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Is The Death Penalty Worth It?

By: Cielito F. Habito, PhD
Lack of quorum in the House of Representatives is reported to be snagging the effort of administration supporters in Congress to restore the death penalty. The 1987 Philippine Constitution rules against the death penalty, but gives Congress the authority to impose it “for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes.” In the wake of rising criminality, Congress passed Republic Act No. 7659 in late 1993 listing 46 crimes (later increased to 52) as punishable by death, and executions resumed in 1999. RA 9346 subsequently suspended the death penalty in 2006, and that is where the matter stands to this day.
I will not address the moral and ethical element of the issue here, even as I personally believe that no one, not even the state, has the right to take a human life. For those who do not care enough about the moral dimension (and there are too many among us who don’t), we might simply address the matter on a practical level and ask: Is it worth it? The question may be approached in two ways. One is to ask: Will it really work to deter, hence reduce, heinous crimes? We can also take a clinical view of the issue and ask: Do the economic benefits of imposing the death penalty outweigh the costs?
On the first question, the appeal of the death penalty to its proponents lies in its expected deterrence effect. The general premise is that if the punishment is great enough, people will choose not to commit an illegal act. It’s easy enough to believe that if speeding on the highways is meted a mandatory prison sentence (never mind the fairness of it), few drivers would dare exceed the speed limit. But this effect becomes open to question with higher levels of crime and punishment, and as hardened criminals become the decision makers.
Read the full article at http://opinion.inquirer.net/101922/death-penalty-worth