I believe that capital punishment is wrong, and there should be no place for it in a “civilised” society. If we are to call ourselves civilised then how can we execute people in such an inhumane way? Therefore in my opinion as long as we uphold capital punishment then we cannot consider ourselves civil.
Some may argue that capital punishment is vital when someone threatens the basis of a moral community. They feel that if someone commits a vicious crime, by taking someone’s life, their own rights for life should be taken from them. However my counter argument to theirs is based on forgiveness to the extent where the criminals instead of being killed are imprisoned for a period of time so that they still get another chance of living a normal life, at the same time as protecting the innocent public from further attacks.
This is not my only reason for being against capital punishment there is also the important issue of convicting and killing an innocent person, that did not commit the vicious crime of taking someone’s life and breaking the morals of the community. In this case the very reason for people arguing for capital punishment would be hypocritical, as they are killing an innocent person and therefore breaking their moral beliefs of protecting the innocent. A great example of someone that was faced with the death penalty who we now know was innocent is Derek Bentley. He was hanged in 1953 for a murder, which he did not commit. Instead he tried to resolve the situation peacefully, and it did not work, his accomplice the murderer of the police officer got away with just imprisonment as he was under age for the death penalty. This is just one example of the many innocent who are victims of capital punishment.
If we now indulge deeper into the way someone gets convicted we can see how easily a mistake can be made. A common court jury consists of twelve random ordinary people. Remember, if even a few of the jury believe in capital punishment instead of life in prison then the person is likely to need a miracle to escape the conviction of the death penalty. Even if the people in the jury do not have biased views towards capital punishment, it is still ridiculous that twelve individuals can take your like away from you, of course with the judge’s approval. Here is a fact that I found on a website: “A review of death penalty judgments over a twenty three year period found a national error rate of 68 %.” This is an amazing amount of errors when it involves peoples’ lives. Another small fact that I find fascinating is that when someone pleads guilty instead of being proved guilty they are let off with a lighter sentence more often than not. Surely they have committed the same crime that brought them to court in the first place, and therefore surely they should face the same sentence of imprisonment?
This leads me onto my next point about mentally handicapped people who have committed murder and then are facing the death penalty. This is clearly outrageous, as these people cannot be held responsible for their actions. An example of someone that was executed due to murder is Morris who was executed on June 25, 1985. He had a lifelong history of paranoid schizophrenia and a mental age of 8. Now if you do not think that this is inhumane to sentence this person to death then you have no heart.
Britain used to execute people, but in 1971 we came to our senses, at last, and capital punishment was abolished. Other countries in Europe that have also abolished capital punishment are Spain which did so in the 1970’s and France finally in 1981. Another promising sign towards the total abolition of capital punishment is that to be part of the European Union, you cannot take part in capital punishment. The EU even tried to talk the USA out of capital punishment but it evidently has not worked, and now that Bush is president it is even less likely to be abolished, as he is for capital punishment. Britain is the only country in Western Europe that still debates whether to bring back capital punishment, frankly I think that this is very sickening, and worrying. Their argument for brining back capital punishment is that it is a bigger deterrent from murder than imprisonment. However amazingly enough it appears to work the other way around, the murder rate in Britain has dropped substantially since the early 1970’s when capital punishment was abolished and this only provides more evidence against the argument for capital punishment.
There are other countries apart from the USA that take-part in executions, for example China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. China lives under communist rule, and there are therefore bound to be executions. As long as China stays communist the executions will not stop. Yes this is distressing to hear, but part of communism involves the execution of “suspected” people, so you cannot plead with China to abolish capital punishment let alone executing suspects, it would never happen. Iraq is in a similar position except it is not communist based, it is dictatorship based. Therefore the dictator of the country, Saddam Hussein, has to use measures such as execution to sustain power over the country. Saudi Arabia is a very religious place, and therefore even a bad deed as simple as stealing can cause in your hand being severed.
You can imagine what happens when you kill someone! All these countries that I have mentioned here, have an excuse for executing people. I am not saying that they are right in doing so, because I believe that taking someone’s life in revenge is wrong or even taking someone’s life for your own benefit, however we have to respect the way that their everyday lives are lived, which involves executions and death sentences. A country with no excuse is the USA. It is not communist, dictator, or religiously based, in fact the country is considered the most democratic in the world. The USA likes to consider themselves leaders in the human right issues, but how can they when they still have capital punishment, where the amount of death sentences have been on the increase since 1990?
To conclude, I find capital punishment distressing and I believe that it should be abolished from the face of the earth, even though I know this is not likely to happen. Everyone makes some mistake during their lifetime, but we normally learn from them, and therefore never make the same mistakes again, or even try not to make the same mistakes again. I feel that the murderers should be given the same opportunity to learn from their mistakes, which they cannot do being dead. Therefore the issue of capital punishment is an important one, and I hope that one day not so far in the future people will wake up and realise the mistake they have made with capital punishment.