Why is Capital Punishment an Ethical Issue

Why is Capital Punishment an Ethical Issue is one of the most controversial questions asked in the world. Capital punishment refers to the death penalty or the execution of an individual by the state after conducting a fair trial for his crime. Killing a person by an organization other than the state is referred to as murder and not capital punishment. Death penalty has always been a hot topic of debate on religious and moral grounds. Does a state possess moral authority to kill one of its citizens, no matter how heinous a crime he may have committed? There are no easy answers to the questions surrounding the legitimacy of capital punishment. This is why there will always be ethical issues associated with the death penalty.

Capital Punishment Facts

Death penalty fails to deter criminals

Out of nearly 200 countries in the world, 139 have abolished capital punishment either by introducing legislation or in practice. However, it continues to be given in some countries of the world with China topping the list of such countries. Capital punishment ends the life of an individual because of the crime that he has committed. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty makes people in the society any safer in countries where this practice continues. Murders, rapes, and other violent crimes continue to take place in societies where capital punishment is practiced. It becomes difficult to justify the death penalty in such circumstances.

Why is Capital Punishment an Ethical Issue

There is a chance of innocent getting killed

There is always a possibility of an innocent person getting death penalty. It is impossible to prevent such cases as there are cases where evidence points towards a person even though he may not have committed a crime. Flaws in the judicial system cannot be removed 100%. Mistakes in trial could lead to killing of an individual. If there remains a chance of an innocent getting killed by the state, why not abolish capital punishment once and for all? Coming back to the ethical issue, if killing is wrong, how can state killing of a criminal be justified on moral and ethical grounds? Life is precious and state cannot give life back to someone. Then, what right does it have to take the life of an individual even if he has committed a serious crime?

Capital punishment violates fundamental human rights

Right to live is the fundamental right of all individuals in all societies. Capital punishment takes away this right from people who are awarded this penalty. Catholic Conference says that we cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing ourselves. This point alone proves that capital punishment is wrong and sets a bad precedent for the society. There are many religions in the world that believe that killing is a sin and no one has any right to kill another person for any reason. This means that the state has no moral or ethical right to take the life of an individual even if he has committed a crime for which he deserves severe punishment.

Judicial system has become so costly that those who cannot afford to hire the services of a good attorney can easily get punished by law as they are unable to defend themselves in a proper manner.


Images Courtesy:

  1. NHCADP Protest – World Day Against the Death Penalty by World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (CC BY-SA 2.0)

    World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

    World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

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