By: Chris E-mail: emailprotected The idea of putting another human to death is hard to completely imagine. The physical mechanics involved in the act of execution are easy to grasp, but the emotions involved in carrying out a death sentence on another person, regardless of how much they deserve it, is beyond my own understanding. I know it must be painful, dehumanizing, and sickening. However, this act is sometimes necessary and it is our responsibility as a society to see that it is done.
Many Americans will tell you why they are in favor of the death penalty. It is what they deserve. It prevents the murderer from ever murdering again. It removes the burden from taxpayers. We all live in a society with the same basic rights and guarantees. We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with equal opportunities. This is the basis for our society. It is the foundation on which everything else is built upon.
When someone willfully and flagrantly attacks this foundation by murdering another, robbing them of all they are, and all they will ever be, then that person can no longer be a part of this society. The only method that completely separates cold-blooded murderers from our society is the death penalty. Many places all over the world have used the death penalty at one point or another. The Ancient Romans and the Judaic cultures practiced retributive justice. That type of justice uses the rule “an eye for an eye.” The United States picked up the act of capital punishment from the culturally similar continent of Europe. We picked it up in the 17th century. “An eye for an eye,” is what some Americans would say concerning the death penalty. Supporters of the death penalty ask the question, “Why should I have to pay to support a murderer for the rest of their natural life? Why not execute them and save society the cost of their keep?” Many Americans believe that the death penalty is wrong. However, it seems obvious to some Americans that the death penalty is a just and proper way to handle convicted murderers. Capital punishment is sometimes unfair in its administration. Statistics show that the poor and minorities are more likely to receive the death penalty. It can’t be disputed. Sadly, the rich are more likely to get off with a lesser sentence, and this bias is wrong. However, this is yet another problem of our current court system. The racial and economic bias is not a valid argument against the death penalty. It is an argument against the courts and their unfair system of sentencing. One argument of capital punishment is that there is a possibility of error. However, the chance that there might be an error is separate from the issue of whether the death penalty can be justified or not. If an error does occur, and an innocent person is executed, then the problem lies in the court system, not in the death penalty. Furthermore, most activities in our world, in which humans are involved, possess a possibility of injury or death. Construction, sports, driving, and air travel all offer the possibility of accidental death even though the highest levels of precautions are taken. These activities continue to take place, and continue to occasionally take human lives, because we have all decided, as a society, that the advantages outweigh the unintended loss. We have also decided that the advantages of having dangerous murderers removed from our society outweigh the losses of the offender. Crime in today’s world has become more gruesome with the times. With the crimes comes jail, so more jails are being built for the prisoners. More criminals are being sent to jail and getting the death penalty. Some feel that the death penalty is also a gruesome act of murder. People who commit crimes get what they deserve and if that’s the death penalty then they should get it, mostly because they are taking up our space and our time. Crimes have become a major pollution in this country. If people want to commit crimes so badly then they should pay for what they do. Gangs and organized crime have added more to this country’s problems. Some people think it is fun and some are just deranged. To put it simply, they shouldn’t do the crime if they can’t do the time, even though some people are committing crime and some of them are getting away with it. Today’s law system has many loop holes in it. This is what is putting gangs, drug dealers, and bad people on the streets. Lawyers are key weapons for these types of people, the lawyers help them get away with anything. A lot of people have been convicted of crimes and got away with it, due to their lawyers. The death penalty is a good punishment because people in this country deserve to feel safe. Some countries have had their crime rates lowered due to the abolishing of the death penalty, but we live in the U.S.A., a country of lawyers where money talks and you can’t trust everyone. The death penalty is good because most people are afraid of death. Even though the death penalty is gruesome to some, it is good for our nation because of the thing we have running around in our streets. This is why the death penalty is good. To put it plain and simple, the death penalty is an efficient way to lower crime in this country. Lawyers and money absolutely aren’t helping this country and its crime. People in this country should be able to trust each other, but it is sad that they cannot. Crime is something that nobody wants in this country, and they deserve to have that. Safety is also another feeling people deserve to have in this country, as long as drug dealers, gangs, and mobs are running the streets this country is a long way from that. Throughout history, governments have been extremely inventive in devising ways to execute people. Executions inflicted in the past are now regarded today as ghastly, barbaric, and unthinkable and are forbidden by law almost everywhere. Common historical methods of execution included: stoning, crucifixion, burning, breaking on the wheel, drawing and quartering, peine forte et dure, garroting, beheading or decapitation, shooting and hanging. These types of punishments today are considered cruel and unusual. In the United States, the death penalty is currently authorized in one of five ways: firing squad, hanging, gas chamber, electrocution, and lethal injection. These methods of execution compared to those of the past are not meant for torture, but meant for punishment for the crime. In the United States, the main objection to capital punishment has been that it was always used unfairly, in at least three major ways. First, females are rarely sentenced to death and executed, even though women committed 20 percent of all murders that have occurred in recent years. Second, a disproportionate number of nonwhites are sentenced to death and executed. A black man who kills a white person is 11 times more likely to receive the death penalty than a white man who kills a black person. In Texas in 1991, blacks made up 12 percent of the population, but 48 percent of the prison population and 55.5 percent of those on death row are black (USDBJS). Before the 1970s, when the death penalty for rape was still used in many states, no white men were guilty of raping nonwhite women, whereas most black offenders found guilty of raping a white woman were executed. This data shows how the death penalty can discriminate and be used on certain races rather than equally as punishment for severe crimes. And third, poor and friendless defendants, those who are inexperienced or have court-appointed counsel, are most likely to be sentenced to death and executed. Defenders of the death penalty, however, argue that because nothing found in the laws of capital punishment causes sexist, racist, or class bias in its use, these kinds of discrimination are not a sufficient reason for abolishing the death penalty on the idea that it discriminates or violates the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Opponents of capital punishment have replied to this by saying that the death penalty is subject to miscarriage of justice and that it would be impossible to administer fairly. In the 1970s, a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions made the death penalty in the U.S. unconstitutional, if it is mandatory, if it is imposed without providing courts with adequate guidance to make the right decision in the severity of the sentence, or if it is imposed for a crime that does not take or threaten the life of another human being. The death penalty was also confined to crimes of murder, including felony murder. A felony murder is any homicide committed in the course of committing another felony, such as rape or robbery. After the 1972 court ruling that all but a few capital statutes were unconstitutional, thirty-seven states revised and reenacted their death penalty laws. In 1989 the Supreme Court decided that the death penalty could be used on those who were mentally retarded or underage (but 16 years and over) at the time of the killing. A trend that the Supreme Court is following is making a cut back on the appeals that death row inmates could make to the federal courts. I feel strongly toward using the death penalty as punishment for unspeakable crimes. I feel that it is a deterrent for criminal activity because of its severity and it will never allow a murderer to kill again and destroy another family. The death penalty is not a problem if all avenues have been investigated and nothing is questionable. I do, however, feel that restrictions should be put on its uses. Not all crimes deserve the death penalty. Let the punishment fit the crime. If a criminal performs a premeditated heinous murder he should be put to death. It is that simple. If the convicted offender shows no remorse for his actions, then the decision should be even easier. Repeat offenders and people who enjoy killing do not deserve to walk our street. I feel that it is important to send a message to all future “thrill-killers” that taking the life of another human is wrong and if they decide to try it, they must face the consequences-Death. Abolitionists have long argued that deterrence is little more than an assumption, that most murders cannot be rationally deterred by any penalty, including death. They are crimes of passion, committed in moments of intense rage, frustration, hatred, or fear, when the killers aren’t thinking clearly of the personal consequences of what they do. I respect their beliefs, but I still believe in its deterrence value. I believe the serial murderers that continuously kill should be put to death so that no more lives will be lost. Most retentionists (people for capital punishment) argue that none of this statistical evidence proves that capital punishment does not deter potential criminals. There is absolutely no way to prove, with any certainty, how many would-be murderers were in fact deterred from killing. They point out that the murder rate in any given state depends on many things besides whether or not that state has capital punishment. They cite such factors as the proportion of urban residents in the state, the level of economic prosperity, and the social and racial makeup of the population. But a small minority is ready to believe in these statistics and to abandon the deterrence argument. But they defend the death penalty based on other arguments, relying primarily on the need to protect society from killers who are considered high risks for killing again. Incapacitation is another controversial aspect of the death penalty. Abolitionists say condemning a person to death removes any possibility of rehabilitation. They are confident in the life-sentence presenting the possibility of rehabilitating the convict. But rehabilitation is a myth. The state does not know how to rehabilitate people because there are plenty of convicted murderers who kill again. The life-sentence is also a myth because of overcrowding in the prisons. Early parole has released convicted murderers and they still continue to murder. Some escape and murder again, while others have murdered someone in prison. There are countless stories in prisons where a violent inmate kills another for his piece of chicken. Incapacitation is not solely meant as deterrence but is meant to maximize public safety by removing any possibility of a convicted murderer to murder again. The issue of execution of an innocent person is troubling to both abolitionists and retentionists alike. Some people are frightened of this possibility enough to be convinced that capital punishment should be abolished. This is not true at all. The execution of innocent people is very rare because there are many safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. There is legal assistance provided and an automatic appeal for persons convicted of capital crimes. Persons under the age of eighteen, pregnant women, new mothers or persons who have become insane can not be sentenced to death. Retentionists argue almost all human activities, ranging from trucking to construction, costs the lives of some innocent bystanders. These activities can not be simply abandoned, because the advantages outweigh the losses. Capital punishment saves lives as well as takes them. We must accept the few risks of wrongful deaths for the sake of defending public safety. One reason why the death penalty is so controversial is because many feel its cruel ways of punishment are unnecessary, even if the crime is murder, whether it be premeditated or unintentional. They believe there are other ways of condemnation besides execution. In the case of an unintentional death, feelings are that the perpetrators should have the right to live, but have to face each day with the fact that they killed someone weighing on their conscience. On the other hand, such as with a voluntary murder, the ideas are somewhat similar. They believe the murderer doesn’t deserve the death penalty. Chances are if a person is insane enough to kill another human being in the first place, they aren’t going to care what happens to them. They realize that their execution, in most cases, is going to be short and painless. This isn’t a just punishment for someone who has inflicted severe pain upon another life. Our court system, after initiating a life sentence without parole, should not offer these killers the comforts they have in jail. They should be treated more or less like animals. In short, let the ones who institute a crime unwillingly live, but do not let the punishment be as severe as it would for a voluntary criminal. I am all for Capital Punishment. I think that if you kill someone you should be given the death penalty. I think that the death of the killer would give family and friends a bit of ease over the death. Also the death should not be prolonged and should be done immediately. By giving the death penalty to some one it is fair and very just to me. If you kill someone, you deserve to die and not stay in jail.. If a man kills a man and is convicted he should be ready to die next. When you give a killer the death penalty it would reassure the people close to the victim it would not happen again. Also, it gives them the feeling that the death has been avenged. A family will feel less pain if the killer dies like he should. The death penalty should be given the day after conviction. When a killer stays in prison he takes up space in already over crowed prisons. Most people would want this so murderers can live in prison off of other peoples’ hard earned money. My position for the death penalty is clear that I think it is a good idea. If you kill someone you should prepare to die the next day. Now that you have read this, what is your opinion? Bibliography Works Cited Alexander, C.C. “Death Penalty Is Wrong For Revenge or Any Reason.” Capital Times 28 Mar. 1996, http://www.elibrary.com. Bradshaw, James. “Death Row Inmate Wants It Over With.” The Columbus Dispatch 2 Feb. 2000, Sec A: p. 1. “The Executionee’s Song.” Time 8 January 1997: 69. “Getting Blood on our Hands.” Capital Times 14 Aug. 1995, http://www.elibrary.com. Phillips, Andrew. “Column: The Long Needle of Justice.” Maclean’s 28 Feb. 2000: 43 +, http://www.elibrary.com. Rosenkrans, Brian. “Killers Deserve the Death Penalty.” Daily Mississippian 20 Aug. 1999, http://www.elibrary.com. Monk, Richard C. Ed. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Crime and Criminology. Hartford, Connecticut: The Dushkin Publishing Group, 1993. Murchinson, William. “Why We Don’t Abolish the Death Penalty.” The Dallas Morning News 10 February 1999, http://www.elibrary.com. Williams, Mary E., et al., Eds. Capital Punishment California: Greehaven Press, 2000. Witkin, Gordon. “The Place for Vengeance.” US News and World Report 16 Jn. 1997: 25-32. Word Count: 2695
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