The aim of this research project to analyse the abolition of the death penalty in New Zealand, as well as to look at the different arguments that are put forward by various political factions and theorists. These arguments exist both in favour of and against the abolition of capital punishment, and so an analysis is necessary of the validity of each side. This research is focusing on the arguments for and against the death penalty that originally caused it to be abolished in New Zealand, and then analysing these arguments to see if they are still valid today. Extensive research of this type does not yet exist.
New Zealand abolished the death penalty as a way of punishing murder in 1961. In 1989, it completely abolished the death penalty and treason too was not punishable by death anymore. Clearly, however, it had not been in common use prior to being abolished, as the last person to be executed by the New Zealand government was Walter Bolton, in 1957 (New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 2010). The reasoning behind why the death penalty was not in use even prior to its abolishing is also important in an analysis of this debate. These reasons are moral, religious, and legal, and are all very relevant.
The death penalty has always been around, as a method of punishment and as a way for the state to display its power. The use of capital punishment dates even to Biblical writings (Pojman, 1998). Some theorists point to the emergence of modern liberal democracies as one of the major reasons for its removal (Garland 30, 2011). This issue has been explored by writers like Isaac Ehlrich (1973) and James McCafferty (2010). Some believe that the death penalty deters crime, while others like Alan Marzilli (2008) counter this argument. They point out that while the state itself conducts homicide of a certain kind, it produces a devaluation of human life which encourages the people of the