Should Death Penalty Be Reintroduced Essay

On By In 1

Example academic essay: The Death Penalty. This essay shows many important features which commonly appear in essays.

Should the death penalty be restored in the UK?

The restoration of the death penalty for serious crimes is an issue of debate in the UK because of the recent rise in violent crime. The causes, effects and solutions to the problems of violent crime throw up a number of complex issues which are further complicated by the way that crime is reported. Newspapers often sensationalise crime in order to increase circulation and this makes objective discussion more difficult. This essay will examine this topic firstly by considering the arguments put forward by those in favour of the death penalty and then by looking at the arguments opposed to the idea.

The main arguments in favour of restoring the death penalty are those of deterrence and retribution: the theory is that people will be dissuaded from violent crime if they know they will face the ultimate punishment and that people should face the same treatment that they gave out to others. Statistics show that when the death penalty was temporarily withdrawn in Britain between 1965 and 1969 the murder rate increased by 125% (Clark, 2005). However, we need to consider the possibility that other reasons might have lead to this rise. Amnesty International (1996) claims that it is impossible to prove that capital punishment is a greater deterrent than being given a life sentence in prison and that “evidence….gives no support to the evidence hypothesis theory.” It seems at best that the deterrence theory is yet to be proven. The concept of ‘retribution’ is an interesting one: there is a basic appeal in the simple phrase ‘the punishment should fit the crime’. Calder (2003) neatly summarises this argument when he says that killers give up their rights when they kill and that if punishments are too lenient then it shows that we undervalue the right to live. There are other points too in support of the death penalty, one of these being cost. It is obviously far cheaper to execute prisoners promply rather than feed and house them for years on end.

The arguments against the death penalty are mainly ethical in their nature, that it is basically wrong to kill and that when the state kills it sends out the wrong message to the rest of the country. Webber (2005) claims that the death penalty makes people believe that ‘killing people is morally permissable’. This is an interesting argument – would you teach children not to hit by hitting them? Wouldn’t this instead show them that hitting was indeed ‘permissable’? There is also the fact that you might execute innocent people. Innocent people can always be released from prison, but they can never be brought back from the dead. When people have been killed there is no chance of rehabilitation or criminals trying to make up for crimes. For this reason capital punishment has been called ‘the bluntest of blunt instruments’ (Clark, 2005).

In conclusion, the arguments put forward by people who support or are against the death penalty often reflect their deeper principles and beliefs. These beliefs and principles are deeply rooted in life experiences and the way people are brought up and are unlikely to be swayed by clever arguments. It is interesting that in this country most people are in favour of the death penalty yet parliament continues to oppose it. In this case it could be argued that parliament is leading the way in upholding human rights and continues to broadcast the clear message that killing is always wrong.

You should be able to see that this essay consists of:

An introduction in three parts:
1. A sentence saying why the topic is interesting and relevant.
2. A sentence (or two) mentioning the difficulties and issues involved in the topic.
3. An outline of the essay.

Main paragraphs with:
1. A topic sentence which gives a main idea/argument which tells us what the whole paragraph is about.
2. Evidence from outside sources which support the argument(s) put forward in the topic sentence.
3. Some personal input from the author analysing the points put forward in the topic sentence and the outside sources.

A conclusion:
Summarises the main points and gives an answer to the question.

The debate for restoration of the death penalty in Australia has been ongoing since the 1985 abolishment of capital punishment in Australia. Following the abolishment of capital punishment, Australia has not seen any rise in the number of homicides and murders, suggesting that execution does not deter criminals. Each time another heinous crime is committed, public outcry reignites the debate on the reintroduction of the death penalty. In Australia today many obstacles are preventing the restoration of the death penalty including the high cost of capital punishment and the history of innocent people being executed however recent political leaders have mentioned that the return of the death penalty could be appropriate. The death penalty was abolished in Australia decades ago but the battle against capital punishment was left incomplete.

Since the abolishment of the death penalty in Australia, Australia has seen no dramatic rise to the number of homicides and murders. One of the major fears when abolishing capital punishment was an increasing number of murders. This is evident in the _Australian Institute of Criminology_’s article: _”The argument for capital punishment usually hinges on the fear of increasing murder rates. Yet in Queensland, for example, in the decade prior to the abolition of capital punishment (1912-21), there were 131 murders, whereas in the decade following abolition (1923-32) there were 129 murders.”_ (Potas and Walker: 1987)

This information clearly shows that the abolishment of the death penalty did not lead to an increase in homicides and murders in Queensland. _Table 4_ (Potas and Walker: 1987) on the _Australian Institute of Criminology_ article also shows the effects of the abolishment on conviction rates for murder and manslaughter in the major states in Australia. From this graph, it is evident that the abolishment had no major effect on homicide trends in each state with the exception of South Australia. Capital punishment should not be brought back into Australia as execution has not deterred criminals.

The death penalty should not be brought back in Australia as it would be the Australian taxpayers that would pay the price as capital punishment is very expensive. Although many would believe that keeping a criminal under supervised imprisonment for life would be more expensive than the death penalty, the truth is that capital punishment is actually very expensive and costs much more than life imprisonment. The Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty (ACADP) is a human rights organisation which is dedicated to achieving total abolition of the death penalty in Australia.

In an article written by ACADP, it is evident that the procedures are longer in a capital case and _’one single capital case could cost…around $5.5 million [and] life imprisonment for 30 years costs $1.5 million.’_ (ACADP: 2003) The process of the capital system could be limited however, creating a cheaper alternative for capital trails but this answer would result in a higher possibility of convicting and executing an innocent person.

One of the main advantages of abolishing the death penalty is the reduced risk of executing an innocent person. In the past Australia has seen judicial errors including Australia’s last man hanged Ronald Ryan. Ryan was executed in 1967 when accused for murdering a prison guard when attempting to escape Pentridge Prison. _The Australian_’s story on Ronald Ryan states that _”Ryan could not have shot dead a warder during their dramatic escape… because the rifle he was using had jammed”_ (Hughes: 2007) It is now evident for Australia to see that _”the last man hanged in Australia was innocent”_ (Hughes 2007). The death penalty is a denial of human rights and it violates the right to life. The death penalty should not be brought back into Australia because it is neither right nor just to kill an innocent person.

While there are many reasons against the death penalty, the Australian government has continued the argument about the death penalty since the abolishment in 1985. In 2010, the Death Penalty Abolition Bill was debated in Federal Parliament. If passed, it would block any states attempt to bring back capital punishment. Since the debate, the bill has passed so now individual states have no power to reintroduce the death penalty, it is a federal responsibility. Recent political leaders including Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have mentioned instances where the death penalty might be appropriate. Tony Abbott, the opposition leader at the time, said _’in the case of someone who cold-bloodedly brought about the deaths of hundreds or thousands of innocent people… maybe the only appropriate punishment is death.’_ (Williams: 2010)

From this, it is evident that there is consideration for the death penalty to be brought back in Australia when an indictable crime is committed. Australian surveys also show a movement towards the restoration of capital punishment since in the Australian National University’s 2007 Electoral Survey ‘_44% of people thought the death penalty should be reintroduced”_ (Williams: 2010). This is an excessive increase from 1986 when capital punishment had only just been abolished where a national survey commissioned revealed ‘_only 26% of respondents felt that the death penalty was appropriate”_ (Potas and Walker: 1987). These statistics show that although Australia does not have the death penalty, the majority of the population supports its return.

In conclusion, the advantages of continuing the abolishment of the death penalty have overpowered the advantages of restoring the death penalty in Australia. Although Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott believed that capital punishment may be necessary in some cases, Australia has seen no rise the number of murders after the abolishment of the death penalty, therefore overriding the need to have capital punishment. Arguments such as the high cost for the death penalty and the past executions of innocent people also argue against the restoration of capital punishment. There are more arguments against the restoration of capital punishment so it is evident that the government has made the right decision to abolish the death penalty and not to restore it.



Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty 2003, _’_The High Cost of Capital Punishment’, _ABC Online Forum,_ viewed 2nd May 2014,

In this article, the Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty deliberates the high cost of capital punishment compared to the cost of life imprisonment. The author uses research from reliable lawyers and court cases to estimate the cost endured for one single capital case and life imprisonment. Their research aims to provide the public reader with reliable information and to warn them the expenses that they too will have to pay if capital punishment were to be brought back into Australia. The article is useful to my topic since the author debates against capital punishment being brought back into Australia due to the major tax increases that Australians would have to pay if it were to be brought back. The article has limitations however since the figures that the author has provided for the cost of both trials has only been estimated and without taking into account of any rising costs. Nonetheless this article is still relevant and will form one of my arguments to continue the abolishment of capital punishment in Australia.


Hughes, G 2007, ‘Ronald Ryan did not kill warder’, _The Australian,_ 21 December, viewed 31st May 2014,

In this article, Hughes explains the hanging of Australian’s last man; Ronald Ryan and how after 40 years, Ryan has been declared innocent. The author had used information coming from Ryan’s former accomplice as well as information from the trial in 1967 and more recent forensic information to uncover the mystery that has been ongoing for the last 40 years as to whether Ronald Ryan really did kill a prison guard or not. The article focuses on informing the public of the decision made by the Australian Government which has been proven to be wrong.

This article is useful as research for my essay as Hughes shows how the death penalty has executed innocent people in the past which is one of the reasons why Australia should not re-introduce capital punishment. This article is a limited source of information since it only discusses one innocent man that was executed in Australia. It is still useful however since it does show that capital punishment is not always judged correctly, executing innocent people. This article will be useful from my essay to debate whether the death penalty should or should not be brought back to Australia as it will give me another arguing point.


Potas, I & Walker, J 1987, ‘Capital Punishment’, _Australian Institute of Criminology,_ viewed 31st May 2014,

In this article, Potas and Walker presents material which they believe will inform readers about the disadvantages of the death penalty and why the debate should cease. They have gained reliable information to form their argument to change the reader’s point of view to theirs. The article focuses on putting events that have already occurred into perspective and showing the reasons for why we do not need the death penalty to punish criminals.

This article is useful as research for my essay as it gives information and statistics that help to support that the death penalty should not be brought back. The main limitation is that the article was written in 1987 which was only three years since the last state in Australia abolished the death penalty so the public’s opinion on it may have changed since this time. However, statistics and facts used from the time cannot be changed and still provide relevant and necessary information for my research. This article will provide a well-structured argument for my essay since it provides the reader with many interesting statistics and facts.


Williams, G 2010, ‘No death penalty, no shades of grey’ _Debate About Death Penalty,_ viewed 4th June 2014,

In this article Williams discusses a recent problem to the debate of the death penalty. The article aims to inform the public that the death penalty is still a relevant debate in today’s society through the use of interviews with Tony Abbott and other surveys in the past decade. The article focuses on _The Death Penalty Abolition Bill_ which has just recently been passed to block any state in the attempt to bring back capital punishment.

This article is useful for my research since it is a recent article and provides information that the debate on capital punishment continues in Australia today. The article is limited however since it does not provide the reader with more information about the surveys as to what sort of people have been surveyed. Nevertheless, this article will be useful as research for my essay as it provides lots of information and more recent facts about the death penalty.


Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty 2003, _’_The High Cost of Capital Punishment’, _ABC Online Forum,_ viewed 2nd May 2014,

_Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty,_ 2014, viewed 3rd June 2014,

_Death Penalty_, 2014_,_ viewed 2nd June 2014,

Hughes, G 2007, ‘Ronald Ryan did not kill warder’, _The Australian,_ 21 December, viewed 31st May 2014,

Potas, I & Walker, J 1987, ‘Capital Punishment’, _Australian Institute of Criminology,_ viewed 31st May 2014,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *