Crime and murder has been rife in South Africa over the past decade or so, but it seems to me that murder is now reaching epidemic proportions. Other serious crime also seems to have escalted out of all proportion – take a look at the beating up of baby Marzaan Kruger.
These terrible things got so much worse when South Africa stopped using the death penalty.
Some Arguments for the Death Penalty
- Some argue that the death of a criminal gives closure to their victim’s (if they are still alive) and their families.
- The death penalty serves as a deterrent to criminals who may be considering committing a capital offence.
- One of the main principals of punishment and the judicial system is that the penalty fits the crime. If someone violently murders another individual or numerous people, then it makes sense for the punishment to be death.
- Some anti-death penalty campaigners describe examples of people on death row, or people have already been killed have then been proved innocent. Today, the accuracy of modern forensics and DNA testing makes it very unlikely for an innocent person to be put on death row. Furthering this point, it is argued that the number of innocent people that may be killed is equalised by the number of actual criminals that are set free.
- Putting people in prison, as opposed to executing them gives them a chance of parole (or the small chance of escape), meaning they can commit more crimes. Capital punishment means there is no chance of the criminal committing another crime.
Some Arguments Against the Death Penalty
- The financial cost of putting people to death, once you consider extra appeals, additional procedures etc, can often be more than the cost of putting a criminal in prison for life.
- The death penalty is “cruel and unusual”
- It is simply immoral and barbaric to allow people to be killed by the state even if they have committed violent crimes.
- The appeals and additional procedures required to deal with criminals that have been condemned to death fill up the legal system which could be put to better use.
- It can be viewed that, life in prison with little freedom and poor quality of life is a better punishment and deterrent to criminals than death row.
- There is always the possibility that innocent men and women are put to death without ever having committed a crime. There will always be failings in the judicial and conviction system.
The problem with not having a death penalty is that there is no real alternative punishment. Criminals received almost a slap on the wrist these days. In Durban a few years ago, a man murdered three old ladies in their home. He received eight years, which means he was probably out and walking the streets in less than four years. Is this justice?
I feel that in light of the massive increase in murder and violence, that we should be debating and considering the use of the death penalty again!
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