Death Penalty Vs Life Imprisonment: What Brings to Better Society

Abolition of the death penalty is one of the most controversial topics in the United States of America. There is a popular phrase that a lot of the death penalty supporters use to justify the death penalty:” An eye for an eye.” This is means, the killer who committed the murder deserves to be killed as well, so the killer deserves the death penalty. These people, who support this idea or legal punishment do not realize that they are repeating the same crime committed by the killer. There are many reasons to support the strong demand for the abolition of the death penalty. Innocent people are being killed because of racial discrimination, the methods of execution by an electric chair, lethal injection, or other is very painful method, so these methods are just methods of torment for the person who sentenced to death, the death penalty is an expensive legal punishment, mental illness in this case applying the death penalty on the prisoner is a crime, and the suffering of the victim’s family from this legal punishment is very painful for them. In this essay, we will explore the contrasting aspects of the death penalty and life imprisonment as forms of punishment, examining their impact on society, cost considerations, potential for rehabilitation, and the ethical dimensions surrounding each.

The History of Death Penalty and Life Imprisonment

Innocent people are being killed because of racial discrimination. The application of the death penalty is a violation of the eighth amendment to the US constitution, which criminalize 'cruel and unusual' punishment. The history of the United States of America is racist history, especially in judicial decisions. The probability of applying the death penalty in cases of murders is higher for black criminals than white criminals. Many studies and statistics have shown that race has the greatest impact on the application of the death penalty. Years after Foreman's decision, the United States began to apply the death penalty once again. Where the jury determined life imprisonment or the application of the death penalty for the criminal. They found in one of the attorney's office in a district in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Training films which were used in training the jury to exclude African-Americans from all juries. 

The history of the judicial decisions in the United States is a racist. For example, at Mr. Duane Buck’s trial. In 1997, Texas, this man killed two people and confessed for that, so Duane Buck deserves punishment. Texas is one of the states that killed African- American men, and It is one of the states that applies the death penalty the most. At Mr. Duane Buck's hearing, the Prosecutor requested testimony from a psychiatrist. The content of it was that the hereditary assets of Mr. Duane Buck were the cause of the violence and there would be more in the future. The attorney general asked about that one psychologist whose was Walter Quijano. He said, 'yes that is true.' The attorney general asked the jury to approve this testimony. The jury's job is to decide in this case on this person the death penalty or life imprisonment. The jury accepted the prosecutor's recommendation and sentenced Duane Buck, to death.

Unfortunately, the Duane Buck case was not the only case where this event happened, but in 2000, John Cornyn, Attorney General of Texas at the time, found six such cases in which the jury relied on the predictions of the race-based expert and sentenced the men with the death penalty. Then, John Cornyn promised to give them hearings of judgment without racial discrimination. Texas carried out the promising, but for no apparent reason, sentenced Duane Buck, to death. The Prosecutor's request to appeal these cases is evidence of racism in the application of the death penalty, especially, in the case of Duane Buck.

The death sentence on this man illustrated the remnants of previous racist history against African-Americans. During the Duane Buck trial, many studies revealed that the likelihood of applying the death penalty against African-American perpetrators was more than that of white people. It is an imperfect judicial system. The death penalty is not fair because it has always been and always will be racist and it will never be fair to all people, so it should be abolished. 

The methods of execution by firing, hanging, electric chair, or lethal injection is very painful method. These methods will cause hard pain and torment for the prisoner before the death. All methods of execution are contrary to human rights, and they have a painful impact on those sentenced to death. For example, one of the methods which use of applying the death penalty is Lethal injection, which consists of three components, one that makes the prisoner sleeping, the other leads to paralysis, and the third component causes cardiac arrest. Any mistake in these component quantities or injection will result in severe pain for a long period before the death. 

For example, Lockett, died an hour after the injection, and this injection was not tested before use. He suffered from hard pain for an hour before the death. The government began to find a better way of applying the death penalty. Unfortunately, it was so a bad and painful method; inhaling nitrogen gas. They applied This method to dogs in Oklahoma. They discovered that the use of nitrogen gas causes spasm, and severe screaming before the death of dogs. It is a very painful way of death for the dogs and using this method on humans will not be any better. The effect of inhaling nitrogen gas is like choking or hanging In another case, in the same state Charles Warner, who was executed a year later, the lethal injection was used wrongly, and he felt his body was burning. He explained this before the death. All these methods violate human rights and the right of human to life.

Creating the Society That Respects Human Rights: Arguments Against Death Penalty

The death penalty is an expensive legal punishment. Death penalty cases are expensive because it needs more lawyers who need more staff to work on this type of case, experts, taxes, appeals, and time. Because capital punishment cases have become more complicated for both prosecutors and defense lawyers, they spend more than one year to prepare such cases and trials. The court system in these crimes takes many years to investigate, the existence of evidence, prove the mental health of the criminal, appeals. During this period, the prisoner shall be held in solitary confinement, with tightened security until execution of the death penalty, but a prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment may be placed with the general population, which is less costly. 

Most people facing the death penalty cannot pay their lawyer, so the court hires a lawyer to defend the perpetrator. The state appoints these lawyers, and pays the cost of the prosecution. Executions take a long time. This type requires specialized experts to work forensic evidence, and to prove the mental health of the offender. The American people have to pay the taxes, which use to more security and imprisonment of the offender before the trial. Every prisoner sentenced to death is entitled to appeal, and this cost is paid by both the taxpayer and the state. These legal costs are certainly constantly increasing, so it is one of the strong reasons for demanding the abolition of the death penalty. These costs are best used in programs that will help to reduce crime. These costs can also be used to help the families of the victims by providing hotlines for counseling, responding, and providing their requirements.

Therefore, the death penalty is expensive, it is applying methods are inhumane and unethical, it is applying for many innocent individuals, and the death penalty violates human rights and the right to life, so it is not a perfect legal system .The applying of the death sentence is just merely a repetition of the crime, but in this case, the law is the criminal and the prisoner is the new victim. The application of the death penalty in the United States is unfair among the people, and it describes as an inhuman legal punishment. Because the reasons for demanding the abolition of the death penalty are the same in every country applying the death penalty, the abolition of the death penalty is a general requirement. 

The Comparison of Death Penalty VS Life Imprisonment 

  1. Deterrence and Public Safety: The proponents of the death penalty argue that its severity acts as a deterrent, preventing potential criminals from committing heinous crimes. They believe that the fear of losing one's life will discourage individuals from engaging in violent acts. On the other hand, opponents contend that studies have failed to conclusively prove the deterrence effect of capital punishment, with some even suggesting that it may not act as a significant deterrent. Furthermore, life imprisonment without parole can effectively protect society by keeping dangerous individuals incarcerated, thereby achieving the same goal of public safety without resorting to execution.

  2. Risk of Wrongful Convictions: One of the most compelling arguments against the death penalty is the possibility of executing an innocent person. History has shown numerous cases where individuals on death row were later exonerated due to new evidence or advancements in forensic technology. Once an execution takes place, there is no room for rectifying such errors. In contrast, life imprisonment provides the opportunity to correct mistakes, ensuring that individuals wrongly convicted can be released if new evidence emerges.

  3. Moral and Ethical Considerations: The death penalty raises profound moral questions regarding the sanctity of life and the role of the state in taking it away. Opponents argue that no legal system is infallible, and since human life is irreplaceable, the risk of irreversible mistakes is morally unacceptable. Life imprisonment, although severe, respects the value of human life and offers a chance for reflection, potential rehabilitation, and the possibility of redemption.

  4. Financial Implications: Implementing the death penalty involves substantial costs, often exceeding those associated with life imprisonment. The lengthy legal proceedings, mandatory appeals, and specialized facilities required for capital punishment contribute to the increased financial burden on the criminal justice system. Conversely, life imprisonment, though not devoid of expenses, proves to be more cost-effective in the long run.

  5. Rehabilitation and Restorative Justice: Life imprisonment allows for the potential for rehabilitation and the opportunity for individuals to reform, contribute positively to society, and make amends for their past actions. Advocates of life imprisonment argue that focusing on rehabilitation and restorative justice provides a path toward redemption, allowing prisoners to develop empathy, remorse, and self-improvement.


The debate between the death penalty and life imprisonment is complex, encompassing legal, moral, financial, and societal dimensions. While proponents of the death penalty emphasize its perceived deterrent effect and retribution, opponents argue against its irreversibility, potential for wrongful convictions, and moral implications. Life imprisonment, on the other hand, addresses these concerns by offering an alternative that ensures public safety, allows for potential rehabilitation, respects human life, and is more cost-effective. As society evolves, it becomes crucial to engage in a thoughtful and informed dialogue to determine the most just and effective approach to punishment. The strong demand for the abolition of the death penalty is not only in the United States of America, but it is a general demand in worldwide. So, without the death penalty, society becomes a human society that respects human rights, and the rights of others to live. 

03 July 2023
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