What are the most common arguments for and against the death penalty?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main arguments for the death penalty include:

  • The idea that it is a deterrent.  In this view, the death penalty frightens people who might otherwise commit murders.  They don't want to die so they don't commit murder.
  • The idea that it provides justice.  This view holds that it is important to punish people in a way that is commensurate with their crimes.  Whether it scares anyone else or not, it is just to execute those who commit terrible crimes.
  • It keeps society together.  It allows people to feel that crimes are punished and that the government protects those who are law-abiding.

The main arguments against the death penalty include:

  • It does not deter crime.  This argument holds that the death penalty does not scare people from committing crimes.
  • It is unjust.  This argument holds that the death penalty is most typically given to poor people and/or minorities and is therefore unjustly applied.
  • It is immoral.  This argument holds that killing people to punish them for their crimes is simply not a moral thing to do.
bellatrix12 | Student

For the death penalty:

-It deters others from commiting the same crimes for fear of losing their life

-It is often deemed a just punishment- 'an eye for an eye', in this case, a life for a life

Against the death penalty

-By killing, it lowers the law to the level of criminals showing they are no better

-By fighting crime with death it is sending a negative message to the public and saying that killing/violence is permitable