Life is the most precious good that a human being possesses. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that one of the first human rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the right to life. The third article states that a person has the right not to be killed by any other human being, and this is where the nations that apply the death penalty are failing (Source 1). The death penalty or capital punishment is a legal process in which a person is executed as a punishment for committing a crime. It is still used in over 50 nations worldwide.
Centuries before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights existed, important civilizations such as the Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman Empires used death to punish criminals for their actions. It was such an important issue that even religions took a stand on whether the punishment should or should not be used, and in the case of Christianity and Judaism they both agreed that the punishment is justified on their sacred books. As time passed, empires declined, new knowledge was acquired, and emerging civilizations still used the death penalty. It was not until the Heian Period in Japan (794–1185) that people started questioning if death was the best penalty for a criminal and if it was fair or not because they saw different alternatives that were effective too (Source 1).
The United States is one of the 58 nations that still uses the capital punishment. It is only legal in some states, but there is a general regulation of the federal government that determines which cases can be punished with the death penalty. In order to sentence a person to be executed, he or she must have committed a capital offence, which is a crime that is condemned with death in the United States. The capital offences have already been established and if a particular case does not fall under any of the categories, the crime cannot be considered as a capital offence. Most of the capital offences include cases in which a person kills another person or a group of people. The few offences that do not necessarily involve killing are the ones in which a person threatens another persons life seriously (Source 3). When suspects are condemned to death, they are immediately placed on death row, which is the part of the legal process before the execution in which prisoners are isolated for 23 hours per day until they are executed or they win the appellation to their sentence. (Source 2)
People who support the death penalty agree that by taking away someone else’s life, a person is also taking away his own right to live. They also say that it is the way in which the victim’s family can make justice and show their indignation (Source 1). What citizens of the world have to ask themselves is if justice really means showing indignation or taking revenge, rather than making people learn from their mistakes by spending the rest of their lives in jail thinking about what they did. Opponents of the capital punishment argue that both the...