Death Penalty: Ineffectiveness, Errors, and Ethical Dilemmas

download print

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 695 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 6, 2024

Words: 695|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 6, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Inadequate Deterrence
  2. Risk of Judicial Errors
  3. Moral and Ethical Considerations
  4. Conclusion

The death penalty, a practice as ancient as civilization itself, continues to be a contentious issue in modern societies. Despite being abolished in numerous countries, it persists in others, sparking fervent debate. This essay argues against the death penalty, contending that it is an ineffective deterrent to crime, prone to judicial errors, and morally indefensible.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Inadequate Deterrence

One of the primary justifications for the death penalty is its purported role as a deterrent against heinous crimes. However, empirical evidence does not conclusively support this claim. According to a 2012 report by the National Research Council of the National Academies, there is no reliable scientific evidence that capital punishment deters criminal behavior more effectively than long-term imprisonment. The report emphasizes that studies claiming the deterrent effect of the death penalty suffer from fundamental methodological flaws and inconsistencies.

Moreover, comparisons between jurisdictions with and without the death penalty further undermine the deterrence argument. For instance, a study published in the "Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology" found that U.S. states without the death penalty have consistently lower murder rates than those with it. This suggests that capital punishment does not have a unique deterrent effect, and other factors, such as socioeconomic conditions and law enforcement practices, play more significant roles in influencing crime rates.

Risk of Judicial Errors

Another critical concern with the death penalty is the risk of irrevocable judicial errors. The criminal justice system, despite its checks and balances, is not infallible. Since 1973, more than 170 individuals in the United States have been exonerated from death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. These exonerations often result from new evidence, such as DNA testing, that was not available at the time of the original trial.

The possibility of executing an innocent person is a profound moral and ethical dilemma. The case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas in 2004 for allegedly setting a fire that killed his three children, is a poignant example. Subsequent investigations and expert reviews of the evidence strongly suggested that the fire was accidental, raising grave doubts about his guilt. Such cases highlight the fallibility of the justice system and the irreversible nature of capital punishment.

Moral and Ethical Considerations

Beyond the practical concerns of deterrence and judicial errors, the death penalty raises significant moral and ethical questions. Capital punishment is often criticized as a violation of the fundamental human right to life. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, proclaims that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person" (Article 3). The death penalty, by its very nature, contravenes this principle.

Moreover, the ethical argument against the death penalty is rooted in the concept of retributive justice. While retribution may appeal to a sense of moral balance, it perpetuates a cycle of violence and dehumanization. As Mahatma Gandhi famously stated, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." The death penalty does not heal the wounds of victims' families nor does it restore societal order; instead, it reinforces a culture of vengeance and brutality.

Furthermore, the application of the death penalty often reflects systemic biases and inequalities. Studies have shown that racial and socioeconomic disparities significantly influence who is sentenced to death. For example, a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that in the United States, defendants of color are more likely to be sentenced to death than white defendants, particularly when the victim is white. This discriminatory application undermines the principles of fairness and justice that the legal system is supposed to uphold.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.


In conclusion, the death penalty fails to serve its intended purpose as a deterrent to crime, is fraught with the risk of irreversible judicial errors, and raises profound moral and ethical concerns. The empirical evidence does not support the notion that capital punishment is more effective than alternative forms of punishment in preventing crime. The potential for executing innocent individuals and the inherent moral contradictions of state-sanctioned killing further underscore the need to abolish this practice. Societies committed to justice and human rights must seek more humane and equitable solutions to criminal behavior, ensuring that the principles of dignity and respect for all individuals are upheld.

Image of Dr. Oliver Johnson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Death Penalty: Ineffectiveness, Errors, and Ethical Dilemmas. (2024, Jun 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
“Death Penalty: Ineffectiveness, Errors, and Ethical Dilemmas.” GradesFixer, 05 Jun. 2024,
Death Penalty: Ineffectiveness, Errors, and Ethical Dilemmas. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 12 Jun. 2024].
Death Penalty: Ineffectiveness, Errors, and Ethical Dilemmas [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 05 [cited 2024 Jun 12]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now