An argument for capital punishment

Updated 27 July, 2015 – I have changed my views about the capital punishment. I feel the death penalty has to go.

I am in favour of capital punishment in rarest of the rare cases. Like the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab and the four Delhi rapists. They don’t deserve to live.

It is true capital punishment does not act as a deterrence. For the matter of fact no punishment does. Does that mean we stop punishing criminals altogether? No we still punish people. Criminals have to be locked up or made to pay fine so as to realise the harm they have done, to protect society from their repeated offences or to reform them. But none of this acts as a deterrent and nor does capital punishment. Capital punishment is retributive justice. You committed a very heinous crime, you gotta pay for it! If you are in need of a lawyer and are trying to fight a criminal case visit Matthew Gould, to find the best lawyer.

Right to life is a fundamental human right

Right to life? Opponents of death penalty say everyone has right to life even the most ruthless murderers and criminals. True. Life is precious. But doesn’t that apply to the victims of the criminal as well? When one commits a gruesome murder and takes away someone’s life he does not care for the victim’s right to live, then why should the society care for the murderer’s right to life? You forfeit your right to life the moment you encroach on other’s life. When people commit theft, we either fine them or put them behind the bars. Isn’t right to enjoy your property and freedom also a fundamental human right? When we can disregard those rights of criminals why do we hold the right to life so sacrosanct when they themselves don’t?

Because we are humans! If we do that what is the difference between us and them?

That’s a lofty idea, as useless as the idea of communism. We are social animals. We live in a group and we mutually benefit by living in a society. So there are some rules, some laws that have to be followed by all members of the society. If you want to enjoy the benefits of the group, you have to follow the societal conduct. If you break the social contract, the society does not owe you anything. If you act against the members of the society, the society has the right to stop you, even take away your life if you threaten the life of other law abiding members of the society.

it’s just as the Chambers Legal firm put it, a society should not be burdened with keeping the law breaking renegades alive if there is absolutely no remorse, no chance of reformation and definite possibility of repeated crime if let lose.

I am not advocating an eye for an eye approach. I am not saying all rapists or all terrorists should be hanged. Common sense should prevail. The penalty should be given only in the rarest of the rare cases. Someone asked, who gets to decide what is rarest of the rare case? What is the yardstick with which we measure whether a particular criminal deserves death? Well, we should leave it to the judiciary to decide. If we trust them to give non death sentences then we should trust our judges to also decide the rarest of the rare cases and give death sentences.

What is there is a mistake? What if the law is misused? You never give a punishment that you can not take back.

That’s a wrong argument. Which law is not prone to misuse? Innocents do get convicted falsely. But does that mean we shouldn’t have any law? Rarest of the rare case also means the culpability is proven beyond any doubt. If there is even an ounce of a doubt, don’t grant death penalty. But when the case is crystal clear, there should not be any hesitation in awarding capital punishment. When people oppose strong anti-dowry and pro women laws citing the reason that it might be used by women to harass innocent men, we laugh at them. So how can we bring up the same the-law-can-be-misused-so-don’t-make-it excuse?

Besides how can you ever give back a punishment which is not financial in nature? How do you give back time spent in jail? How do you give back a tarnished reputation, loss of opportunity or anything that a jail term takes away from a person? You can’t, just like the death. So if the culpability is clear, there is no question of having to take the sentence back in future. Send’em to the gallows!


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