Capital punishment is something that has been widely discussed and argued over for many years, so what actually is capital punishment? Capital punishment is a punishment that takes form of an execution, it is commonly known as the death penalty. There are many different types of capital punishment, such as beheading, lethal injection, electrocution, hanging and being shot by a firing squad. Crimes punishable with the death penalty include murder and terrorism. Not all countries condone the use of capital punishment; only 56 countries out of all 196 countries in the world still use it. Organisations, such as Amnesty International, are actively working towards having capital punishment abolished in all the countries around the world. In 2014, Amnesty recorded that 22 countries performed executions, and that over 600 executions took place. That is a decrease of 22% when compared to 2013’s statistics.
The movie ‘Dead Man Walking’, based on a true story, represents how the death penalty can make people confess to crimes, and later repent and apologise for their actions. Sister Helen Prejean, an American Roman Catholic who actively advocates for the abolishment of the death penalty, wrote the biographical book that the movie is based off. The convicted criminal, Mathew Poncelet’s, crimes were based off of the crimes committed by Elmo Patrick Sonnier and Robert Lee Willie, who both raped and murdered young girls. Sister Helen, who was the spiritual adviser of both these men, wrote ‘Dead Man Walking’ based on her interactions with both of these men. Although both those men, and the fictional version of them confessed to their crime, Sister Helen believed that they should never have been executed.
The Roman Catholic Church opposes capital punishment in all situations, even though in the Old and New Testament, many crimes were punishable by death. For the majority of the 20th century, the Catholic Church defended capital punishment, however in recent years, their stance as changed. The current Pope, Pope Francis, who is the leader of the Catholic Church has spoken out about the death penalty. "It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples' lives from an unjust aggressor." Many Catholics believe that the death penalty, like abortion or euthanasia, is a “violation of the right to life.” The 5th commandment “Thou shall not kill” goes against the Old Catholic belief that the death penalty was acceptable.
Many religions have strong views on the death penalty; some are still for capital punishment. The Islamic religion is one of the religions that still use capital punishment. “Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, so that you may learn wisdom.” Qur'an 6:151. Islam believes that capital punishment is the most severe form of punishment, and that it can only be called for by the court or justice system. Execution in Islam can take many forms, such as stoning, hanging, firing squad and beheading. Crimes that are punishable by the death penalty include treason, terrorism, rape, murder, adultery and homosexuality. Although the religion as a whole accepts the death penalty, there is a growing minority of people that are calling for its abolishment.
The Buddhist religion, like the Roman Catholic Church is against the death penalty. Non-violence and not hurting others in one of the main teachings of the Buddhist religion, so it makes sense that they are against the death penalty. Buddhism believes in reincarnation, and