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The Case Against the Death Penalty: Corporal Punishment

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Mahatma Gandhi once said: An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. The death penalty is a “to kill” and “be killed” system. It is a symptom of the culture of violence, not the solution to it. Committing murder in the name of justice or the term we are more familiar with capital punishment had existed since the 1680s before the century. The sentence is given for murder and treason. However, in some countries, other crimes, such as blasphemy, drug smuggling, as well as adultery, have been considered as capital crimes, and people have been executed for committing such crimes. Capital punishment should be abolished because the justice system is still flawed; it is against human rights, and there is a lack of evidence of its effectiveness.

The current forensic departments in law enforcement rely mainly on DNA evidence. Our technology, however, is not advanced enough as it still has some limitations and are problematic in its application. The effect of capital punishment is irreversible. Once the sentence is done, there is no going back. According to a study done by Canes-Wrone, Clark & Kelly, one out of 25 death inmates were innocent. This is currently happening in our world. Should this happen, what could be done to undo the damage? Some may argue that an overturned verdict is not likely, but Bedau and Radelet identified more than 400 American capital cases and potential capital cases in the 20th century in which the wrong person was convicted. Earl Washington Jr was falsely accused of murdering Rebecca Lynn Williams and spent seventeen years in prison and was put on death row for the crime he did not commit. He was lucky to be proven innocent before the day of his death sentence. Cameron Todd Willingham however, was not as lucky as Washington. He was executed in Texas for killing his daughters by setting fire on their house in 2004. After his execution, it was found that he did not set that fire. “The Willingham case highlights the tragic role that junk science plays in wrongful convictions, as well as the difficulty in obtaining relief based on post-conviction challenges to forensic evidence.” From these cases, authorities need to learn whether the justice procedure is sufficient enough to prevent false accusations.

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The above example distinguishes between an innocent person being falsely accused and then punished, and this decision being unable to be reversed. But what about other criminal that is in the system? Do they deserve to live? Some people might argue that a person forfeits their right to live when they commit a serious crime. However, it is well known that every human has the right to live and to knowingly kills criminal cannot be justified and is simply a violation of human rights. While some may argue that ending capital punishment will only promote an eye-for-an-eye law leaving bad moral toward the society. Bohm believes that criminals should be guided to be a law- abiding-citizen through honest education. Rather than taking a short cut to execute the criminals, the government should guide them to become better. One of the safest countries on earth, Norway set their prison to mimic the condition outside of prison, and emphasize on educating their prisoners. Believes that the rehabilitative effect of education is meant to result in employment and thereby ensure a successful return to society. He also stated that education is considered as one of the most crucial ways to master life after ending incarceration and as it prevents criminals from committing more crimes.

Proponents of capital punishment that claim it deters people from committing crimes do not have substantial evidence that it is beneficial. There is not much evidence of how the death penalty affects crime rates. Robinson believes that “People commit murders mainly in the heat of passion, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because they are mentally ill, giving little or no thought to the possible consequences of their acts.” Under these circumstances people who commit crimes may not be aware of what they are doing, let alone the consequences of their action. Singapore, a country that does implement the death penalty, may have low rates of crime, but there are other contributing factors. Singapore has hefty fines for even mild violations, and crimes such as kidnapping, robbery, and sexual abuse usually result in corporal punishment, which is physically punishing the offender. To say capital punishment is the only factor is flawed. If that is the case, then there is no point of keeping the system. As the result is unclear law maker might as well shift to more effective and humane solution.

There are numerous factors as to why the death penalty is not the solution nor the answer in reducing crimes. With the currently flawed justice system leading to multiple wrongful convictions. The idea itself is against fundamental human rights when there are other more humane options available, such as rehabilitation and giving education. The lack of effectiveness in decreasing crimes, the lawmaker should find another solution as capital punishment is not the best choice available.

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