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.


Your title caught my curiosity. Anything that has to do with death as a punishment gets my attention. The post was informative and clear. Interesting fact about how it is going on in China. It makes me feel very lucky and safer to live here because i do not share their mentality. What I wonder is if the whole society is against this law or if they accommodate to it and finally agree with it. As for me, if the law was applied, i would definitely be psychologically disturbed if death penalty was shown in front of crowds in streets. I too understood both sides of the debate, but position myself clearly against death penalty. It is not for us to judge and decide whether a person should be alive or not after catching them in the act. A punishment should definitely be applied, because without it there would be no fear of doing immoral things. When laws are not obeyed, punishments must be looked at case per case. In China, it seems as a murderer is immediately sentenced to death, but what if it was in the case of self-defense? As an ethical principle, one must not value themselves important and higher enough to decide on the death of another. Then again, it must be looked at case per case, self-defense would be excused, since the person defending himself did not decide in advance the destiny of the other, but gad to act to save his own life. The issue brings me to ask myself; is it fair or acceptable that in different parts of the world, identical crimes are punished differently? What place does mentality and belief of a culture take place in this?