DEATH PENALTY VS LIFE IMPROSONMENT
Capital punishment or death penalty is the legal process by which the state punishes an offender for a heinous crime by execution. The law dates back to the 1700s BC but has evolved over time and has faced several criticisms. The rationale lies in phenomenon that certain crimes, for example murder are so heinous that the damages cannot be financially paid and only retribution or taking away the right to live could compensate them. The law also has grounds based on the deterrence perspective and has economic and social efficiency arguments attached. On the flip side, there are arguments based on humanity regarding death penalty being a rather cruel punishment and some based on an economic standpoint as well. Certain alternative punishments have been suggested globally as replacement for death penalty, the most popular one being life imprisonment. Most countries have abolished capital punishment; Amnesty International reports 140 countries around the world to have abandoned killing the offenders. Whether it should be carried out or abolished is one of the most heated topics for debate around the world.
In the 1700s, a formal legal code was written in Babylonia Called the code of Hammurabi (?) which dictated death penalty for certain crimes such as adultery or stealing from temples or state property. The next most popular documented death sentences were given for treason, especially in British colonies. When the British arrived at America, they brought along the penal code. In 1602 Captain George Kendall was executed for treason in the Jamestown colony of Virginia (Ron Fridell). Other non-heinous crimes like stealing fruits were also punishable by death back then. In 1682, Will...
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...cuss, one of the greatest arguments against death penalty is execution of innocent. These results spread caution in the legal world and imposed additional pressure on judges ordering the capital sentence.
In 1994, under President Bill Clinton, a crime bill was passed which further sophisticated the statutes for the death penalty. Around 60 new crimes that could result in the sentence were added, including terrorist activities, mass drug trafficking etc. While the laws supporting death penalty were being streamlined and solidified, efforts working against it had also increased. The media played a critical role in informing the masses of the ethical and humane concerns posed by the punishment. A book written by Helen Prejean titled ‘Dead man walking’ and film based on the book released under the same title educated the public on the issue and its moral implications.