The Death Penalty Capital Punishment Essay Research

The Death Penalty Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper

The Death Penalty; Capital Punishment

First Letter

The most controversial punishment given in the United States today is the death penalty, capital punishment. It’s always interesting to read about the death penalty, but when I really think about it, that seems like an unjust thing to do. I feel that the death penalty does not deter people from committing capital crimes. Using the death penalty as a source of punishment can result in innocent people being executed. Let me explain why I feel very uneasy about the death penalty as means of punishment.

The fundamental question that is raised by the death penalty is whether or not it is an effective deterrent to violent crime or whether it is more effective than the alternative of long-term imprisonment. With the execution rate still on the rise, many people are still committing capital crimes. The average murder rate of the United States has increased by more than 5% within the past fifteen years (Sandholzer). For every person being executed, there is at least one other person committing another capital crime. This is why I believe that the death penalty is not a fear tactic for criminals. The death penalty is in effect in 39 of the 50 states and the murder rate is still on the rise. Don’t you think there is something wrong with this picture? The death penalty is not serving its purpose. . There are too many people out in society today that have been imprisoned for a capital crime, but some how they find their way out. Currently 500+ inmates held at San Quentin State Prison are on death row (Sandholzer). Also limitations have began to be placed on the number and the type of offenses for which criminals were put to death (Britanica). So when and where will the limitations stop? How will we know that the person being executed, is being rightfully executed?

The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy states that those who argue against the death penalty as a deterrent to crime cite the following: Adjacent states, in which one has a death penalty and the other does not, show no significant long-term differences in the murder rate. For example, Iowa does not have the death penalty in their state, and their neighboring state, Illinois, does. The murder rate in Illinois is 4 times as large than the murder rate in Iowa (State-by-State Review). States that use the death penalty seem to have a higher murder rate than those who do not use it. This just goes to show that the death penalty is not effective in deterring murders. No change in the rate of homicides in a given city or state seems to occur following a local execution.

One of the greatest downfalls to the death penalty is the wrongful execution of innocent people. Families suffer the loss of a loved one just because of a wrongful law, the death penalty. But once a wrongful execution has been discovered there is no bringing back to life miracles. Hundreds of lawsuits are filed every year by the family members of the wrongly executed. How would you feel if one of your family members were executed with out just cause? Researchers Radelet and Bedau found 23 cases of innocent people that were executed (”In Spite of Innocence”). These 23 cases are only some of many others that possibly have the same out come. There is no way that every single case will receive as much attention as these 23. It took an average of approximately six and a half years to determine the innocense of these wrongfully executed inmates. Crucifixion, boiling in oil, drawing and quartering, impalement, beheading, burning alive, crushing, tearing asunder, stoning, and drowning are just a few examples of the torturous acts that were used, and may still be used through

out the world today. These cruel means of punishment are no way for a human to die, and even worse if he/she is innocent.

I never really thought about the death penalty before, but now that I have thought it over the death penalty does not deter potential murders. It will only cause more chaos in our society as innocent people are being executed. Our society is just contradicting itself by killing a criminal that has been tried for a crime he/she committed but we ourselves are going to commit yet another crime by killing them. Thus I believe the death penalty is a non-effective punishment.

Second Letter

The most controversial punishment given in the United States today is the death penalty; capital punishment. It’s always interesting to read about the death penalty but when I really think about it, that seems like the right thing to do. I feel that the death penalty does deter people from committing capital crimes. Using the death penalty as a source of punishment can result in criminal thinking twice before they commit a crime.

Let me explain why I feel very confident that the death penalty is a good method of punishment.

The number one fear in our society is death. This is why I believe criminals are very discouraged now from committing capital crimes and that the death penalty is an

effective deterrent. The earliest historical records contain evidence of capital

punishment. It was mentioned in the Code of Hammurabi(1750 B.C.) The Bible prescribed death as the penalty for more than 30 different crimes, ranging from murder(Exodus 21:15) to fornication(Deuteronomy 22:13). The Draconian Code of ancient Greece imposed capital punishment for every offense (Encarta). This shows how effective the death penalty can be. Records prove that this method of punishment has been used for centuries. I strongly agree with the Bible, and I am a firm believer that any man who sheds another man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed too (Genesis 9:6).

Defenders of the death penalty insist that because taking an offender’s life is a more severe punishment that any prison term, it must be the better deterrent. Public opinion, which in the U.S. currently supports the death penalty for murder by a more than two-to- one margin, rests largely on this conviction. The state, South Dakota, with the second least murder rate has enforced the death penalty since the late seventies (State-by-State Review). Supporters also argue that no adequate deterrent in life imprisonment is effective for those already serving a life term who commit murder while incarcerated. People who have not yet been caught but who would be liable to a life term if arrested

should get the death penalty instead. Prisoners are escaping from highly secured facilities

on a daily basis. On average, 50% of these escapees are murders that are no where to be found (Capital Punishment). Maybe your neighbor is an ex-convict but you don’t even know it. How could we feel safe in our societies when the thought of loose criminals rooming our streets, is on our minds?

Many people believe that the death penalty has always pointed to the risk of executing the innocent, although definitely established cases of this sort are rare. In finding information of people that have been killed wrongly because of the death penalty is almost impossible. There is no written material that indicates the number or percentage

of wrongly executed criminals. That is probably why I couldn’t find any information on this matter.

The proof is in the facts. As seen, the death penalty is an effective deterrent for criminals that think about committing crimes. This allows our future society to live in a more justified community with the criminals being sentenced to death, not allowing them to rejoin society and become repeated offenders. After reviewing the facts one can now see how effective the death penalty deters criminals.

Works Cited Bedau, Hugo Adam. “Capital Punishmnet.” New Republic 17 Oct. 1994

“Capital Punishment,” Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. 1993

“Capital Punishment,” Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. 1994

“Death Penalty,” Encyclopedia Britannica. 1990

“In Spite of Innocence,” North University Press. 1992

Sandholzer, Kuno. “Executions.” New York Review of Books 7 Aug. 1998

“State-by-State Review,” New York Times. 26 Nov. 1996


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