Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a
person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group. The
authority may be either a group or a single person, and punishment may be carried out
formally under a system of law or informally in other kinds of social settings such as
within a family.
Punishments are applied for various purposes, most generally, to encourage and enforce
proper behavior as defined by society or family. Punishments differ in the degree of
severity of their unpleasantness, and may include sanctions such as, deprivations of
privileges or liberty, fines, confinement and the death penalty.
Four fundamental justifications for punishment include: retribution, deterrence,
rehabilitation, and incapacitation such as isolation in order to prevent the wrongdoer’s
having contact with potential victims.
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a
person by judicial process as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a
death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences.
Capital punishment is often the subject of controversy. Opponents of the death penalty
argue that it has led to the execution of innocent people, that its main motive is not justice
but revenge and to save money, that life imprisonment is an effective and less expensive
substitute, that it discriminates against minorities and the poor, and that it violates the
criminal’s right to life. Supporters believe that the penalty is justified for murderers by
the principle of retribution, that life imprisonment is not an equally effective deterrent,
and that the death penalty affirms the right to life by punishing those who violate it in the
A Gallup International poll from 2000 said that “Worldwide support was expressed in
favor of the death penalty, with more than half (52%) indicating that they were in favour
of this form of punishment.” A number of other polls and studies have been done in
recent years with various results.