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Capital Punishment: Death Penalty Debate

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    “Forgiving violence does not mean condoning violence. There are only two alternatives to forgiving violence: revenge, or adopting an attitude of never-ending bitterness and anger. For too long we have treated violence with violence, and that’s why it never ends. ” (Coretta Scott King, Widow of Martin Luther King) Capital Punishment should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. The Catholic Church is adamantly opposed to the death penalty. The death penalty should be banned as long as there are non-lethal means to defend and protect the people’s safety.

    In the United States, the death penalty is still in practice today. Capital punishment in the United States is exercised almost exclusively for the offense of manslaughter. Even though no one is on death row for any reason other than murder, the United States has federal capital statutes for non-murder crimes that warrant the death penalty including: espionage, treason, trafficking in large quantities of drugs, attempting, authorizing or advising the killing of any officer, juror, or witness in cases involving a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, regardless of whether such killing actually occurs. Death Penalty for Offenses Other Than Murder) Many states also have their own laws involving the death penalty for non-murder crimes. “In Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, and Montana aggravated kidnapping is a capital offense. In Georgia and Montana aircraft hijacking is punishable by the death penalty. Placing a bomb near a bus terminal is a capital offense in Montana. ” (Death Penalty for Offenses Other Than Murder) Although there are many laws involving the death penalty, there are many faults in current United States capital punishment legislation.

    The major flaw with the current legislation in regard to the death penalty in the United States is that the laws are not uniform among the states. This non-uniformity allows for many gray areas and could lead to someone who commits a crime in a state that does not enforce the death penalty for that particular crime to be executed in another state that does enforce capital punishment. In order to make sure that this does not happen, the United States should ban the death penalty completely, or at least make the laws uniform among the states.

    Another major fault of current capital punishment laws is that there is not always enough evidence for a conviction but the defendant is still found guilty and is executed. “Since 1973, one hundred forty people in twenty-six states have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. ” (Innocence and the Death Penalty) This statistic shows the number of people that have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence, imagine how many people that have been executed or are still on death row that are innocent of the crime that they have been convicted of.

    Even though the United States has death penalty laws in practice today, there are still ways to protect falsely accused criminals. Under current laws, a case that has already gone to court and received its verdict cannot be reopened. Reopening cases would lead first and foremost, to saving the lives of the falsely accused criminals. Justice is something that everyone is entitled to, but it takes time for justice to run its full course. Even after a suspect is put in handcuffs and sentenced it does not mean that all evidence has been brought to light or that the case should be permanently closed by any means.

    Justice is not something that should be used purely to punish the guilty but also as something used to protect the innocent. Saving the lives of the innocent and the case being reopened would also lead to a happier society and a lower crime rate. The case of Rolando Cruz who was convicted for rape and murder in 1985 and pardoned in 1995 is the perfect example of a case being reopened leading to the release of a man sentenced to death and the real criminal being arrested. In this case Rolando Cruz was convicted two times for the rape and murder of Jeanine Nicarico.

    Rolando was pardoned after a police officer admitted he lied under oath and the true culprit Brian Dugan confessed to the crime and DNA evidence also proved Cruz’s innocence (Mills, Chase). Ellis Wayne Felker was not so lucky. He was executed in 1996 for the rape and murder of Evelyn Joy Ludlum but was prosecuted with little and weak evidence. In 2000 his conviction was found inconclusive due to DNA evidence and a signed confession from the true culprit, which was withheld from the court during the initial hearings (Cook).

    Because the court was allowed to reopen Felker’s case, his family and loved ones can move on with their lives knowing that Felker did not commit the awful tragedy. Since the death penalty has not been banned even though it should be, the legislators should pass an amendment allowing cases to be reopened to make sure that they are prosecuting the correct individual. Freedom is not something that can be deprived of a man who has done nothing wrong to have this liberty and right stripped away from him.

    It is morally unethical to tear apart a family without total and absolute confidence that the conviction being made is supported by clear and conclusive evidence backing the accusation. To execute a father or mother without being absolutely positive that he or she is without a doubt the true criminal is a crime and an injustice to not only the mother or father but also to the entire family that he or she belongs to. The lessons and teachings presented by either parent are irreplaceable.

    If a parent is executed without any concrete evidence, the child and the rest of their family will have to live first of all without the loved one that died, but they will also have to bear the ridicule by other people because their family member was convicted of a crime that they did not perform. Without the ability to reopen cases the conviction would be impossible to overturn and the family name will forever be tainted and the loved one that died for no reason would never have his or her name cleared.

    The Constitution which is the basis of American society states that everyone has the right to the pursuit of happiness and by not allowing cases to be reopened then the court system would be tearing away those rights (The United States Constitution). The freedom that we all take advantage of is endowed upon us by our creator and has no business in politics rather it should be a moral and an ethical issue. The Death penalty is a very fair punishment to any person that intentionally kills another man.

    The Bible states “If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has man been made. ” (Genesis 9:6) Although this passage from Genesis is found in the Bible, the first murderer in the Old Testament; Cain, was not executed but was banished for life (Genesis 4:1-16). With this passage, it became clear that there is an error in the idea of killing someone that killed another person. Such people should be sentenced to life imprisonment.

    Abolition of death penalty will be in the favor and safety of our society because: there is a risk of killing the innocent, the poor that cannot afford good lawyers will always be victims, racial prejudice is an issue in death sentencing, the cost of prosecuting the death penalty is over whelming, the death penalty cannot stop murderers and killing does not give chance for criminals to change their ways. Although the Bible opposes the death penalty, there are vast differences in the way people view the death penalty.

    Capital Punishment, which has caused many controversies throughout the world, was brought to the United States from Great Britain. “In the 1970s, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty should be removed from practice. A few years later, the U. S. Supreme Court reinstated the used of the death penalty. In the 1980s, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to kill someone who has mental illness or retardation” (History of the Death Penalty). The United States’ wavering on whether or not to ban the death penalty has caused the many flaws in current death penalty laws that are in practice today.

    Around the world the death penalty is still very prevalent even though there are fewer countries executing criminals. “Across the globe one hundred thirty-nine countries still practice capital punishment, this low number signifies that the number of countries practicing the death penalty is at an all-time low. Excluding China, at least six hundred seventy-six executions were performed last year. China, together with Iran, North Korea, Yemen and the U. S. carried out the most executions last year.

    The methods of execution used by these countries included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and various kinds of shooting” (Rogers). The death penalty should be abolished, not only in the United States but also worldwide. There will always be a never-ending issue on how effective the death penalty is. The victims’ family can never be healed from a broken heart of losing someone very close to them. The death penalty is a direct violation of the eighth amendment of the United States Constitution, which is the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment (The United States Constitution).

    The death penalty should be abolished completely because it is an unethical practice and it goes directly against the example the Lord gives us with the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible. Many innocent people that are convicted without proper evidence would be saved if the death penalty would no longer be in existence. Capital punishment should be abolished because there are many other “ethical” forms of keeping people safe from criminals! Works Cited Cook, Rhonda. “DNA Testing Ordered in Case of Man Already Executed. ” Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Truth in Justice. Web. 01 Apr. 012. <http://www. truthinjustice. org/felker. htm>. “Death Penalty for Offenses Other Than Murder. ” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www. deathpenaltyinfo. org/death-penalty-offenses- other-murder>. Genesis. The New American Bible. Wichita: Fireside Catholic, 1970. “Innocence and the Death Penalty. ” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www. deathpenaltyinfo. org/innocence-and-death-penalty>. Mills, Steve, and John Chase. “Rolando Cruz Seeks Pardon. ” Chicago Tribune. 9 Sept. 2002. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www. ruthinjustice. org/cruz- pardon. htm>. “Part I: History of the Death Penalty. ” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 19 Mar. 2012. <http://www. deathpenaltyinfo. org/part-i-history-death-penalty>. Rogers, Simon. “Death Penalty Statistics, Country by Country. ” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 28 Feb. 0027. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www. guardian. co. uk/news/datablog/2011/mar/29/death-penalty- countries-world>. “The United States Constitution. ” – The U. S. Constitution Online. Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www. usconstitution. net/const. html>.

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