Should death penalty be legalized?

by MelissaDaoust11 on September 9, 2013 - 4:21pm

Should death penalty be legalized?

The death penalty is an emotional subject for many people and there are currently many debates that discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of this punishment. In Canada, executions were abolished in July 1976.  After reading many articles on this punishment, I choose an interesting article titled: “HONG KONG; Public Executions in China Speed Repeal of Death Penalty”, written by Ben Tierney. The author explains the laws and orders of the government of China through a situation dated from 1992. Two Hong Kong men, guilty of drug trafficking, were sentenced to death penalty. They were shot with a bullet after being paraded to an execution site where 30,000 spectators were watching their death. There is a value and principle conflict being discussed by the author suggesting that the value of revenge opposing with the value of security, the principle of non-maleficence and the principle of beneficence.

 Firstly, there are many people who believe that death penalty is an appropriate punishment for those who commit serious crimes. They say that these criminals deserve the same sufferance that they have pursued to others. They strongly believe in the value of revenge, retaliation for injuries or wrongs; vengeance. In the article, the author explains how Hong Kong only sentences death penalty for offenders who murder, or are disloyal and even those who are piracy with violence. The government-in-council can also sentence executions during times of extreme emergency. China’s government sentences death penalties for murders, rapists, robbers, kidnappers and drug traffickers. China is the dominant leader in the issue of killing convicts. It is hard to know how many executions they do each year due to their secretive nature, but activists say “thousands” each year. The government of China believes that it is an acceptable punishment because people will be scared to die so will think twice before committing a felony.

 Secondly, there are also many people who believe that death penalty is an inappropriate punishment due to security but also due to the principles of non-maleficence and beneficence. There are many convicts that are found innocent after being executed because of sloppy police work, false evidence, or some other foolish and irrelevant reasons. In addition, there are many basic principles of ethical behaviours that can be discussed on this side of the debate, such as non-maleficence and beneficence. The principle of non-maleficence claims to avoid actions that will cause harm to others or to their property. In this case, killing a human being for their past actions is simply atrocious. Another principle is the beneficence, requiring actions that benefit others by preventing harm, stopping it when it is being inflicted and/or bringing about positive good. In this case, having an execution site where people can watch other humans die is an unethical and unmoral practice. It can cause psychological problems to many who view the executions. 

  In my opinion, I truly believe that Canada has made a productive law illegalizing death penalties. I believe that it is a serious assault on human dignity. I understand both sides of the debate but I don’t really respect the side which is explained by the value of revenge. In this case, the two men are drug traffickers but did not use any violence on anyone, they just sold illegal substances. They got killed and humiliated by a large crowd due to their errors. I believe that all criminals should be sentence to prison time depending on their crime. Murders, rapists and kidnappers should get sentence to prison for the rest of their life because they harmed other people’s lives. We should not facilitate their sufferance by executing them because they would not have a feeling of guilt and disgust for the rest of their life. I believe that these criminals should be locked up in jail and should feel terrible and feel the pain that the committed to others.

   On the other side, these criminals may be diagnosed with certain disorders and need serious help. Maybe, they have committed severe crimes due to their illness and they have not realized their dangerous actions because it was their illness that caused it. Reflecting on this thought, we should ask ourselves: should we take this issue into consideration for their time in prison?

"The Ultimate Penalty." Canada & The World Backgrounder 78.4 (2013): 24-26. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Sept. 2013.

Tierney, Ben. "HONG KONG; Public Executions in China Speed Repeal of Death Penalty." The Ottawa Citizen: 0. Jan 02 1992.ProQuest. Web. 7 Sep. 2013.


c) I agree with you and I think that the death penalty is unethical because no matter how you look at it, it involves taking the life of a human being. Some might say that a murderer who took the life of a person deserves to have his own life taken away from him, but I believe that the only consequence is wasting the life of an extra person. Of course, the person might have committed a horrible crime, but I think that a sentence of life with the possibility of parole is more constructive than simply putting the person to death.

Some of the people who commit terrible crimes might feel no remorse and might never change their views on life, but assuming that everyone is the same would be a mistake. By sentencing the person to life with the possibility of parole, there are a lot more opportunities for positive outcomes than by simply putting the person on death row.

For instance, a person who truly wants to change will do his time in a constructive manner. He might take college or even university classes, he might take counseling, anger management, and group therapy, he might work doing whatever jobs the correctional facility allows, he might read books from the library and gain knowledge that changes his perspective on life. A person who does all of these things will have a chance at getting parole, but the parole board still has the last say. Therefore, an individual that is not fit for getting paroled will simply get denied repeatedly until he either dies in prison, or changes his ways of living his life.

In addition to this, a sentence of life with the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty also sometimes allows people who are eventually determined to be innocent when their case is reviewed to be released since they are not dead. There are many cases where people who had been executed had been found innocent many years later, and I think that this is horrible. In my opinion, the risk of executing even just a single innocent person isn’t worth any benefit of the death penalty.

I came across the title of your article and I was immediately intrigued, simply because I took part in many debates throughout high school regarding this topic.
This is a touchy subject for most people, it is so hard to find common ground because so many people have different values and beliefs when it comes to the sanctity of life. That being said, I agree completely with your point of view. Not only do I think the death penalty is an inhumane act driven by revenge but I also think your point on facilitating the sufferance of a murderer or rapist is spot on!
To add to your point, what so many people fail to realize is that it is actually way more costly to execute a convicted felon rather than giving them life without parole. I did some research on the matter and although it is a common misconception, the death penalty is way more costly than life without parole. In California, where the death penalty is legalized, it is estimated that taxpayers would save over 90 million dollars each year if they abolish it!
I really like this article and I think that Canada has the right idea about the value of a human life. If only other countries would follow in our footsteps…

My Reference: "CLOSING DEATH ROW WOULD SAVE STATE $90 MILLION A YEAR", Sacramento Bee, Published on March 28, 1988, Page A1

I've read your article and the facts you presented on the respect of life intrigued me and made me realize the bad sides of having death penalty in certain areas of the world.

I believe that it is absolutely indisputable that there are some crimes that are so horrible life sentence are not enough to have an equitable justice. However, I totally agree in your point that instead of relieving them from their pain of the crime they committed, criminals should be confined in jail and given the worst treatment for the rest of their life because killing them softly is not a viable solution for criminals even though it may seem like a good vengeance. Another fact I found out and is quite surprising, the death penalty is much more expensive than a life sentence in prison, and it is well referenced. The costs of the death penalty are for the complex legal procedure, and the major charges come at first for the pre trial procedure and for the trial. Many studies show that the death penalty does not prevent others from killing and even worse; homicide rates are actually greater in places that have it. And when you add up saying that there are many cases of innocents that have been executed wrongfully I feel very shocked by this fact because it is absolutely horrible and inacceptable.

What other solutions could be considered to replace death penalty but still come to an agreement of correct punishment ?

Firstly, I believe that death penalty should only be an option with people who have done extremely serious crimes, such as multiple murders, and there should be standards set up for this such as killing more than 3 people and having legitimate proof of these murders.
The jail system in Canada is more like an extended vacation, with television and gyms, good health food and even education programs. I don't think that this is an appropriate place for mass murders, who have no chance at rehabilitation, no remorse for their crimes, and will just be released a few years later and reintegrated into society, where they might kill someone else, and go through the process once again.
I believe that for people like this, the death penalty could be one of the only options.
But the risk that the person might not be guilty is a negative aspect of the death penalty, as well as the fact that it can be considered as a sort of revenge, sort of like an eye for an eye. But I don't see it that way, I see it as a way to get rid of people who have done such horrors in the world that they shouldn't be considered humans anymore. People who have no sense of regard for others, as well as having no regrets for their actions.

I believe that a good alternative to the death penalty could be making the prisoners work, such as mining, sorting mail or other group jobs that could be easily monitored by security guards and that other people in society are less likely to want to do, so that these prisoner can rehabilitate and do good to the society.