The issue of capital punishment has over the years drawn mixed reactions. On the one hand, it is argued that capital punishment is demeaning to humanity and should be eliminated from the justice system.
On the other hand, it is believed that capital punishment is necessary as it aids in dealing with the commission of grave crimes. Owing to this establishment, the article by Mills on capital punishment is put into perspective. In the end, I agree with Mills that capital punishment should be upheld.
Based on the article, if there is conclusive evidence that an offender has committed a grave crime then such a person should face a death sentence. According to Mills (1), some crimes undermine the worth of living on the part of those who commit them. Concisely, some criminal elements should not exist among the general populace.
However, Mills (1) holds that the death sentence should only be withheld, if evidence proves that the act by an offender was an exception of the character of the accused individual rather than a consequence. Based on the above observation, Mills points out that certain aspects make the life of criminals unworthy.
As such, the death sentence is appropriate depending on the nature of the offence that one commits. I agree that some criminal elements devalue life but I strongly object to the notion of taking away an individual’s life in because of committing certain mistakes that have undesirable consequences.
Mills (1) based his support for the death penalty on grounds that humanity is universal. By this, the implication is that claims purporting that it is unfair to take away the lives of human beings do not hold. Mills observes that exponents of the termination of the death sentence argue that criminals should be spared based on the element of humanity that transcends both criminals and law-abiding citizens.
As such, the proponents for the elimination of the death sentence believe that by virtue of being human, criminals should not face the penalty. However, Mills look at this notion as amounting to an application of double standards. Mills rightly points out that the very grounds of humanity used to support the removal of the death penalty should also be the ones used to support retaining of the sentence. Since humanity is sacrosanct, anybody who harms it by killing should also face the same consequences of death.
I support the views of Mills because it is unfair to let an individual with a criminal record escape adequate punishment. By way of illustration, if a criminal ends the life of an innocent individual, there is no reason why the criminal should not face the death sentence. In this case, the humanity argument used to support the removal of the death sentence should be used to lend credence for upholding the penalty.
At another level, it is necessary to set a good precedent. If a criminal kills and only gets a light punishment such as life imprisonment, then the justice system is in a way encouraging criminal activities. It is thus necessary to give heavy penalties such as the death sentence in order to serve as a deterrent measure in society.
Mills places much emphasis on the consequences of an act. Since the justice system has a corrective responsibility, it is imperative that all measures are put in place to guarantee the attainment of the objective. As Mills holds, the death sentence is necessary to rid society of criminal elements.
Although the sentence could be critical in deterring similar cases, questions over its role in attaining the corrective goal remain unanswered. Mills’ argument rests on the belief that sentencing those convicted of killing others to death is the best way to deter people from committing similar crimes. In my view, handing a death penalty, individuals are denied a chance to reform. Hence, the death penalty does not aid the reformation process within societies. In addition, it is observable that some criminal activities are weightier than others are.
As such, the weightier criminal aspects deserve heavier punishment. Although, a criminal act such as killing is grave, there is no moral justification for condemning a human to a death sentence. Such a sentence is equivalent to killing. In this regard, I hold the view that by the sentence, the justice system repeats the same mistake that the convicted individual is accused of since the sentence entails taking away life.
Mills also supports retaining of the death sentence by arguing that the justice system is friendlier to the suspects than it is to the victims. Coupled with this, the ‘burden of proof’ compounds the trial process as it makes it easier for a criminal to escape.
Clearly, judges hold the view that it is better that up to ten guilty persons be acquitted rather than convict one innocent person (Mills 1). This indicates that judges or the justice system could be biased towards safeguarding the interests of the innocent. It is thus not a coincidence that when suspects raise the barest of doubts, they are better placed to defeat the justice system.
In pedestrian terms, conviction requires full evidence. Based on this, it is reasonable that heavier penalties are handed to convicts in order to serve as examples to the whole society. It would be inappropriate to follow a lengthy and tedious procedure to obtain a conviction and extend a trivial sentence. In my view, substituting the death penalty for life imprisonment or any other form of sentence equates to trivializing the commission of heinous crimes.
Based on the paper, it is difficult to take one side of the argument. This follows from the realization that capital punishment diminishes the worth of humanity. However, the establishment that deterrence is necessary in societies, supporting the retaining of the death sentence is upheld. Although the topic is controversial, Mills offers useful insight.
Mills, John Stuart. Speech In Favor of Capital Punishment. California: University of San Diego,1868. Print.