Death Penalty Vs Life Imprisonment: Opening the Door for Humanity

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Cases on Capital Punishment and Life Imprisonment
  • Conclusion


We all know that ‘a coin has two sides’ and ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, similarly, in every circumstances which are related to any of the illegal offenses are described in two different categories of crimes: capital punishment and life imprisonment. This has been a very controversial issues for more than the decades and still it is in present. Why does a person do a crime or else why does he embers such activities which are not appropriate/illegal to do and are against the rules of the society? Whatever we may know but according to me; the answer to this question seems to be quite simple because we see several crimes in our routine life and so it becomes an example for us, but if someone executes such a crime than what expel should he get?

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To sum up this answers, let’s see what the constitutional laws of India say about this topic, moreover, the Indian Constitution says that what type of crime is being made by the person or it will happen in future and according to that such crimes are decided and are placed under any of the above two steps which fall under the punishment for such unethical activities. I agree to our laws but the awareness should be spread more all over the country. Capital punishment also known as ‘death penalty’ for a crime which includes offences such as murder, mass murder, terrorism, treason, offenses against the State, such as attempting to overthrow government, kidnapping, robbery, piracy, drug trafficking, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide etc. which may include a wide range of offences depending on a country. It is a government- sanctioned practice whereby a person is killed by the state as a punishment for a crime. Life imprisonment, the word itself tells us what it reveals.

Likewise, it is a sentence of imprisonment for a crime under which convicted persons have to remain in prison either for the rest of their natural life or until paroled. Life imprisonment includes crimes such as murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape, drugs dealing etc. are involved. Someone feels that capital punishment should be abolished because it is cruel, whereas, others believes that life in prison is just as cruel than capital punishment. I came to know that life in prison is thought to be a more humane and less cruel sentence than the death penalty because life in prison still offers a person by giving an opportunity to enjoy parts of his life, by still being able to keep in touch with their families. I would like to reveal that,‘if someone who is placed in prison at the age of twenties then he has a chance to grow up and see what they did was wrong. This is where the problem comes in front for most of the people. What are your opinions on death penalties versus life imprisonments ? Do you think a balance of both is necessary or not?

Cases on Capital Punishment and Life Imprisonment

On 2nd December 2008, an incident was held where a man robbed a Bank for $20,000 USD and he was being caught for that robbery. He was kept under the custody but within a day the court gave a judgement to hang him up and so it was a very cruel judgement. I am totally surprised with this judgement because the first and the most obvious reason would be, that the death penalty gives the family and friends of the victim closure. The whole process is long and it would bring out of draining the victim's close ones emotionally and financially. I prefer that the death penalty is not only a sort of consolation or closure for their long suffering but a way of closing off that horrid chapter in their lives.

Second incident was happened in the 1996, where a man killed five people in his family because of the distribution of his property and money. In this case, the court gave the judgement to keep him in jail for life time. Over here, I would like to say that the death penalty acts as a very strong deterrent for such criminals because it stops them from committing crimes and so it lowers the crime rates in the whole world. Prison time is enough to stop most people but for some people, a stronger reason is needed such as death penalty. Criminals consider their odds before taking someone's life. I have heard some facts that most criminals who have been sentenced to death appeal for life imprisonment, itself shows that they fear death more than life in prison. Also, in the cases of conflicts where minors who are below 18 years of age, there is a possibility of sentencing even these young people to life imprisonment without any chance of them being let out in the future as well. This is a really strict practice and many countries have banned it, but it is still present in few countries.

As per the World Bank Report, Switzerland is having the lowest crime rates in the world, which leads to peace and happiness all over the country. New Zealand stands at second rank but 4 recently a crime happened where 39 people died in the Christchurch mosque where two terrorists were seen shooting from the nearby apartment. I was totally surprised when I saw the news about it. I think that even the countries which are having lowest crime rates in the world, are unable to punish such people who are doing unethical activities.

One more case is depicted over here: Shri Bhagwan versus State of Rajasthan, in this case, after considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Supreme Court held that ordinarily ‘imprisonment for life’ means sentence of imprisonment for whole of the remaining period of the convicted person’s natural life and that the rules were framed under the ‘Prisons Rules’ that doesn’t substitute a lesser sentence for a sentence of your life. The Supreme Court made it clear that life imprisonment is not equivalent to expel of imprisonment for 14 years or for 20 years. Moreover, to elaborate this point further, the Apex Court ruled that there is no provision either in IPC (Indian Penal Code) whereby life imprisonment could be treated as 14 years or 20 years without there being a formal suspension by the appropriate government. Furthermore, there is also the case of the government which is looking more sympathetic towards the criminal than the victim. I would like to suggest that the government needs to send out a strong message that they will not tolerate such criminals. Sometimes, life imprisonment instead of a death sentence can lead to the public being extremely unhappy with the justice system and with the government.

Death is the end of one’s period, whereas life in prison may still offer a person to reallocate his life in a different manner. Some people believes saying that “Eye for an eye”, which means the punishment should fit the crime and the death penalty is a clear illustration of that belief especially in the case of murder. “An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind”, this was said by Mahatma Gandhi. However, I believe that the death penalty is nothing but an act of revenge that has nothing to do with justice ; isn’t it right ? I have also made some certain assumptions regarding these two punishments, where, the life imprisonment is more expensive then the death penalty. There are many pros and cons regarding capital punishment as well as for life imprisonment. I would rather like to convey that the opinion on death penalty varies from which type of crime it is and which country has introduced it in their laws. “Life imprisonment is a good alternative to capital punishment”. I agree with this statement but I would like to conclude that in many countries such as India and China, they still support and sentence the capital punishments, whereas, the growth rate has increased from 42% to 73% in such countries.While the support for the death penalty for murder is still high in China.

The age group that shows the greatest support for execution of those condemned is between 25 to 34 years old category, in which 61% say that they are in favor. Many countries in the world have abolished capital punishment either in their law or in their practices. There are several difference of opinions regarding what is better between capital punishment and life in prison. The former President of Lithuania, Sir Antanas Smetona, has regretted that the execution of death penalty has lead the whole world in a great shock. He said that “if an innocent is being sentenced to death then his family or relatives would get a great shock for that sentence”. There are many people who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death and were later found to be innocent; they were posthumously pardoned and declared innocent. But this makes hardly any difference to the loved ones, because it is not going to bring back the dead person. Someone believes that the life imprisonment sentence can be as harsh as the death sentence. Supporters of this sentence argue that life in prison can be of decades and decades, living in a cage, in an environment of violence and on is being treated like animals which is worse than the death sentence. With the death sentence, the suffering is over quickly but is it a right decision to implement it? One can lose their lives without any compensation and realization. If the government really wants to punish the convicted, why not make it really count?

In this era,“We are the captives of our own identities, living in prisons is of our own creations”, similarly, “For an unhappy man, death is the communication of a sentence of life imprisonment”. Both these quotations of life imprisonment were said by Alexander Chase. Briefly, I would like to suggest that even in our harsh times, we should not do such activities which can destroy someone’s property or it can hurt someone.Taking all that into consideration, I have formed my own opinions and at last I have re-think that life in prison is the most ethical punishment. I feel this way because no matter what a person did but we as people do not have the right to decide if they live or die, we think it is cruel and unusual. Recently, a survey was done in a school named as St. Edgewood Plaza, where some people said that life in prison is more humane because you wouldn’t be killed, whereas, some people thinks that the death penalty is more humane because there is less time suffering in jail.

The results turned out to be the same as our hypothesis because the data collected showed that more people were in favor of life imprisonment. After covering many ages, gender and race, I have came to a conclusion that life in prison is seen as a more suitable punishment than the death penalty. As per economically and socially, our country is not ready to completely abolish the death penalty and to use its alternative i.e. life imprisonment. To sum it up, I would like to express that death penalty and life in prison has its own advantages and disadvantages in economical aspect. However, this topic again reveals that it is very debatable and controversial one.


In recent times, the death penalty has come under a lot of scrutiny for reasons varying from how effective it is in reducing crime rates and to its cost. Recently, 58 countries are still actively use it, while 96 have given it up. There are some countries which have not used the death penalty for at least 10 years, whereas they use it only under special circumstances like treason during wartime. Slowly but surely, governments from all over the world are turning to life imprisonment as an 7 alternative. Some countries practice life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, some grant a life term of 25 years. There are factors in favor of both sentences. Which one is better? Is it possible to choose the better alternative? This tricky debate has been raging for decades, if not centuries! After all, it is the life of a human being that is being discussed here. So this is how it is, both are having their pros and cons. Briefly, I suggest that the world is moving towards the life imprisonment. If we are to move towards being a more humane society, we need to think more rationally and not in a prejudiced or emotional manner, but maybe we will never be able to come to a firm and final decision in favor of either.

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