The ethical issue of death penalty

by annelaurenceb on September 18, 2014 - 11:43pm

Even though the death penalty is abolished in the majority of the countries of the world, in some countries it is still in effect as of today. I believe that this is something that should be changed in the world, and even though major progresses have been made about this situation, it is still an important ethical problem.


The death penalty occurs when someone is convicted of a major crime, and instead of imprisoning the criminal, he is sentenced to death. This practice is considered unethical since this act’s intrinsic value of killing humans is simply wrong and all humans should have an ultimate value no matter what happened. The humanistic principles that put man above everything else should be used in this case to prove that no matter what a man have done, there should be no reason for a man to kill another man. This could also be seen in another way, which is that the value of an act depends on its consequences, and if the death penalty is allowed and that a man is killed because he has been convicted, but that he is later discovered innocent, the death penalty is now simply wrong since he has been murdered for something he didn’t do. This principle has been demonstrated many times, and it is the fact that sometimes mistakes can be made and the criminal that has been sentenced to death can actually be innocent. Death penalty is obviously not reversible and in the case of a mistake, there is nothing that can be done to bring back the person that has been sentenced to death.


For example, there has been 30 wrongful convictions in the state of Texas since 2001, where the death penalty is still a practice that is used. These wrongful convictions demonstrate the principle that the consequences could be become the main issue here, and the fact that these people were wrongfully convicted should lead to rethink the idea that a lot of innocent people have been killed and that they should not have been. Sentences such as prison for life should be put forward and used more often if necessary instead of using death penalty, where there is no going back. The numbers of crimes committed won’t be affected by the number of people that are convicted to a death penalty sentence and it won’t affect the comportment and behavior of individuals in the society.


People that disagree with this point of view could say that the people who receive the death penalty really deserved it and because of the consequences of their acts, they deserve to be sentenced with the death penalty. It could also be argued that it is only a small percentage of criminals that are going to be wrongfully convicted and that it is not significant enough to be considered, but to oppose this point of view it is necessary to ask if taking the life of innocent people, even if they represent a minority, is worth taking into consideration. There is also the idea that no other solution is possible since these criminals could do it again. It is true that it has been proven that these people might do criminal acts before if they’ve already done it, and that nothing guarantees that they won’t be recidivists, but if more measures were taken to take care of these criminals, especially psychologically, the results may be different.


To conclude, allowing death penalty is something that should be changed in the world since I believe it is unethical. People should question themselves about this issue by asking themselves if someone punches you in the face, should you be allowed to punch them back, and if so wouldn’t this only make the situation worse?


Works cited

Jesse, Walker. "No Messing With Death." American Spectator 47.6 (2014):23. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

Kevin, Johnson, and TODAY USA. "Death penalty support shifts." USA TODAY n.d.: Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.



You made some good points in your article, describing reasons why death penalty is immoral. Such as you apply the humanistic principle, that whatever what a human did, there is no reason to kill him. I completly agree with you. As gandhi said, ¨an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind¨. So even if a human kills someone, there is other reasons to punish him. I also agree with your statement that someone could be convicted with death penalty even if he did nothing, because of a mistrial. You provides a good argument with the texans case, explainning that since 2001, 30 people were convicted of death penalty by error. In addition, in the essay ¨Bias in the Box ¨(, Dax-Devlon Ross is also suggestiong that somtimes, blacks are disadvantaged, because of a completly white and bias jury in the North Carolina state.

I think that what you wrote had made several good points about why the death penalty is immoral. Including the point about a human's life having a large intrinsic value and that killing an individual is morally wrong is definitely a good point. Cherishing human life is something that should always be a value to anybody, one can argue that the actions of whoever committed the crime were so bad that they deserve this penalty no matter how much their life is equal to any one of us. Either way, your points are definitely valid and can be taken to consideration, if you are interested here is a link to some more information and cases about the penalty (Just in case you havent seen it already)
There are several cases that can be fought for or against and others that are definitely on the side of the jury, but anyone can argue for humanity I suppose.

I first want to mention that I like how the issue is presented. The arguments and examples given are clear and relevant to the case.
I agree that death penalty is unethical whatever the case. Killing should not be a way to punish people when they act badly, especially when errors in the criminal system occur. As presented in your article, some men have been put to death while they did not commit a crime. In addition, to the explanation in the text, I would add that it is “better to let ten guilty selves go free than to punish one innocent self”, a resolution taken during the O.J. Simpson case ( This statement is even more relevant with death penalty because there is no coming back while prison sentences are.
Furthermore, another principle that could relate to this ethical issue is that government indirectly send the message “do as I say and not as I do”. More concretely, the state would kill people because they killed another one. The message sent is incoherent and not valuable because ultimately it is the same act. As demonstrates the article Why the Death Penalty Is Not Murder?, Merriam-Webster consider murder to be “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another”. Therefore, death penalty must be considered as wrong as the crime they are trying to punish. According to this same article, the only difference between these two is that people give the power to the government to make these unlawful acts while they do not for civilians.
Sources :

It is great how you clearly mentioned the ethical principles you are basing your opinion on. The examples and explanations you used are also very helpful and totally prove your point. Although I agree with most of what you are arguing, I believe you omitted to mention one argument in defense of the death penalty. In fact, studies have proven that the death penalty is effective for reducing homicide rates. This could be interesting to take into consideration since it defends the principle that we should protect innocent people. In this case, one would have to look at whether or not saving the life of many is a good reason to kill someone who is most likely a criminal. Here is a link to the article in defense of the death penalty:

You made a very good job at explaining and defending your points. I completely agree with you on the fact that the death penalty should be abolished and that it causes an ethical problem for countries who continue to use this method. While I was reading your article, I was able to relate this issue with Kantianism and The Categorical Imperative. As seen in class, Kant believes that moral rules can never be violated. In other words, Kant does not believe there are exceptions to moral rules. Based on the Categorical Imperative, the death penalty would be absolutely unacceptable because when one wonders if this act would be reasonable if everyone did it, the answer clearly seems to be “no”. In addition, putting an end to an individual’s life because they committed a major crime is self-defeating: if criminals are punished for murder or any other major crime, the juries who sentence them to the death penalty should also be punished because they are also culpable of a major crime. There may be a certain belief that the death penalty is moral because it protects society from criminals, but it is important to remember that if you hold a principle, which in this case is that murder or major crimes are immoral, then you must hold that principle in all situations. Clearly, countries who continue to use the death penalty are not consistent with the principles they hold.
Here is an article that further explains Kantianism and the Categorical Imperative:

You wrote a very well paper, you talk about what is needed through the death penalty. You have strong justified points of what you believe is right. I also believe the death penalty should be abolished there has been too many mistakes! In my opinion you have a very good principle and argument to justify your claim. Yes the death penalty does the wrong thing by fixing a wrong with a wrong. But in general your paper is very informative.

You wrote a very well paper, you talk about what is needed through the death penalty. You have strong justified points of what you believe is right. I also believe the death penalty should be abolished there has been too many mistakes! In my opinion you have a very good principle and argument to justify your claim. Yes the death penalty does the wrong thing by fixing a wrong with a wrong. But in general your paper is very informative.