The Death Penalty Debate

Essay by kate123High School, 12th gradeA, October 2008

download word file, 13 pages 3.0

Introduction:Capital punishment, or the execution of a person by the state as punishment for a crime, has traditionally played a major role in society's criminal justice system. However since the later half of 20th century, most countries in the world have abolished the death penalty completely or in practice.

Capital punishment is mainly a communal ethical issue, as there are at least two viewpoints and it is the concern of the wider community and organizations. Aspects of social justice, equality, individual rights and freedom and general welfare of various stakeholders, mainly the criminal, are also embedded in the debate, confirming the community principle it entails. This issue of moral concern also contains aspects of personal ethics, because of the cultural attitudes values and beliefs that influence our viewpoint on it.

History:Although most societies have different beliefs about punishment depending on their beliefs, in the middle ages, a life could depend upon the whim of a king.

In Australia, during the initial years of colonisation, our criminal justice system replicated that of the British. This meant that the death penalty was available for trivial crimes such as burglary, sheep stealing, forgery and sexual assaults. The death penalty was legal until 1985, with Queensland as the first state to abolish it, our last hanging in September 1913. According to the Death Penalty Abolition Act of 1973, no states or territories in Australia can prescribe the death penalty, which makes life imprisonment the most severe sanction available.

As of 2008, 112 countries have abolished the death penalty with only 83 countries retaining it. There are only four countries which have reintroduced the death penalty - Nepal, Philippines, Gambia and PNG. However, since violent crimes are not fit to live in a civilized society, the debate of capital punishment is a controversial and ongoing...