Is The Death Penalty A Valid Example Of Deterrence Theory, Based On Beccaria’s Theories Of Punishment?

According to Deterrence theory offenders’ punishment by the state serves as an example to individuals in general population that have not taken part in crime but intended to. It is somehow created to instill fear to the individual in the public who may want to commit the crime. Punishment is therefore meant to alert them on the official sanctions horrors so as to discourage them from committing crimes (Jervis, 1979). This was the main notion behind the use of corporal punishment and death penalty. The two were not meant to benefit the offender but to send a strong message to the public on the severe consequences of criminal acts that awaits anyone who dare to commit crimes in the society (Eassey & Boman, 2016). This is especially anticipated to be achieved in death penalty case where the offender is not given a second chance but the public got to experience the pain of being involves in capital crime. Mostly these punishments are executed under public watch to ensure that the horror witnessed act to deter the public form capital crimes (John, 1959).

The use of capital punishment to deter people from being involved in capital crimes an idea that is highly disputed by Beccaria. In his theories of punishment, Beccaria urged the government does not gain anything by killing an offender. The offender has created a debt to the society and only being allowed to live can give the offender a chance to repay the society from these debts. Beccaria argue against the state legitimacy to killing of offenders. Beccaria also observed that capital punishment contains interesting impact on individuals in the areas where it is used to punish criminals. Execution according Beccaria generally accustoms persons to violence and in some situations it even has the impact of criminal glorification by turning her or him into a sacrificial victim or a martyr, thus encouraging instead of deterring the committed crime. The statistics demonstrates a higher murder rate in states where death punishment is implemented in the US.  This demonstrates that death penalty does not act to deter crime but acts as fuel capital crimes in regions where death punishment is used. This data only negate the idea that the death penalty is an effective way of deterring crime. The data also proposes that the employment of death penalty might be directly associated to negative behaviors in these individual who live in a society which endorses death penalty as crime punishment.

Beccaria also believes on the aspect of crime proportionality to its equivalent punishment. During his time minor crimes received similar level of punishment to capital crimes. In this regard, Baccaria argued that a criminal risking death by being involved in a certain crime does not get any incentive in being involved in a lesser crime as the punishment is both for all. This disproportion in punishment incites crimes rather than deterring them. In his view, public executions fails in providing lasting deterrence impact on the people and in most cases, it would become essential carry out a number of public executions to truly deter individuals from committing a certain crime (Hoffard, 2013).

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Beccaria seems to support criminal correction more than capital punishment or death penalty. In his arguments, Beccaria does not understand why a state should consider killing people as one way to promote peace and order in the society. He believes that criminals should be given a chance to repay the society for the harm they have caused (White, 2016). To him permanent penalty punitive serves better in deterring crimes compared to death penalty. To him public execution has not demonstrated a lasting effectiveness in deterring people from crimes. Thus, those states that consider death punishment as a solution to crime should consider life imprisonment and other permanent punishment which bring suffering and a chance for one to regret his or her criminal deeds. In Beccaria view, no individual would consider opting for permanent and total loss for freedom in exchange of crime however rewarding the crime may be. Thus, the long-term punishment in Beccaria view may serve a better chance in reducing crimes compared to death penalty and other brutal ways of punishing criminals.

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In addition to this, Beccaria touches on the issue of justice. According to him, all offenders are regarded to be innocent until the court prove otherwise or until sentenced by a judge. Despite effective application of the justice system, there have been a number of cases where the initial ruling has been reversed by an appeal case due to various errors. This means that when the state act quickly into executing people who are believed to be criminals, to may end up executing even the innocent people (Hoffard, 2013). This is likely to bring bitterness and urge for vengeance to the people related to the executed person. This situation is more likely to increase the number of people entering into crime rather than discouraging them from doing so. This demonstrates that capital punishment that mostly involves death penalty through public execution does not effectively serve to deter crimes. On the contrary, it may play a great role in increasing the rate of crimes in a region.

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