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Assess the pros and cons of capital punishment.

Crime rate is mounting daily but the nature of punishment in comparison to those of the past is becoming less grisly. Capital punishment, although remains an unscrupulous sanction to many optimists, seems a promising solution to restore equilibrium in the society. Consequently, numerous countries are embarking on this rewarding concept. However, the doubt still remains: is death penalty really a solution to deliver justice, or is it just a way to demonstrate the erosion of our moral values?

One of the main reasons behind this gruesome measure is that this act of retribution will bring consolation to the victim’s family. It ensures that justice has been done as in the case of New Delhi rapists in September 2013. The book of Exodus can be adduced to support this argument: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Simultaneously, due respect and consideration is paid to other members of society who deserve security and peace, by the removal of such criminals.

Probing deeper in the bright facet of capital punishment discloses that it also serves to deter potential criminals. Numerous studies in the US like the Utah study showed a marked drop in crime rates for months after an execution of the death penalty. Capital punishment is hence shown to be successful in putting off significant number of criminals because the prospect of death naturally invokes a sense of fear. For instance: The abolition of this penalty in the UK in the 1965 showed a significant boom in the crime rate. In Mauritius female oppression and abuse are flourishing – apparently because of the absence of such stringent punishment.

Another incontrovertible argument for the death penalty is that it will ebb the financial burden of the public .A study by TIME magazine estimates that the cost of keeping a prisoner costs more than the death penalty as cell life is becoming too indulgent and comfortable like the Halden Prison in Norway. This exorbitant wastage could be used otherwise for social services or to help the victim or his/her family.

Likewise, if society fails to punish criminals in a way thought to be proportionate to the gravity of the crime, the danger arises that the public would take the law into its own hands, resulting in vigilante justice, lynch mobs, and private acts of retribution. The outcome is likely to be an anarchistic, insecure state of injustice like manifestations in Third World Countries.

Yet, anti capital punishment activists vociferously lambaste this form of punishment as human life is too sacrosanct for another person to deprive one’s right to live. They therefore assert that it is hypocritical of the court of law then, to commit the crime that the murderer is guilty of. Two wrongs do not make a right! Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights further states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” There can be other forms of dealing with the offenders, such as incarceration or reformation. The tenet of forgiveness can also be opted as nobody is perfect or sinless as highlighted in James 8:7.

If the foreknowledge of any punishment is meant to dissuade the criminal from committing the crime, why do people still murder others? The US had a 2012 murder rate of 4.8 victims per 100,000—meaning that nearly 15,000 people were victims of homicide that year. Capital punishment does not appear to be doing its job; it does not seem to be changing every criminal’s mind about killing innocent people. If it does not dissuade, then it serves no purpose. The warning of life in prison without parole must equally dissuade criminals.

Furthermore, capital punishment is often opposed on the grounds that innocent people will inevitably be executed. Between 1973 and 2005, 123 people in 25 states were released from death row when new evidence of their innocence emerged. A single mistake could have “murdered” them. This arbitrariness present in its administration makes the practice both immoral and unjust. In particular, there is a systemic presence of racial, socio-economic, geographic, and gender bias in its implementation like in Britain concerning the Blacks or in Islamic countries concerning women. Consequently, the competence of the defense attorney is a better predictor of whether or not someone will be sentenced to death than the facts of the crime! Thus, capital punishment is illegitimate and in need of suspension or abolition.

One final but not necessarily exhaustive argument against it is that we cannot slay prisoners because it is less expensive than imprisonment. It is obviously costly to accommodate and reform the delinquent in order to rehabilitate them but it is the right thing to do. Once rehabilitated, the prisoners can be given parole, thus reducing the cost of imprisonment.

Unambiguously, this debate seems bottomless. Although, capital punishment seems dreadful it is a necessary evil. It is my belief that it is justified and desirable in extreme cases because it pays proper respect to the importance of human life. It respects the human life of the victim, the life of the convicted, as well as those of the innocents. The game of life must be played, and those who flout the rules and cheat by killing off other players must pay the price, however expensive. This price is death!

Author: Raajeev Auchambit
The author is currently an AS Level student at Ebene State Secondary School, Mauritius.


  1. yes but some people are just too evil to have in this world.

  2. If by chance i get a topic on capital punishment in my exam, if i copy that essay..will i be penalized?

    1. I guess you won't be able to copy the whole essay. Even if the question is asked on this topic, I am sure that it will be tweaked such that this answer becomes less relevant to that question.

    2. But can i use some elements of answer here, for e.g about the book of exodus, the facts & these vocabulary words ??
      will i be charged of plagiarism ??


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