The death penalty also called as Capital Punishment is one of the legal process in which a person is punished and put to death for a crime by the state. It is considered as the ultimate denial of the human rights. If a person is punished in this manner, a death sentence is a judicial decree, whereas Execution is the real process of the cause of death of the person. This degrading, inhuman and cruel punishment is being done in name of justice.
It desecrates the right to life which is announced publically or officially in the Universal declaration of Human Rights. Death penalty is not considered as mandatory rather it is considered as discretionary in all the capital offenses except the murder case. Background of crime, physical and mental condition of the offender, age of the accused is taken into account by the judges for various capital offenses. It is valid and justified form of punishment.
One calls it as deterrence while tit is regarded as potential of executing innocent people by the others. Also one calls it justice, punishment and retribution while the others say that execution is murder.
The punishment of murder is becoming less and less. Punishment for crime should be cruel and harsh. The aim of justice system is to protect rights of property, liberty and life. Here death penalty plays very important role. The criminal has to suffer for his wrongdoing or crime, stops him committing again and allows other criminals to commit the same.
A judge orders a criminal for whole life to be in prison, but the prisoner is out of prison within 15 years. Thus the criminals continue committing crimes as they do not have the fear of punishment as they know that they will not be killed. For this death penalty should be an option so that before breaking the law they may be afraid.
Capital offenses or we can say that capital crimes are the crimes which results in death penalty. Crime is an obvious part of the society. Death penalty had been practiced by many societies; currently it is practiced by around 58 nations and has been abolished by 97 countries. Execution of criminals i.e. a person who executes criminals by order of the law and the political opponents are being used by all the societies- both to punish the crime and also to suppress the political dissent. In most of the places where capital punishment is practiced it is restricted for various purposes like treason, murder, part of military justice or as espionage. In some of the countries sexual crimes like adultery, sodomy, rape and incest carries death penalty while in Islamic nations religious crimes like apostasy carry death penalty. In most of the countries that uses the death penalty, drug trafficking is also considered as a capital offense. In china, some of the serious cases of corruption as well as human trafficking are suffered for wrong doing by death penalty. In all the cases death penalty is opposed by Amnesty International without exception regardless of forming part of offender, nature of crime or the method which is used by the state to put a prisoner to death. Capital punishment has proved to have good benefits in order to determine the consequences which the criminals deserve in the country. This is required to make certain the moral values and safety of the society, then there will be no need of the expenses that are involved in death penalty.
History of Death Penalty:
Death penalty was set up as a punishment for people who committed crimes. The king of Babylon, Hammurabi in 18th century BC put into the form of a code the death penalty for almost 25 different crimes and murder was not included in them. In 16th century BC Egypt, the first death sentence occurred which was historically recorded where the wrongdoer was ordered to take his own life. Hittite code also practiced death penalty in 14th century BC. Death was made the penalty by Draconian code of Athens in 7th century BC for every crime which was committed. In 5th century death penalty was codified by the Roman Law.
There are five justifications for implementation of death penalty which are as follows:
The chances that the offender will return back to the society are reducing to nil.
Closure for victims’ families.
Other offenders discourage or deter against the future violations.
For the offender who commits such serious crimes, death penalty is the appropriate punishment.
Rightful societal vengeance is also one of the justifications of death penalty.
There are several reasons to abolish death penalty which are discussed as follows:
Executions are carried out at unsteady cost to the taxpayers: It costs much more to execute a person rather than to keep him in the prison throughout the entire life. It is being observed that the death penalty trials are around 20 times more costly than the trials that seek a sentence of life in jail without any possibility of parole.
No credible evidence is there that the capital punishment causes crime: Scientific studies had failed to find out that that executions cause people to commit crime more than seeking a sentence of life in prison. The states where death penalty is not practiced have much less murder rates.
Innocent people are being executed and convicted: The wrong execution of innocent people creates lack of justice which can never be rectifiable. In the last two years it was found that four men had been executed wrongfully for the crime which they did not committed. Always there is a risk of an innocent people to be executed.
Race plays a vital role in deciding who is sentenced to die: The two major factors that decides who lives and who dies are the race of victim and the race of defendant. It was concluded from the report of General Accounting Office in the year 1990 that those people who killed the whites were mostly sentenced to death than those who killed blacks.
The death penalty is asked to be given without aim or purpose at random: The three determining factors in death penalty case where crime is committed are the politics, jurisdiction and the quality of legal counsel. The death penalty is considered as a lethal lottery. Out of 22,000 people who commit crime every year, approximately 150 people are put to death.
Capital punishment goes against every religion: Execution is regarded as immoral by almost all the religious groups although isolated passages of the religious scriptures have given strength to death penalty.
Millions of people spend on death penalty which can be used to help the families of the murder victims: Many families who have lost their loved ones in murder victims feels that neither death penalty will not curse their wounds nor will end their pain. In order to help the families’ funds can be used to put their lives back together crime victim hotlines, counseling, restitution and many other services that addresses their needs.
A large number of countries round the world had given up the use of death penalty, but the consensus has not been formed by the world against the use of death penalty. Every year thousands of people are executed in China, which is the most popular country in the world and it is used regularly by the most powerful country, the US. The use of capital punishment is retained by eighty four countries in the world. The use of death penalty is declining in most of the countries and will be abandoned soon.
Islam accepts death penalty. The main point to note is that life is taken by the people by the way of justice and law. In Islam, death penalty is put into practice by the court as punishment for creating serious crimes. But ultimately it is believed that external punishment is in almighty’s hand. According to the Islamic penal code, the non- physical, immaterial part of man, the soul, the immortal part of man which feels and thinks is to save life’s, prevent corruption and promote justice. Islamic philosophy holds a view that severe and cruel punishment should be given to the one who commit serious crimes, damages the individual victims, or utter a threat to destabilize foundation of the society. International murder and Fasad fil-ardh (which means to spread mischief in land) are the two crimes according to the Islamic law which are to be punishable by death.
International murder: The Quran makes laws against the death penalty for murder, though compassion and forgiveness are strongly supported. A choice is given to the murder victim’s family either to declare with force and confidence on death penalty or to forgive the performer to take mandatory compensation for their losses.
Fasaad fi al-ardh: This is the second crime which is being applied for capital punishment. It means spreading ‘mischief in the land’. it can have many different meanings but it generally means those crimes that that affects the whole community and destabilizes the society. Crimes under this include the following:
Treason/ Apostasy (it means when one joins the enemy to fight against the Muslim community leaving faith)
Land, sea and air privacy
There are various methods of Capital punishment like firing squad, stoning, beheading and hanging. One important thing to be noted is that in Islam there is no place for vigilantism- before the punishment is announced, one must properly convict in Islamic court of Law. Thus the court can order the punishments according to the case basis like prison sentences, imposing fines etc.
Questions arise that are the people in favor of death penalty for a person who committed crime?
The answer to this question is explained by the following graph.
Trend: Are You in Favor of the Death Penalty for a Person Convicted of Murder?
According to the recent data of October 2011, approximately 61% people are in favor of death penalty for the one who is convicted of murder, 35%people are against this and around 4% people have no opinion related to this.
During the last few decades many studies have sought to find out whether death penalty has doubtful effector deterrent effect on the homicides rates. Researchers have found out the conclusions very widely. It is being concluded that a statement of an intention to punish or hurt deters murders, saving number of people whereas other studies concluded that there is an increase in homicides due to executions. Most of the people believe that there is no effect due to executions on murder rates. It is being concluded from the new report on Law and Justice from the committee i.e. the Death Penalty and the National Research Council Report Deterrence that research on effect of capital punishment on the homicide rates is useless to determine whether there is increase in death penalty, decrease in death penalty or has no effect on these rates. The major question arises whether capital punishment is more or less effective as a cause rather than the punishments like life without possibility of parole is considered as sensible alternative to death penalty. Simply death penalty is society’s way of concluding that an individual has a right to die for committing crime. Harsh punishments are given which are justified by the nature. If the person suffers penalty, it is desirable. Thus punishment is one of the legitimate purposes of criminal sanction.