April 2003
French articles
arts and expressions
about SNN
magazine archives


Capital Punishment
By Nicholas H., Grade 9, St. Paul's Junior High, St. John's, NL

Capital punishment: society's ultimate penalty is without a doubt the most cruel and brutal punishment to exist. The death penalty is still powerfully enforced by its supporters throughout the world today.

This sentence directly violates the human right to life and by taking a life away by execution is a brutal and archaic way of attempting to resolve a very complex issue. Capital punishment should not exist. Capital punishment is an ethical disgrace. Does society even have the right "morally or otherwise" to execute its violent offenders. If murder is wrong to start with, it doesn't become right when the government does it.

The death penalty directly violates all human rights and it is purely based on revenge. It is the coldest, most premeditated form of murder to exist. Capital punishment does something almost worse than lowering society to the level of the criminal. It raises the criminal to the level of our society.

This penalty is cruel and unusual, directly violating human dignity and rights. It closes all doors for the convicted to pay back society and it breaches all types of ethical positions. Capital punishment hasn't proved its deterrent effect on crime and innocent victims can be convicted and accidentally be murdered. How often do these facts stand in society's mind when they're told that their fair and dependable government has made the decision to take a life?

Who can be 100% sure? After witnessing the brutality and terror in World War II, the United Nations adopted "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" in which it recognized each person's right to life and it states that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment." The Death Penalty breaches these rights by letting the political power have the decision to kill a convicted criminal by any means, in which may entail excruciating physical torture.

The death penalty is terrible because of its cruel and inhumane techniques for taking human life. These methods by which executions are carried out can involve physical torture. Electrocution has, on occasion, caused extensive burns on the victim and has needed to have more than one submission of electric current to kill the convicted. These shocking events have put the victim through much more than death. It was torture, pain and agony.

As long as the death penalty is preserved, the potential risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated. Justice is not without faults. Canadians Guy Paul Morin and David Milgard were both wrongfully accused of murder. Both men spent many years serving out a penalty which should have never been charged on them. If the death penalty was common practice in Canada, these innocent victims may have been put to death. They may have been killed. Murdered! All because of a guilty verdict and society's desire to extinguish the flames of violence and get their craved revenge.

The death penalty is irrevocable. In the case of a mistake, the executed prisoner can never be given another chance. In the last century, there have been more than seventy-five incorrect convictions of murder. The death sentence was carried out in eight of those cases. A prisoner discovered to be blameless can be freed, but you cannot release or compensate for the dead captive. Since 1973, 102 prisoners have been released from death row in the USA after evidence emerged of their innocence of the crimes for which they were sentenced to death. These numbers are exceedingly high and it proves that no one can be one hundred percent accurate with their decision to claim the offender innocent or guilty and no one should serve this fate to risk the ultimate nightmare.

One of the biggest arguments of the death penalty is that some believe that the criminals must serve the same fate of their victims. But does the execution of an offender bring back their victims or heal the wounds of the distraught families. Should we cause another family to go into mourning by killing their child? Should anyone be permitted to play God? Who really has the right to be able to take away one's life? No one has this right, no one has this power and it is making us as bad as the offender. We cannot demonstrate that killing is wrong by murdering the criminal.

It is argued that capital punishment creates deterrence for future criminals because they realize the consequence of death if they are caught. But no criminal goes into any crime expecting that they'll be caught. In a survey conducted for the United Nations in 1996 their search failed to reveal any scientific proof that this punishment has deterred the criminal population and that executions have had a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment.

The belief that execution costs less than imprisonment is false. The cost of the maintenance and structure of the matters concerning the death penalty, including death row and the endless appeals and deadly machinery, far outweighs the expense of maintaining a prison for the tiny fraction of criminals who would otherwise be on death row.

Capital punishment has been eradicated from a hundred and six nations around the world. However, the death penalty continues to be commonly applied in many other nations. China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran and the United States are the most prolific executioners in the world. To this date, seven hundred and seventy-two criminals in the U.S. alone have been subject to the death penalty. Sixty-six prisoners were executed in America last year, bringing the total number executed since the reinstatement in 1976 to seven hundred and forty-nine.

As Reverend David B. Thompson once said "Capital punishment feeds the cycle of violence in society by pandering to a lust for revenge. It brutalizes us and deadens our sensitivities to the precious nature of every single human life."


Back to Front Page