The capital punishment is the severest type of punishment because nothing can be more painful, crueler to an individual than being deprived of the very life and existence. Of course there are many ways of putting men to death, some of which are never rackingly and excruciatingly painful while others may be less painful or not painful at all.
For example unskinning, burning alive., limb by limb chopping or being thrown to wild animals are harrowing and most barbaric ways of killing, whereas electrocution in the gold chair as practised in America is almost painless death because it takes not more than a couple seconds to be dead.
However, the end in all these cases is the same, namely physical extermination. Thus death penalty is neplusultra (the ultimate limit) of punishment.
In Ancient Rome the father used to be head of the family and he had the right to pass death sentence even on his own children. But in modern times this right is restricted to the state only.
In ancient times, a criminal was considered not only a law-breaker but also a badman and a sinner. Now-a-days, the out look on criminal is completely changed. Instead of being considered a sinner he is looked upon as a person who has become a victim of adverse and vicious circumstances.
Therefore, capital punishment is given to very few and selected variety of crimes only. Even then, there are many eminent thinkers who strongly disapprove of the capital punishment and strongly plead for its abolition. is a matter of fact there are quite a few countries in the world in which the capital punishment has been abolished and this has not to any rise in the incidence of murders.
The capital punishment is not a murder, even a legalized killing, as suggested by some but is, in fact, a negative reward for unlawful and immoral activity. The law of majority of the nations of the world provides for death penalty for killing. If a person knowingly and in a premediated manner commits murder he is liable to receive death penalty and usually he does.
Arguments in favour of capital punishment:
1. Capital punishment is a definite different the crime:
The chief argument that is offered to justify the continuances of the capital punishment is that it acts as a different to recurrence of crime. That is the general public when it finds that the wages of murder are death and degradation, deters from of suppresses those emotions which make a man violent and hostile.
Besides of the fear of death is removed from the consciousness of people they would commit murders very lightly knowing that maximum punishment it caught and convicted, they can have is a term in jail. Lambroso was an ardent advocate of death penalty.
However, the empirical evidence does not bear out this argument. In the countries, where death penalty is given, there is no decline in the number of murders year by year, and in those countries where capital punishment has been abolished there is no significant increase in the number of murders.
2. The capital punishment is a moral war:
A disciple of Mr. Lambroso, Mr. Garofalo Ware of the opinion, that capital punishment is a weapon by which the society fights a moral war against the inveterate criminals and incorrigible immoralists. How can society protect itself from the cut-throats, stranglers and sadist rapers?
How can society protect itself from Jack the rippers who have sexual intercourse and then cut out up the victims of their lust into pieces? The capital punishment is the only deterrent for such perverse souls.
3. The capital punishment is a social need:
According to eminent criminologists Victor Hugo capital punishment is a social need and that it is imperative of the maintenance of peace and last and order in the society.
In the absence of capital punishment people would openly resort to murders. Now-a-days, capital punishment has been abolished in a number of crimes but in fact, there has been downward trend in these cases.
4. The capital punishment is a selective process –
According to Hackel, the capital punishment is a selective process. It is a method by which Nature alimantes those individuals who are dangerous for the society and whose continued existence in the society poses a threat to social law and order.
According to Plato, the famous Greek Philosopher, “If a man cannot be harmless otherwise than in sleep, it is better for him to die than live.
However, this view is without any basis. If a man has committed a murder his elimination from the society is no effective solution. As a matter of fact it creates more problems than it allegedly resolves.
Firstly, if a person has been wrongly implicated and certain facts are revealed after his execution which conclusively proves his innocence a grave injustice has been done and society cannot redeem itself in any way.
Secondly, murders are men of extreme nature and violent passions. They are out of the ordinary. If only there can be suitable environment it is quite possible that these persons may prove out to be mean of extra ordinary abilities who will benefit society a great deal. If the persons are given life term imprisonment instead of death sentence the above problems can be solved.
5. The capital punishment is a legal demand:
The supporters of the capital punishment contend that the capital punishment is a legal demand. If a killer is let off unpunished this would militate against the majesty of the law and gradually the respect for law will vanish from the society and a society which the respect for law is gone will go to dogs.
Moreover if a killer is let off punished, his killing instinct will get a boost and the relatives of the victims will feel depressed, Morose and Sullen. Losing faith in law and justice they may think of avenging the wrong at the personal level. Therefore it is necessary that the law breaker is punished.
6. The capital punishment is definite:
It is argued that .compared to life-term imprisonment, the capital punishment is defective and certain. In jail, the convict can escape. However, this argument though it is merely a truism, does not prove capital punishment to be superior to life term imprisonment.
7. The capital punishment is very easy:
It is argued that capital punishment is very easy, while the other types of punishment are highly complex, intricate and involved. But as Lewis has argued in his book, ‘Meet the murderer’, “If a man is alive, he has at least some hope even if he is serving long-term imprisonment. There is hospital that one day he may be proved innocent or one day he may realize the folly of his existence on account of which he may undergo conversion and become a new man.”
8. In the penal system death-sentence is essential:
Some criminologists, notably C. Darrow argue that it is feasible to abolish capital punishment as long as the provision of punishment exists in a society.
How can we punish a simple murderer and a cruel murderer like Jack the riper or Boston strangler with life term imprisonment? There are certain crimes for which man must die. He is irretrievably lost.
For example a cruel man who has got into the habit of sucking the blood of luscious women or who inflates them by omnilingus and pumping air into female bodies and thus causes their rusting, such persons deserve not only to die but suffer while dying.
9. Securing others from criminal:
Sometimes it is argued that it is essential to kill the criminals so that others may live safety.
However, this argument cannot hold water; because the one who is put to death has already does his Job, the effect of which cannot be undone. On the otherhand, the potential criminal cannot be trapped till he commits murder.
Therefore, this argument would be true only if it can be proved that due to death sentence people shirk from crime and that there is rise in the incidence of murderers. But it is not true. Thus the argument is not valid.
Argument against Capital Punishment:
1. The Capital Punishment can be right in grave injustice:
Though the law courts of civilized countries recognize the merit of unwritten dictum of British Justice that 99 criminals may be acquaited but not 1 innocent man be convicted in actual practice the error of judgement cannot be ruled out.
The law courts are bound by the admissible evidence produced inside the courts and there is naturally a possibility of much man or over and a manipulation in this. Who wins the case is, in most instances, a function of the competency of the lawyers and not the merits of the case.
Accordingly, there are a number of time when innocents are declared guilty. In Sing prison of America, according to Lewis, 50 out of 437 convicts were later on known to be innocent.
Lewis rightly observed had these man been given only life-times imprisonment instead of death sentence, grave injustice done to these 50’s could be averted.
2. The capital punishment leaves no room for repentances:
No man is above wrong to erris human. A man who realize his mistake and repents for it is chastened man. Such persons usually not only become law abiding citizens but also become social reformers. The movement to curb alcoholism in America was started by former alcoholics. It is in fitness of things that man should get a chance to mend himself.
The society also plays an important role in inciting the man towards crime and it owes him at least a chance to realize his part or full and improve. However, the capital punishment strikes at the very root of this possibility.
3. The capital punishment does not save money:
There is an argument that by killing the crime, the society saves so much money which would be spent on him in feeding him for 14 years or more. But what is simply overlooked in this argument is the fact that the criminals are not merely fed but are also made to put in rigorous labour.
On the whole, these persons earn their bread, if not more than their bread. Therefore, it is baseless to say .that by killing criminals we save nation’s wealth. Besides, the number of criminals who are hanged is not even 1% of the total number of criminals. No society which calls civilized can count enhance such miserly view point.
4. The capital punishment is immoral:
Gurofalo has called capital punishment a moral war that society wages against bad characters. But by no cannons of morality can we justify killing man, who is a psycho path or mentally underdeveloped and to whom society has denied his due.
Most murders are not wilful, Hardly is there a man who plans cold-blooded murder except, perhaps the war-mongers, the ambitious generals and statesman. Besides a true moral punishment is the selfrealization of the crime by the criminal and the death sentence simply deprives a man the opportunity to receive one is really aggrieved party.
5. The capital punishment is not the way to curb crimes:
The argument that the fear of death will suppress the murderous instinct in the potential killers has been empirically found to be untenable. A comparative analysis of the statistics of murders in countries having death penalty with which have no death penalty reveals that there is no difference between the two as regards murder.
In the countries having death penalty there is no decline in the rate of murders and in those countries which have abolished death penalty there is no rise in the rate of murders which conclusively disprove the contention that death penalty has deterrent value.
The foregoing discussion proves that the capital punishment in indefensible in valid and unjust. The movement for abolition of capital punishment is gaining ground everywhere.
Now in all the countries of the world the murders or crimes which are punishable by death can be counted on finger tips. In 13 European countries the death penalty is already abolished. In eleven Latin American Nations and six states of the U.S.A. the death penalty has been abolished. In Nepal death penalty does not exist ever since ever since the year. 1931.
In India, however, death penalty is not formally abolished but the number of convicts who are hanged every year is falling. Sri Lanka had earlier abolished the death penalty but it was re-introduced after the murder of the Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandarnayake. The Daily Mirror of London has timed and again conducted the galluppolls which show that percentage of people rating against capital punishment was 50% in 1938, 68% in 1948 and 78% in 1955. But it again reduce to 50% in 2004.