Pros and Cons of Death Penalty

Many people find capital punishment to be a complex and sensitive issue. Many people find capital punishment to be a complex and sensitive issue. While many nations consider this practice ruthless, it is still implemented in many countries worldwide. The death penalty has been a debatable topic in the United States. As of writing this article, 24 US states allow the death penalty and have authorized execution methods. Supporters consider it an appropriate and efficient punishment for heinous crimes and a strong crime deterrent. However, opponents view it as costly and cruel. This guide discusses the pros and cons of death penalty.

A Brief History of Capital Punishment in the USA

Death penalty dates back to the 16th century in the USA when it was given to criminals charged guilty of murder and treason. In 1776, after gaining independence from Great Britain, all thirteen colonies adopted similar statutes that allowed for capital punishment. And every state had enacted similar laws for execution by the end of the 18th century.

In the 19th century, hanging became the most common method of the death penalty. Proponents, during this period, considered it the best-fitting punishment to criminals and wrongdoers. On the other hand, opponents even considered hanging as a violation to constitutional principles. The debate surrounding the pros and cons of the death penalty continues today, and no clear consensus has emerged.

What are the Pros of the Death Penalty?

The following pros of the death penalty are often talked about by the people favoring it:

1. Retribution

Retribution, in terms of justice and punishment, means that a criminal is given a sentence that matches their crime. The idea behind retribution is to ensure a sense of justice for those wronged by the criminal’s actions. Execution serves as retribution to the victim’s family and society in case the person charged guilty has committed heinous crimes, e.g. murder or rape.

2. Deterrence

The concept of deterrence is central to the argument in favor of the death penalty. The idea is that by executing convicted criminals, potential offenders are discouraged from committing similar crimes due to fear of facing a similar fate.

Supporters argue that this fear effectively deters potential offenders from committing serious crimes and keeps society safer. Studies have suggested that capital punishment decreases crime rates in certain locations. Still, the results are mixed, and it is difficult to link decreased crime rates to the death penalty alone.

3. Justice

Justice is a crucial factor in any society, especially for grieving victims’ families. Victims’ families can have the assurance that justice has been served for the heinous crimes of the convict. Once the guilty get what they deserve, other criminals will think twice before committing such crimes.

People also feel secure knowing that the criminal responsible has been punished accordingly and will not be able to commit such acts again. The system likewise, shows that authorities are serious about protecting innocent people from harm by punishing those who violate laws severely.

4. Cost Efficiency

Every session in the court is expensive, from the cost of the judge and jury to the cost of resources used in determining the outcome. Death penalty cases involve a long court process since each step needs to be taken with utmost care and caution. Even though this is true, death penalty cases have been known to reduce the overall costs associated with trial proceedings compared to life imprisonment without parole.

5. Safety from Criminals

To ensure a murderer never kills again, some argue that the only guarantee is to execute them. While in prison, some prisoners continue to harm others, and there's a risk they could escape or be released. A notorious example is Ted Bundy, a serial killer who escaped prison twice and continued killing women after his escape.

What are the Cons of the Death Penalty?

That was the one side to the story, let’s look at the cons of the death penalty and find out why opponents consider it injustice even to the criminals.

1. Cruelty

The most obvious con of the death penalty is its cruelty. Sentencing someone with Capital punishment for a minor crime such as stealing, is considered cruel and unusual punishment. Many people argue that the death penalty should never be used as it’s irreversible in nature.

2. Ineffective Deterrence

Despite what proponents might argue, studies have not been able to find any clear evidence that suggests capital punishment serves as a deterrent to potential offenders. This means that criminals may still commit crimes even if they know they face execution because they do not believe they will ever get caught or convicted.

3. Unfairness

If someone is convicted of a crime even without committing one, it will be unfair. And if someone is wrongly executed, there is no way to turn back the judgment as they will never be able to regain their life.

4. Expense

Opponents argue that capital punishment is more expensive than life imprisonment due to higher trial costs and appeals processes. As a result, opponents argue that funds should rather be used to invest in crime prevention initiatives, such as more police officers or better educational opportunities for at-risk youth.

5. Morality

Some believe it is wrong to take away an individual’s life regardless of what crimes they have committed and view the death penalty as moral injustice even towards criminals. They argue that capital punishment does not offer any valid solutions and only serves to perpetuate violence in society.

6. Lack of Closure

While supporters believe that the death penalty brings closure to victims' families, opponents point out that such closures may be short-lived as executions also bring about a permanent revocation of closure since there is no way to right the wrongs done by taking away someone's life.


There are common arguments on both sides of the death penalty debate. Advocates argue that it is a deterrent and an ethical justice system, while opponents claim it is cruel and involves a risk of executing innocent people proven otherwise. Ultimately, both sides will never agree and are in opposition regarding this very controversial issue. It's up to all of us to evaluate backgrounds, research evidence, and consider our respective ethics, morals, and values to determine whether the death penalty should exist.

Pros and Cons of Death Penalty

Frequently Asked Questions

Why the death penalty is bad?

Those against it argue that it is inhumane, ineffective in deterring crime, biased against certain races and economic status, and irreversible. However, supporters believe it is a fair punishment for certain crimes, serves as a deterrent, protects society, and upholds moral standards.

What a death penalty means?

Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, refers to executing a criminal who has been found guilty of a crime by a court of law. It's important to note that capital punishment differs from extra-judicial executions, which occur without proper legal procedures.

Which countries have the death penalty?

Many nations, especially developed ones, no longer use capital punishment by law or practice. However, the United States, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea still use it. China, India, and most Islamic states also use capital punishment.

Is death penalty necessary for punishment?

The argument in support of capital punishment is that it deters potential murderers from committing the crime. Additionally, advocates of the death penalty believe that it brings closure to the victims' families.

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