Criminology – Death Punishment


The death penalty is crime punishment sanction where an individual under sentence is put
to death. The government through the criminal justice system applies this sanction as a way of
putting off people from indulging in capital offenses. Death penalty punishment is also known as
capital punishment (In Cromie & In Zott, 2013). The process of conducting the death penalty is
called execution. The offenses that lead to the death penalty are known as capital offenses or
crimes, and they may include treason, a war crime, murder, espionage, genocide and crime
against humanity. The punishment has been applied by fifty-six countries worldwide such as
China, Singapore, and Japan. On the other hand, 103 countries such as Hong Kong has abolished
this sanction.
Unlike other neighborhood countries of Hong Kong such as Japan and China, Hong Kong
decided to abolish the death punishment. It abolished capital punishment back in the year 1993
by the repeal corporal punishment ordinance. The government of Hong Kong abolished the
capital punishment formally after the Legislative Council Backed in approval of legislative
procedures to remove it in the year 1991 and in April 1993.Before the abolishment, the country
had been applying this crime punishment sanctions to offenses for instance murder, piracy, and
kidnapping leading in death during the reign of Crown Colony of Hong Kong.
Some methods are used to execute the capital punishment. Some of the ways include
Hanging, shooting, Electrocution, gaseous asphyxiation, and beheading. Hanging is where the
defendant is hanged with a rope. Shooting is where the defendant is shot dead using a gun in the
most sensitive body part. Electrocution is where the individual is killed using electric power or
shock. Gaseous asphyxiation involves the individual been put in a gas chamber with a poisonous
gas such as carbon II oxide.

Capital punishment in Hong Kong was last conducted in 1966 where Wong Kai-Kei,
aged 26 years old was hanged at the jail known as Stanley prison. Wong Kai-Kei was a
salesman, and he was accused of brutally murdering a night guard at his place of work and made
with cash in two cash boxes with an estimated amount of $7000. The defendant had attacked the
night watchman with an axe and a water pipe. The scene happened in the plaintiff Chung Kin
China Products in Hong Kong at Castle peak road. Besides that, the manager of the store who
was a woman aged 72-year-old was also injured in the process. After the court hearing, the judge
charged the defendant Kai-Kei with murder. Nonetheless, he was hanged on 16th November
1996 at the Stanley prison. This was the last capital punishment to be conducted in Hong Kong.
Factors Contributed to Hong Kong Abolishing the Death penalty.
Hong Kong abolished the death sanction for a number of reasons. One of the primary
reason was as a result of United Kingdom had abolished the sanction a year before. Britain had
been applying the capital punishment for a long time, and as one of the strong countries, it
influenced the Hong Kong to abolish the death punishment. Many nations mostly in European
countries also had abolished the sentence as the requirement to join the EU association. The EU
(European Union) and the councils demanded the members to quite from practicing capital
punishments (Cribb, 2004). As a result, Hong Kong was influenced by the massive abandonment
of the penalty from the European countries.
The second reason for the abandonment of the punishment by Hong Kong is the social
and economic cost. Society has some values that it upholds, and killing is highly discouraged at
all means. Death punishment is a form of killing since there is the loss of life of the defendant.
The reality is that death punishment is irreversible and it called for the Hong Kong to refrain
from it. The society suggested that the government should look for other means of punishing the

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people with capital offenses rather than sentencing them to death. The life sentence was a good
solution that was brought forward to help abolish the death penalty. In life sentence, the
individual who has committed the crime has to be jailed for life in the prison rather than killed.
Also, the death penalty may condemn the death of innocent individuals. The justice
system sometimes is unable to distinguish the innocent and the guilty, it is with no doubt that it
often ensnares innocent people. Application of leniency and plea bargains in exchange for snitch
testimonies sometimes it leads to least guilty been sentenced the most punishment. Also,
prosecutors and police in an effort to further their career or under pressure fail to collect all the
necessary evidence and instead rush to make the arrest. As a result, this may have a severe
impact that might lead to the suffering of innocent individuals. This fault is evidence in many
court systems such as in Illinois where the governor George Ryan in January 2003 converted the
punishments of all the death row prisoners in the states (Gidwani, 2014). The govern did this act
on the ground that the system was flawed and that there was no guarantee that the innocent were
spared. Michael Radlet who was a criminologist in his research it indicated that between 1900
and 1992 two-thirds of 416 cases that were documented ended up with the innocents suffering
the death penalty.
The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. The punishment is a cruel act that is
against a large number of religions. Also, taking away of human life is against God’s will, and
even in the ten commandments it highly discouraged. Many life of innocent people has been lost
from this capital punishment. Moreover, the life’s’ of the victim’s families have been devalued
and emotionally wounded. Also, causing fear to other members of the society was not a solution
to deter people from crime. Many research and scientific studies have failed to prove that
execution of capital punishment deters people from capital offenses. It was not a wonder to find

that a country with the death penalty is having more cases of capital crime that a country without
capital punishment.
In conclusion, many countries have abolished the capital punishment Hong Kong being
among them. There is a number of reasons that contributed to the abolishment of this capital
punishment one of them being that the act is cruel and devalues human life. It is recommendable
for the countries like China and Japan that still hold this death penalty to abandon it since there is
another way of punishing capital offense rather than death. Lifetime jail sentence has been a
good replacement for death punishment, and it is highly accepted even by both religion and



Cribb, T. (2004). Demise of the death penalty.
Retrieved from
Gidwani, S. (2014, November 4). Amnesty International Hong Kong wants an end to executions
around the world.
Retrieved from
In Cromie, J., & In Zott, L. M. (2013). The death penalty. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press.