Death Penalty: pros and cons of capital punishment Essay

“According to Sharp (1997), approximately 5900 persons have been sentenced to death and 358 executed (from 1973-96) in Untied States” (Sharp, 1997). Even though America is one of the most civilised countries in the world, death penalty or capital punishment is still prevailing in America. Different opinions are there in America both in favour and against death penalty. Critics of death penalty, including religious leaders are of the view that death penalty is a morally and ethically wrong act. In their opinion, only the creator has the authority to put an end to his creations. Moreover, it is impossible to give the life back to a person after his execution, even if the he found to be innocent later. At the same time, supporters of death penalty are of the view death penalty is necessary in order to save the lives of innocent people. In their opinion, Osama or Saddam like hard-core criminals were big threats to the lives of thousands of innocent people across the world and therefore giving capital punishment to such people are unavoidable. This paper argues in favour of death penalty after analysing both pros and cons of death penalty.

Ferdic et al (2008) have pointed out that “one of the biggest challenges of criminal justice system is to keep its competing notions of due process and crime control in balance. A heavy focus on either of them may have detrimental effect on American society (Ferdic et al, 2008, p.4). It is the duty of the government and Criminal justice system to ensure the safety and security of the public. At the same time it is the duty of the society and the criminal justice system to correct the deviant behaviours of the criminal. However, in some extreme cases, it is difficult for the criminal justice system to ensure enough protection to the lives of innocent people without capital punishment. For example, Osama and Saddam like criminals will never rectify their criminal behaviour if the criminal justice system sentence them for a particular period and release them after that for their past criminal activities. Under such circumstances, death penalty is unavoidable.

“If we execute a person, what is the difference between us and the criminal who has committed the horrifying crime of killing another individual?”(10 Pros and Cons of Capital Punishment, 2010). The relevance of an action should be evaluated based on its utility. In other words, if the execution of one person saves the lives of many people, there is no point in arguing against death penalty. Life is precious for everyone. Nobody, including the criminal has the right to take the lives of others since it is impossible for a person to return a life he has taken, either deliberately or accidently.

“The essence of American criminal justice system is that partisan advocacy of both sides on a case will promote the ultimate objective that the guilty be convicted and the innocent go free” (Ferdic et al, 2008, p.37). Even if thousands of criminals were escaped, no innocent people should be punished which is the major objective of criminal justice system in America. At the same time, criminal justice system should have the responsibility that no hard-core criminal escape from punishment using the loopholes of criminal justice system.

Many people are of the view that instead of giving death penalty, it is better to keep the criminal in prisons during his entire life span. Such people are of the opinion that death penalty is an expensive act than other means of punishment and therefore life term in prisons should be considered. The above argument seems to be logical in my opinion. The ultimate aim of any form of punishment is correction and protection. It is illogical to think that a hard-core criminal like Osama may change his opinions and behaviours because of life imprisonment. At the same time, such life terms in jail can ensure the protection of lives of innocent people. However, in the long run, the possibility of release or escape of such criminals cannot be ruled out. If that happens, life imprisonment may not become effective.


Death penalty is the ultimate way of punishment. Even though, death penalty seems to be a harsh punishment, it should be noted that in countries where death penalty is enforced, crime rates are much more less than other countries. The lives of innocent people are more important than the lives of the criminals. In short, death penalty should be continued in America in order to keep the crime rates under check.


10 Pros and Cons of Capital Punishment, (2010), Retrieved from

Ferdico J N, Fradella H F & Totten C D. (2008), Criminal Procedure for the Criminal

Justice Professional, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Tenth Edition

Sharp D (1997) Death Penalty And Sentencing Information, Retrieved from