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Effectiveness of Death Sentence Essay

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Abstract

            There have been a lot of arguments going on for along time concerning how effective death sentence can be used to deter violent crimes. This paper looks at various arguments that have been put forth by different researchers, experts, religious bodies, politicians and philosophers. All these groups of people view the same issue on a completely different angle, and this research paper analyses these arguments and looks at the experts’ point of view on why they think death sentence does not act as an effective mechanism to deter violent crimes.

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Death penalty has been executed for a long time in many parts of the world for along period of time. However, it still remains a hot topic on whether it should be abolished in the countries that do still use it, and whether it should be re-introduced in the countries that have abolished the system. All these arguments can be valid depending on the angle on which the crime act is looked at, and the magnitude of the crime.

A simple offence like pickpocketing was punishable by being given a death sentence in England in the 18th century (http://www.cyberessays.com/Politics/3.htm.). Over some time, there has been a crush in the way death penalty has been taken by the public, and the fight moving to the courts at some point. For instance in 1972, in a case of Furman vs. Georgia, the court decided that the death sentence violated the eighth amendment that had been past which was against any cruel sentence (http://www.cyberessays.com/Politics/3.htm.), hence death penalty in this case was very cruel to the defendant. This made the death sentence to be instantly scraped in America, but some states had to amend their statues to accommodate the eighth amendment. Many people have advocated that death penalty be imposed on those who commit grievous offences like murder, but it has still remained a contentious issue for quite a long period of time.

In the United States, there are different states with different laws concerning death penalty. Some states allows for death penalty while others have abolished the system. The proponents feels that fear of death can deter other people from committing crimes. In another argument, the proponents feels that if well executed, death penalty can contribute to positive morals in the society due to the stigmatization that can be associated with certain criminal activities, hence making people not to commit such crimes. With this, the proponents argue that the death sentence should be reintroduced in all the states. However, the opponents feel that this is a barbaric act that should not be allowed in the current society.

 It is the responsibility of every government to fight and deter criminals and their activities by all means, and that is why some states like New York had to bring back the issue of death penalty as a way of fighting crime. It is thus very important that each government, (be it federal or local) protects the interests and lives of its residents. In many areas, people feel that those who kill others or commit other mischievous criminal activities should do not have a place in the society, and should thus not be left to live (Pojman & Reiman, 1997).

In many areas that practice death penalty, it is felt that the fear of death penalty will make many people to avoid going into criminal activities. Those who are convicted of death penalty are usually found to have committed very bad criminal offences, like murder and robbery with violence. When one listens to the victims of these cases, it makes one wonder why should people with beastly hearts be left to live among the good people (Keeble, 2002). On the other hand, it is not just possible to pass such laws without undergoing some difficulties, especially from the human rights groups who feel that prisons are supposed to be centers for reforming the criminals and not punishing. Such arguments are put in the context that even the criminals have the right to be given a chance to reform and live a normal life, but the other argument for death penalty is put forth when one says an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

In general, many Americans have approved for the use of death penalty for the convicted murderers, and the number of those in support has been rising up yearly. Many research firms like the Gallup Poll has been for several years been conducting research to ascertain those who are pro death penalty and those who are against. The results of the surveys have been varying depending on how they are interpreted, but it is clearer that most of the Americans are in agreement that death penalty should be executed to those who commit worst crimes (Bedau, 1998).

Looking at the theory of ‘just deserts,’ those who support for the use of death penalty argue that murderers should be made to suffer for their actions, and not to be reformed. In this case, a person who has committed murder should not be allowed to even have a life imprisonment, as this cannot make him suffer enough for the actions committed. In essence, when these arguments are looked at critically, they seem to be very much valid, it is not possible to tell if such arguments are correct or not through undertaking an empirical research. This is because it is not possible through carrying out an empirical research to no which criminal activities deserve or do not deserve death penalty.

Many politicians and the general public are pro the death penalty policy merely because they feel that it generally deters the criminal activities, as it is felt that it will make the potential criminals to avoid engaging in the criminal activities. In this case, empirical research can be used to know and answer several issues that surround death penalty.  It has been of great interest to the politicians to use the death penalty debates as a way of winning more votes in their favor. For instance, when the death penalty was re-introduced in New York, the governor (George Pataku) believed that it was going to help in saving many lives. In Massachusetts, the governor fought for the reintroduction of the bill due to the belief he had about the deterrence the death penalty has on the potential criminals (Pojman & Reiman, 1997).

Despite the largest support by the politicians and the public on the death penalty, there are many organizations that have been against the death penalty for quite some time, for instance the largest newspapers in America have been pro-abolitionist. Several other organizations since the 1970s have been against the move, and currently, the civil rights society is up against death penalty.  Most of the Christian churches are also up against the bill. Most of the opposition of these organizations is basically centered on the moral principles. Those who are opposed to death penalty are not convinced that the move is a good deterrent of criminal activities (Hanks, 1997).

In general, it is not possible to answer the question of whether death penalty is a good deterrent of criminal activities by basically looking at it on the political, social or religious perspective.  It is an issue that needs empirical research to find out if it really plays this important role or not. This has off course been done by many researchers to come up with conclusive evidences on the case. Therefore, one is left to wonder that if there have been many of these kind of researches going on, then hasn’t there been a conclusion on whether actually death penalty deters criminal activities or not. This is a difficult question to be answered, but it can generally be looked at in two different angles. The first way is by examining and evaluating the arguments of individual scholars who have carried out research in those areas, and come up with responds based on what the scholars concluded from their research. The other approach is merely looking at the arguments and opinions that are given by the expertise in the area.

1.1 Problem Statement

            Through out the world, there have been increased cases of criminal activities despite the effort by many countries to ensure that they are fighting criminal activities. There have been concerted efforts to ensure that all the citizens live in a safe world without any fear. This has however not been the case, because criminals seems to be always ahead of many government operations, and generally end up harming or even killing the innocent people. The criminals have taken their activities to much higher levels like what happen in the US in September 11 and the same US embassies were targets of international criminals in East Africa when the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed in 1998. This is one aspect that shows how the criminals has become dangerous to the entire human race and can take a short  period to wipe out a very large population of innocent people.

            Due to the continued criminal activities, many governments are trying to come up with ways of dealing with criminals and deterring others from committing the same crimes. It has been felt that it is better to prevent the criminals from committing crimes, rather than letting them carry out their cruel acts and then start chasing them and struggling with them in courts. Death sentence has been a subject of controversy for quite a long period now considering that there are many who believe that death sentence would deter others from committing similar crimes. On the other hand, there are those who are completely opposed to the move as they feel that it is a violation of the fundamental human rights.

            The problem is to prove if actually death penalty is an effective tool to be used in deterring criminal activities or not. This has been a subject of debate which has dominated the politicians, religious leaders, civil rights activists, the scholars and the experts in the field.

1.2 Purpose and objectives of the study

            The controversy of death penalty has continued to dodge the political, religious, ethical, social and the philosophical perspectives. There are many policy makers in the departments that are concerned with the security of the nations, but they all depend on factual evidence to make sound and informed decisions. Since most of those who are pro death penalty argues that it is an effective tool in deterring crime activities, then before the policy makers decides whether to adopt the system or not, they need to be given enough evidence that shows how the policy can deter violence crimes, before they can implement it. Therefore, this paper will look at the arguments that have been put forth by those who support the death penalty , and those who are against so that we can evaluate whether actually death penalty is a deterrence or not, although there have been other arguments as to whether the act is constitutional right and/or morally right.

            Therefore, the issue at hand is not looking at how punishment can deter crime, but specifically if death penalty in the US can lead to fewer violent crimes or end them completely. If it does deter, then it is a good policy to be implemented, and if not, then it does not have any practical benefit in the society.  It is not easy to interpret most of the statistical data that many researchers have come up with during their entire coverage of this topic, but it is evidence that there exists a consensus about this issue. Hence the objective of the study is to use the available data and arguments to reach to a comprehensive conclusion, i.e. if actually death sentence is an effective mechanism that can deter violent crimes.

1.3 Limitation of the Study

            To come up with a comprehensive conclusion, it is good to look at what the experts think, by looking at how they have been arguing about the topic. In this context, we can look at the “experts” as any of the people who have written a peer reviewed work concerning this topic. Therefore, those who have actively participated in carrying out research in this field for some time are experts.  There are several limitations that are of concern depending on the experts; first, there are many researches that have been conducted by abolitionists who could have been motivated by different reasons, hence a lot of data could be supporting the abolitionists’ arguments. Secondly, it might be impossible to get opinions of those whose work has been published in major publications and compare it with those whose work has been left abundantly, or is not respected.  Lastly, when the experts are asked about the issue of deterrence, it is in essence like asking them to do self evaluation of the job they have been doing which again might be biased.

1.4 Rationale of the study

            There have been arguments on both sides concerning how those who are pro death penalty and anti death penalty view each other’s arguments. It is logical that it is not possible to do a compressive study concerning this topic. In most cases, those who are pro death penalty have been arguing that since the social scientists do not have enough means of proving this using available data, then it can as well be argued on a common sense ground. In this argument, they feel that it is natural that people fear death more than being imprisoned for life. This is usually evidenced by the appeals made by the convicts so that their execution sentences can be reduced to a life imprisonment. Therefore, this makes them feel that since many people will appeal against death sentence, it thus is deterrence than life imprisonment.

            On the other hand, the opponents feel that instead of death penalty deterring criminal activities, it actual increases cases like murder. This has been argued as that through this process, the state lowers the value of human life. This conclusion was reached after several researches were carried out and indicated that the rate of murder increased some days after an execution had been carried out (http://www.enotes.com/does-capital-article.). Researchers like Bowers and Pierce were behind this research and came up with a theory they called brutalization. In this, they argued that when the state executed a person, it was carrying out a brutal act to the society; hence potential homicide became less inhibited.

            The figure below shows the brutalization effect.

Fig: 1

Source: Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), 2008.

The rationale of this study therefore is to find out which of the two sides is actually right by looking at their general arguments and which can lead us to getting conclusive results that can be of great help to the policy makers and the general public.

1.5 Hypothesis

H1: death penalty is an effective mechanism in deterring violent crimes.

H2: death penalty is not an effective mechanism in deterring violent crimes.

2.0 Literature Review

Many researches have been carried out to ascertain what people feel and think about death penalty. It has to be appreciated however that this is not an easy task. Most of the organizations or individuals who carry out the research that concerns this issue do not give an alternative to the respondents, that apart from death penalty, what else should be a sentence for hardcore criminals. Therefore, with no alternative, the respondent might feel that if the criminal is not convicted to death, then the alternative is setting them free after being in prison for a short stint. It might be of interest to realize that even those who strongly condemn death penalty might decide to support it if at all they realize that the most dangerous convicts will be released to live with the innocent people if that is the only alternative.  In a research done by Bowers (1993), it was found out those respondents who supports death penalty decreases if the alternative is for the convict to be given life without parole. In a similar research done by Gallup (1991), 76% of the respondents were in favor of death penalty, but the percentage reduced to 56% when the convict was imprisoned for life without being paroled.

In most researches, it has been found out that the effect of death penalty is the same as what a convict gets for being given long sentences in prison (Radelet & Akeres, n.d). However, on a research carried out by Isaac Ehrlich between 1933 and 1969, he said that his findings were that deterrent effect of death penalty significantly prevented about 8 homicide cases (Radelet & Akeres, n.d). These findings enlisted a lot of debate concerning death sentence.  Many scholars in different ways criticized Ehrlich’s findings, especially because of the methodology he used, and the limitations that were found in his conceptual, (for instance Waldo, 1981). This has however not stopped many other scholars from using it as a proof on the deterrence effect the death penalty has on potential criminals, (for instance, Cassell , 1993), more so from the proponents of the death penalty.

It is not easy to find a scholarly article that has not been criticized. However, more relevance is usually put on the critiques existence rather than its quality. This has been a trend because in research, as one comes up with one finding, the other goes back to refute the findings, hence leaving no gain for the research at all.  This on the other hand gives the politicians room to pick from the arguments what befits them and uses it for their own benefit.

In a research carried out by Gallup in 1985, it was found out that 60% of the population interviewed believed that death penalty is an effective tool in deterring violent crimes. The respondents believed that the rationale of putting forth death penalty is not merely to punish the criminals but as a justifiable tool to use it in deterring others from committing similar crimes. On a similar research done in 1986, those who supported the death penalty were found to be 70% of the respondents, but this dropped to 53% when the alternative was to be imprisoned for life without parole. The percentage of those who felt that they would still support the death penalty even if it was found out that death penalty did not deter the criminal activities dropped to 43%. In similar questions by Gallup that were done in 1991, the results were that 76% were in favor of the death penalty, and the percentage that could still support the move even if it was not an effective deterrence tool dropped to 69%. In the same move, 26% felt that if death sentence did not play any role in deterring criminal activities, then they would change their positions and go against the bill. This implies that if at all the general public felt that death penalty did not at all deter criminal activities, then their support for the move would drop. Looking at all these findings by the Gallup, it can be concluded that all the arguments concerning death penalty are basically founded on deterrence issues.

The figure below shows results of the researches that have been conducted by Gallup which indicates how the Americans feel about death sentence,

Fig: 2

Source: Muhlhausen (2007).

There have been other researches that have been carried out from the experts, and not from the general public to find out what they feel and know about death penalty deterring criminal activities. For instance, in a statement released by the criminologists’ experts at the University of Florida in 1984, it indicated that they did not support the hypothesis that death penalty deterred criminal activities (Radelet & Akers, n.d). In a similar research carried out in 1995, the police chiefs were randomly chosen and interviewed over the telephone, and only 1% of the respondents felt that death penalty could deter crimes. Majority of the respondents felt that if drug abuse was reduced, then criminal rates would drastically be reduced (Radelet & Akers, n.d).

The figure below show the number of police officers who belief that death sentence deters crime activities,

Fig: 3.

Source: Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), 2008.

According to the United Nations, it is not ethical to claim that adopting death penalty can deter criminal activities to a bigger margin as compared to what for instance the life sentence can do (Amnesty International, 2008).  Even though many people have argued that death sentence deters other criminal activities, proving this has not been easy as the claims do not tally with most of figures in the research findings. For instance, in a 2000 report by the New York Times, it was found out that crime rates in the states that were still practicing death sentences had higher rates of crimes as compared to the states that had abolished the practice (Amnesty International, 2008).

According to Cox’s (n.d) argument, death penalty does not deter crime activities.  This is because looking at most of the European countries, the rate of criminal activities has not been on the rise as compared to America and China which still carry out death penalty.  Therefore, in his view, Cox feels that if deterrence is combined with morality, then it can to a certain extend deter criminal activities. However, there are cases in the society where people do not think about morality at all, and they also do not mind about what will be the consequences of certain things they do. In such cases, then the value of deterrence will not hold at all.

It is not only in America and European nations that it is found that death penalty does not deter violent crimes, but this also applies in Africa. In Nigeria, a study conducted by a criminology professor, between 1967-1985 indicated that the rate of murder cases was on the increase during this period, despite the fact that the death penalty bill was in application (Amnesty International, 2008).   Therefore, in his conclusion, the professor felt that death penalty as a deterrence mechanism was not effective in Nigeria to reduce murder and robbery cases. In his argument, he felt that instead of even deterring crimes, death penalty demeaned those who were involved with the actions and in the end, rather than protecting the society from the cruelty of crimes, it actually subjected it to cruelty.  Furthermore, in a country like South Africa that experiences high rates of crime activities, the constitutional court threw out the argument of deterrence based on death penalty in 1995. In fact the court referred to the act as being cruel and inhuman (Amnesty International, 2008).

In United States, recent polls show that 75% of the public are in favor of adopting death sentence (Kenneth & Overberg, 2008) despite the opposition from the Christian churches. It has been a worrying trend to the American churches that in the 1960s, less than half of the population approved of the death sentences, yet now majority of the same people approves of the death sentence. It is felt that this has mostly to do with the fear and frustration that many citizens are encountering due to violent crimes. The concern to the churches is not only that the public has turned to death penalty as a better alternative of deterrence, but the government is considering making other crime activities which are not only violent to be punished by death penalty; all in the precinct of deterrence.

In the researches that were carried out between 2000 and 2006 by the Gallup, it indicates that majority of the Americans (67%) are still in favor of capital punishment (Muhlhausen, 2007).  The deterrence theory has been used to explain how effective death penalty can be in deterring murders. In a study done by Becker in 1968, he concluded that criminals look at the benefit they will get from committing a crime, and its probable costs (Muhlhausen, 2007). Therefore, if the risk of apprehension is high (like death penalty), then there is a high possibility that violent crimes will go down. According to the deterrence theory, like any other rational consumer, a criminal will try to maximize the utility they get from their actions while at the same time minimizing the constraints. Therefore, since people will look at the net benefit of the venture before going in to it, they can not basically take risk in a venture that will lead them to receiving death penalty. However, we have to note that other researches have come up with counter claims which say that a person who for instance kills for business will definitely plan for it well so that they can not be caught as they know the dangers involved. Despite this, the proponents argue that there are many researches that have shown a correlation between the execution and the reduced cases of murder (Muhlhausen, 2007).

Deterrent effect has been also supported by a research that was carried out by Paul Zimmerman, in which he found out that with each execution carried out; it averagely reduced murder by a number amounting to fourteen. In his study, Zimmerman concluded electrocution execution was mostly the effective deterrence mechanism. In a similar research done by Ekeland between 1995 and 1999, he found that the rate of single murder cases were reduced with execution, but with multiple murders, execution did not make any change. In the research done by Mocan and Gittings, they found out that for every execution taken by the courts, murder rate dropped by five, for very commutation, there was an increase in the number of murders by five, and for every death row convicted that was released by the government or the courts, it resulted to an increased murder rate by one (Muhlhausen, 2007). These recent researches brought a fresh squabble between the proponents and the opponents of the death penalty, especially on the moral grounds.

In other arguments, proponents of the death penalty feel that if frequently carried out, death penalty could act as crime deterrence since many people would be forced to think of the consequences they would face before they commit any crime. However, because only few people on death row convict are executed, it thus does not deter violent crimes. For instance, in a period which a death penalty receives a lot of publicity, there is usually a decline in the rate of homicide, but things normalizes immediately the case has been finished (Manning, n.d). However, in a research carried out by Robert Dann (1935), he did an analysis to see the effect of highly publicized execution on deterrence, 60 days before the execution, and the same period after. In his argument, Dann said that due to highly publicized execution case, its effect was to lower the homicide cases after the execution had taken place. This was however not the case, but rather the rates were higher than his argument (Lamperti, n.d). The same research was carried out by Savitz, twenty years later, but it did not have significant different from what Dann had found out. There have been similar studies in California and Chicago and the result have been the same. It has also been argued that execution can increase public safety, by deterring criminal activities. This is because with execution, a person’s capacity of committing a crime is zero as he will be dead and prevents the possibility of recurrence of the same (Spinler n.d). Execution is presumed to make a potential person not to commit a crime as the fear that will be created in their mind will cause a pause.

The data comparing the murder rates in the states that had in place death penalties and those that had abolished the system in the US between 1973 & 1984 showed that the states that were still practicing it had higher rates of murders than those which had abolished the system (Lamperti, n.d). Just looking at this, deterrence factor can not be seen, though it might be masked by other factors since there are many that can affect it.

As it is, US is the only democratic country in the western world that still has death sentence. This has become a very popular sentiment among the politicians. A survey carried out in 1997 by Time Magazine found out that 74% of the respondents in America were pro death punishment for those who had carried out serious criminal offences (http://www.enotes.com/does-capital-article.). However, about 52-45% of the same respondents do not feel that capital punishment can deter crimes. It is evident that most the Americans want serial criminals killed, but not because it will deter others, but just to remove the social misfits.

The idea behind the deterrence theory comes from the notion that being threatened by punishment should be in a way that the criminal will not be able to receive much benefit from committing a crime, than if avoiding it all together. Therefore, for the criminal to see the effect of a crime, the punishment should be carried out in a swift way.

 In the beginning of the 20th century, there were several researches that were carried out by several social scientists, like Thorsten Sellin. In Sellin’s study, he compared the rate of homicide in the states that had death sentences, and those that did not. Secondly, he compared the rate homicide before, the introduction of death sentence and after in one state, and the ones that were initially practicing but later had abolished it. In most of the findings, the rate of homicide in states that were practicing capital sentences and those that did not was not very different (http://www.enotes.com/does-capital-article.). Furthermore, they also found out there was significantly no different in the rate of homicide when a state introduced death sentence or abolished it. These results were however countered by the findings of Ehrlich, which as well were bitterly contested. It has to be understood that there is no any other researcher who has ever come up with the same results as Ehrlich, thus putting a lot of doubt in the methods that led to his conclusion. This leaves a lot to be discussed on the empirical studies that could prove the correlation between death penalty and its effectiveness as a deterrence mechanism.

3.0 Methodology

The experts who have involved themselves in this field were used to get the information.  Experts can be considered in different ways, but in this context, the experts considered and contacted were those that have been given much recognition in their careers, and given much accolade to be presidents of their organizations, and not necessarily having carried out research in this field. Hence, those who have ever held the office (currently and former) of president in the criminology departments in the country were contacted. Not all of those who were contacted have carried out research in the death penalty and deterrence field, but due to their experience in the area, they have a wide range of knowledge in the criminal issues e.g. what are the major causes of crime and other measures that can be undertaken to prevent it.

Those elected as the presidents of these fields must exhibit high sense of respectability and be very active in their areas of specialization, in terms of program and organizational work.

To begin with, the names of the current and former presidents of the organizations were looked for from their organizations. After getting the names, phone calls was conducted to know which of the officers were available and could be reached, and finally coming up with a sample of seventy respondents. The respondents were sent copies of the questionnaires and phone calls made as a follow up procedure. Out of the seventy selected respondents, only 3 did not respond to the questionnaires.  The questions were generally based on the president’s knowledge on criminology issues, and not their personal opinions concerning capital punishment. The answers given by the experts were compared with the public poll that was done by Gallup in 1991. The results were then analyzed, discussed and conclusion and recommendations given based on them.

4.0 Results

A.        First, the experts were asked what they feel about death penalty in deterring criminals to commit murder.  87% of the experts believe that death penalty does not deter potential murderers from committing crime, and thus death penalty does not lower the rate of potential murderers. This is almost double the number of the public who believes otherwise.

            Most of the experts did not see the value death penalty added in deterring violent crimes. These results are similar to the ones that were conducted in 1995 by asking the criminologist chiefs what value death penalty added on deterrence and only 1% saw the importance of penalty (see literature review).

B.        Many proponents of death penalty have felt that increasing the frequency of execution will play a significant role in increasing deterrence hence reducing crimes. However, almost 80% of the respondents felt that this is not true. However, the proponents and opponents feel that there is generally need to carry out reforms that concerns death penalty.

C.        Finally, the experts were asked their opinion on the brutalization theory, and 68% of the respondents disagree with this theory.

5.0 Discussion

The debate on the death penalty issue has been on for quite a long period and it is hardly possible to come across new ideas. The old arguments are only renewed and taken to a different level or looked at in a different angle. Looking at the results from the experts, it can be clearly stated that most of the experts do not agree with the death penalty notion that it can reduce rates of violent crimes in the society. Most of the public support this move especially when they hear their favorite political candidates rooting for this move. In doing so, the politicians portrays to the public that they are sincerely committed to fighting crime in the society. Of course this will guarantee them a position  to have more votes on their side, but in essence, there could be little or no change at all their propositions could be doing. To achieve much, it would be better if the politicians can avoid the death penalty debate and leave it to the experts who can rely on explicit research work. In many instances, if this kind of debate is left to the politicians, they will generally look for research works that favor their positions and thus be subjective rather than being objective in their views. Therefore, to the criminologists, the politicians have taken this debate as an effective political tool and not one to be used to administer criminal justice.

Generally , looking at most of the arguments of the proponents of death penalty, there have been no conclusive results that have been given which shows the number of people who have been deterred from committing crimes because of the death sentence past on to others. The proponents feel that when people hear of death sentence, they will be frightened to commit a crime, but this is only a feeling, and most of the experts did not agree with these sentiments. Like most of the other opponents, it seems there is no conclusive evidence that can say death penalty can deter crime activities. Looking at the results, it can be said that the experts dismisses the deterrence argument more than the public because of the experience they have in the field of dealing with the criminals, as they know what leads them to commit these crimes, and how they can be prevented. The experts are mostly not convinced with this argument as there is no enough literature to support the argument, rather than looking at just opinions with no facts.

The proponents of death penalty have argued that deterrent effect has not been felt because of the time it takes to execute the convicts. In taking a long time to execute them, the proponents feel that a convict will have much time to appeal against their sentence and in so doing; the effect of deterrence will not be felt. However, this sentiment is also very much refuted by the experts as there is no enough evidence that can confirm and support this argument. Looking in the early and mid twentieth century when many countries and states were carrying out executions, many of the convicts did not take long time to be executed. At this point the frequency of execution was high yet crimes did not reduce. The criminologists have felt that since death sentence has not been able to deter crime, it can not be claimed to be more effective than prisons, which implies it is useless to inflict pain on others on the claim of deterrence.

It is not possible as well to explain how death penalty can be linked to brutalization theory as ascertained by the experts. Many of the opponents feel that most of the murders are unplanned and therefore, putting in place death sentence does not at all deter others. However, no matter the case, claiming that by condemning convicts to death sentence is brutalizing the society does not hold any proof either.   We have also to note that there are many other delinquencies whose their businesses are “killing”. It is difficult to deal with this kind of group since they will make good their arrangements to make sure that they get away with their actions, and do not land in the hands of the authority. Therefore, it becomes difficult to say that this people can be deterred by death sentence whether it is executed immediately or after wards, since they take all precautions not to be caught. Generally, it is more likely those who are caught fro committing crimes like murder did not plan for it. This can be categorized into crimes of passion. This kind of crimes can mostly occur when for instance a person gets angry and acts out of anger committing murder. At this point, the proponents can argue that death sentence might deter others from committing the same crime, as they might take control of their actions.  However, there is also no much statistics to prove this argument, since these kinds of murders are much less as compared to what happens to murders that are committed for financial gain which are usually well planned.

5.1 Conclusion

Basically, looking at the results, it is obvious that most of the experts do not agree with the notion that death sentence is a deterrence mechanism in violent crimes, despite a majority public support. The public generally is in favor of death sentence as well the politicians. It is ironic that in the western democracies, it is only the US that still practices death sentence. Then the argument is that the US should follow other western countries, but again others feel that if Russia and South Africa also still uphold death penalty, what is the big deal with it being practiced in US. However, if this can be taken in a different angle, say because of moral issues or generally political reasons, then it is a different question all together. However, claiming that it deters violent crimes, it really does not have much evidence especially from the experts to support this argument.

In the society people commit crimes due to different reasons, and since it is the prerogative of each government to protect its citizens, it has to look for better ways. Many crimes have been linked to poverty due to lack of employment, drug use and abuse, and social injustice. Therefore, if in the society poverty and unemployment continues to increase, then it will be very likely that it will be very difficult to control crimes. Take for instance a person who robs and kills. This might have been pushed to do so because he did not have an option of getting money. Therefore, unless there is an alternative to make him get what let him to commit the crime, a mere death conviction scare will not make him stop from committing another crime as long as he plans well not to be caught and gets what they want. Death sentence can only be an effective tool to notorious criminals who after being executed can not commit another crime for the fact that they are dead and there is no possibility of them running away from prison or being released and committing another crime.

Therefore, we can not just be arguing that death sentence is inhuman or it is moral without looking far beyond our opinions. However, whether death sentence is reintroduced or not, we have to agree that it is just a tough penalty but it can not effectively deter other violent crimes from occurring. Hence, hypothesis H1 does not hold in this research, but the alternative does.

5.2 Recommendations

First, it is important that a research on the effectiveness of death penalty in deterring violent crimes should be carried out thoroughly with people who are neither proponents nor opponents so as to come up with results that are completely not biased and do not just give the researchers personally opinion, but rather a true picture of the whole issue.

Secondly, the politicians should be not involved in this debate, since they have in many ways been known to sway their supporters’ minds according to what can be politically beneficial to them.

Thirdly, most of what leads to violent crimes to be committed should also be thoroughly researched and a way of preventing them looked into, so that it can be possible to know if actually death penalty (without these other parameters) can deter violent crimes.

Finally, since the public cries for the use of capital punishment, it is important that when put in place, the government should ensure that all the constitutional rights are followed. However, if it has to be undertaken, there is also need to make sure that the due process of criminal case is not abused so as to delay the execution.

Reference:

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