Debate over the death penalty

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 October, 2009, 12:00am

Six Uygurs have been sentenced to death some three months after the ethnic riots in Urumqi. I think the death penalty is a barbaric punishment.

How can the government show that killing people is illegal by taking the lives of those who have been convicted of murder? Is the government spreading the concept of an 'eye for an eye'? Moreover, this cruel penalty does not really benefit the victims' families.

Last but not least, the victims will not come back to life even if the criminals are killed. What's the point of sentencing people to death? Why not sentence them to life imprisonment?

Then those criminals would not be able to commit murders anymore. A life sentence can also scare away potential criminals.

I don't think the death penalty is a good way to solve problems when there is a better alternative.

Wency Tang, St Paul's Co-educational College

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Wency. The death penalty is one of those contentious issues which has its supporters and detractors. People tend to see the death penalty as revenge by the state. But this is not necessarily so. There are two issues at stake in the Urumqi case - the fairness of the judicial system, and the death penalty.

It is unwise to think that people sentenced to life in prison can no longer commit murder. The sad fact is that very often prisoners do kill each other and sometimes even kill guards.

Deterrence is the main reason behind using the death penalty. Yet people often point out that even though some states in America uphold the death penalty, they have a higher rate of violent crime than others.

Other people say cost is a factor. Yet in some places it costs more to execute a prisoner than to keep them in prison for the rest of their lives.

This is a very interesting debate and if you would like to share your views, head over to and join the discussion.

Susan, Editor