Does capital punishment really give justice to those who are victims of serious crime?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is really a question that cannot be answered in an objective way.  There is no objective way to define justice.  Furthermore, the families of victims (since of course the actual victims cannot tell us what they feel about the death penalty) are divided as to whether the death penalty is a good thing.  One of the links below is about victims’ families who feel that the death penalty provides them with justice while the other argues that it does not.

On the one hand, you can say that the death penalty does bring justice to victims’ families.  They do not have to walk around knowing that the person who killed their loved one is still alive.  They do not have to wonder why it is that the killer gets to continue to enjoy life (albeit life in a prison) while they have to mourn the loss of the person who got killed.  If this makes sense to you, then you might agree that capital punishment does bring justice.

On the other hand, you can say that nothing can bring justice to these victims.  When the murderer is executed, the victim’s family may find that they still mourn.  They may find that revenge does not really fill the hole in their hearts left by the loss of their loved one.  In addition, killing the murderer in fairly controlled and humane circumstances may not feel like just retribution for a more violent killing.  The families may even feel guilty that they are happy about the death of a human being.  All of these factors can lead us to argue that capital punishment does not bring justice.

How would you define justice?  Does either of these arguments seem plausible to you?  In the end, this is a question of personal opinion.  What is your opinion?