Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Death Penalty

Death penalty is a sentence that allows causing death to an individual. It would be applied due to the execution of several crimes, such as: treason, murder, espionage, rape, terrorism, .etc. It has been used in every country, but nowadays only 29% of them are still applying it.
Humanity started to question the benefit of this penalty to the society by XVII century, and it has been a controversial topic since that moment. Historically, death penalty has been always part of our culture, being part of justice system in primitive tribes, when arbitration was out of context, and family issues need to be solved.
Then, tribes develop a system called vendetta, to handle these situations, especially for disputes that need to be resolved under an honor code.
When modern society becomes part of the scenario, governments started to use it more frequently, and in a crueler way, and it caused two opposite positions that still defend their opinion, some groups were pro death penalty, some others were against it.
There are some arguments from both parties which can illustrate their perspectives. Groups which promote to ban this kind of punishment, justify their position due to:

  • It is cheaper to have someone for a lifetime in prison, rather than applying a capital punishment.
  • Endless appeals cause obstacles in the court system.
  • Law is not perfect, and there is always a chance that an innocent person could be killed.
  • Killing people who kill people, it is making the same mistake twice.
  • It can cause compassion to the perpetrators.
  • It is barbaric
  • It has racism influence. Two-thirds of any case involving a black or Hispanic killing a white result in the death penalty.  Overall, a black person is 5 times more likely to get the death penalty.
  • In the countries which have applied it, crimes continue without decreasing, since people don’t think in capital sentence consequences at the time to execute a crime.
The pro position is based on the following arguments:
  • Death penalty contributes to a closure for the victim’s family.
  • It can decrease crime execution rate
  • It will promote more sympathy for the victim’s family than for criminal.
  • Crime Scene Investigation currently counts with the best technology which can precisely determine who was the perpetrator.
  • It can help with the overpopulation in jail system.
Both positions inspire different ways of taking care of the common interests, and how to deal with irreparable damages. But they don’t go deeper to the cause and reality of people who execute crime, their reasons, their context, and eventually how to prevent them.
The situation is currently as follows:

Based on Amnesty International web page

China leads the scenario, with more executions for 2010. The “tradition” of applying this punishment is pretty ancient. The range of crimes which deserve capital punishment in China comes from tax evasion to murder and drug traffic. Recently, in 2011, Chinese authorities approved an amendment to their death penalty law, reducing the amount of crimes under this penalty from 68 to 55, however there are no intentions to eliminate this penalty from their system.
In general, capital penalty is an ancient intent to control people’s behavior, according to agreed codes by the empowered groups in a society, but it hasn’t been able to eliminate criminality. That should make us reflect about the causes of criminality, and how to propose new alternatives which can impact needs and conditions that cause criminality to exist.

By Rebeca Alvarez


  1. It is the human nature, there will always be crime. I think, if a society decides that is the best way to deal with special offenders, it is OK to me. I do not support capital punishment, I believe there are other options to try before legally putting someone to death.


  2. So, what's your position about death penalty? As well as I understand, some people think that death penalty could prevent crime. Therefore, it would be related to causes.
    If the cause of crime is in the context, why to punish the individual (and not society)? If the cause is genetic, why to punish the individual? What do you think is the cause? Preventive policies depend on that.