Capital Punishment 7 Essay, Research Paper
Many people think that if someone takes ones life then their own life should be taken, others say that people make mistakes, one more serious than another, and God has taught us to forgive? In principle a case can be made on moral grounds supporting capital punishment. Compelling arguments against capital punishment can be made on the basis of its actual administration in our society. Two different cases, one is based on justice and the nature of moral community, which leads to a defense of capital punishment. The second is based on love and the nature of an ideal spiritual community, which leads to a rejection of capital punishment! These are the two point of views on the death penalty. We will respectively see the arguments supporting the death penalty, then the arguments against it, and finally the methods of execution used.
A central principle of a just society is that every person has an equal right to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” Therefore, some acts are so vile and so destructive of community that they invalidate the right of the perpetrator to membership and even to life. A community founded on moral principles has certain requirements. The right to belong to a community is conditional. The privilege of living and pursuing the good life in society is absolute. It may be negated by behaviour that undermines the nature of a moral community. The essential basis on which community is built, requires each citizen to honour the rightful claims of others. The utter and deliberate denial of life and opportunity to others forfeits ones own claim to continued membership in the community, whose standards have been so flagrantly violated. The preservation of moral community demands that the shattering of the foundation of its existence must be taken with utmost seriousness. The preciousness of life in a moral community must be so highly honoured that those who do not honour the life of others make null and void their own right to membership. Those who violate the personhood of others, especially if this is done persistently as a habit must pay the ultimate penalty. This punishment must be inflicted for the sake of maintaining the community whose foundation has been violated.
Furthermore, the argument saying that we should imprison them with the sentence of life without parole is a non-starter because putting a murderer away for life isn’t good enough. Laws change, so do parole boards, and people forget the past. Those are things that cause life imprisonment to weather away. As long as the murderer lives, there is always a chance, no matter how small, that he will strike again. And there are people who run the criminal justice system who are naive enough to allow him to repeat his crime. Also, we must take into consideration the families of the victims. For example, Tina Puciloi for whom, justice was finally done when prison doctors injected a lethal mixture of drugs into the veins of William Bonin. Standing outside the San Quentin prison gates, she cried when she heard the word that Bonin was dead. Regret and a terrible sadness washed through her at the news. But most of all, she felt her brother’s and up to 20 other young males’ deaths were avenged. Justice, she said, was served!
On the other hand we have those who are against the Capital Punishment. The most compelling arguments against the death penalty can be made on the basis of it’s actual administration in our society. First and foremost, the possibility of error. Sometimes a person might be put to death who is innocent. Of course, the bias of the jury is irrelevant unless and until a mistake is made. But those mistakes are made; and sometimes we don’t find out until it’s too late. In the past, there have been more than a dozen individuals who, it was later discovered, had not committed the crime for which they were convicted. If that is not injustice then what is? Furthermore, the death penalty fails to meet the goals of the criminal justice system. For obvious reasons, it fails to rehabilitate the criminal. Also, capital punishment doesn’t really provide a better protection for society. Someone who spends his life in prison is no more of a danger to society than the individual that is given the lethal injection. In addition, the vast majority of social science research indicates that the death penalty has no deterrent value. While one would think that fear of execution would prevent one from committing a capital crime, most murders are the heat-of-the-moment affairs during which rational thinking is not top priority. Most people who plan a murder also plan to get away with it, rationalizing away any concern for punishment. The only thing death penalty accomplishes is death. There is no justice or redemption for the criminal. There is no restitution for the friends and family of the victim. There is only a dead body. That is what the criminal justice system seeks to avoid in the first place.
The conclusion of the matter is that the present practice of capital punishment is a moral disgrace. The irony is that the very societies that have the least right to inflict it are precisely the one most likely to do so. The compounding irony is that the economic malfunctions and cultural diseases in those same societies contribute to the violence that makes it necessary to unleash even more repression and brutality against its unruly citizens to preserve order and stave off chaos. To the degree that society provides opportunities for all citizens to achieve a good life in a sensible culture, it is reasonable to believe that the demand for capital punishment will be reduced or eliminated. The fact that the prisons are so full is the most eloquent testimony imaginable of the dismal failure to create a good society. Massive incarceration indicates bankruptcy of social wisdom and social will. It points to the shallowness of the dedication to solving the basic problems of poverty, moral decay, and social discord. Meanwhile, leaders divert our attention with the alluring fantasy that the capital punishment will make our citizens more secure against violent crimes. The fact is, the death penalty is wrong! You don’t kill people to demonstrate that killing is wrong; otherwise, the government would rape rapist and burn down rsonists’ homes.
Should the death penalty be carried out, there are 5 different methods used. First of all there is electrocution, which produces visibly destructive effects as the body’s internal organs are burned; the prisoner often leaps forward against the restraining straps when the switch is thrown. The body changes colour, the flesh swells and may even catch fire. The prisoner may defecate, urinate or vomit blood. The second method is lethal injection, which involves the continuous injection of a lethal quantity of a short-acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic agent. Thirdly there is the gas chamber, where the prisoner is restrained in a hermitically sealed steel chamber below which is a pan. Upon a signal, the executioner opens a valve, flowing hydrochloric acid into the pan. On a second signal, about 8 ounces of potassium cyanide crystals or tablets are dropped mechanically into the acid, producing hydrocyanic gas, which destroys the ability of blood haemoglobin to perform. Unconsciousness occurs within a few seconds if the prisoner takes a deep breath, and longer if he or she holds their breath. Also, there is the method of hanging someone; the prisoner is weighed prior to execution. The “drop” is based on the prisoners weight to deliver 1260 foot-pounds of force to the neck. Finally there is the firing-squad method, which involves a five man team, one of who will use a blank bullet so that none of them knows who was the real executioner!
On a final note, after reading both sides of capital punishment, you may form your own opinion, if you are on the pro side, then you probably think that a person that kills someone else, does not deserve to live either, and if you are against capital punishment, then you probably, think that two wrongs does not make a right and that committing the same crime as the criminal is even worse. Personally I am undecided because, I think killing is wrong but on the other hand if someone killed one of my family members, I would want them dead too! But one thing is for sure nobody deserves to die, and instead of concentration on the way to kill people, we should try to prevent the crime itself, and the way we do that is by teaching our children to respect and love others.