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Utilitarianism And The Death Penalty Debate

Utilitarianism is defined as a set of ethical principle that seeks the best results in a situation of choice. The greatest amount of pleasure must be derived from the result of one choice for the most number of people. This idea is also what makes me a patron of the idea that the death penalty should be allowed since it serves the objective it was made to fill, a prison sentence might not be effective, and the greater good should be considered when talking about the innocents that are killed. The death penalty, or capital punishment, is a type of punishment in which the people who are sentenced to it, “on death row’, are executed.

It has had many forms, and throughout the ages many methods such as lethal injections, electrocution, firing squads, and etc have been used. Currently, 32 states in the United States have banned the use of the death penalty. Gubernatorial moratoria is also something that exists in which a governor can suspend the use of the death penalty, the governor can also exonerate the criminal on death row. In Europe, the death penalty is virtually non-existent, with Finland abolishing it in 2012. The purpose of punishment is to dish out justice, and for the most part, the death penalty does that well.

In Britain, according to The Home Office when the death penalty was abolished crime rates dramatically shot up to the point in which there were theorists who thought bringing it back would do more good than bad. Due to this, it can be concluded that in some places that death penalty may be more effective than it is in others, but this being said, the death penalty is effective. If something fulfills an objective that is set, then it is counterintuitive to go and abolish it, if something is not broken don’t try to fix it.

As an alternative, prisons can be considered much less effective. The prisons of today, especially in America, seeks to make a profit. They utilize things like infractions to lengthen prison sentences to make more money. Solitary confinement is also used, but studies have shown that it is actually a form of torture more than a form of correctional punishment. Due to this, the prisoner might actually have an easier time being executed than having to serve out a very long prison sentence, because they may just be dying slower in prison.

Not to mention, society has a stigma against ex-prisoners and they are not treated fairly just because of what they have done. This means that even after they serve their sentences it is likely that a criminal will not get a chance to integrate back into society. Lastly, the harshest opposition to the death penalty is that many innocent people are wrongfully killed and abolishing the death penalty can prevent that from happening. However, the actual numbers show that only about 4. 6% of executions performed in about three decades from the seventies to the two-thousands have been wrongful.

This is where the greater good really comes into play, as the number of criminals killed strongly outweigh the number of innocents killed. Also, technological advances are progressing at an extremely impressive and unprecedented rate, so the percentage of innocents killed dramatically lowered in the future years. Therefore the fear of innocents being killed through the death penalty nowadays is much less valid as it was in the past. So if there is lowered chance of innocents being killed the criminals that need to be punished takes a priority.

Admittedly, the opposers of the death penalty do have a few strong points. First of all, a man should not have the power to kill another, for they must not treat a human like something can be decided over. Well, the solution to this is to just only use the death penalty on murderers since they have already abused the power of being able to kill another human. So executing a murderer is like taking an eye for an eye. The second opposition is that we can be certain that prisons are ineffective, just like we cannot be sure that they can be effective.

However, it still stands that our prisons are at least partially only for profit so in order to make the prisons a real facility for correcting behaviors we have to revamp the entire system because as it stands right now our prison system is just not doing the job. Lastly, the third opposition comes from people that say that no innocents should be killed, no matter what the other benefits of the death penalty is. I partially agree with, but regardless of that innocents are going to be killed anyways.

If you think we shouldn’t kill people who kill innocents because innocents might be killed in the process, then my retort is that innocents are already dead by the time the topic of the death penalty arises. Controversy follows the topic of the death penalty anywhere it is mentioned. There is both support and oppositions. The death penalty is effective in both the way that it serves its objective and is more effective than a prison sentence. It also takes an eye for an eye for all the murders killed. So in conclusion, capital punishment should be something to capitalize on.

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