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Capital Punishment and the Rate of Crime

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Will making capital punishment more humane increase the rate of crime?

“Punishment is not for revenge, but to lessen crime and reform the criminal.”

Elizabeth Fry

Crime is committed by a person when their action(s) offend the law. In most cases, these actions are done intentionally, for reasons such as personal satisfaction, greed, or vengeance. But, there are certain laws that have to be followed in different places. Those who abide by the laws of their governments are considered to be good citizens of the nation. In order to ensure that the citizens follow these policies and rules, a policing body is formed. The sole purpose of this policing body is to enforce these laws to all citizens, and to maintain order in the country. These criminals have to be held responsible for their actions. This is done by placing them in rehabilitation/correction centres, wherein they are left alone to reflect on their actions and to reform themselves, with very little, or no contact to the outside world. These centres are sometimes termed as “prisons” by the public. But, in some cases, the government does not treat these inmates in a humane manner (for example, Guantanamo Bay).

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There are also a few grave crimes, wherein the criminal cannot be left alive. In those cases, the punishment is given by a method called “capital punishment”. This method, sometimes known as “death penalty”, offers a variety of techniques to end the person’s life, without any physical harm or suffering. Some of them are: lethal injection, hanging, firing squad, electrocution, gas chamber, beheading. Even in the case of capital punishment, there a few issues, such as: Prisoners are tortured first, then performed on for capital punishment. Criminals of different economic status are given different qualities of lethal injections. Techniques used are very brutal, inhumane (violation of human rights). If punishment was made humane, citizens would take things for granted and commit more crimes, as a sense of immunity would be assured to them. This would also lead to an economic standstill, as the incidents leading to capital punishments would increase, and governments would not be able to fund all of them. If death penalty was made more humane, the respect for the justice system would disintegrate, and criminals would be more encouraged to commit crime, as they now need not be scared of painful death.


There a lot of reasons why these criminals committed such grave crimes. But, whatever the reason, the law sees no one differently. A few crimes that lead to capital punishment are: murder, rape, sexual/physical assault and theft (depends on severity). In my case study, it is difficult to make capital punishment more humane, as it would increase the expenditure on the equipment used, and would take up a lot of time. We can make capital punishment more humane by manufacturing a lethal injection of better quality, which causes less pain. In order to manufacture such an agent, a lot of funding has to be put in towards Research & Development, and successful results cannot be guaranteed.


Making capital punishment more humane would increase the overall expenditures of the country, because we would require a lot of money for research and development of the method. For example, if we want to introduce a new injection which would cause lesser pain, we would first have to discard all the existing injections, and spend a lot of money or research and development of the new injection’s formula. If the formula is successful in reducing pain, then we would have to spend more money on production of the new formula, and its implementation in different centres across the country.

Current Stance and Actions

In today’s world, various governments around the globe are extensively using the techniques of capital punishment for their criminals. A few governments, such as the United States of America, say that imposing capital punishment on detainees are much cheaper than holding them in rehabilitation centres. On average, it costs $35000 every year to house a prisoner, and an additional $8000-$10000 to educate them. In cases wherein the crimes committed are grave, those detainees are sentenced to death penalty, which would cost only $1000-$3000 for the execution.

Many countries, and most international organisations have worked towards the abolishment of death penalty, because taking someone’s life is vividly against the International Convention of Human Rights Referendum[6]. This Declaration also stated that no human being shall be subjected to torture, or and form of degrading punishment. Unfortunately, most nations do violate this law, and are covered by political curtains. Claiming to perform the methods of death penalty, a few officers of the law have brutally tortured the inmates, by forcefully feeding them the poisonous gas Carbon Monoxide (which harms the lungs and blood), electrocuting them, subjecting them to extremely harsh environments such as boiling water and electrically charged slime. However, these nations are not held accountable as there is no concrete evidence that can prove these claims. Many of these executions are held in government controlled, confidential bases that are heavily guarded and are located in remote venues. Guantanamo Bay (US controlled), Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary (controlled by US), Kwan-li-so No. 22 (North Korea controlled), Carandiru Penitentiary (Brazil controlled), to name a few.

Perspectives: Global Forums

The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has stated that the rapidly increasing use of capital punishment in various countries is becoming a very huge issue all over the world. She says that the use of death penalty, though technically legal, is no way to bring a criminal to justice, because it is one death for another. She says that the government has no superficial authority over the life of anybody, whether they are innocent or guilty. She also calls upon different nations, who aren’t ready to completely abolish death penalty, to at least introduce less grievous methods which do not cause any pain whatsoever to the prisoners, while they are being performed upon.

The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, spoke vividly against the use of death penalty, at an event in the UN headquarters, at New York. He said that some countries conceal the implementation of death penalty, which shows that the countries have no respect for the human rights of the prisoners. He also said that the death penalty, in its entirety, has no place in the 21st century.


Requests the UN to form a specialized task force to inspect current suspected sites concerning the use of death penalty.

This task force shall consist of both inspection officers and trained, combat ready bodyguards.

This task shall be granted entrance into any institution, any country, and shall have authoritative power to detain any person in any nation.

Calls upon the UN to form an international convention that focuses on the abolishment of capital punishment, with major nations around the world involved (especially those countries conducting death penalty).

Requests fellow nations to form a clause in their Constitutions, that state that all cases regarding murder, rape, and such – in severity, shall be handed over to the ICJ (International Court of Justice), to ensure complete and just decisions.

Requests the WHO to introduce a new task team which focuses on forming a new formula of the lethal injection, which would cause lesser pain to the human body.

Requests the UN to form a high authority commission whose sole purpose is to monitor the ongoing capital punishments in all countries and the ones which would happen in the future, and ensure that all activities are done according.


All in all, we can say that capital punishment, although accepted by the international community as a method of punishment for criminals, is very commonly misused in many nations. If we do succeed in making capital punishment more humane, doing so would ensure that the criminals receive their human rights that they deserve, and would not help in deterring crime, as the fear that they have would reduce. However, the result of this conclusion includes slight errors, as we cannot precisely predict human psychology. Based on my report, I can infer that I, as a student, alone, cannot bring about an impactful change to the above discussed issues, and cannot help in the course of actions. But, we students, as a community, as a very huge body, can help the governments in bringing about better methods, and to ensure that the humanity is retained in these officials.


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