The death penalty is the implementation of the ethical-legal principle
according to which the State can legitimately decide to take the life of a
person. However, when facing the lists of those condemned to death, one gets
the impression of being in front of a power that eradicates weeds instead of
Supporters of the death penalty assume that the fundamental
responsibility of a State is to defend the community at all costs and that
those who respect the law are entitled to greater protection than those who
disregard it. Moreover, they believe that those who commit crimes must pay and
that there are faults for which no punishment, except death, constitutes the
right sentence. In their opinion, the State does not repay evil with evil, but
merely defends society from the danger of the perpetrators, thus preventing
dangerous subjects from committing crimes. Supporters of the death penalty, in
fact, attribute a deterrent function to it, as for them the harshness of
punishment is sufficient to prevent the crime being committed.
Those who oppose the death penalty do it above all for moral reasons.
Beyond the atrocity of this mean, detractors believe that no man, either
individually or as a representative of a State, has the right to take the life
of another man, regardless of the seriousness of the faults committed. The fact
that the death penalty is irreversible and cannot compensate those unjustly
condemned is, apparently, not a sufficient reason to suppress it.
To detractors, the death penalty contravenes the principle that a
sentence must not aim to the pure punishment, but at re-education and recovery
on the human and social level: and what recovery will be possible for a dead?
A valid and less grim alternative to the death penalty is a life
sentence. The ultimate aim of this procedure is to incarcerate for life those
who committed a heinous crime. The life sentence has theoretically no purpose
other than that of containment and, therefore, guarantees safety to the
community from possible risks. Consequently, keeping a person on life
imprisonment is the ideological equivalent of sentencing someone to the death