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Capital Punishment | Death Penalty

The question of the capital punishment has been already discussed for a long time. There are as many supporters of the death penalty as opponents of this form of punishment; and there almost no indifferent people to this issue. Capital punishment is one of the most ancient forms of punishment. Initially, it emerged during the implementation of the principle of retaliation: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” According to this principle, punishment for causing death of another person is the death penalty. In addition, many societies had the custom of blood feud, which was replaced by the death penalty carried out on behalf of the state.

As it is written in the article “The death penalty in the United States and worldwide”, historically, execution has served as a significant form of punishment for criminal behavior and for deviance from social norms. The capital punishment has been used for centuries in North America to punish murder, alleged witchcrafts and some other kinds of crimes (Schaefer 2009). Nowadays less than a half of all nations worldwide allow capital punishment. It is known that in 2006 at least 1.591 people in 25 countries were executed (Schaefer 2009). According to the organization “Amnesty International”, in 2008 the highest number of executions occurred in China (1718). In 2008, the number of executions in Iran was 346, in Saudi Arabia – 102, in the U.S. – 37, in Pakistan – 36, in Iraq – 34. Totally, 2 thousand 390 people in 25 countries were sent to death in the year of 2008. Discussion of the death penalty is a public debate involving a wide range of academic, political, social and religious leaders, organizations and social movements (Baumgartner 2009).

Arguments in favor and against the death penalty can be found in religious texts (“eye for an eye”, “thou shalt not kill”). Different politicians and public figures have different points of view and different arguments to prove them right. The question of the capital punishment has been already discussed for a long time. There are as many supporters of the death penalty as opponents of this form of punishment; and there almost no indifferent people to this issue. This research paper supports the idea that capital punishment is necessary for our society.

Arguments for death penalty:

  • Protecting society;
  • Economic inequities of life imprisonment;
  • Revenge;

The capital punishment as an act of humanism (Naldi 1991).

Supporting the death penalty it’s worth recalling that:

  1. Capital punishment brings harmony to the well-known principle of law in general – the principle of justice. If the thief should be imprisoned, the murder must be buried in the ground. Otherwise it’s impossible. There even the laws of classical logic are not violated. Justice requires the establishment of a similar regime for two parties: the victim and the murder. What we have in fact: victim is rotting in the ground and the guilty is just sitting on the bunk and reading Bible, living on victim’s relatives and close people funds. It is not in good conscience, not appropriate for human beings.
  2. The capital punishment has the function of warning and preventing commitment of the similar crimes in the future. It’s also clear that a murder that was shot off his head or burnt on the electrical chair will never do the same again. If to make the penalty public, to sell tickets and to broadcast them on TV, there are few people who will not seriously take thought before committing anything like that (Weekes 2003).
  3. The capital punishment has the function of retribution. Of course, it will not help to return the victim but it will be easier for everyone if the murder is also killed. It will be easier for victim’s relatives, fist of all. They know for sure how, where and how many times the criminal should be penalized. There is no place for liberalism. Criminal’s death, his own death and nothing else can make the shaky balance between good and evil stable again.

The capital punishment is certainly a deterrent, restriction. It may be considered from this point of view as the means for society protection. Many people believe that penalty has only one purpose that is the crimes prevention which is possible in the form of the physical retention (for criminals) or mental resistance to the crime (for other members of society). It’s not expedient to abolish the death penalty because our society is still unable to opposite to crimes because of its immature common morals and national morale, because of uncertainty in our country, nation and ourselves. Neither society nor countries in general are ready for this. Life sentence can be the alternative for the death penalty but there is the problem with places for convicts in some countries.

Nowadays more than 100 countries, including Burundi, Angola, Zambia, Syria, UAE, Egypt and 38 states of the USA, apply the capital punishment for the ordinary crimes. This penalty is the most intensively applied in South Africa, China and Iraq. At least 1 146 persons were executed in 28 countries during 2003 (Rogers 2008). Another 2 756 persons were sentenced to death in 63 countries. These figures only reflect known cases. The true figures are much higher, of course (Philip 2011).

In 2003, 84% of penalties that became known for public were made in China, Iran, the USA and Vietnam. In China by the end of the year at least 726 persons have been executed according to the incomplete and limited information (Rogers 2008, 143). There is the reason to believe that this figure is much higher in fact: in March 2004, a Senior Representative of the Legislative Authority of China stated that about 10 000 of persons are annually executed in China. At least 108 persons were executed in Iran, 65 – in the USA, at least 64 – in Vietnam (Philip 2011).

There are a lot of supporters of the capital punishment all around the world. The death penalty has especially intensive discussion in the USA as each state has its own attitude to this issue. Thus, as the BBC informs, this kind of penalty remains very popular in the USA in spite of the recent death penalty abolition in the state of Illinois. Public attitude depends on the location for the interview. For instance, in Utah that is one of the most conservative states, 79% of its population supported the death penalty, and just 16% of population declaimed that penalty. The situation is similar to that one which had the place in 2003 when the other interview showed that there were 78% of the state’s population supporting the death penalty and 17% declaimed that. Moreover, a lot of respondents (63%) consider the death penalty to be applied not as often as it is needed in the USA (Roe 2005).

I believe that the capital punishment is an extreme but necessary measure. There are criminals that have not any hope to be reclaimed and they cannot cause a pity to normal person – serial killers, sadists… The death penalty is the only one decision in such cases. Considering about the life sentence as an alternative to the death penalty, it’s worth reminding the cost of the dangerous special criminal keeping in prison including the payment for the prison guard and thinking that maybe it would be better to give this money to individuals who really need it instead of saving life of the person who has lost his right to be called a human being. I support the death penalty referring to serial killers because it serves as a measure of retribution and prevention. Criminals must be punished and the criminals who committed serious crimes and take a lot of lives – should be sentenced to the death penalty.


Baumgartner, F. R., De Boef, S. L., Boydstun, A. E. (2009). “The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence.” The Journal of Politics 71: 1604-1606.
Naldi, G. J. (1991). “The Prohibition on the Death Penalty in International Law.” Netherlands International Law Review 38: 373-384.
Philip, D. J., (Jan 12. 2011). Capital Punishment. The New York Times:1, 13.
Rogers, A. (2008). “State Constitutionalism and the Death Penalty.” Journal of Policy History 20: 143-156.
Roe, T. (2005). “Living Instruments and the Death Penalty.” The Cambridge Law Journal 64: 14-17.
Schaefer, R.T. (2009). Sociology: A brief introduction. The Death Penalty in the United States and Worldwide. Boston: McGraw-Hill. 8th ed.: 175-177.
Weekes, R. (2003). “The Death Penalty A Worldwide Perspective.” International and Comparative Law Quarterly 52: 1073-1074.