Death Penalty Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 15 November 2016

Death Penalty


This essay was mainly about death penalty. The information of essay was partially taken from the internet, through discussion among tutor and friends as well as general knowledge from outside sources. The objective of carrying out death penalty is to show that justice for extreme crime still exists. Electrocution, hanging, gas chamber, firing squad and lethal injection are the methods of execution in death penalty. In contrast, death penalty is a necessary evil that serves as deterrent to reduce crime rate, assures safety of the society and extreme criminals deserve retribution for their action. In conclusion, death penalty comes with positive and negative effects throughout a lot of aspects. Whether death penalty is inhuman or a necessary evil, it is an arguable issue in the society.


Death penalty is the most contentious penal practice in the modern world and it has always been a controversial issue until today. Death penalty can be defined as a process to kill an individual by the state (Amnesty International 2010). Death penalty as a just punishment should be distinguished rationally to fit the crime. For instance, a person who stole magazine from a bookshop does not deserve death penalty as their punishment. However, a serial killer, who commits homicide repetitively for no tolerable reasons, definitely deserves death penalty. As long as criminals such as serial killers still exist, we will spend our life living in fear. In Malaysia, the death penalty is mandatory for some offenses such as discharging a firearm with the intention of causing death and offences against the person of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and murder (Laws of Malaysia 2006). This issue, death penalty is very important because it is related to one’s lives. Is the death penalty inhumane or a necessary evil? Some strongly believe that death penalty is against human rights and death penalty costs more than life without parole. However, death penalty serves as a deterrent to help reduce crime rate, assures safety of the society and extreme criminals deserve retribution for their action.


King Hammurabi of Babylon was the first to establish the death penalty codes for 25 different crimes back in the Eighteenth Century B.C. The death penalty was listed in the Fourteenth Century B.C.’s Hittite Code; in the Seventh Century B.C.’s Draconian Code of Athens, which made death the only punishment for all crimes; and in the Fifth Century B.C.’s Roman law of the Twelve Tablets. Crucifixion, drowning, burning alive and impalement are among the ways to perform death penalty (Death Penalty Information Center 2010).

The historical background of death penalty is compelling because one’s moral had never been emphasized until today. Nowadays, some countries still carry out death penalty and the objective is to remind and to show their people the consequences of committing extreme crime. In the last decade, a lot of country has abolished the death penalty but more than fifty countries still retain the death penalty practice and law. For example, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, United States and India are among the countries that still practice death penalty until today (Prosecuting Attorney 2010).

Key term: 1. Crucifixion – hanging on a cross, a method of capital punishment in ancient times. 2. Impalement – to pierce with a sharp stake or point. 3. Retribution – punishment that is considered to be morally right and fully deserved. 4. Shia – a Muslim who adheres to branch of Islam.


4.1 FIRST COUNTER ARGUMENT Death penalty is against human rights. If we believe human life is sacred, then the state’s executioner should be barred from carrying out the death penalty. We should respect and try to embrace human dignity. In 1997, the U.N. High Commission for Human rights agreed upon a decision stating that an outlaw of the death penalty contributes to the improvement of human dignity and to the progress of human rights (C. Richard 2011). Countries that understand the death penalty is a human right issue abolished death penalty. For example, the member states of the Council of Europe have added Protocol 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights calling for the outlaw of the death penalty (Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights 1979). The death penalty certainly goes against our most basic human right which is the right to have a life; this is also applied even to those who commit murder. For example, an execution by lethal injection or electrocution will take the lives of convicted felons and that clearly violates the human rights.


On top of that, death penalty costs more than life without parole, which is also known as life imprisonment. We should be aware that death penalty is time consuming and expensive. In 1995, the Bomber of Oklahoma City named Timothy McVeigh’s had been executed and his execution costs more than $13 million. Furthermore, since the death penalty was restored in New York in 1995, it costs approximately $23 million for each person condemned to death (BBC Ethics Guide 2011). Suppose a cheaper option is available when we compare the prices of a similar television, we will definitely buy the cheaper one. This is how we should apply when discussing death penalty and life imprisonment. The capital cases in the United States can cost up to millions of dollars from arresting to executing a criminal with death penalty but cases ending with life imprisonment costs only around $500,000 (Jones Elliot 2009). All of this money could have been used to cure poverty around the globe. Therefore, we should save hundreds of lives around the world instead of ending one’s life with that amount of money.


The arguments claimed by the opponents stated that death penalty violates human rights and a lot of money will be wasted on death penalty is actually undeniable but the death penalty is not killing the criminals, it is a punishment for their extreme action and justice can never be thought in financial terms. Death penalty affects more factors positively than causing negative effect. Death penalty serves as a deterrent to help reduce crime rate, assures safety of the society by eliminating criminals and some criminals deserve retribution for their action are the main factors that should be addressed seriously.


6.1. FIRST ARGUMENT Death penalty is a necessary evil that serves as deterrent to reduce crime rate. Everybody fears death, even animals. If extreme criminals are executed by death penalty, all the potential criminals will definitely think twice before committing extreme crime because their own life is at stake. Majority of studies claimed that the existence of death penalty increases the crime rate but some of the studies did not consider other factors that affects crime rate. For example, the major factors that constantly contributing to an increase of crime rate are residential population, individual family issue, climate and economic condition (Annual Crime Report 1998). Moreover, all the matters regarding deterrence has been studied by a Professor of Jurisprudence named Ernest van den Haag from Fordham University. He stated that even though statistical demonstrations are not conclusive, capital punishment deter more than other punishments because people fear death more than anything else (Arguments for and Against the Death penalty 2000).

Death penalty is 100% effective as deterrent to the criminal being executed; that killer would not be able to commit anymore crimes especially homicide (Stephen K 1985). Suppose life imprisonment is the maximum penalty in a state, nothing can stop those prisoners who are facing life imprisonment to commit more crime especially murder again in prison. “Assault in prisons in all over US, both against fellow inmates and against staff, have more than doubled in the past decades, according to statistics gathered by Criminal Justice Institute in Middletown, Connecticut”(Van Paul 1998). Death penalty is a necessary evil that should be retained because criminal especially serial killers will learn a lesson which is death penalty is the most suitable punishment of justice for their extreme crime.

6.2. SECOND ARGUMENT Furthermore, safety of the society will not be the main concern once those criminals are executed by death penalty. However, criminals especially murderers can plead for insanity or mental retardation. The courts have accepted a general definition of mental retardation as being significantly sub average in general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behaviour and manifested during the developmental period (Garner Corinne 1990). For example, a drug related brain-damaged killer barely knew his own identity when he raped and murdered a woman and her daughter in front of a 3 year old boy. The insane man then pled for insanity which made him spent his 22 years in jail.

We would not know the truth behind the crime scene; he might consume the drugs right after killing because anyone would take risk just to continue living. Next, if he were mentally disabled from the beginning he brings danger towards the society. “The procedures of identifying mental retardation vary from state to state and some of the procedures used to identify mental retardation have come to be questioned. Some of the prisoners identified as having mental retardation have mislabelled” (Petersilia 1997). This is why death penalty is crucial for those who damage themselves mentally or those who are born with mental problems if they committed extreme crime more than once because it is for the safety of the society. Thus, death penalty is not inhumane because it benefits the mentally disable criminal to prevent them from committing sins without them realizing it.

6.3. THIRD ARGUMENT Last but not least, some criminals deserve retribution for their action. Death penalty is not revenge but simply returning the nature of the extreme crime committed as a punishment. Criminals such as murderers are the ones that keep demonstrating inhumanity. Anti-death penalty supporters believe that death penalty is inhumane and barbarous. Well, so is murder. If murderers do not value the life of their victim then there is no reason their life should be valuable.

In addition, murderers neglected their rights as a human when they violate the rights of their victim (Jones Elliot 2009). The rights of the victims are more important than the rights of the criminal. Death penalty will bring closure to the criminal and closure to the ordeal for the victim’s family. The greatest example in history would be Saddam Hussein; He is punished by death penalty because he committed extreme crime against humanity when he murdered 148 Shias in Tigris river city of Dujail in 1982. The society was finally satisfied when he was sentenced to death because it brings closure to the ordeal for the 148 victim’s family (BBC News 2006). Thus, criminals such as Saddam deserve death penalty retribution as a proportionate punishment.


In this essay, I have listed two effects of death penalty; death penalty is against human rights and death penalty costs more than life without parole. I have also discussed three reasons why death penalty is a necessary evil; death penalty serves as a deterrent to help reduce crime rate, assures safety of the society and extreme criminals deserve retribution for their action. The reality is that our country, Malaysia still practices death penalty today because the government knows what’s best for their people. Government of other country should think carefully and take into considerations all the angle of subject of death penalty. Everything has their effects. Therefore, the governments should come up with wise solutions for the entire question that rises regarding death penalty. A rational solution can make a country unite and more stable in various aspects.

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