminal to have second thoughts before contemplate on taking innocent lives. Capital punishments with an intention of deterring crimes should not only be carried out but they should also be highly publicized to ensure that such news reach all quarters (Hugo A. B. , 1997, 67). . Texas has an exceptionally high proportion of executions being with over half of all executions in the United States.
These executions have been on the increase in these recent past years. Dale O. Cloninger and Roberto Marchesni (2001, 62) carried out a study with an intention of comparing two periods, when in one, executions were near zero and in another where there were remarkably high number of executions. This study found that the deterrence hypothesis holds. The numbers of homicide cases reported when there were minimal executions were higher than in when the number of executions went up. Other studies have found that executions conducted in one state have a spill over effect to other areas.
Executions in one state may result to a reduced rate of capital crimes in a neighboring state indicating how efficient the idea of deterrence is (Van den Haag, Ernest, 1975, 26). Deterrence operates within a framework of three assumptions; the first one is based on what the law stipulates. The contents of the law are themselves enough to deter crime; a tough law goes a long way in preventing criminal tendencies. The second one is punishment. Everyone should be made aware of what the punishment for violating a certain law is. The third aspect is the certainty of such a punishment.
This is where capital punishment comes and it is ascertained through carrying out executions. The state goes right ahead in achieving this and deterrence is achieved. Robertson I (1989, 33) notes that “through punishment corrections serve to deter the offender from deviating and it scares others who might be tempted into crime” Capital punishment has also a cost advantage. In the process of meting out a judgment especially for the lesser crimes, the court determines whether to imprison or fine an individual by looking at the possible costs of incarceration, the nature of the crime and the character of the individual.
This is a complicated formula that puts into consideration even the salaries and expenses of the probation officers alongside other costs. The average cost of maintaining a prisoner for a whole year in prison as established in the finding conducted in 2003 is well above twenty-five thousand dollars. This number if multiplied with the millions serving jail sentences in the United States really puts a strain on the public coffers.
Fines and paroles are important ways of circumventing this cost and to a greater extent eradicates the social and health issues that arise as a result of the increasing over crowding in the jails today, especially occasioned by the three strikes law. The prisons in most countries, United States included, are always carrying above the expected capacity. Although the intention of capital punishment is not to decongest prisons, when imposed, it goes ahead to achieve this. The costs of congestion are insurmountable both social and economic (Gottfried, T. , 1997, 78).