Capital Punishment : Yes or No?

One of the most debatable issues for centuries now is over capital punishment. There are millions of people who are for it but then, almost an equal if not more, are against it. I myself belong to the latter group. All those who are critical of my stand against capital punishment will have many reasons that may make me ponder over my stand against it, but on a second thought, I would definitely go back to what I said earlier.

One of the foremost reasons given in support of capital punishment is that of setting an example for the masses, about the consequences that he/she must be ready to face if they commit the same crime. Yet, so far, it has not been able to deter crime. The frequency with which convicts are being sentenced to death shows that all those crimes which lead to the punishment of death penalty are still being committed.

Secondly, it is imperative to understand the methods of execution that were practiced, and which are still practiced. Some of the most commonly heard include hanging; being placed in front of the firing squad; electrocution (convict being tied to a chair, electrodes attached and a shock of thousands of watts repeatedly until he is dead); gas chamber (accused strapped to a chair in an airtight room where he/she is exposed to poisonous gas causing vomiting, writhing, gasping for breath); lethal injection (the condemned is strapped to a table and injected with three different substances that ensure a sequence of unconsciousness, blocking respiration and stopping pumping of the heart); and decapitation (beheading). Is it humane to subject a human to such suffering? Any rational person would deem this horrendous.

Lastly, who gives one the right to “kill” anyone? Consider a hypothetical situation where an accused has murdered someone in revenge for taking the life of a close associate of his. According to law, the accused will be sentenced to death; a classic case of what I call revenge by the law. Of course, there is one difference in both the deeds – that the accused (now the convict) did not consult anyone else or the book that has all articles of laws and neither did he conduct any trial. He just imposed his own “death penalty” onto his victim. On the other hand, he himself went through a formal procedure – the trial, the arguments and the judgment – and yet the end result in both cases was the same – a human sentenced to death by another, for taking the life of someone.

I believe that solitary confinement for life is an adequate punishment. I do understand that the crime that amounts to death penalty, when committed, can shatter families altogether but nevertheless, capital punishment is not humane. It violates human rights, it is cruel and there is no scope of granting pardon in case of an innocent being executed. So we come back to our original question : Why does it exist? Is it because it is more economical than the former?

Prateek Khurana

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