Another common argument given in favour of death penalty is an economical consideration. Comparisons differ depending on the bias of the people carrying out the comparison. Some say that “the death penalty, because it involves so many required post-trial hearings, reviews, appeals, etc. ends up costing more than life imprisonment” (NCWC). However, these extra expenses have to be diminished through increasing the cost-efficiency of the legal system, and society that is spending huge amounts on legal services would benefit from such a reform. Just considering the cost of keeping a 25-year-old inmate incarcerated till the end of one's life is startling and endorses the view that society has to select death penalty as a cheaper option.
Opponents of death penalty have given a number of arguments to support their position. In the first place, it is opposed by people on religious grounds. Representatives of various religious groups claim that only God can take a human life and human being are then not sanctioned to kill each other. However, in the Hebrew Scriptures there is evidence that Jews applied death penalty to criminals for selected types of crime. The only instance in the Christian Scriptures includes punishing by death “for lying about Church donations: Acts 5:1 to 11 describe how a couple, Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of real estate” (Religious Tolerance). The couple was killed for lying about the size of the proceeds from the sale of a house in an effort to conceal part of their income.
The phrase 'capital punishment' comes from the Latin word for the head. A 'corporal' punishment, such as flogging, takes its name from the Latin word for the body.
Support Reason Deterrence of punishment Becker (1968), first of all, assumes that the crime is bad which incurs social loss, it should be deterred, death penalty is the severest punishment, and potential criminals are normal individuals....
It is usually only used as a punishment for particularly serious types of murder, but in some countries treason, types of fraud, adultery and rape are capital crimes.
Another paper exploring the relationship between crime rates and death penalty is “State Executions, Deterrence and the Incidence of Murder” by Paul R. Zimmerman uses U.S. state-level data over the years 1978-1997 to find out if capital punishment indeed has a deterrent effect. The paper, in evaluating the deterrent effect of capital punishment, adjusts the data for the influence of simultaneity and therefore comes up with estimates of a deterrent effect that greatly those of previous findings. Zimmermann has found that “the estimates imply that a state execution deters approximately fourteen murders per year on average” Zimmerman 2004:163). Besides, he has established that it is the announcement of death penalty that drives the effect.
A study by Joanna M. Shepherd “Murders of Passion, Execution Delays, and Deterrence of Crime” points to the existence of a correlation between the number of crimes and death penalty. To find this relationship, she looks at monthly murder and execution data using least squares and negative binomial estimations. Her conclusion is that one execution helps to avert three killings on average. Capital punishment also has an effect on murders by intimates and crimes of passion. The influence is evidenced by rates of crimes committed by victims of both European and Afro-American descent. The deterring effect of death penalty, however, was found to be reduced by longer waits on the death row. As a result of this trend, “one less murder is committed for every 2.75-years reduction in death row waits” (Shepherd 2003:27).
One of the most important arguments in favor of death penalty is the fact that it helps to deter capital crimes. This issue is debatable since there have been suggestions that application of death penalty has no serious effects on the rate of murders, for instance. Besides, opponents of death penalty claim that it is not possible to deter so-called crimes-of-passion committed in an emotionally affected state when a person is not capable of thinking about future punishment. However, there is evidence that application of capital punishment can indeed prevent crimes, even those that are committed by intimates.
The above-mentioned findings suggest that the deterrent effect of capital punishment is present and should not be neglected. If the killing of one criminal can prevent at least three, or fourteen deaths, by different calculations, this opportunity has to be exploited. We cannot forgo an opportunity to save the lives of honest, innocent, law-abiding citizens. Although any human life is precious, the efforts of the society have always been directed mostly at maintaining the well-being of those who live by its rules. They are getting more economic benefits that anti-social elements and can enjoy a more secure future. Thus, these people have to be protected by the law in the first place.
In a research paper “Is Capital Punishment Morall Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs” by Cass R. Susstein and Adrian Vermeule, the authors suggest that death penalty is morally justified on the basis of distinction between acts and omissions. Most opponents of death penalty argue that it is barbaric for a government to take a human life since there is a difference between an act, such as killing a person, and omission, such as refraining from the act. But, researchers argue, by forbidding official penalty, government officials de facto allow numerous private killings that are left unpunished. However, a government that fails to maintain the welfare of the citizens by omitting death penalty from the criminal code will leave citizens unprotected and decrease their welfare “just as would a state that failed to enact simple environmental measures that could save a great many lives” (Sunstein, Vermeule 2005:41). Therefore, punishing the criminals is a necessary part of any state policy. The interests of victims or potential victims of murders cannot be overlooked in order to consider the interests of the criminals guilty of the most heinous crime - taking a person's life.
Death penalty, in my view, has to be supported on the ground of just retribution for murder. Still, I do not believe in death as a form of punishment for drug dealers, however heinous their activities might be, since they did not violate human lives. Political crimes should not be punished with death either, as this would open the way to political repression and physical elimination of political rivals, as it happened in Stalin's times in the Soviet Union. However, when a person murders another person, death is the right kind of retribution. This is analogous to penalties imposed for instance for robbery or theft - the criminal often has to forfeit one's possessions for taking the property of another person. Similarly, it is fair that one who has consciously taken the life of another person should suffer death.