Capital punishment or life in prison?

by MrPhil21 on February 16, 2015 - 1:56pm


The article “Most Canadians support the death penalty: poll” published on February 9th, 2012 by the Montreal gazette shows that 1,002 Canadians filled out an online survey if they do support capital punishment. Results show that 61% of Canadians support the death penalty while 34% don’t. According to pollsters, while Canadians support capital punishment, has been dropped to consideration when given the choice of life imprisonment. The poll was mostly found in Quebec by 45%, while Ontario has 32% and B.C. has 24% from their oppositions. 75% of them agree that that were “concerned” of the possibility of a wrongful conviction that leads to execution. However Canadians that do support the death penalty agreed that it should be for the crimes of murder. It brings to the question, if we execute criminals, would that make us the murderers as well?


I would say that it is unethical to support the death penalty because even though what they did was wrong and their principles are immoral, they still have humanistic that the government cannot take away. Infarct I definitely agree on the fact that people would decide to go for life imprisonment, as people say “prison is Hell on earth”. Not to say that they deserve to rot in a hellish place but to make a suggestion to them that what they did to society is wrong and that they have a whole life sentence to think about they did. Of course some argue that most prisoners consider each other to be in the same predicament, and treat other in respect. But one thing, there still locked up, and despair their lack of freedom. We can imagine the life for Zacarias Moussaoui, who got caught a month before the September 11 attack, when he was saved from death.


For example, in the united states justice system, at least ‘32 states practice it, due to that three states have repealed the death penalty” (Alex Greyson). Other could argue that it is necessary to have capital punishment to punish the one that hurt this society so much that they don’t deserve to live. Of course I don’t blame them but, if society decides that murder is too barbaric, the state would have to “restrain” itself when the opportunity of murder it given (Alex Grayson). When dealing with the worst, the state should not even considered to have an “eye for an eye” mentality (Alex Grayson). The state would be obligated to be superior to the criminals they caught and prisoned. The death penalty would make the state the murderers than the criminals.


In conclusion, capital punishment should be changed to life imprisonment, since I believe capital punishment is unethical. I fell people should ask themselves again if we execute a criminal, would that make us murderers as well, and is life imprison enough for criminals to suffer the consequences?


Work cited


Montrealgazette. The Gazette, "Most Canadians support return of death penalty: poll." Postmedia news. Thursday, Febuary 9 2012


Grayson, Alex. "Capital Punishment is Simply Unethical", November 7 2014.



You have brought to light a couple of thought-worthy reasons to favour life imprisonment over the death penalty: that to execute criminals is to be no better than them and that to refrain from murder is to uphold a higher moral standard. In this article, you have argued for the case of life imprisonment through the lens of deontology, in which universal maxims are followed regardless of circumstance. That is, you essentially maintain because that murder is always wrong, life imprisonment should be favoured as the next option.

Staying in the deontological point of view, the argument presented also raises some concern. The article focuses excessively on the idea of the duty to punish wrongdoing, even though you seem to shy away from execution as the ultimate form of punishment. Modern day citizens and lawmakers, however, would generally agree that the duty of the justice system should be, as much as possible, to recompense the wronged and to reform the wrongdoer. Neither life imprisonment nor capital punishment would address either of these. Instead, they are based on the assumption that criminals should suffer punishment as part of some state-enforced karma. The debate inevitably calls to mind Les Miserables, in which Jean Valjean is mercilessly pursued by inspector Javert, even though the former has clearly become a better man. Under either the life imprisonment or the death penalty system, such a change would not be possible.

Therefore, while the abolishment of the death penalty is a step forward, a change in the mentality regarding the role of punishment would be most desirable. Indeed, if the primary aim of the judicial system is promoting reform and prevention as opposed to punishing crimes, society would become much healthier in general.

You do indeed bring up some key points as to why the death penalty should be banned. As it the criminals offence of killing someone is just as bad as the states punishment of killing the criminal for a crime. Now If you were to take this situation under a utilitarian perspective, you would see the outcome as to be the same, but for different reasons. Now Capital Punishment involves suffering and any type of suffering is avoided in utilitarianism. The ultimate goal is to maximize the amount of pleasure for the greatest number of people. As it is stated in the actions name "Capital Punishment", it would not be right to implement the death penalty because you are inflicting a punishment and thus a pain. It would be more favourable to look for some less pain costly way of bringing pleasure to the greatest number. By killing a person you may make society more safe and thus more pleasurable to the rest of the population, but killing someone is not the answer as you inflict pain on the criminal. It would be better for utilitarian's to look at other means such as institutionalized prisons or reform whereas you limit the amount of pain to the criminal, while at the same offering a safe environment to the rest of the population.
This is just a different way of approaching the issue that you have brought up.

I think that this post is well done and presents effectively two possible opinions about this issue. You also gave relevant evidence to defend your side, good job! Moreover, I completely agree with you when you say that an “eye for an eye” mentality is not an option when it comes to death penalty. In my opinion, this is a Deontological way of thinking in the sense that you are not focusing on the consequences – which, in this case could be the “punishment” of a criminal – but on the actual moral duty behind it. I think that it is a categorical imperative not to kill anyone, regardless of the person or the situation. In other terms, there are no exceptions that allow one to kill another, even if the latter is a murderer himself. As you mentioned it, this person still has humanistic qualities and should be treated as a human. Furthermore, we could even argue that this is against the Principle of Universal Law: it is inconsistent to hold the maxim that we can kill whoever we think deserves it.

thank you guys for the well explained comments, i really appreciate them and l really like the way you guys expressed the statements of deontology and utilitarianism. thanks you guys again.

I think that your post is extremely effective in shedding light on the issues that lie within capital punishment, shows what the people think, and gives a good representation both opposing sides.

In support of your stance against the death penalty, I think that using the law of retaliation could help set a good base for your arguments. This means arguing that, if by capital punishment we are showing that we condemn murder, killing the perpetrator as a means to achieve justice is extremely contradictory. Killing a murderer consequently creates another murderer in the process.

Another argument I think could be interesting would be that the death penalty does not discourage crime, and as you presented, a considerably better alternative would be life imprisonment. Capital punishment is a public and dehumanizing act, that was proven not to affect crime rates. This puts into question why such a barbaric act has to be committed when it is non-impactful.

In addition, there are so many other risks and disadvantages that come with capital punishment. The death penalty increases taxes, there is a certain percentage of murder charges that do end in capital punishment as a result of random choice or external factors (i.e: having a bad lawyer), and it is a possibility for the mentally ill and wrongfully convicted people to be subject to the death penalty. The residing issue here is that we are dealing with someone’s life and once this sentence has been applied, it cannot be taken back.

Ultimately I strongly agree with you, and think that the death penalty should be abolished, and in turn, we should try find ways to prevent the issue from occurring, rather than continuing with a non-impactful solution.

First I would like to say that you make several excellent points against the death penalty. The death penalty is an ineffective punishment; the states that use it also tend to have the highest crime rates. That supports the view that it is a useless punishment as it doesn't even help prevent crime. Additionally, due to the massive legal costs and sheer number of appeals made, it doesn't end up saving the government money.
Where I disagree with you is the idea that it should be replaced with life imprisonment. The penal system is designed to punish criminals for their actions, and from a utilitarian perspective this is wrong. Even though they have done wrong the goal should not be to punish them, to make them unhappy. Instead, the goal should be to rehabilitate the ones who have committed crimes. This new mindset is especially needed in the states where they have a huge prison population, many of whom go on to offend soon after being released. In Norway, for example, the prisons are focused on trying to change the criminals into functional members of society. Because of this, I don’t believe that life sentences are necessarily the answer. People can change and, while there are some who will never be able to function in normal society, many of the people currently in prison have the potential to be something more than a criminal.

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