The death penalty is the most severe form of punishment of offenders for the crimes committed. However, today, the death penalty evokes a heat debate between opponents and proponents of this form of punishment. In this respect, the position of opponents of the death penalty is more adequate and just compared to the position of proponents because the latter stand on the conservative ground and justify their position by a mere revenge, whereas opponents of the death penalty appeal to basic humanistic values and justice itself. What is meant here is the fact that the death penalty puts under a question the objectivity and correctness of justice because, in case of error and execution of an innocent person, the death penalty can never be justified.
In this respect, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the cases of execution of innocent people are not rare. For instance, some specialists (Schabas, 142) analyzing the experience of countries where the death penalty persists argue that errors do occur that means that innocent people are executed in countries where the death penalty is applied, including the US. Obviously, the risk of error is probably the strongest argument against the death penalty because this form of punishment implies irrevocable outcomes. In such a context, the life imprisonment is more reliable in terms of the avoidance or correction of possible errors that are made by the system of justice. At any rate, a person can be released if he or she proves to be innocent, but there is no way back in case of the death penalty.
At the same time, the risk of error, being extremely important, is not the only argument against the death penalty. Opponents of death penalty (Schabas, 176) argue that this form of punishment violated the basic right of offenders – the right to life. On the other hand, proponents of the death penalty (Schabas, 191) argue that the limitation of an individual’s freedom through imprisonment is another violation of his or her rights.
Furthermore, opponents of the death penalty (Schabas, 205) stand on the ground that the death penalty is discriminatory by its nature because it is mainly minorities and the poor that undergo the death penalty, whereas representatives of the upper classes are not vulnerable to such punishment. In this respect, it is possible to refer to cases of frauds among top executives. For instance, Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison, although he organized the largest investment fraud in the history of the Wall Street.
Finally, the death penalty is recognized as inapplicable in democratic countries, such as the EU. Many countries refused from the death penalty because it contradicts to their moral norms and democratic principles. Therefore, it would be logical to follow their lead because the elimination of the death penalty did not lead to any negative outcomes, such as the rise of crime rates.
Consequently, the ban of the death penalty will not provoke any negative outcomes. At the same time, the life sentence is a severe punishment that is equal to the death sentence. This is why the ban of the death penalty is essential to prevent the risk of errors and execution of innocent people.
Schabas, W.The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law. Cambridge University Press, 2002.