BELIEFS ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT Essay, Research Paper
The demands of our criminal justice system today, force society to practice the use of capital punishment. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court declared the death penalty ?cruel and unusual punishment,? but this decision was reversed in 1978. The citizens of the United States have the right to enforce or ban the law of capital punishment on a state level. Since then, the punishments or scheduled punishments have increased at a steady rate. Religious beliefs among the people can influence and determine the righteousness of this act of punishment. Different forms of religions will hold their own positions on this issue. Therefore, people may have to decide if this form of punishment is humane or inhumane based on their religious beliefs. The Catholic church has stated their position on the use of capital punishment. The Catholic church believes that all human life is sacred and that we as Catholics are obligated to protect all forms of human life. Therefore the use or practice of the death penalty is opposed by Catholics. The Catholic church believes that life is a gift from God. God is our creator and only he has the right to give or take away a life. Man should not have the power to take another man?s life in any situation. The Catholic church does not believe that capital punishment is the solution to or cure for a violent crime or murder. Capital punishment fails to create a society free from crime because of the fact that we are committing a murder upon the perpetrator. The death penalty punishment does not teach or set a good example to our society. The death penalty is enforced to teach that every life should be valued and respected. Consequently, it is not right to teach society that killing is wrong by killing. The Catholic church suggests that instead of the death penalty, a life sentence without parole should be given to the accused.
The Catholic church argues that the death penalty is a form of revenge. People feel the need, or have the desire to take revenge upon the violator. As stated in the Catholic Bishops? Statement on Capital Punishment, ?people legitimately desire justice; however, justice can not be achieved through vengeance.? The familiar proverb, ?an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? (Lev. 24:20), is not intended to promote revenge, but is to be interpreted as a guideline for society. Revenge creates more violence in our society and is not justifiable when one kills the accused as a punishment. The Old Testament of the Bible lists several instances in which the death penalty was once used and accepted in the times of ancient Israel. The Old Testament states that the death penalty was often used in punishment for several crimes. In the instance of murder, Genesis 9:6 states, ?Whoso sheddeth man?s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.? The death penalty was used for those who committed adultery and in the instances a sexual activity before marriage. Crimes such as kidnapping, careless handling of an animal, desecrating the Sabbath, perjury, and for cursing or abusing your parents were considered capital punishment crimes. When a person committed a crime such as these, they would appear before a court for their chance of to defend themselves and then sentenced accordingly. The death penalty would then consist of stoning the accused or burning them alive. Obviously, as times change, certain acts of punishment are left behind, yet new forms are accepted containing the same intentions. The New Testament of the Bible does not clearly cite it?s belief on the issue of capital punishment. ?He that is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her,? was stated in John 8:3-8:11 in an attempt to provide Jesus? position on the issue of capital punishment. This quote can not be completely enforced because it was not a part of the early gospels of John. In Romans 13:1-5, Paul writes, ?The authorities that exist have been established by God. For he is God?s servant to do you good?? and ??to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.? Again, the impression here may promote Catholics to believe that the Bible is for capital punishment, yet at the same time one can still argue that nowhere does the New Testament actually state that authorities should be authorized to sentence another to death. The Islamic views on capital punishment differ from those of the Catholic church. The Islamic religion holds a strong position against capital punishment. Their belief is stated in their sacred writing, the Quran. In the Islam religion, the Quran not only states the beliefs, but the solutions to committed crimes too. In the Islamic tradition, criminals will not be sentenced to jail for committing a crime. If a thief is convicted for stealing from another person, their punishment will be to work for that person until they can return the amount they stole. Islamic belief states that the family of the thief will also suffer if the convicted is sent to jail. The Islamic religion believes that a sentence into prison is ?cruel and unusual punishment.? By not sending the accused to prison, money is saved on the prison system.An often misunderstanding of the Islamic belief is that a thief?s hand will be cut off as his form of punishment. This is not a true statement about Islamic belief. Rather than cutting off the hand, numbers are marked on the thief?s hand so he will be recognized as a thief. In Islam, the victim decides what the punishment will be for the offender. Capital punishment is not practiced in the Islamic religion. Islamic belief states that killing the murderer will not bring back the victim and the victim?s family will not benefit if the perpetrator is executed.In order gain a greater understanding of capital punishment, I interviewed my mom and my dad because they each hold different positions on the matter. My dad feels capital punishment should be legal, while my mom thinks that it should not. Although I agree with my mom, I respect both of their views because they both have good reason to their positions. My dad believes that the punishment of the death penalty should remain legal. He feels that it prevents more serious crimes from taking place. He also brought up the point that for some people life in prison is better lifestyle than what they might already be living. He concluded with the fact that it is also a waste of taxpayer?s money to life-sentence those criminals who should receive the death penalty. My mom on the other hand, believes two wrongs don?t make a right. She feels that we are not helping society when we use killing to punish someone who killed someone else. My mom thinks that it is the perpetrator?s family who will suffer more in the long run, than the actual accused. My mom feels that no one except God should have the right to take away another person?s life. She believes that when a person commits a serious violent crime, rather than sentencing them to death, they should be sentenced to life in jail without any possible chance of parole.In my opinion, I believe that the death penalty punishment should be abolished. Whether a person is good or bad, their life is still a gift from God, and no person has the right to take that gift away. God is the only one who can judge people, and it is wrong to put the price of someone else?s life in another person?s hands. The law of the government and the law through God states that killing is wrong and illegal. This should be respected in all cases including that of a murderer himself. How are we teaching society a lesson if we kill someone for killing someone else? Another issue one must look at is the fact that not everyone has a fair chance to defend themselves against the death penalty. For instance, let?s say that a poor person commits the same crime as a rich person has and are both faced with the death penalty punishment. The rich person has a likelier chance of receiving a lighter sentence because he can provide for himself a more suitable lawyer than that of the poor man. With the representation of an averaged or below averaged lawyer, the poor person will probably receive the death penalty. This is discriminatory towards the poor and is unjustifiable. Some people may argue that sentencing those who commit violent crimes to prison cost more than execution. So far in 1998, fifty-eight people have been executed in the United States. Placing an extra fifty-eight people in jail is not going to cause our economy to go broke. By enforcing the death penalty among the accused, we are really causing more pain for innocent people. When one is sentenced to death, their families will be the ones who are left to suffer. Their families will have to go through the same grieving as the victim?s family. How is this fair? The accused family did not commit a crime, yet they will be the ones feeling the punishment. The death penalty is an easy way out for those who are convicted. I think that there is more suffering behind a lifetime imprisonment without the chance of parole than the death penalty. The death penalty is a quick method of escape and little suffering is involved except for the arrival of your execution day. The entire process of capital punishment is ?cruel and unusual punishment.? Once the accused is sentenced to death, they are not executed right away. Sometimes they are forced to wait for years to be executed. Regardless of their criminal act, it is inhumane to purposely make a person wait for their execution. Some people will argue that a every person needs their time to find peace and reconcile with God. This makes absolutely no sense to me. First of all, if we are giving the convicted the time to find God?s forgiveness, then we are saying that what they did is forgivable. If God forgives them, then we end up killing and innocent person. Secondly, how long does it take to gain peace and forgiveness from God? How can man set a given time for this? Man has no way of knowing how long this process takes. Thirdly, often times there is a chance for the accused to have their sentenced overturned. I think that it is wrong to juggle around the decision of one?s life. Despite the fact that we are dealing with criminals, they too are still human and deserve some respect. I think it is wrong to give them the hopes of living only to later have those same hopes taken away.