Is it time to abolish the death penalty?

The death penalty is error-ridden, arbitrarily imposed and unfairly targets the poor
As a punishment, the death penalty makes no sense: how does killing a person who has killed a person show that killing is wrong? Most of the civilised world has abolished it. India certainly does not need it as it serves no purpose. No study has shown that the death penalty deters murder more than life imprisonment. The evidence is all to the contrary. For deterrence to work, the severity of the punishment has to coexist with the certainty and swiftness of the punishment. The death penalty has not deterred terrorism, murder or even theft. For over a century, stealing attracted the death penalty in England, where spectators at public hangings often had their pockets picked! India’s murder rate has declined continuously since 1991 and is at present the lowest in our recorded history except for 1963. Fearmongering aside, we are safer today than our parents or grandparents ever were. And this is not thanks to the death penalty whose infrequent and arbitrary implementation has made no real difference. It may as well have not been there. Studies show that a more equal sex ratio has more to do with declining murder rates than killing murderers. Nobody wants to undergo the trauma of administering the death penalty — not the higher courts and not the hapless prison staff who have to see a human being die gasping at the end of a rope. Governments kill prisoners to show that they are tough on crime. There is nothing muscular or tough about killing a man who is at your mercy.

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