10 Advantages and Disadvantages of the Death Penalty

Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, there have been more than 1,400 inmates in death row that have been executed. This year, the oldest prisoner in Georgia at 72 years of age added to the list. He was given lethal injection.

In the United States and other parts of the world, there are supporters and critics of death penalty. In the U.S. it is legal in 31 states and 19 states have chosen to abolish it, the most recent being Nebraska in May 2015. This is just a clear sign that there are compelling arguments between advocates and skeptics. Since the 1980s, lethal injection is the common practice. However, pharmaceutical companies are now hesitant to supply lethal drugs to be used in capital punishment or death sentence. On top of this, those who are not for the death penalty are stating their views, saying it is not the solution. The issue on the availability of these lethal drugs has triggered another controversial issue on whether the death penalty is slowing down. Having said that, here are the pros and cons of a death sentence or capital punishment.

List of Advantages of Death Penalty

1. It deters bad people to commit heinous crimes.
One reason supporters of the capital punishment are for death penalty is its effectiveness as a crime deterrent. According to the advocates for death sentencing, potential criminals will be scared to suffer such harsh punishment and as a result, they will be hesitant to commit crimes like rape and murder. In fact, for them, it is the greatest deterrent of criminal acts. If an offender commits a crime that is punishable by death and gets executed, this will be known by the public, including those who are potential criminals. For fear of suffering the same plight, they will be discouraged to commit crimes.

2. It is what hardened criminals deserve.
Some of the crimes that are under capital punishment include murder and rape, depending on the country or state legalizing the practice. For pro-death penalty, there are criminals who are repeat offenders and not scared to rape and murder again, knowing they will only be imprisoned. These types of people and those who cannot be transformed should be put to death to project the majority.

3. The government need not spend for criminals who are murderers and such.
If there will be no death penalty, criminals who have committed grave offenses will only get life sentences and stay in prison. With the increasing number of incarcerated individuals, the government will be spending more and more on food and health care of these inmates. According to some critics, spending for people committing heinous crimes is impractical and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

4. It reduces the number of committed crimes.
People who are for death penalty posit that without it, the number of major crimes like murder and homicide will escalate since bad elements will not be afraid to do whatever they want., from dealing drugs to killing other people. Without harsh punishments for their offenses, criminals will be taking advantage of weaker people and victims.

5. It is humane, clean and safe.
Advocates for the death penalty claim that with lethal injection being practiced by more states and countries over other forms of death sentence executions, it is the better option. Death by lethal injection is not as barbaric as hanging or firing squad that can be messy and more painful.

List of Disadvantages of Death Penalty

1. It is not a crime deterrent.
Critics argue that the death penalty does not really deter criminals from committing offenses. This is because there are criminals who suffer from mental illnesses and a death sentence will not be able to prevent them from doing bad things they cannot control without proper medication.

2. It can result to punishing the wrong people.
The legal systems in most countries, even in the U.S. have flaws. There are many instances where innocent people are sent to jail and convicted of crimes they have not committed just like the case of a man who was imprisoned for 30 years for rape. If all people who are convicted will be executed, mistakes will be made and many people will be put to death through legal injection even if they do not deserve to be.

3. It costs the government too much money.
Critics of death penalty contend the view of supporters that feeding the inmates is more expensive than death penalty. On the contrary, the drugs used in lethal injection and other expenses related to the execution are more costly.

4. It can cause depression and feelings of guilt on people.
One of the disadvantages of this practice is the reality that some of the people who have been involved in the process suffer from depression out of guilt from having to end another person’s life. Some of this people end up committing suicide and others have to suffer living the remaining years of their lives tormented with the thought. According to a former executioner, there are many people who have participated in executions whose lives were later destroyed. Some turned to drugs and alcohol to feel better.

5. It is not humane and cannot be undone.
There was an incident where a person who underwent lethal injection did not die right away and it took more than 30 minutes for him to die from a heart attack. This was traumatic not only for the person being executed but also for the people who witnessed the incident since they saw the man gasping for air and trying to stand up. For people who are against death penalty, this is not a humane thing to do. Moreover, they say that if a criminal is executed and after the execution, a new piece of evidence comes out that would have proven the person’s innocence, he or she can never be brought back to life anymore.

With the ongoing issue on the availability of lethal drugs and the outcry for abolishment, the death penalty continues to be a divided issue. Whether it is indeed good for society or a form of revenge, perhaps, depends on the values and experiences of an individual. And for many people, though, the advantages have more weight than the disadvantages.