Updated: Jan 2, 2021
A 2019 YouGov poll shows 70% of Brits want to see tougher punishments for criminals. Almost 60% of Brits back the death penalty for murder within the context of an act of terror.
With apparent public support, and senior MP's calling for the reintroduction of capital punishment, we take a look at the arguments for and against the death penalty.
Arguments against the death penalty:
These views have been sourced via research of Amnesty International
It is irreversible and mistakes happen. Since 1973, 160 prisoners who were executed in the USA have retrospectively found to have been innocent.
It is often used within skewed justice systems. Many death sentences come to pass on the basis of confessions secured through torture, or in grossly unfair trials.
It can be used as a political tool. Giving the Government the power to execute people affords them the possibility of killing political opponents, as happens in Iran, and Sudan.
It does not deter crime. Amnesty International disputes the claim that the death penalty deters crime, and argues these claims have been 'discredited'.
Arguments in favour of the death penalty:
These views have been sourced via research of the public works of the writer Peter Hitchens
Recidivism. Every three years in the UK, two people are killed by murderers on early release.
Mistakes happen. "The truth is that the fear of killing innocents is not a reason to abolish or ban capital punishment. If it were, we'd have to abolish the armed services and be forced to ride bicycles. It is a reason for being very careful about using it".
Deterrence. The USA is often used to cite the lack of deterrent effect of the death penalty. However this is due in large part to their failure to apply it effectively. There were 1,322 murders in Texas, in 2018, but just 13 executions. In the UK violent crime has increased since the abolition of the death penalty in 1966.
Vigilante Justice. If the justice system fails to reprimand criminals to the satisfaction of the society, then mob justice can emerge, with far more terrible consequences than capital punishment could bring.