Right to life is a fundamental right which the human rights declaration guarantees.
Arguments in favor of the death penalty
People perceive that capital punishment to offenders of capital crimes would eventually lower the crime rate in a country. Another view is that the efficiency of imposition of the death penalty influences the support for the death penalty.
Arguments against the death penalty
The right to life under Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that one should not be tortured, or treated with cruelty, or with inhuman or degrading treatment. Death penalty violates them all. The death penalty cases that come to the U.S. Supreme Court are the ones in which the defendants are not well represented at trial meaning that rich people could afford legal representation at trial and get away without a death penalty and those who receive death sentences happen to be people who suffer discrimination on the basis of sex, race, caste, gender and ethnicity. This shows that economically deprived people are not getting equal treatment in defending themselves. The right to counsel was established by the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright.
Arbitrary decision of the court often results from the inadequacy of facts presented by the defense counsel resulting in undeserved punishment. A death row convict Horace Dunkins in Alabama was executed for the failure of his defense counsel to provide information to the court about his insanity in 1989. A similar failure of the defense counsel resulted in the death penalty being imposed on Jerome Holloway, who had the intellectual capacity of a 7-year old child and in another incident, the jury awarded death penalty to Donald Thomas, a schizophrenic youth without the least knowledge of his mental disorder. Thus, capital punishment often occurs due to social inequality based on race, sex, ethnicity, etc. Once death penalty is executed, it becomes irrevocable and in many instances innocence of death convicts comes to light much later due to some reason or other. Death sentences do not stop with the offender. They continue to haunt their family members who suffer from psychological trauma of losing their loved ones.
The arguments in favor or against the death penalty are universally applicable. The arguments leveled against the death penalty far outweigh the arguments in favor. The death penalty is nothing short of cannibalization. All countries should therefore abolish the death penalty.