Briefly explain Corporal punishment and Capital punishment?

(1) Introduction

Punishment is necessary to uphold the ideals of humanity and morality. Crime is an anti-social act. It is violation of laws of society. A wrong against society is a wrong against humanity. If the wrong-doer is not punished, social unity and harmony will disintegrate and morality will also degrade.

(2) Corporal Punishment

(i) Definition

(a) Physical Punishment

Corporal punishment is physical punishment that is inflicted to cause physical pain to a person’s body.

(b) Deliberate Use Of Force

Corporal punishment is deliberate use of force that causes pain or harm.

(ii) Explanation

Corporal punishment can be explained in the following words:

  • (a) Types
  • (b) Merits
  • (c) Demerits

(a) Types

Followings are types of corporal punishment:

  • (a-i) Flogging
  • (a-ii) Mutilation
  • (a-iii) Branding
  • (a-iv) Stoning
  • (a-v) Ducking-stool
  • (a-vi) Stock & pillory
  • (a-vii) Crushing

(a-i) Flogging

Flogging is a beating with a whip or rod. It is also called whipping or caning.

(a-ii) Mutilation

Mutilation is cutting off a body part of a person or is causing injury to a body part of a person so that the part of the body is permanently damaged, detached or disfigured. It is also known as or maiming.

(a-iii) Branding

Branding is marking of a symbol into skin of a living person by a hot iron.

(a-iv) Stoning

Stoning is throwing of stones at a person until he dies.

(a-v) Ducking-Stool

The ducking-stool was a strong wooden armchair in which the offender was seated and tied with an iron band so that the offender should not fall out during immersion into a pond or river.

(a-vi) Stock & Pillory

Stock and pillory were wooden or metal devices that were erected on a public place. Stock was with holes for fastening feet of the offender while pillory was with holes for fastening hands and head of the offender.

(a-vii) Crushing

Crushing was placement of heavy weight upon a person with the intent to kill him.

(b) Merits

Followings are merits of corporal punishment:

  • (b-i) Deterrent
  • (b-ii) Control & discipline
  • (b-iii) Immediate results
  • (b-iv) Cost effective
  • (b-v) Moderated use
  • (b-vi) Proper use

(b-i) Deterrent

Physical pain, embarrassment and fear serve as a strong deterrent for the person, who receives corporal punishment and for those who witness it. This encourages avoidance of criminal behaviours.

(b-ii) Control

It helps to keep the offenders under control. In this way, discipline is maintained in the society

(b-iii) Immediate Results

In comparison to alternative methods of retribution such as expulsion, suspension, grounding or community service, corporal punishment has immediate effects. It is a short-term method of punishment that can be quickly administered.

(b-iv) Cost Effective

In comparison to the alternative methods of punishment and discipline, corporal punishment can cost less.

(b-v) Moderated Use

It can be useful for prevention of crimes if it is used in moderation.

(b-vi) Proper Use

If it is properly used, it can be the most successful technique to check the deviant behaviour.

(c) Demerits

Followings are demerits of corporal punishment:

  • (c-i) Ineffective
  • (c-ii) Unsafe environment
  • (c-iii) Fear, anxiety & depression
  • (c-iv) Inhuman & cruel
  • (c-v) Hatred & hostility
  • (c-vi) Improper use

(c-i) Ineffective

It remains ineffective. It can sometimes make offenders hardened and, consequently, they are no longer afraid of it.

(c-ii) Unsafe Environment

It creates unsafe environment. In some cases, the criminals, who have experienced the corporal punishment, adopt more violent and disruptive criminal behavior.

(e-iii) Fear, Anxiety & Depression

It causes fear, anxiety and depression among the offenders, who experienced it, and among the people, who witness it

(c-iv) Inhuman & Cruel

Almost all of its types are inhuman and cruel.

 (e-vi) Hatred & Hostility

Its excessive use causes hatred and hostility among the wrong-doers against the society and state.

(e-vii) Improper Use

If it is not used properly, it does not remain a punishment. Rather it becomes a physical abuse.

(3) Capital Punishment

(i) Definition

(a) Legally Authorized Killing

Capital punishment can be defined as legally authorized killing of a person as punishment for a crime.

(b) Execution

Capital punishment can be defined as execution of a person as punishment for specific crime after proper legal trial.

(ii) Explanation

Capital punishment can be explained in the following words:

  • (a) Death penalty
  • (b) Grave crimes
  • (c) Methods
  • (d) Should capital punishment be part of criminal justice?

(a) Death Penalty

It is also known as death penalty.

(b) Grave Crimes

It is mostly imposed in cases of grave crimes.

(c) Methods

Methods to execute capital punishment can be explained in the following words:

  • (a-i) Ancient methods
  • (a-ii) Current methods

(a-i) Ancient Methods

In various ancient societies, various methods were used for execution of capital punishment.

Followings are some of them:

  • (s) Crushing by elephant
  • (t) Biting by snakes
  • (u) Blown by gun
  • (v) Back breaking
  • (w) Boiling to death
  • (x) Blown By Gun
  • (y) Burning
  • (z) Poisoning
  • (zz) Suffocation

(s) Crushing By Elephant

The convict was gotten crushed by an elephant.

(t) Biting By Snakes

The convict was gotten bitten by snakes.

(u) Blown By Gun

The convict was blown by a gun.

(v) Back Breaking

The convict’s back was broken

(w) Boiling To Death

The convict was boiled in water or oil to death.

(x) Burning

The convict was burnt.

(y) Crushing

The convict was crushed by some weight.

(z) Poisoning

The convict was poisoned.

(zz) Suffocation

The convict was suffocated by burning or by keeping in cold room.

(a-ii) Current Methods

In different countries, various methods are being used for execution of capital punishment:

  • (s) Hanging
  • (t) Shooting
  • (u) Lethal injection
  • (v) Electrocution
  • (w) Gas inhalation
  • (x) Beheading

(s) Hanging

The convict is hanged till death.

(t) Shooting

The convict is shot.

(u) Lethal Injection

The convict is killed by lethal injection.

(v) Electrocution

The convict is killed by electrocution.

(w) Gas Inhalation

The convict is killed by gas inhalation.

(x) Beheading

The convict is beheaded.

(d) Should Capital Punishment be Part of Criminal Justice?

There are two opposing arguments regarding this question:

  • (d-i) Arguments against capital punishment
  • (d-ii) Arguments in favour of capital punishment

(d-i) Arguments Against Capital Punishment

Following arguments are presented to explain that capital punishment must not be part of criminal justice:

  • (x) Beccaria’s treatise
  • (y) Irrevocability
  • (z) In rarest cases

(x) Beccaria’s Treatise

Cesare Baccaria was an Italian jurist, and he published his treatise. It was an essay on crimes and punishment. In this essay. he presented following arguments against capital punishment:

  • (x-i) Transformation from barbarianism to civilized refinement
  • (x-ii) Dual objects of punishment
  • (x-iii) Violation of social contract

(x-i)Transformation from Barbarism to Civilized Refinement

Abolition of capital punishment is crucial for the transmission of a state from barbarism to civilized refinement.

 (x-ii) Dual Objects Of Punishment

There are dual objects of punishment:

  •  (p) Deterrence
  •  (9) Reformation

 (p) Deterrence

One object of punishment is to deter future commission of the crimes. But capital punishment fails to achieve this object. The reason is that there is no evidence that capital punishment acts as deterrence to future commission of crime. Therefore, it is suggested that criminal justice does not need capital punishment.

(q) Reformation

Other object of punishment is to reform the criminal. But capital punishment fails to achieve this objective too because it kills the criminal and he is no more for reformation. Therefore, it is suggested that criminal justice does not need capital punishment.

(x-iii) Violation Of Social Contract

State does not have any right to snatch the life of its citizen because such right violates the social contract between the state and the citizen. Therefore, it is suggested that criminal justice does not need capital punishment.

(y) In Rarest Cases

Capital punishment is awarded only in rarest cases like cases of murder, genocide and terrorism. But one can easily find that there is no consistency in awarding capital punishment in each and every rarest case. For instance, capital punishment is awarded in a case of murder, but it is not awarded in another case of murder. Therefore, it is suggested that criminal justice does not need capital punishment.

(z) Irrevocability

If a person is sentenced to death and he is hanged till death, but it is found after some years that he was innocent, then death sentence must be revoked. But revocation of death sentence will be of no use because he is no more in the world. Therefore, it is argued that capital punishment is inhumane, and it must not be part of criminal justice.

(d-ii) Arguments In Favour Of Capital Punishment

Following arguments are presented to explain that capital punishment must be part of criminal justice:

  • (t) Retribution
  • (u) Deterrence
  • (v) Rehabilitation
  • (w) Prevention of threat
  • (x) Satisfaction
  • (y) Japanese Argument

(t) Retribution

First argument is based on retribution: retribution demands that guilty must be punished in proportion to the severity of his crime. In other words, retribution is based on this principle that “an eye for eye.” Therefore, it is argued that capital punishment must be imposed in cases of heinous offences.

(u) Deterrence

Some jurists argue that there is no evidence that capital punishment acts as deterrence to future commission of crimes. But the reality is that there is also no evidence that capital punishment does not act as deterrence to future commission or crime. Therefore, capital punishment is deterrence to future commission of crime, and must be part of criminal justice.

(v) Rehabilitation

No doubt, a convict, who has been executed due to capital punishment, cannot be rehabilitated into the society. But it is also a reality that such convict realizes his guilt, makes confession and develops a kind of spiritual rehabilitation with his God during his imprisonment before his execution. Therefore, it is argued that capital punishment must be part of criminal justice.

(w) Prevention of Threat

Leaving of offenders of heinous offences will not only be a threat to society, but will also be a threat to national security. Therefore, it is argued that capital punishment must be part of criminal justice.

(x) Satisfaction

Capital punishment provides a sort of satisfaction to the victim’s family that rest of their life will be peaceful.

(y) Japanese Argument

The Japanese believe that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. As capital punishment is a bad thing, it must happen to bad people.

(4) Conclusion

It can be finally stated that punishment is inflicted on the criminal because he has earned it by violating the laws. Punishment shows him the nature of right. Punishment is necessary because justice demands that there must be appropriate distribution of reward and punishment in proportion to merit and demerit of actions.

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