The death penalty - the arguments for and against

Prison officer locks a prison door

In some countries it is legal to kill someone if they have committed a terrible crime. This is called a death sentence, or the death penalty.

It is not legal in Britain.

There are lots of reasons why people think it's right or wrong.

Here are some of the arguments:

Arguments for the death penalty

  • If someone murders someone else, 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 killer the death sentence will stop them - and others - doing it again
  • The very small chance of executing the wrong person is balanced by the benefits to society of putting off other murderers

Arguments against the death penalty

  • The death penalty goes against our most basic human right - the right to life
  • Being killed by lethal injection or being electrocuted is not always smooth and painless, sometimes it causes a painful death
  • No-one has ever proven with numbers that killing murderers stops other people committing similar crimes
  • Mistakes are sometimes made in the law - what if someone is killed who is actually innocent?

More on This Story

  • Watch NewsroundWatch Newsround

    Watch the latest update from Newsround, CBBC's news programme for children.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.