It’s 2019, should we still have the death penalty?

Picture Editor Sukey Richardson

By Shannon Holden | @shaywhophotography / @Shay_Who_Photos
Subedited by Philippa Strachan @philippastrac

In many countries around the world, such as India, a form of punishment known as the death penalty or capital punishment is used to kill a person who has been found guilty of committing a crime, This extreme punishment usually only occurs to those who have committed a serious offence such as treason. In 1965 England abolished the death penalty however many countries such as America still use this method of punishment but the debate over whether this should be legal still goes on.

An eye for an eye

The arguments for the death penalty are usually associated with a right-wing viewpoint: the idea that killing people will stop crime rates. One of the most influential opinions, for capital punishment, is the old saying ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’. This long-debated theory that all crime should be returned with the exact crime is why many believe in the death penalty. Those who wish to take away an others’ life must pay the price with their own life.

A form of deterrence

Some other arguments for the death penalty are that it is a form of deterrence. Many sociologists have studied why crime is committed and the idea of a cost-reward analysis process is heavily supported. This theory suggests that a person is less likely to commit an act if the cost of it will be higher than the benefit and so if the cost is death then people are less likely to commit crimes. The benefit of a crime wouldn’t be higher than their own life.

One argument for the death penalty is that it reduces violence by taking these individuals off the earth to be blunt. The death penalty aims to get rid of those who commit terrible crimes and in turn protects the innocents in society from the criminals. The issue some people have is that even the prison system isn’t an effective way to protect society.

Cost-effective solution

Lastly, money from each taxpayer goes to the government to help towards the running of prisons. In 2016/17 the average annual cost of a prisoner in England and Wales was at £22.93. Many people, therefore, agree with the death penalty as a cost-effective solution especially to those with a life sentence, as the cost to house them for life seems unnecessary when they have done wrong.

Left-wing realism viewpoint

There is always a possibility of a wrongful conviction due to the imperfection of the criminal justice systems. If evidence later proves the ‘criminal’ in question to in fact be wrongfully convicted, they are then released back into society, however, obviously, this would not be possible if the death penalty was carried out.


Many people believe that the act of killing another human is just inhumane and therefore the killing of a criminal as is murder itself which makes two criminals instead of one. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Murder a criminal and drown a family.

This approach to the death penalty looks at the negative effects on the family and friends of the ‘victim’ (criminal). The idea that even if a criminal needs to be punished, then don’t punish the family of the criminal by taking their loved one away also. Where people can have visiting rights in prison to allow the outside world to stay connected, the death penalty removes the criminal from everyone’s life, including those who may benefit from their presence.

These contrasting opinions are just a few of a wide range of debates. Even between countries, this debate occurs due to the differences in religion and social values. As part of Britain, the death penalty can seem very much ancient history but for others, it’s just a part of the law of their land, what’s your opinion?

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Breathe News provides reactionary commentary on various aspects of contemporary culture, focusing on the misdeeds of political figures, the actions of governments, and global economic inequalities. We address socio-political issues through the use of multimedia content to tell a story from all angles. Breathe News aims to implement and promote change by informing our readers about a given problem and appealing to people's sense of justice. An informative, entertaining news site propelling social impact during turbulent times.

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