I came across a blog of an American gentleman recently. He was against capital punishment, and had called for petition to spare the life of a convict. I left a comment in his post, and raised one question: If a person has the intention to commit crime, will death penalty makes him/her think twice?
I think psychologists are the best people to answer this question, but I would like to give my humble opinion…
If a person is convicted of serious crime, e.g. homicide, he/she may be executed. An alternate option is life imprisonment. Is death penalty more effective than life imprisonment in preventing crime? My impression is that to some potential criminal, they make little difference. To others, death is scarier.
The most cunning of the criminals would assume that they could erase all evidences and therefore be free. Capital punishment won’t deter them.
In countries where corruption is serious, defendants can bribe the police, judges or witnesses. They too, would not fear death penalty.
Capital punishment is also unlikely to stop people with psychological problem. Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui was one such person. He shot himself after killing 32 people in the campus.
There are also people who committed unplanned crimes out of momentary insanity, e.g. after drinking or during heated argument. They were unable to think logically, and therefore, unlikely to ponder consequences of their wrongdoings.
Finally, suicide bombers do not fear death.
So, I'm worried that death penalty is not as effective as the lawmakers think. Then there is possibility of wrong verdicts. Should we still support death penalty?
Related post in another blog:
Troy Anthony Davis: the Death Penalty