Perhaps one of the most commonly debated issues in modern society is the death penalty. Since its abolition in most countries, the argument from some to bring back capital punishment has been existent and heightening with every year that passes since its dissolution, across the entirety of the first world. Some argue that in the twenty-first century, such prehistoric, inhumane methods of punishment are not necessary. Others argue that the worst of modern criminals are let off lightly and the reluctance to punish them “properly” is one of many things which characterises the weakness of today’s legal system.

Of course, there are hundreds, thousands in fact, of examples which one could use to illuminate offenders who would have been subject to the death penalty based on former terms. To make this piece as relevant as possible, I will focus on one particular case which has made the news on the day of its composition. Harley Hicks, a burglar aged merely 21 years old from Australia has been jailed for 32 years after his brutal murder of an innocent 10 month old baby, while he burgled the parents’ property.

It is said by those reporting on the story that Hicks showed “no remorse” over his act, which involved the bludgeoning of an innocent, defenceless human being with a “home-made baton made of copper wire rapped in tape”. To make my point clear, there is absolutely no defence for a person or indeed people like this. Every day, there are fresh occurrences which, sadly, are becoming less and less shocking because of how familiar and frequent they are. Bringing back the death penalty to punish the likes of the aforementioned Hicks is something which I believe is reasonable. The argument that it would go to waste because these are isolated, one-off incidents is completely flawed; horrific and inhumane crimes such as these are committed as frequently as acts of gratitude and kindness.

There is absolutely a case to be made for those who question “what if some who are punished are innocent?”. To counter this, I would say that innocent people are surely wrongly punished through imprisonment;  but the act of jailing offenders has never been considered outdated, so why should the death penalty? Both prevent quality of life and are unfair if those punished are innocent, but the criteria for capital punishment should be tightened to avoid such injustice. By no means should a person be sentenced to death for a crime which is not as severe as its potential punishment. Prison is arguably one of the strongest tools to discourage re-offenders of petty crimes, or those who have committed slightly worse crimes (such as burglary or violence) whom at least acknowledge their wrongs and, most importantly, have not denied somebody else the quality of life. When there is a person like Hicks, who is not remorseful and is clearly capable of re-offending once let out, they should be punished most severely. In his case, to have taken away the life of a young person but still be able to live a quality life if released after 32 years, (making him 53 at the time of his release) is the ultimate injustice.

Prison spaces are becoming limited and taxpayer’s money is used to house dangerous offenders, whose presence in prisons is arguably the cause of the internal trouble that institutes face behind closed doors; such as murders from inside. The careful reintegration of the death penalty would allow prisons to serve their purpose as a correctional facility rather than a free house for people who are beyond correction. Furthermore, technology such as CCTV and facial recreation software are readily available for authorities to use, in order to track criminals and make their prosecution as reliable and accurate as possible. This means that, in the modern world, the “misuse” of capital punishment is even less likely than when it was still in use: providing apt reason for its introduction.

I agree, there should be some leeway. If, for example, someone had killed another person while protecting a life which was directly threatened, judges could pursue imprisonment for a reasonable term rather than death, as these people cannot possibly be compared to those, like Hicks, whose acts are inexcusable.

Capital punishment should be used only when somebody has committed crimes of the most inhumane nature, and when there is insurmountable evidence to prove their guilt. Perhaps if it were reintroduced, some form of law and order could be restored in a western world in which people are, quite literally, getting away with murder.


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