Since ancient times, the death sentence has been used to punish people who commit horrible crimes. Years of disagreement about the ideals of vengeance, just punishment, and deterrence have made the death sentence a contentious topic. There should be a court hearing before it may be carried out. This category includes capital offenses, including murder, adultery, rape, and fraud. When King Hammurabi of Babylon ruled in the 18th century B.C., this punishment was first used (Good, 1967). He standardized the penalties for 25 distinct offenses. The death sentence was the only option for punishment for all offenses under the harsh Athens criminal law in the seventh century B.C. The Romans used this method of punishment (from the 12 tablets) in the fifth century B.C. through crucifixions, drowning, burning alive, and impalement (Smith, 2012). In Britain, the death penalty by hanging was used until the 10th century A.D. However, throughout his rule, William the Conqueror opposed the death sentence. However, under Henry VII's reign, 7200 persons were killed by being beheaded, quartered, hanged, boiled, and burned at the stake (Block & Hostettler, 1997).
The death sentence should no longer be used as a form of punishment since it is ineffective.
When individuals claim that the death penalty is an effective deterrent, the assumption is often the only thing that comes to mind. It should be remembered, nevertheless, that an assumption is not always valid. Enough data do not support the ability of the death penalty to serve as a deterrent. It is often believed that the intense fear of facing such justice or punishment might dissuade murder and other offenses deserving of this punishment. If this were the case, individuals would avoid drug use and highway speeding out of concern for legal repercussions.
Human behaviour and history have demonstrated that good impulses do not always deter criminal activity. If it did, we would not ever execute anyone. Only tell the populace about the law; they would be so terrified to do so that they would never commit a crime once more. Regrettably, some criminals act impulsively and do not give a damn about the consequences. People will continue to commit crimes, death penalty or not. Therefore, it is essential to note that the possibility of the death sentence is never conclusive proof or justification in the criminal justice system as a deterrent to deterring others from committing crimes.
The use of the death penalty is not a reliable deterrent in Canada. In 1976, the nation decided to stop using this type of punishment and instead look for alternative ways to punish death offenses. Approximately 721 homicides were reported in the nation a year earlier (Chandler, 1976). A total of 554 killings were reported in Canada in 2001, a 23% decrease from the number of homicides committed before the death penalty was abolished. If the death penalty served as a deterrent, one could wonder why there were 167 more murders after the death penalty had been put into place in the nation. In 1999, there were 5.7 million murders for every 100,000 individuals, while in the United States, the rate was 1.8 million for the same population sample, about three times lower (Banner & Banner, 2009).
Data from the European non-death penalty nation shows that the U.S. has more than twice as many homicides as Europe, in addition to the 110 states that have made the death penalty unconstitutional (Shin, 2007). This is just another good illustration of how countries without the death sentence have lower murder rates than their counterparts who have. It is important to remember, nevertheless, that these figures do not imply that countries that apply the death penalty have a brutalization impact. They demonstrate, in the true sense, that deterrence is not contributing to a decrease in the annual number of recorded murder cases.
The American Society of Criminology, The Academy of Criminal Justice, and the Law and Society Association conducted a poll on the death penalty. The vast majority of people who were interviewed held the opinion that the punishment does not effectively discourage homicide. More than 80% of those surveyed firmly believed that the deterrent impact of the death sentence is not supported by current evidence. Some criminologists contend that there are more killings each year due to the death sentence. According to the brutalization effect, state execution rates will often increase murder rates.
The effect of the state's activities on current and prospective murders is a possible area of discussion. They are more impacted by the straightforward justification, "You murder, and we execute you." This generality gives us the impression that the death sentence would act as a deterrent. Regrettably, the statistics do not support the notion that deterrence is effective. In reality, it is possible to say that the offenders are not mentally impacted in any way. Consequently, it may be concluded that the death sentence is an ineffective deterrent that will not stop criminals from committing crimes.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that the death penalty and life in prison have the same deterrent impact. A theory of deterrence was established by Professor Isaac Ehrlich, a researcher who is both a writer and economist. According to the argument, the death penalty serves as a deterrent. He employed intricate mathematical computations to demonstrate that some individuals were spared because the death sentence was in place (Ehrlich, 1973). He said that between 1933 and 1969, every execution had successfully stopped criminals from committing about eight killings. Many praised his research as a breakthrough in the field of deterrence studies, and as a result, he became well-known across the country. However, other philosophical and methodological mistakes were used to criticize his work. Furthermore, the research could have been better received since developing equations for deterrence in particular situations might be challenging. The ratio of individuals rescued by deterrence is likewise challenging to determine because most studies are more speculative than definite.
In addition, it is challenging to conclude Ehrlich's works since so many specialists in the area disagree on the effectiveness of the death sentence as a deterrent. There are no statistics that demonstrate that the rate of homicide is lower in states with the death sentence, other than the divergent opinions held by academics in the area. Although his proposal might be seen as laudable, it lacks complex data to support it. Additionally, he failed to publish any credible works on death sentence deterrents.
The case study concerning attorney Diane Marshall can be used to demonstrate the futility of the death penalty. One convicted murderer informed him that even if individuals were told they would be cooked in oil, they would not be discouraged from committing crimes since criminals believe they will not be found. Criminals frequently do not pause to consider the potential outcomes of the activities they are about to perform. Public execution had been recommended as a valuable tool for getting offenders to consider the consequences of their behaviour. It was widespread in American cities and villages and worked as a powerfully emotional and visual dramatization to increase people's awareness of crime's repercussions. However, this technique stopped working in the 1880s. This was because it was cruel and purposefully undermined the deterrent effect. It is believed that the culture has a long history of deterring criminal behaviour through punishment. The reality is that many people believe society should adopt the most vital type of deterrence because it has the most significant interest in reducing murder. The death sentence serves as this deterrence. This has been supported by the widely held belief that prospective future murderers will be discouraged by the instilled dread of losing their lives in cases when murderers are slain. However, it should be mentioned that several studies have shown that the death penalty does not have a deterrent impact, in contrast to the pro-deterrent notions.
We can look at states to clarify the claims to demonstrate the futility of the death penalty further. Ten of the twelve states—those without the death penalty—have homicide rates lower than the national average. In 1998, according to Death Penalty Info, 50% of the states that applied the death penalty had homicide rates higher than the 6.3 national averages. When compared to states that do not use the death penalty, the rates of homicide in states that do use the death sentence ranged from 48% to 101% higher between 1978 and 1998. (Bedau, 1998). This means that homicide rates were higher in states with the death penalty than in those without it.
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