Life Imprisonment without Parole is More Effective than the Death Penalty


LifeImprisonment without Parole is More Effective than the Death Penalty


Lifeimprisonment without a parole implies that individuals that areimprisoned do not a possibility of ever being released from prison.This implies that such prisoners are condemned to die in prison.Individuals that are sentenced to life imprisonment without a paroledie of natural causes rather than induced deaths. Researchers havesindicated that most states and nations have adopted life imprisonmentwithout a parole to death penalty because death penalty has turned tobe more expensive than sentencing a person to die in prison. Besides,there is a possibility of sentencing an innocent individual to death,which implies that the conviction cannot be reviewed later. However,through considering sentencing a person to life imprisonment withouta parole, it is possible to review a conviction, where an individualhas been sentenced for mistakes he/she did not commit. In thisregard, life imprisonment without parole is preferred to deathpenalty. In this assignment, it will be argued that life imprisonmentwithout parole is more effective compared to the death penalty.

Lifeimprisonment without parole has now become one of the most adoptedways of sentencing individuals rather than using death penalty. Thisemanates from the points that have been put forward in favor of thelife imprisonment without parole against the death penalty. Thefollowing paragraphs discuss the reasons why life imprisonmentwithout parole has become preferred to the use of death penalty inthe sentencing of individuals

Oneof the reasons for considering a life imprisonment without parole todeath penalty is because life imprisonment without parole offersprotection to the society from dangerous offenders. The primaryappeal of life imprisonment without parole is that it guarantees thatsociety criminals will be permanently debilitated, unlike the issuesunder death penalty life imprisonment without parole eliminates theperil of having unfair executions. Most supporters of the lifeimprisonment without parole argue on the failing parole systems,which result from the incapacity of parole boards making perfectprojections concerning the future offending conduct (Blair, 1994).Most states adopted life imprisonment without parole after there waspublic discontent, where criminals serving life sentences left prisonearly because of parole. Thus, the parole helped murderers to getback to the society without having fully changed their behavior. Thisposed a threat to the society since the murderers could stillcontinue with their behavior. However, life imprisonment withoutparole is believed to accomplish the goal of preventing furthercrime, which restores public faith and shows effectiveness of thesystem. In fact, with an exception to unusual situations of anexecutive communication or escape, justice system may be confidentthat life imprisonment without parole will offer protection to thesociety for the rest of a criminal’s life. This is a much surersanction compared to sentencing an individual to death since there ishigh rate of successful appeals being realized (Liebman et al, 2002).Even jurors indicate that they prefer life imprisonment withoutparole to death penalty. For example, in a survey of 800 jurors, in1992, 41% were for the death penalty in case life imprisonmentwithout parole became provided as an alternative (Dieter, 1997).Therefore, life imprisonment without parole is preferred to deathpenalty since it has the capacity of keeping violent offenders fromthe streets without the need of a human life in the process.

Deterrencecan be perceived as another major reason for preferring lifeimprisonment without parole to death penalty. Those against the useof death penalty argue that life imprisonment without parole isindisputably harsh and its deterrent impact must not be underrated.On the ground of rational choice theory, deterrence strategies tendto center their attention on preventing people from being involved incrimes or unusual conduct through influencing their logical choicemaking process. Those that uphold the deterrent nature of lifeimprisonment without parole argue that the harshness of sentences iscritical. Wright (1991) argues that life imprisonment without paroleprisoners strongly condemn their sentences and wish to be executedinstead of remaining alive in prison for their lifetime. Prisonersperceive life imprisonment without parole as a harsher punishmentcompared to death. Therefore, it can be argued that life imprisonmentwithout parole has a more deterrent effect compared to death penaltysince prisoners see life imprisonment without parole as being theharshest punishment. As such, life imprisonment without parolesentence meets the criteria of the traditional objectives ofpunishment. According to traditional objectives of punishment,capital punishment is necessary in deterring murderers, protectingsociety and providing retribution. Life imprisonment without paroleprovides an alternative that has the capacity of accomplishing thesetasks without the moral cost of eliminating more lives. Therefore, ina system where life imprisonment without parole is the onlyalternative, individuals will fear being involved in crimes sincethey fear remaining in prisons for the rest of their lives, which isthe harshest sentence that they can face. This makes lifeimprisonment without parole to be more effective than death penalty.However, life imprisonment without parole does not have any effect ofdeterrence of future criminals. This is because convicted offenderswill have to spend the lives in prison, which implies that lifeimprisonment without parole cannot have any effect on the conduct ofpotential criminals (Blair, 2002).

Lifeimprisonment without parole is also more effective to death penaltybecause it tends to eliminate the circumstances, where individualsbecome executed without having committed a crime. Death penalty maylead to innocent individuals being killed since death penaltysentences may be decided with finality. However, life imprisonmentwithout parole gives innocent individuals an opportunity to live eventhough one has to spend his lifetime in prison. On the other hand,death penalty may involve lethal injections, which may beadministered incorrectly. Death penalty involving the use of lethalinjections administered incorrectly makes prisoners being executed tosuffer, which indicate the show of inhumanity. For instance, thelethal injections may make the prisoner facing death penalty taketime before dying, where the prisoner experiences a lot of pain. Thisis opposed to the use of life imprisonment without parole, where aprisoner is allowed to face a natural death while in prison. In suchcircumstances, life imprisonment without parole emerges as being moreeffective than the death penalty.

Anotherreason that makes life imprisonment without parole more effectivecompared to the death penalty entails the financial drawbacks of thedeath penalty (Hinton, 2003). Individuals sentenced to death penaltyare likely to have a high rate of making appeals in the courtscompared to persons sentenced under life imprisonment without parole.Individuals that are innocent whose verdict has been delivered to bedeath penalty will always tend to make appeals for the considerationof the verdict delivered. In most cases, the appeals stay in courtsystem for a remarkably long period since the defendants are notready to lose knowing that they are innocent. This leads to anincrease in costs of handling the same cases because they are heardrepeatedly over a long period. In this case, the additional costsemerge due to the need of searching for new evidences. As theprosecution is engaged in further research concerning the appealedcases, they have to face extra costs, which could have beeneliminated in case the earlier verdict delivered was not a deathpenalty (Hinton, 2003). In other instances, the government may beinvolved in supporting individuals to a particular case, where theydo not want the individuals involved to face a death penalty. In sucha scenario, the government may support court appeals on behalf of theindividuals using its resources. The court may end up paying a lot ofresources in case it loses the case against the individuals. Thusdeath penalty is not effective because it is associated with a lot ofcosts that emanate from the appeals that are made. Life imprisonmentwithout parole may be effective than the death penalty since it isless costly. Life imprisonment without parole is less costly becauseit emerges as the harshest verdict that a prisoner can ever have.Because of its harshness, the number of crimes reduces remarkablysince few individuals fear facing the verdict of remaining in prisonfor their lifetime. As the number of crimes reduce, so does the costreduce. Thus, life imprisonment without parole emerges as being moreeffective compared to the death penalty. Further, unlike the case ofdeath penalty, where a prisoner may be capable of getting severalappeals, life imprisonment without parole sentence considers only oneautomatic appeal. This significantly reduces the costs of appeals.

Althoughlife imprisonment without parole is perceived as being more effectivethan death penalty, the sentence has been argued against because ittends to go against human dignity and human rights. Life imprisonmentwithout parole is restricted for offences committed by minors underArticle 37 of the UN Convention of child’s rights. On the otherhand, article 110 (3) of the Rome Statute provides that a sentence oflife imprisonment, which is the maximum sentence that is available tothe International Criminal court under Article 77 of the Statute,should be reviewed after 25 years. Thus, life imprisonment withoutparole is not available as a punishment option in the internationalCriminal Court. Individuals feel that this should also apply in othercourts for uniformity (Labardini, 2004). Besides, although lifeimprisonment without parole is perceived as being effective becauseit tends to be less costly through reducing the number of crimes, itcan be expensive at times because the cost of holding prisoners fortheir lifetime is costly. For instance, consider a 30 years old manthat is sentenced under life imprisonment without parole. In case theman dies at 70 years, the government will have to spend resources forthe upkeep of the man. If the number of individuals sentenced underlife imprisonment without parole is vast, it implies that huge costsmust be used in holding the individuals in prison. This makes lifeimprisonment without parole expensive. In addition, research on theimpacts of indeterminate imprisonment has not been adequatelyconclusive in persuading the judiciary or the public that suchsentences are not compatible with the norms of human dignity.However, the life imprisonment without parole seems effectives due toits toughness as a measure of crime control.


Deathpenalty sentences have been considered by various countries as anoption to controlling crimes in society. However, life imprisonmentwithout parole sentences have been considered more effective comparedto death penalty. This is due to different reasons. One of thereasons for perceiving life imprisonment without parole as beingeffective is due to its ability to eliminate the risk of havingwrongful executions (Coyle, 2004). Death penalty may lead to theexecution of innocent individuals, but life imprisonment withoutparole provides individuals with the chance of living and dying anatural death. Besides, prisoners perceive life imprisonment withoutparole as a harsher punishment compared to death. Therefore, it canbe argued that life imprisonment without parole has a more deterrenteffect compared to death penalty. As such life imprisonment withoutparole has the impact of reducing and controlling crimes sinceindividuals fear facing the verdict of staying in prison until theirdeath. Another reason that makes life imprisonment without parolemore effective compared to the death penalty entails the financialdrawbacks of the death penalty emanating from the high rate ofappeals. Death penalty allows several appeals, while lifeimprisonment without parole allows only one automatic appeal (Coyle,2004). Although life imprisonment without parole is consideredeffective, it goes against human dignity and human rights however,it is adapted for its ability to control crimes because of itsharshness.


Blair,D. (1994). ‘ A Matter of Life and Death: Why Life without Paroleshould be a Sentencing Option in Texas ’ , AmericanJournal of Criminal Law,22 : 191 – 214 .

Coyle,A. (2004). ‘Replacing the Death Penalty: The Vexed Issue ofAlternative Sanctions’, in P. Hodgkinsonand W. Schabas, eds,CapitalPunishment: Strategies for Abolition.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dieter,R. (1997). ‘Sentencing to Life: Americans Embrace Alternatives tothe Death Penalty’, in H . Bedau, ed., TheDeath Penalty in America: Current Controversies.Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hinton,B. (2003). CostsIncurred for Death Penalty Cases: A K-goal Audit of the Department ofCorrections.Topeka: State of Kansas.

Labardini,R. (2004). ‘Mexico Supreme Court Clarifies When to SubmitAssurances that Life Imprisonment Will Not Be Imposed when RequestingExtradition from Mexico ’ , InternationalEnforcement Law Reporter,20:295 – 301.

Liebman,J., Fagan, J., Gelman, A., West, V., Davies, G. and Kiss, A. (2002).ABroken System Part II: Why There Is So Much Error in Capital Cases,and What Can Be Done About It.New York: Columbia Law School.