Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper
Many people will argue that capital punishment is inappropriate as a proper means of punishment for murder and rape. The truth is the death penalty is the most effective form of retributive justice for those crimes. The death penalty is a fitting punishment for violent crime because executions maximize public safety through a form of incapacitation and deterrence.
The death penalty has been around since the days of Moses and it is still around today. The reason for this is simply because it works. The Jews believe that the death penalty was God-given and therefore a necessary part of their religious and judicial system. The Jews use the death penalty to punish such grotesque offenses as bestiality and incest to somewhat minute charges of striking, cursing, or mere disobedience to one’s parents. The methods the Jewish people use to inflict capital punishment are as varied as the crimes for which it is used: Stoning, burning, hanging, beheading, and several more less popular methods.
If we look at the Roman Empire we see that crucifixion was a popular mode of execution because, not only did it get rid of the problem, it also punished the criminal with a great deal of torture. Crucifixion is probably the most cruel way to execute someone and therefore one of the most effective ways to deter crime. Crucifixion involved hanging a person to a device called a cross. The person first had to carry his cross through his hometown and to the place of his death. This further helped to deter crime since few people want their family and friends to witness such a humiliating experience. The criminal was then tied or nailed to the cross with his knees bent. The cross was then lifted up and set into a hole in the ground. This force would dislocate every joint in the body of the criminal. While the criminal hanged there, he could push himself up on a foot pedestal so that he could breathe. Eventually the man grew tired, suffocated, and died.
The French government wanted a much quicker, cleaner, and simpler way to carry out the death penalty. A doctor by the name of Joseph Guillotin suggested the use of the guillotine in 1792 and, hence, it bares his name.
The death penalty has almost always been a part of the American judicial system. Although the methods of inflicting the death penalty have changed since America began, the need for punishing lawbreakers has not. While the firing squad and hanging were used before the turn of the century, more modern executions are now common. These modern methods include the gas chamber, the electric chair, and the lethal injection. The lethal injection is the most widely used form of execution in the United States.
Political leaders know the advantages of capital punishment are far reaching, not only for the citizens themselves but for their moral values as well. The death penalty has been around for a long time and it will continue to be around because it is the single greatest crime deterrent.
All major world powers have used the death penalty as a means of controlling crime. Israel conquered all the kingdoms of their region to become the most powerful nation in the world around the time of Moses and up to a few hundred years before Christ. Their law plainly states in Exodus 21:23, “And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.” The Jews followed that law flawlessly because they knew that if they let lawlessness go on then their government would soon fail.
Hammurabi was an Ammorite ruler who conquered Mesopotamia and set up the Babylonian Empire. He is most famous for his code of laws, called the Code of Hammurabi. They were carved on to an eight-foot-high slab of black stone that was set in the middle of his capital city. Most were harsh, particularly the rule an eye for an eye and a life for a life. It simply meant that whatever a person did to some one else that person would receive the same treatment.
The most powerful nation for the last 150 years is inarguably the United States of America. The United States has always used the death penalty. The only exception is the years between 1967 and 1977 when Supreme Court decision Furman v. Georgia declared capital punishment unconstitutional. This was a time when the people of the United States were in a “peace” movement. Actually, they were so blinded by the use of drugs that they were left incompetent and unable to distinguish right from wrong. Finally, in 1975, when all the drug use and “peace” movement slowed down and people came to their senses, the Supreme Court overruled the Furman v. Georgia hearing of 1967. This controversial 1975 case, Gregg v. Georgia, stated that capital punishment did not violate the Constitution of the United States of America. As of now, 37 states use capital punishment to help prevent crime and, at one time or another, every mainland state has had the death penalty in effect. The United States or any of these state governments show no sign of falling apart. It could be that the death penalty helps to stabilize their justice system, economy, and the morale of its people.
Furthermore, even the United States military enforces the death penalty. It is the best military in the world. It has beaten the British navy, the German army, the Russian army, and the Japanese marines, just to name the most prominent opposition. The United States military eliminates bad soldiers as a way of strengthening the entire military. A government that does not take care of its people soon loses its people.
Despite the facts, many people still feel that capital punishment is wrong for various reasons. One of those reasons is that someone will be wrongfully executed. Here are several safeguards to protect the rights of criminals facing the death penalty:
1. Capital punishment may be imposed only for a crime for which the death penalty is prescribed by law at the time of its commission.
2. Persons below 18 years of age, pregnant women, new mothers or persons who have become insane shall not be sentenced to death.
3. Capital punishment may be imposed only when guilt is determined by clear and convincing evidence, leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts.
4. Capital punishment may be carried out only after a competent court allowing all possible safeguards to the defendant, including adequate legal assistance renders a final judgment.
5. Anyone sentenced to death shall receive the right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.
6. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of sentenced.
7. Capital punishment shall not be carried out pending any appeal recourse procedure or proceeding relating to pardon or commutation of the sentenced.
8. Also capital punishment shall be carried out so as to inflict the minimum possible suffering. (Laijas 2)
People say that the death penalty does not belong in a civilized society. I could not agree more. The trouble with that is our society is not civilized. If it were, then there would be no murder and rape and no need for capital punishment.
Some people say that the death penalty does not really deter crime. This can not be proven. It is impossible to know what person is deterred from criminal activities. Some people are so crazy that nothing can discourage them from committing a crime.
Protesters of capital punishment say that since it is illegal for regular citizens to commit murder then the state government should not be allowed to put someone to death. They even go so far as to give it a name: “Judicial homicide.” (Cox 2) The people, of the people, and for the people elect the state government. It clearly has more rights than its citizens because the state government has to make decisions that effect an entire people. Besides, if the citizens truly wanted a change, they could petition or vote the lawmakers out of office.
Some people think that when the death penalty is involved in a trial that the verdict is automatically going to be guilty just because people are bloodthirsty and looking for a slaughter. This is a blatant lie. All trials in the United States of America are carried out via due process of the law, guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment.
Most importantly, the Supreme Court declared capital punishment did not violate the Eighth Amendment. This means that the people that were elected by the citizens of the United States to interpret the law have found no reason to say that the death penalty should not be used. Supreme Court Justices have devoted their lives to studying the law and the effects of law on history, government, nations, and people and they are the ones who can best decide if a certain law is acceptable to the people it governs.
There are some irrational and radical people that believe that everyone should have their rights no matter what they do. Some acts of violence are so cruel and inhuman that the individual who committed those crimes should have all of his rights denied. Not to mistreat him, but to show him and others like him that crime will not be tolerated. Someone who kills our parents, our children, and our siblings should have no right whatsoever to live in luxury and comfort in these air-conditioned resorts called federal penitentiaries for free. Our tax dollars should be used to solve and end problems, not sustain them.
The banning of the death penalty is absurd. If the death penalty is removed, the justice system will be ineffective. Homeless people and people who live in poverty will commit crimes just to get an extended stay in a nice home, with plenty of socializing and good times. Let us face it, if we had the choice of living in and out of garbage bins or living in a clean, healthy, free environment, which would we choose? To eliminate the death penalty would be to say it is okay to mooch off of good, taxpaying citizens.
There are several benefits of the death penalty. Capital punishment affects a lot of people, both directly and indirectly. Here are just a few illustrations as to why the death penalty should be imposed.
Society will feel that the justice system is working properly. When people see crime being punished, they sense that all things are not as bad as they seem. If people see criminals getting what they deserve, then those people will think that they are doing something right by living and interacting with their government.
The most basic principle involving the disciplining of crime is that the punishment must fit the crime. If someone is a murderer, there is nothing else to do but to end that person?s life as well. No amount of jail time, fines, and rehabilitation can compensate for his crime. As for a rapist, how can you repay a rapist? Isolation from the outside world in no wise cancels his debt to society and the people he violated. The only way to resolve his guilt is death.
One of the most important factors of the death penalty is its deterrent value. Potential criminals are more likely to think about the total consequences of their actions if they know their own lives are at stake. No one in their right mind will risk a one time thrill or moment of revenge when they know beyond the shadow of a doubt they will die for it.
Families of those who are murdered are often hurt the worst. They obviously have a deep emotional burden to carry, but on top of that, they are often worried and bother by the extra financial and physical load that results. If a murderer goes to jail he will be living off of his victims’ family’s tax money. This is a great disrespect to that family. What is more, a lot of murderers are out walking free. How can a menace to society be allowed back on the streets to haunt more good, moral citizens? I will tell you how: It is the likes of radicals who have gone completely out of their mind to try to be liked by everyone. When everyone has been murdered there is no one to be liked by.
One of the less popular reasons that capital punishment is better than jail time is the fact that executions are far less expensive. Food, shelter, clothing, recreation, and the numerous appeals of the incriminated cost only the taxpayers. By treating criminals like this, we are encouraging crime rather than impeding it.
One of the major problems of prisons today is that they are overcrowded. Execute those most vile criminals and there will be plenty of room left over for the minor felons. It is estimated that there are 5,000 offenders on death row each year that could and should be put to death. That translates into 100,000 crime deterring executions in the next 20 years. The fact is there have never been more than 200 executions in one year since 1933. No wonder we have a problem with too many criminals in our prisons: One reason is that death row inmates take up a good bit of the room, and another is that the deterrent value is not as great as it can be.
In conclusion, there is no better way to deter and punish violent crime than the death penalty. It has been effective down through time, since the earliest civilizations. It will continue to be effective if we exercise it in a manner that is similar to our predecessors. That is, not trying to work around it but to employ it as often as needed and in a way that affects as many people as possible.