Which is the more effective death penalty or life sentence?
The debate of the most effective punishments for criminals, whether the death penalty or serving a life sentence is inherently better has been ongoing for some time.
Reasons why the Death Penalty is More Effective
The death penalty is a more effective punishment for deserving criminals for a variety of reasons:
Firstly, it denies the deserving criminals' access to privileges that are accessible to other inmates. Consider a rapist who has tortured, raped, and murdered innocent girls. What kind of punishment does this person deserve rather than death? Yet, living in prison would ensure these types of criminals get the same privileges as other inmates serving sentences for small misdemeanors. This highlights the inequality that is characteristic of the prison system. Many prisoners currently enjoy some rights, including access to mailing letters, books, radio, or even television at times. Besides, some prisons allow prisoners to get a payable job, take high school or academic classes, conjugal visits, and even vacations outside prison. For prisoners without a family on the outside, this life would not be bad at all. Some people even enjoy the prospect of not having to keep a job or some of the demands of life characteristic of any person in society. For those with families on the outside, the prospect of seeing or communicating with them provides enough satisfaction. Imagine knowing that a person who has committed serious crimes still gets some of these benefits, yet his/her poor victims do not. It is not only unjust for the victims, but it also ensures the criminal does not pay the full cost of their crimes. This is why the death penalty is a more effective punishment for deserving criminals. For instance, if a person has committed murder, they should suffer the same fate as well.
Besides, the death penalty is a more effective punishment as it ensures that deserving criminals do not use up large sums of the taxpayer's money. Consider the cost of feeding, clothing, and housing an inmate. There are also costs like medical care, which every inmate is entitled to as their rights. These costs are a massive dent in the taxpayers' money. When they continue serving time in prison, they use more resources that would have otherwise been spent elsewhere. Considering this, deserving criminals should, therefore, be put on death row as it is a faster and cheaper way of effecting punishment. It would also save the productive citizen's money.
Many studies have also highlighted that imprisoned criminals often commit more crimes even after being released. Besides, there are career criminals who keep committing a crime to end up in prison over and over. Why should such people be allowed the privilege of walking in and out of prison to cause more problems in society? Some criminals will virtually never be reformed and rehabilitated no matter what happens. They are like cancer in society that deserves to be obliterated. Besides, the prison system is already a tough and miserable place that makes some prisoners even worse than before. For such people, the only deserving and sufficient punishment is death.
The death sentence is a more effective punishment as it is the only way to ensure that deserving criminals do not eventually get out of prison. While deserving murderers may be convicted on a life sentence, these rulings may be overturned by new leaders in power. The governor of a state, the courts, or even the president may grant a pardon or commutation or overturn the existing ruling. Therefore, there is always a likelihood that even a mass murderer could walk out of prison one day. Considering this fact, enacting the death row punishment would permanently ensure that these criminals never walk out of prison.
Besides, the death penalty is one of the best ways of providing closure to the victims' families. Imagine losing a close friend or relative to a deranged and psychotic killer or losing a considerable part of your investment due to fraud. Loss is a harrowing affair that no deserving person should have to endure unnecessarily. In cases where one may have lost a loved one due to such a scenario, a life sentence would not provide closure or heal the victims' friends and families' wounds. In some cases, the lengthy court proceedings and mandatory appeals in cases like murder may mean that the culprit may never face the full wrath of the law for the crime committed. In contrast, the death penalty is one of the surest ways of ensuring the criminal bears maximum weight of justice for the crime committed, providing a sense of justice and closure for the victims' families.
The death penalty has proven to be the most practical punishment for deserving criminals as the alternative, serving a life sentence, is better than death. One aspect of human nature is the ability to adapt and get used to situations. Over time, criminals get accustomed to living and being in prison. Some do not even know any other way of living. Even when not ideal, life is still life, meaning the culprits do not serve the full extent of their punishment.
Reasons why the Life Sentence is More Effective.
On the other hand, some of the reasons raised on why serving the life sentence is a more effective punishment include:
The possibility of errors in the justice system- the death penalty is a permanent decision, necessitating the need to do it correctly and in the right way. Imagine if a person is wrongly convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed. Not only would this be unjust, but it would also remove faith in the justice system. There is always room for error in convictions, and this is why the life sentence is the best punishment for convicted criminals. There have been numerous cases of people who have been exonerated from death row, many of which came after a long legal battle and extraordinary effort. In cases like murder, there is always a window of new evidence that could completely change one's conviction. Considering this, it is always better and safer to err on the safer side by not administering the death penalty in the first place. Doing this could save innocent lives.
Besides, the death penalty is still expensive to administer. Many proponents have argued that the death penalty an economical way of administering punishment. However, this is not true. There are many unavoidable costs linked to the death penalty, which are not often taken into account. For instance, the constitution requires a judicial process for these cases (usually long and complicated), which may take numerous mandatory reviews even after the death sentence has been issued because of its irreversible nature. The death sentence is not as easy as it appears. Some appeal processes could even take decades to complete. Several studies have ascertained that the death sentence could cost as much as ten times as serving a life sentence. Therefore, bearing this in mind, it is more affordable to administer a life sentence than to issue a death penalty.
Serving the life sentence is a better way of administering punishment because the death penalty is not always the best way to provide closure for the victims' families. Not everybody desires revenge or wants to exact it. Many people believe that administering the death penalty to the criminal would provide closure for the victims' friends and relatives. However, it is not valid, as the loss is still there. The death penalty's lengthy court proceedings characteristic can be physically and psychologically taxing to the victims' families. The significant costs dedicated to the death penalty procedures would be better spent by dedicating it to the victims' families to build their lives again through counseling, financial compensation, and creating crime hotlines, among many other issues.
Besides, life in prison is not a rosy affair. A prison is a miserable place full of many bureaucracies, boredom, violence, among many other ills. For instance, gang violence in prisons has resulted in the death of many inmates. Sexual molestation and violence are significant threats affecting many prisoners. Besides, the loss of liberty is already punishment enough for most prisoners. Therefore, serving a lifetime in prison is a substantial punishment that should not be relegated as any lesser than it is.
Many people also believe that even mass murderers could still get out of prison. This is untrue as for capital crimes; their sentences are often live without the possibility of parole. For such people, getting out of prison will be impossible; so, they live and eventually die in prison. The only way a prisoner can be released from jail before time is to prove their wrongful conviction in a court of law ( which takes lengthy and complicated court proceedings) or if they rightly receive a pardon or commutation. Therefore, there is no risk that a rightfully convicted criminal could leave prison.
Considering these factors, serving a life sentence is better than being on death row.