The Death Penalty and the 2016 General Election

The death penalty has long been a controversial issue of much debate among the American public. It has drawn support as well as opposition across the ideological spectrum, often resulting in contentious viewpoints. It is generally known that support or opposition to the death penalty aligns with ideological position. Unnever (2010) indicates that “conservatives are … Read more

History of the electric chair

The electric chair was invented by Dr. Alfred P. Southwick who was a steam-boat engineer, dentist and inventor from Buffalo, New York. In 1881 he conceived the idea of the electric chair after he had heard about an accident happen that resulted in an electrocution of a person, he then found this as a humane … Read more

The Death Penalty in the United States

Introduction Throughout history, as the world started to evolve, many different forms of punishment have been created to discourage criminal acts. The death penalty is probably one of the oldest forms of sentences employed to deter crime. Its first legal allusions date back to the Code of Hammurabi in 1750 B.C. when twenty-five crimes, such … Read more

Capital punishment should be allowed in the United States

No country incarcerates more people than the United States (U.S.). According to Prison Policy the U.S. American Criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in prisons, jails, and correctional facilities. Due to the amount of prisoners, prison overcrowding has become a rising issue threatening the public safety as well as the state budget (Alec). … Read more

Moral Decisions – Capital Punishment

How to get away with murder? Well, it’s really not that difficult… Capital punishment. The ultimate crime delivers the ultimate punishment. Currently, 58 countries around the world use the death penalty as a means of punishment. Human life is regarded as sacrosanct and many people believe this. So how is killing the killer morally acceptable? … Read more

About the Death Penalty

How many countries still have the death penalty?

Of the 195 independent states that are UN members or have UN observer status:

  • 54 still have the death penalty in law and practice.
  • 26 have abolished it de facto, i.e. whilst it may still exist in law, they have not executed anyone in the last decade.
  • 7 have abolished it de facto, but have retained it for exceptional or special circumstances (such as crimes committed in wartime).
  • 108 have abolished it for all crimes.

Of the 35 independent states in the Americas that are UN members:

  • 12 have retained the death sentence in both law and practice.
  • 1 has retained it for ordinary crimes in some areas and also retained it nationwide for crimes committed in exceptional circumstances.
  • 1 has abolished it de facto, i.e. whilst it may still exist in law, they have not executed anyone in the last decade.
  • 5 retained it for crimes committed in exceptional circumstances.
  • 16 have abolished it.

(as of 29.01.22 – check here)

What are some arguments against the death penalty?

Some common arguments against the death penalty include:

  • Cost – it is usually more expensive to implement the death penalty than to send someone to prison for life.
  • Wrongful conviction – for example, since 1973, at least 186 people who had been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in the U.S. have been exonerated. If the death penalty is carried out, the individual is permanently deprived of the opportunity to benefit from new evidence or new laws that might warrant the reversal of a conviction, or the setting aside of their death sentence.
  • Ineffective – it is supposed to deter crime but it does not. A survey of police chiefs found they rank the death penalty lowest among ways to reduce violent crime. Further, the FBI has found the states with the death penalty have the highest murder rates.
  • Not much of a punishment – whilst some might consider that the death penalty is a life for a life (or an ‘eye for an eye’), the lethal injection process is usually fairly painless and might be considered less of a punishment than life in prison.
  • Botched executions – there are plenty of examples of botched executions, even with the modern-day lethal injection methods. These may be considered inhumane.
  • Discriminationpeople of colour are far more likely to be executed than white people, especially if the victim is white.
  • No equality – the outcome of the case and therefore the sentence can depend a great deal on factors such as the quality of representation in court, which may be less effective for poorer defendants. Uneducated or intellectually disabled defendants may may also fare worse. Whilst it would seem obviously unconstitutional to execute a intellectually disabled person, the courts nonetheless can and do permit this.
  • It has no place in our modern society – the death penalty dates back to times when slavery, branding, and other corporal punishments were commonplace.
  • It shows a lack of respect for life – some believe that since life is precious and death irrevocable, all murder is abhorrent, including state-authorised killings.