Ever since its abolition, the death penalty has continued to feature prominently in day-to-day conversations and legal interactions in various forums.
Thus, the question as to whether the death penalty should be re-instated in the Australian criminal justice system often arises. This article discusses three reasons why the death penalty may not be making a comeback into the Australian constitution in the near future. Those studying to become criminal law practitioners should find this information particularly useful.
One of the main arguments supporting the re-instatement of the death penalty is that this form of punishment acts as a deterrent for those who may have the intention of committing a capital offence in future. There's a bit of truth in this. However, the practicalities involved in executing the death penalty often put to question its effectiveness at deterring future capital offences.
In a large number of cases for example, it takes several years before a capital offender is executed after being sentenced to death. Conventional wisdom would suggest that forms of punishment that are swift in nature will do a better job at deterring future capital offences.
Retribution And The Sanctity Of Life
Retribution is also among the various arguments that support the death penalty as a form of capital punishment. The principle of retribution in criminal law emphasizes the fact that "an eye for an eye" and "a tooth for a tooth" is considered fair play when it comes to punishing capital offenders.
Under the principle of retribution therefore, an offender found guilty of murder should face the same predicament that his or her victim faced. Only then can justice be seen to have been served.
However, this principle goes against the "sanctity of life" concept that is deeply enshrined in the Australian constitution. Thus, it would not seem logical for the government to re-instate the death penalty when the same government vows (and is expected) to protect the sanctity of life. The interest of protecting the sanctity of life will often override the interest of ensuring that justice is seen to be done.
Finally, the death penalty is likely to remain dead because it doesn't have much to offer in terms of rehabilitation for offenders. Rehabilitating offenders is among the main objectives of any form of punishment under the criminal justice system. Because a dead capital offender cannot be rehabilitated, the death penalty does not seem to meet the objective of rehabilitation. Its re-instatement is therefore unlikely.
For more information about this topic, contact a local lawyer.