The death penalty is the implementation of the ethical-legal principleaccording to which the State can legitimately decide to take the life of aperson. However, when facing the lists of those condemned to death, one getsthe impression of being in front of a power that eradicates weeds instead ofcuring them. Supporters of the death penalty assume that the fundamentalresponsibility of a State is to defend the community at all costs and thatthose who respect the law are entitled to greater protection than those whodisregard it. Moreover, they believe that those who commit crimes must pay andthat there are faults for which no punishment, except death, constitutes theright sentence. In their opinion, the State does not repay evil with evil, butmerely defends society from the danger of the perpetrators, thus preventingdangerous subjects from committing crimes.
Supporters of the death penalty, infact, attribute a deterrent function to it, as for them the harshness ofpunishment 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, eitherindividually or as a representative of a State, has the right to take the lifeof another man, regardless of the seriousness of the faults committed. The factthat the death penalty is irreversible and cannot compensate those unjustlycondemned is, apparently, not a sufficient reason to suppress it. To detractors, the death penalty contravenes the principle that asentence must not aim to the pure punishment, but at re-education and recoveryon 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 lifesentence.
The ultimate aim of this procedure is to incarcerate for life thosewho committed a heinous crime. The life sentence has theoretically no purposeother than that of containment and, therefore, guarantees safety to thecommunity from possible risks. Consequently, keeping a person on lifeimprisonment is the ideological equivalent of sentencing someone to the deathpenalty.