Against The Death Penalty: Christian and Secular Arguments Against Capital Punishment Essay

The paper focuses n the death penalty as a capital punishment. It reflects personal convictions about the punishment, while acknowledges the views of those in support of it. At the introduction, the paper states the reasons for my opposition, and introduces the whole paper. It then looks at other people who oppose the idea opinions regarding the issue. These controversial issues also act in the defense of my opposition of the death penalty as a capital punishment. It then reviews the reasons why other people support it, providing evidence of its success. Lastly, the paper concludes by providing a brief summary of the paper’s main points, and reaffirms my position on the debate.

The Debate about the Death Penalty


Societies use different modes of punishments to deter criminal activities and discourage future offences. Murder is a common and old offence that has continued to persist in societies, with controversial perspectives on punishment. Societies usually have high interests in preventing murder. Consequently, the death penalty might be perceived fair punishment for anyone who kills another human being. Criminologists study the efficiency of the death penalty in deterring murders, and in most of their studies, the results seem inconclusive. This paper is an argumentative essay relaying my opposition against the death penalty, as a means of punishing offenders. As described in the paper, research indicate that the death penalty is an unsuccessful means of deterring crime, because many states without it seem to have lower crime rates. Additionally, people have varied opinions about the morality of the death penalty. Therefore, it would be morally wrong for the state to decide for victims who are against the death penalty to punish their offenders this way. With the above comments, it is important to review controversial issues surrounding the death penalty, as well as look at other people’s views about the subject. The central argument in the paper is that the death penalty is an inappropriate method of punishment. It is arguable that all murder victim desire death penalty against their offenders. People have different religious convictions, personalities, beliefs and attitudes towards Life. Because of this, some people do not wish death penalty upon their offenders. Additionally, research has shown that death penalty not only violates human rights, but also heartens a culture of violence and discriminates against minorities. Those in opposition to the death penalty also argue that it not right for the state to have a right to kill anyone, relating to a denial of human right (Yorke 224). It is also an unfair way to punish anyone because in most cases, it largely depends on the offenders’ ability to raise money to obtain the best lawyers, the offender’s race, the skills of their lawyers and the location of the crime (Flowers, 170).

Existing Controversies on the Death Penalty

Capital punishment has attracted controversies over its appropriateness. When the law executes an innocent person through capital punishment, then this is wrongful execution. Opponents of the death punishment argue that there are many instances when the law wrongfully executes a person, and once they are dead, nothing can be done further. Criminologist studies have provided inconclusive results on the effectiveness of the death penalty. Most noteworthy, it remains the most appropriate way to deter would-be murders because people tend to fear death more than any other form of punishment. In addition to this, once a murderer has been killed, he/she has no chance of killing in future (Stearman 88). Therefore, the death sentence is a strict form of incapacitating the offences. Professor Ernest van den Haag, who lectures on jurisprudence at Fordham University has done extensive studies on deterrence, and has supported the death penalty as a mode of deterring murder in societies. He says that if death cannot deter murders, then nothing would. Abolitionists agree that they would still favor the removal of the death penalty even if the studies indicate a reduction on the number of murders due to the death penalty (Gershman 66). This means that the abolitionist value the life of the murder more than that innocent life, which may be protected by eliminating the murderer as well as deterring prospective murder offenses. However, the professor also says the death penalty is not decisive to him. The death penalty is important, therefore, governments should retain it even if the threat of its execution does not deter prospective murderers who are not threatened by imprisonment. It is important to spare the lives of a few innocent prospective victims than preserving the lives of a convicted murderer because their execution would not work in deterring others. Those who support the death penalty, argue that the life of a prospective innocent victim is much more valuable than that of the murderer, which only has negative values due to the crime. In their defense, they argue that the role of criminal law is to protect the lives of potential victims, not the offenders.

The role of punishment or threats of punishments is to deter crime and for retributive justice. Deterrence is a reasonable justification for punishment, and even though it can be repulsive, unjust or unwise, the sense of inflicting a legal punishment on convicted person brings justice. A person voluntarily risk obtaining legal punishment whenever they commit crimes, which they could have avoided by not committing the crime. When they are punished, they suffer for the crime they knowingly committed.

On the other hand, those who rebut it say that it is not a proven deterrence method, for future offenses. Other criminologists argue that the death sentence has a reverse effect; due to the brutality of the death sentence in the society, more murders are committed. In addition to this, most states in the U.S without the death penalty record lower rates on murder compared to those that employ it. This justification also becomes true when there is a comparison between the United States and other countries similar to it. Unlike countries such as Canada, which do not have the death penalty, the United States has a higher rate of murders. Punishments are meant to deter offenders and prevent future offences. The death penalty fails to deter because many offenders do not anticipate being caught, neither do they get the chance of weighing the difference between prison life and perceived execution before the commit crimes. Most murderers act in anger, or triggered by moments of passion and substance abuse. Consequently, there are chances that the state could mould these individuals into better citizens through other punishments, other than through the death penalty. There are also proof that life in prison serves better to deter murderers as opposed to the death penalty. Once these people have been arrested, they settle into the prison routine, and become less of a threat to society. Life imprisonment also leaves the society safer, while it gives the offender a chance to life.

Murder offenders either premeditate or do not premeditate these crimes (Hanks 67). In cases where they premeditate the crime, the offender concentrates on escaping conviction, detection or arrest. Those who anticipate escape will not be threatened or discouraged by a severe punishment. On the other hand, severe punishment such as the death penalty cannot deter a crime that was not premeditated. In this case, life imprisonment would be a better option than the death penalty as it deters a rational person from future offenses. The death sentence is irrevocable and offers no chance of correcting the mistakes that committed. The state may also commit a mistake by unjustly sentencing an innocent person to death, and once this happens, there is no chance of bringing them back to life.


In conclusion, the death penalty seems a proper and justifiable way to deter murders because murder is a serious offence. However, there are cases when it becomes unwise and unjust, when other means could have been favorable. To balance the two situations, states should substitute it with other affective deterrence methods such as life in prison. Studies have indicated low murder rates in states without the death sentences. This proves its ineffectiveness in combating crime.

Works Cited

Flowers, B. R. Minorities and criminality. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1990. Print.

Gershman, P.G. Death Penalty on Trial: A Handbook With Cases, Laws and Documents.

New York: ABC-CLIO, 2005. Print.

Hanks, C. G. Against The Death Penalty: Christian and Secular Arguments Against Capital

Punishment. New York: Herald press, 1997. Print.

Phillips, F. The death penalty and human rights. Caribbean Law Publishing Company.


Stearman, Kaye. The Debate About The Death Penalty.

New York: Rosen Publishing group, 2007. Print.

Yorke, J. Against the death penalty: international initiatives and implications.

New York: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008. Print.