Recently there was news item that Texas had executed its 15th convict for a murder committed almost two decades back . The convict was adminstered the lethal injection and he refused to make a last statement. The 15th execution in this year (2010) Texas, shows that in the United States the death sentence is carried out with startling regularity.
In India the death sentence has been awarded to over 300 criminals over the last few years. But the state has as yet not carried out any sentence since 2006. In fact notorious terrorists are on death row for years and the Government of India is unable to decide about the carrying out of the executions.
The question involving death penalty is a complex issue. In Europe the death sentence is abolished as it is thought to be ‘inhuman’. But the result is imprisonment for life. But the question that must be answered is whether death sentence is a deterrent to crime. Death sentence per se by all accounts is not a deterrent in crimes that are aroused by passion or temporary loss of reason. In such cases the death sentence may have little effect.
The question is not whether crime will go down or up if a death sentence is abolished. The question is whether a society at large can allow a man who has committed heinous crimes like child rape and murder should be allowed to be a burden on society for the next period of his natural life. Also there is a need to set an example that extreme crime will not pay. Thus preplanned and motivated crimes can go down.
There is no doubt that the one thing man fears the most is death. It is the be all and end all of all existence. It is the time of reckoning and people involved in ghastly crimes do buckle down when they face the gallows.
The death sentence has a value and needs to be implemented. Though it does not affect crime, it sets an example to others and above all, it reassures the people at large that crime is not an effective way of life. Granted, the death sentence will not abolish crime. It is not possible, as crimes of passion and temporary insanity will always remain. But preplanned heinous crimes may go down. The important point is that in case a death penalty is on the statute books, then it must be implemented. Procastrination at that point of time is bad and can demoralize society.