Capital Punishment

Is any crime worthy of taking the perpetrators life? Section 7 of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids the use of capital punishment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also condemn capital punishment. However, some countries continue to practice capital punishment; here is a quick glance at Canada’s struggle with capital punishment.


Execution_of_Stanislaus_Lacroix_in_Hull,_Quebec,_Canada_1902In 1865, crimes of murder, treason and rape justified capital punishment. Later in 1961, the sentence became limited to: premeditated murder and murder of a police officer, guard or warden in the course of duty and resulted in mandatory executions by hanging.

In 1962, following the executions of  who was convicted of premeditated murder of an informer and witness, and Robert Turpin who was convicted of unpremeditated murder of an officer to evade arrest, no executions were carried out.  Their executions were accompanied by protestors outside the Don Jail in Toronto, Ontario holding vigils and chanting the government was murderous. Although this was the last execution in Canada, the debate continued and many amendments to the legislation followed.

In 1966, capital punishment became limited to matters pertaining to the killing of on-duty police officers and prison guards. In 1976, capital punishment was restricted to the Canadian National Defense Act for the most serious military offences, like treason and mutiny. Non – military offences which were punished by death were replaced with a 25-year jail sentence, also known as a life sentence in Canada. prison

In 1998, the National Defence Act was brought in accordance to Canadian civil law by enacting a 25-year sentence instead of execution. In 2001, in United States vs. Burns, the Supreme Court of Canada argued that extradition cases that impose the death penalty cannot be carried out even if they are imposed.


Global glance

The U.S, India, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Yemen are some nations that still practice capital punishment. Depending on where one resides, capital punishment can include crucifixion, hanging, beheading, firing squad and lethal injection.

Supporters of capital punishment argue capital punishment:

1. Lowers costs for taxpayers as it costs less than to keep prisoners alive;

2. Criminal justice system protects criminals more than victims if criminals are kept alive;

3. Recidivism is likely (recommitting a crime);

4. Gives the family of the victim closure;

5. Helps alleviate the overcrowded court system, prisons and justice system; and

6. Righty punishes Individuals who violate the moral code of a country, religion or tradition

Conversely, opponents argue capital punishment:

1. Is costlier for taxpayers due to lengthy legal proceedings which follow a sentence including appeals and required procedures which can result in prisoners being on death row for 15-20 years before being executed. Consequently, this can stall the legal proceedings;

2. Is cruel and unusual punishment;

3. Can put innocent people such as mentally vulnerable individuals on death row due to  a travesty of justice; and

4.  Does not bring the victim back.  Also, closure has also been obtained through counselling which includes both the victims’ family and the perpetrator.

Did you learn something new? Were you surprised by some of the information shared above? If so, press “like” and follow!

Points of Discussion:

1. How do you feel about capital punishment?

2. Is capital punishment practiced where you live?



  1. I always like the way you write your articles. The questions asked at the end actually make me think. It is a great idea to end an article as it makes the reader feel part of things and encourages him/her to give his/her views.

    I always feel that it would be nice if we could somehow magically convert criminals into responsible law-abiding citizens. Killing them is harsh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words Sonia! I agree with you, it would be wonderful if we could just change criminal to become law – abiding citizens but unfortunately that doesn’t usually happen. I also agree that capital punishment is too harsh. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I hope to keep hearing more from you in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your fact-based approach and the way that it doesn’t go too far in depth but enough to give the reader a full picture. Interesting read and I’ve never seen a listing of all the countries that still use the death penalty. It makes one think about whether or not a government should maintain a right to use it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is interesting that cruelty came second to the cost to taxpayers. But apart from that I am torn.

    You see when we read about crime, crime that would involve a possible death sentence, 9 times out of 10 we are reading about someone elses story, we cannot really portray the level of devastation and hurt that that persons family would feel, we as a species have generally become conditioned to seeing this stuff on the news every single day and so it doesn’t affect us as it should.

    If it was effecting me, I would personally want that person tortured to within an inch of their life, probably maimed, then be put to death. I appreciate that that is very very harsh and not a very nice thing to think, but my law doesn’t allow me to enact revenge on anyone that kills a member of my family so I have to let the law of the land dish out “justice”. I put it in “ because no matter what punishment they give, in my opinion it would be too lenient.

    There are of course so many variables and/or circumstances surrounding a crime like this it is difficult. Personally the only fear I have for the opponents side is option 3, as that can and has happened, and I suppose for that reason alone the death penalty shouldn’t happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Your perspective is very much what I think most people would feel. You explained your thoughts very well.

      Your comment reminds me of Hobbes, a philosopher. He mentioned that we need law because without it humans are savages. We need order. It also reminds me of Gandhi who said “an eye for eye will only make the whole world blind”. The argument is essentially that we need law to keep us from taking matters into our own hands and maintaining order. If humans are allowed to act on their impulses it will result in chaos.
      Naturally, being hurt makes humans want to retaliate so I’m sure many can relate to the sentiments you’ve expressed above. It may not be pretty but most people would think just like you. We can be blinded by our emotions.

      I hope to keep hearing more from you. Your comment was very insightful and well – articulated. Thank you!


      1. Thanks. the Gandhi quote is true, despite my comments in what I would want should it happen to me. And I think humans are savages even with laws, not all of course but some, some people do things so cruel I cannot begin to fathom why.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Not just the mentally ill. Just innocent people in general. “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” William Blackstone
    The death penalty will mean that in lue of a perfect justice system, which doesn’t exist, the state will kill innocent people.

    Liked by 1 person

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