The death penalty Ava Campbell

What is the death penalty?

The death penalty, also know as Capital Punishment is a practice whereby a person is put to death by the state as punishment for a crime. Crimes that are punishable by the death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The most common capital crime is murder but there are many others including; kidnapping; rape; adultery; homosexuality; prostitution and witch craft. Capital crimes are different depending on which country you are in.

How is the death penalty carried out?

An electric chair. A strong source of electricity is attached to the persons head and legs.

Lethal injection. They are injected with a deadly mix of chemicals.

Firing squad. This was commonly used for soldiers in World War One.

Hanging. A rope is tied around the persons neck and they are dropped from a height.

Decapitiaion. Head is cut off. This can either be done by executioners or by guillotine.

Gas chamber. People are secured in the chamber, oxygen levels are lowered and hydrogen cyanide is added.

What are the current laws?

A large majority of countries around the world have either completely abolished the death penalty or at least discontinued it. The U.S.A are the only western country to use the death penalty.

Every country in the world is part of one of four different categories. The four categories are:

  1. Retentionist countries: countries that kept the death penalty and still use it. 56 countries are retentionist countries. These include; India; Japan; North Korea; China; USA and Barbados.
  2. Abolitionist in practise countries: countries that claim to have not used the death penalty in 10 years. They have a policy of not carrying out executions but they will use the death penalty for murder. 30 countries are in this category. These countries include: Kenya, South Korea, Morocco, Swaziland and the Maldives.
  3. Abolitionist countries for ordinary crimes: countries where the death penalty is abolished apart from certain crimes, such as war crimes. 6 countries are in this category. These are; Brazil; Chile; Peru; Israel; El Salvador and Kazakhstan.
  4. Abolitionist countries: countries where the death penalty is abolished for all crimes. There are 103 countries in this category. These include: Australia, Croatia, U.K, Turkey, Mexico and Romania.

The first country to completely abolish the death penalty was Venezuela in 1854.

The uk

The death penalty was officially abolished in 1998 in the U.K. However, the last execution to take place in the U.K was in 1964.

The last executions in the U.K:

  • England: the last execution took place on the 13th August 1964. Peter Anthony Allen and Gwynn Owen Evans were executed for the murder of John Alan West.
  • Scotland: the last execution took place on the 15th August 1963. Henry John Burnett was executed for the murder of Thomas Guyan.
  • Northern Ireland: the last execution took place on the 20th December 1961. Robert McGladdery was executed for the murder of Pearl Gamble.
  • Wales: Vivian Teed was executed on the 6th May 1958 for the murder of William Williams.

Is the death penalty a good or bad thing?

There are many different arguments that show how the death penalty is a good thing and it should be kept and brought back worldwide. There are also numerous arguments that show how the world is better off without the death penalty and how it should be abolished everywhere. A few from each side are below.


  • If someone murders another person, they have given up their human rights, including the one to stay alive themselves.
  • The punishment should 'fit the crime'. If you have killed someone, you should be killed too.
  • Giving a murderer the death penalty will prevent them from doing I again and it will also warn others not to.
  • The very small chance of executing the wrong person is balanced out by the benefits to society of putting off other murders and eliminating some murderers.


  • The death penalty goes against the most basic human right: the right to life.
  • The process of execution is not always smooth and painless, it sometimes causes a painful death.
  • There is no evidence that the death pentaly deters other murderers from committing similar offencences.
  • Mistakes are made, an innocent person could be killed.
Religious views


Buddhists place great emphasis on non-violence and compassion for all life. The first precept requires all individuals to abstain from injuring and killing any living creature. Buddhists believe capital punishment will have compromising effects on the souls of both the offender and the punisher. Buddhists believe that inhumane treatment of an offender does not solve their misdeeds.

"The more evil that comes from him, the more good will go from me." The buddha


Hinduism opposes killing, violence and revenge. This is in line with the principle of Ahimsa (non-violence). Hindus views on capital punishment are similar to the Buddhist views above.

" An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind." Ghandi


The death penalty is accepted in Islam but forgiveness is preferred. Muslims believe that capital punishment is a most severe sentence but it may be commanded by a court for crimes if a suitable severity. They believe that there will be more profound punishments at the hands of God but there is also room for an earthly punishment.

"Take not life, which God has made sacred, execpt by way of justice and law" Qur'an 6:15

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