Capital Punishment Essay
Punishment, is the execution of criminals by the state, for
Capital Punishment deters murder, and is just Retribution.
Capital committing crimes, regarded so heinous, that this is the only
acceptable punishment. Capital punishment does not only lower the
murder rate, but it’s value as retribution alone is a good reason for
handing out death sentences. Support for the death penalty in the
U.S. has risen to an average of 80% according to an article written by
Richard Worsnop, entitled “Death penalty debate centers on
Retribution”, this figure is slightly lower in Canada where support
for the death penalty is at 72% of the population over 18 years of
age, as stated in article by Kirk Makir, in the March 26, 1987 edition
of the Globe and Mail, titled “B.
C. MPs split on Death Penalty”.
The death penalty deters murder by putting the fear of death
into would be killers. A person is less likely to do something, if he
or she thinks that harm will come to him.
Another way the death
penalty deters murder, is the fact that if the killer is dead, he will
Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should
be punished for their crimes, and that it does not matter whether it
will deter the crime rate. Supporters of the death penalty are in
favor of making examples out of offenders, and that the threat of
death will be enough to deter the crime rate, but the crime rate is
According to Isaac Ehrlich’s study, published on April 16,
1976, eight murders are deterred for each execution that is carried
out in the U.S.A. He goes on to say, “If one execution of a guilty
capital murderer deters the murder of one innocent life, the execution
is justified.” To most supporters of the death penalty, like Ehrlich,
if even 1 life is saved, for countless executions of the guilty, it is
a good reason for the death penalty. The theory that society engages
in murder when executing the guilty, is considered invalid by most
supporters, including Ehrlich. He feels that execution of convicted
offenders expresses the great value society places on innocent life.
Isaac Ehrlich goes on to state that racism is also a point used
by death penalty advocates. We will use the U.S. as examples, since
we can not look at the inmates on death row in Canada, because their
are laws in Canada that state that crime statistics can not be based
on race, also the fact that there are no inmates on death row in
Canada. In the U.S. 16 out of 1000 whites arrested for murder are
sentenced to death, while 12 of 1000 blacks arrested for murder were
sentenced to death. 1.1% of black inmates on death row were executed,
while 1.7% of white inmates will die.
Another cry for racism, as according to Ehrlich, that is raised
by advocates of the death penalty is based on the color of the
victim, for example “if the victim is white, it is more likely that
the offender will get the death penalty than if the victim had been
black”. This is true, if you look at the actual number of people who
are murder. More people kill whites and get the death penalty, then
people who kill blacks and get the death penalty. The reason for this
is that more whites are killed, and the murders captured. Now if we
look at the number of blacks killed it is a lot less, but you have
to look at these numbers proportionately. Percent wise it is almost
the same number for any race, so this is not the issue.
In a 1986 study done by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the
University of North Carolina, the conclusions made by Ehrilich were
updated, and showed to be a little on the low side as far as the
deterrence factor of capital punishment. Professor Layson found that
18 murders were deterred by each execution is the U.S. He also found
that executions increase in probability of arrest, conviction, and
other executions of heinous offenders.
According to a statement issued by George C. Smith, Director of
Litigation, Washington Legal Foundation, titled “In Support of the
Death Penalty”, support for the death penalty has grown in the U.S.,
as the crime rate increased. In 1966, 42% of Americans were in favor
of capital punishment while 47% were opposed to it. Since the crime
rate United States has increased, support for the capital punishment
has followed suit. In 1986, support for capital punishment was 80%
for and only 17% against with 3% undecided, but most of the undecided
votes said they were leaning toward a pro capital punishment stance,
if they had to vote on it immediately.
Let us now focus on Canada. The last two people to be
executed, in Canada were Arthur Lucas and Ron Turpin. They were
executed on December 11, 1962. The executions in Canada were carried
out by hanging. The death penalty was abolished in Canada in the
latter part of 1976, after a debate that lasted 98 hours. The death
penalty was only beaten by 6 votes. If we look back to 1976, the year
the death penalty was abolished in Canada, threats of death were
being made to Members of Parliament and their immediate families from
pro death penalty advocates. Most members of parliament, voted on
their own personal feelings, as opposed to the views of their voters.
The same was the case in British Colombia, where accepting of
the death penalty, if it was reinstated 1987 , by the federal
government was discussed. The M.P.s were split, 17 out of 29 were for
the death penalty. This showed, that even the majority of the M.P.s
were in favor of the death penalty in B.C. Support for the death
penalty in British Columbia at the time was almost 70%, but the M.P.s
felt that it was up to them to vote how they felt was right, and not
to vote on which vote would give them the best chance for a second
In 1987, the Progressive Conservative government wanted to hold
a free vote on the reinstatement of Capital punishment, but Justice
minister Ray Hnatyshyn, who was opposed to it, pressured the M.P.s,
into voted against the bill. Ray Hnatyshyn, was the deciding factor,
if not for him, it was widely believed that the reinstatement of
capital punishment would have gone through, and the death penalty
Capital punishment is such a volatile issue, and both sides are
so deeply rooted in their views that they are willing to do almost
anything to sway all of the people they can to their side.
We personally feel, and our views are backed up by proof, in
the form of studies by the likes of Isaac Ehrlich’s 1975 and Prof.
Stephen K. Layson’s, that was published in 1986, and polls that have
been taken both in Canada and the United States over the past few
years. All of these studies and surveys show that capital punishment
is a valid deterrent to crime, and obviously the public, and society
as a whole are in favor of it. The death penalty makes would be
capital offenders think about weather committing a crime is really
worth their lives. Even if capital punishment did not deter crime,
the simple fact that it will allow society to “get even” with murders.
Capital punishment also insures peace of mind because it insures that
1 From: Take Notice, (Copp Clarke Pitman Ltd., 1979) page 163
2 From: Article written by David Vienneau published in the March 24,
1987 edition of the “Toronto Star”, titled, Debate Agonizing for MPs.
3 From: Article written by Kirk Makir, published in March 26, 1987
edition of the “Globe and Mail”, titled, BC MPs Split on Death Penalty
4 From: Article written by Hugh Winsor, published in April 29, 1987
edition of the “Globe and Mail”, titled, Debate on Death Penalty
placed on hold.