why do people disagree with the death penalty
Many people believe that is morally flawed and problematic in concept and practice. The main argument that retribution is immoral is that it is just a sanitised form of vengeance. Scenes of howling mobs attacking prison vans containing those accused of murder on their way to and from court, or chanting aggressively outside prisons when an offender is being executed, suggest that vengeance remains a major ingredient in the public popularity of capital punishment. But just retribution, designed to re-establish justice, can easily be distinguished from vengeance and vindictiveness. In any case, is vengeance necessarily a bad thing? The Victorian legal philosopher James Fitzjames Stephens thought vengeance was an acceptable justification for punishment. Punishment, he thought, should be inflicted:
But the issue of the execution of innocent persons is also a problem for the retribution argument - if there is a serious risk of executing the innocent then one of the key principles of retribution - that people should get what they deserve (and therefore only what they deserve) - is violated by the current implementation of capital punishment in the USA, and any other country where errors have taken place.
It's argued that retribution is used in a unique way in the case of the death penalty. Crimes other than murder do not receive a punishment that mimics the crime - for example rapists are not punished by sexual assault, and people guilty of assault are not ceremonially beaten up. Camus and Dostoevsky argued that the retribution in the case of the death penalty was not fair, because the anticipatory suffering of the criminal before execution would probably outweigh the anticipatory suffering of the victim of their crime. Others argue that the retribution argument is flawed because the death penalty delivers a 'double punishment'; that of the execution and the preceding wait, and this is a mismatch to the crime. Many offenders are kept 'waiting' on death row for a very long time; in the USA the average wait is 10 years. In Japan, the accused are only informed of their execution moments before it is scheduled.
The result of this is that each day of their life is lived as if it was their last. Some lawyers argue that capital punishment is not really used as retribution for murder, or even consistently for a particular kind of murder. They argue that, in the USA at least, only a small minority of murderers are actually executed, and that imposition of capital punishment on a "capriciously selected random handful" of offenders does not amount to a consistent programme of retribution. Since capital punishment is not operated retributively, it is inappropriate to use retribution to justify capital punishment. This argument would have no value in a society that applied the death penalty consistently for particular types of murder. Some people who believe in the notion of retribution are against capital punishment because they feel the death penalty provides insufficient retribution. They argue that life imprisonment without possibility of parole causes much more suffering to the offender than a painless death after a short period of imprisonment.
Another example is the planner of a suicide bombing - execution might make that person a martyr, and therefore would be a lesser retribution than life imprisonment. There have been and always will be cases of executions of innocent people. No matter how developed a justice system is, it will always remain susceptible to human failure. Unlike prison sentences, the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable. The death penalty is often used in a disproportional manner against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic, political and religious groups. The death penalty violates the right to life which happens to be the most basic of all human rights. It also violates the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, the death penalty undermines human dignity which is inherent to every human being. The death penalty lacks the deterrent effect which is commonly referred to by its advocates.
As recently stated by the General Assembly of the United Nations, Бthere is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penaltyБ (UNGA Resolution 65/206). It is noteworthy that in many retentionist states, the effectiveness of the death penalty in order to prevent crime is being seriously questioned by a continuously increasing number of law enforcement professionals. Public support for the death penalty does not necessarily mean that taking away the life of a human being by the state is right. There are undisputed historical precedences where gross human rights violations had had the support of a majority of the people, but which were condemned vigorously later on. It is the job of leading figures and politicians to underline the incompatibility of capital punishment with human rights and human dignity. It needs to be pointed out that public support for the death penalty is inextricably linked to the desire of the people to be free from crime. However, there exist more effective ways to prevent crime.
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