Capunish(A) Essay, Research Paper
CAPITAL PUNISHMENTCapital Punishment deters murder, and is just Retribution Capital punishment, is the execution of criminals by the state, for committingcrimes, regarded so heinous, that this is the only acceptable punishment. Capitalpunishment does not only lower the murder rate, but it’s value as retribution alone isa good reason for handing out death sentences. Support for the death penalty in theU.S. has risen to an average of 80% according to an article written by Richard Worsnop,entitled “Death penalty debate centres on Retribution”, this figure is slightly lower inCanada where support for the death penalty is at 72% of the population over 18 yearsof age, as stated in article by Kirk Makir, in the March 26, 1987 edition of the Globe andMail, titled “B.C. MPs split on Death Penalty”. The death penalty deters murder by putting the fear of death into would bekillers. A person is less likely to do something, if he or she thinks that harm will cometo him. Another way the death penalty deters murder, is the fact that if the killer isdead, he will not be able to kill again. Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should be punished fortheir crimes, and that it does not matter whether it will deter the crime rate. Supportersof the death penalty are in favour of making examples out of offenders, and that thethreat of death will be enough to deter the crime rate, but the crime rate is irrelevant. According to Isaac Ehrlich’s study, published on April 16, 1976, eight murders aredeterred for each execution that is carried out in the U.S.A. He goes on to say, “If oneexecution of a guilty capital murderer deters the murder of one innocent life, theexecution is justified.” To most supporters of the death penalty, like Ehrlich, if even 1life is saved, for countless executions of the guilty, it is a good reason for the deathpenalty. The theory that society engages in murder when executing the guilty, isconsidered invalid by most supporters, including Ehrlich. He feels that execution ofconvicted 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 penaltyadvocates. We will use the U.S. as examples, since we can not look at the inmates ondeath row in Canada, because their are laws in Canada that state that crime statistics cannot 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 12of 1000 blacks arrested for murder were sentenced to death. 1.1% of black inmates ondeath 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 thedeath penalty is based on the colour 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 beenblack”. This is true, if you look at the actual number of people who are murder. Morepeople kill whites and get the death penalty, then people who kill blacks and get thedeath penalty. The reason for this is that more whites are killed, and the murderscaptured. Now if we look at the number of blacks killed it is a lot less, but you haveto look at these numbers proportionately. Percent wise it is almost the same number forany race, so this is not the issue. In a 1986 study done by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the University of NorthCarolina, the conclusions made by Ehrilich were updated, and showed to be a little onthe low side as far as the deterrence factor of capital punishment. Professor Laysonfound that 18 murders were deterred by each execution is the U.S. He also found that
executions increases in probability of arrest, conviction, and other executions of heinousoffenders. According to a statement issued by George C. Smith, Director of Litigation,Washington Legal Foundation, titled “In Support of the Death Penalty”, support for thedeath penalty has grown in the U.S., as the crime rate increased. In 1966, 42% ofAmericans were in favour of capital punishment while 47% were opposed to it. Sincethe crime rate United states has increased, support for the capital punishment hasfollowed 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 leaningtoward 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 wereArthur Lucas and Ron Turpin. They were executed on December 11, 1962. Theexecutions in Canada were carried out by hanging. 1 The death penalty was abolished in Canada in the latter part of 1976, after adebate that lasted 98 hours. The death penalty was only beaten by 6 votes. If we lookback to 1976, the year the death penalty was abolished in Canada, threats of death, werebeing made to Members of Parliament and their immediate families from pro deathpenalty advocates. Most members of parliament, voted on their own personal feelings,as opposed to the views of their voters.2 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 weresplit, 17 out of 29 were for the death penalty. This showed, that even the majority of theM.P.s were in favour of the death penalty in B.C. Support for the death penalty inBritish Columbia at the time was almost 70%, but the M.P.s felt that it was up to themto vote how they felt was right, and not to vote on which vote would give them the bestchance for a second term.3 In 1987, the Progressive Conservative government wanted to hold a free vote onthe reinstatement of Capital punishment, but Justice minister Ray Hnatyshyn, who wasopposed to it, pressured the M.P.s, into voted against the bill. Ray Hnatyshyn, was thedeciding factor, if not for him, it was widely believed that the reinstatement of capitalpunishment would have gone through, and the death penalty would be a reality today.4 Capital punishment is such a volatile issue, and both sides are so deeply rootedin their views that they are willing to do almost anything to sway all of the people theycan to their side. We personally feel, and our views are backed up by proof, in the form of studiesby the likes of Isaac Ehrlich’s 1975 and Prof. Stephen K. Layson’s, that was published in1986, and polls that have been taken both in Canada and the United States over the pastfew years. All of these studies and surveys show that capital punishment is a validdeterrent to crime, and obviously the public, and society as a whole are in favour of it.The death penalty makes would be capital offenders think about weather committing acrime is really worth their lives. Even if capital punishment did not deter crime, thesimple fact that it will allow society to “get even” with murders. Capital punishmentalso insures peace of mind because it insures that murders will never kill again. 1 From: Take Notice, (Copp Clarke Pitman Ltd., 1979) page 1632 From: Article written by David Vienneau published in the March 24, 1987 edition ofthe “Toronto Star”, titled, Debate Agonizing for MPs. 3 From: Article written by Kirk Makir, published in March 26, 1987 edition of the “Globeand Mail”, titled, BC MPs Split on Death Penalty Debate. 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.