Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper
The enforcement of the death penalty (capital punishment) has been an effective deterrent. Capital punishment is the execution of criminals by the state for committing heinous crimes such as rape and murder. The debates over the merits of capital punishment have endured for years, and continue to be an extremely indecisive and complicated issue. Society must be kept safe from these killers by taking away their function in our society, but at the same time, we must ensure that the innocent people are never convicted or sentenced to death for a crime that they did not commit. Perhaps the most frequent argument for capital punishment is that of deterrence. The prevailing thought is that imposition of the death penalty will act to discourage other criminals from committing violent acts. Numerous studies have been created attempting to prove this belief.
This fact that it was more safe back then than it is now probably has to due with the fact that in earlier times, where capital punishment was common, the value of life was less, and societies were more barbaric, capital punishment was probably quite acceptable. However, in today’s society, which is becoming ever more increasingly humane, and individual rights and due process of justice are held in high accord, the death penalty is becoming an unrealistic form of punishment. Also, with the ever-present possibility of mistaken execution, there will remain the question of innocence of those put to death. This decline creates a situation in which the death penalty ceases to be a deterrent when the populace begins to think that one can get away with the crime and go unpunished. In addition, the less that the death sentence is used, the more it becomes unusual, thus coming in conflict with the eighth amendment.
The death penalty has existed as long as humans have existed. The quote “an eye for an eye” is found in the Bible. In the middle ages fines, public humiliation and imprisonment were appropriate punishments for all crimes, and death penalty for all murders. Today, Federal law states that the death penalty is to be enforced with convicted criminals for: treason; deserting armed forces during wartime; murder committed by a soldier; kidnapping and murder that involves crossing state lines; murder committed during an airplane hijacking; and of course, homicide. The death penalty is also called for punishment for: attempting to kill anyone investigating or prosecuting his or her activities; advising, directing, authorizing or assisting in the murder of someone.
The Old Testament said a great deal about the death penalty, it is even mentioned thirty times in the Bible. The Torah (first five books of the Bible) required this type of punishment for many transgressions that were both civil and religious. Death was usually by stoning, but one crime required women to be burned alive.
The death penalty has been part of justices systems since the beginning of civilization. It was used as a way to punish criminals for crimes of all types. The law was a lot stricter in history; you could be executed for things such as stealing, being accused of being a witch and many other things. The majority of the executions in history until around the 1830 s were performed in public. Now there are very few countries that hold public executions, but it is not completely unheard of. The methods of execution were also much crueler, such as burning at the stake, stoning, thrown to animals, thrown from a cliff among other things.
The methods used today are a walk in the park compared to methods used throughout history. Even though there are these federal laws requiring the use of the death penalty for the crimes, state laws only consider one crime, murder, to be a capital offense. In the United States alone, there have been 4047 executions since 1930, and 188 were from 1977-1996. In 1996, there were a total of 15,168,100 arrests; 33,050 for forcible rape; 1,506,200 involving drug violations and 19,020 for murder and non-negligent manslaughter. The death penalty was enforced 45 times. Methods of the death penalty include lethal injection, gas chamber, electric chair, hanging, and firing squad.
Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of deterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders in states that have the death penalty, then those states that do not have the death penalty. In order for capital punishment to work as deterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal’s mind before committing the offense. The criminal must be aware that others have been punished in the past for the same offense that he or she is planning, and that what happened to that individual who committed that offense could also happen to them. Sometimes this works and sometimes the individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from auto theft to first degree murder, never take account the consequences of their actions.
Deterrence to crime is rooted in the individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set of morals. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they will and will not go. This personal set of morals can be made or broken by friends, influence, family, home, and a person’s life. An individual, who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child, will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do, until they have learned it themselves. This is where the death penalty would come into good use if it were used more often.
The death penalty deters murder by putting fear into would be killers such as the ones just described that have not learned a limit on to what they can do. A person is less likely to do something, if he or she thinks that harm will come to them. Another way the death penalty deters murder, is the fact that if the killer is dead, he will not be able to kill again. Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should be punished for their crimes, and that it does not matter whether it will deter crime rate. Supporters of the death penalty are in favor of making examples out of offenders, and that the threat of death will be enough to deter the crime rate.
There are those who claim that capital punishment is itself a form of vengeance on the killer, but isn’t locking up a human being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself? Is it humane to give an individual who took the life of another, heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, and three meals a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one receives nothing?
Adversaries of capital punishment claim that it is far more humane then having the state take away the life of the individual. In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender, was scheduled to hang, but just days before his execution, the then liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted McCorkell to life in prison. Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and convicted for the kidnapping and raping of a 10-year old Tennessee boy. He was sentenced to 63 years in prison. Had McCorkell been executed in 1963, that boy would have never had to go through the horror of being sexually abused?
These individuals may then themselves become sex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused as children. McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assault in the past, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do this once, but did this continually, killing two boys, and assaulting two others, leaving one for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this man have to live? He has ruined the lives of four children, what will he do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a life would the state have been taking in this case? This life is surely not an innocent life, nor forgiving, nor one that was in the area of reform and cared to be.
According to Isaac Ehrlich’s study, eight murders are deterred for each execution that is carried out in the U.S. He goes on to say, ” if one execution of guilty capital murderer deters the murder of one innocent life, the execution is justified.” To most supporters of the death penalty, like Ehrlich, if even one life is saved, for countless executions of the guilty, it is good reason for the death penalty. Most supporters, including Ehrlich consider the theory that society engages in murder when executing the guilty, is invalid. He feels that execution of convicted offenders expresses the great value society places on innocent life.
In a study done by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the University of North Carolina, showed to be on the low side of the deterrence factor of capital punishment. Professor Layson found that 18 murderers were deterred by each execution in the U.S. In 1966, 42% of Americans were in favor of capital punishment while 47% were opposed to it. Since the crime rate in the United States has increased, support for the death penalty has followed proportionally. In 1986, support for the capital punishment was 80% for and only 17% against with 3% undecided, but most of the undecided votes said they were leaning toward a pro capital punishment stance, if they had to vote on it immediately. All of these studies and surveys show that capital punishment is a valid deterrent to crime, and obviously, the public and society as a whole are in favor of it.
The death penalty makes, would-be capital offenders think about whether committing a crime is really worth their lives. Even if capital punishment did not deter crime, the simple fact that it will allow to “get even” with murderers. Capital punishment also insures peace of mind because it insures that murderers will never kill again. The essential part of the death penalty is that it involves death, something that is rather permanent for humans, due to the concept of mortality.
Government has the right and duty to protect the greater good against people who jeopardize the welfare of society, but a killer can be sentenced to life without chance of parole, and society will be just as safe as if he had been executed. Capital punishment is such a volatile issue, and both sides are so deeply rooted in their views that they are willing to do almost anything to sway all of the people they can to their side. We must be careful though to never, even when suspicion may cause considerable doubts send an innocent person to be executed. It probably has occurred numerous times in the history of the world, but with proper police investigations, it should be avoided. Yet, whenever the evidence shows that the individual is a threat to the peace of society as long as he or she is alive, capital punishment must be used.
As much as people complain about the laws in the United States are they strict enough? Are there any penalties for murder that are enough to scare a person away from the crime they are planning to commit? The answer in most cases is no, this is why the death penalty should be used in all states and more often. The death penalty is a cost effective deterrent for the USA s problem of violet criminals. When you stop to look at the Gulbin – two subjects it is only fair and in the end, it is in the best interest of the country. Every year cold-blooded killers are sentenced to life in prison, which is not fair when they sentenced their victim to death. The problem in the USA today is we are not hard enough on our violent criminals. There are too many repeat offenders who could have been stopped the first time the committed a crime.
In 1993, criminals on parole committed 84,800 crimes; this included 13,200 murders, 12,900 rapes, and 49,500 robberies. Statistics like these shows that some criminals are not effected by the penalties we give them. Criminals have the upper hand in most cases. Around sixty two percent of violent crimes result in death and even less result in jail time. The average person in jail for murder spends just under three years before they are released. These criminals only loose three years of their life while their victims lost all of it. Something is very wrong with these statistics and something like the death penalty should be brought into effect to put an end to it.
The death penalty has the potential to be a very effective deterrent. If the death penalty were enforced on a regular basis and at a swifter pace it would have criminals scared stiff. One way to look at it is, how many people would commit a murder if as soon as their victim died they would die. If this were the case, not many people would murder unless they also wanted to die. The problem in the US is that we are taking too long to carry out the process. Commute me or electrocute me, don t drag it out (Jesse Walter Bishop).
The average inmate on death row is there for nine years. This time costs the state massive amounts of money. In those nine Gulbin – three years the state has to pay to keep the inmate in prison but in addition, they must pay for the countless appeals they inmate carries out. If there were a limit and stricter grounds to place an appeal, the death penalty would be a cheap and permanent solution to killers. The death penalty is a warning, just like a lighthouse throwing light beams out to sea. We hear about shipwrecks, but do not hear about the ships the lighthouse guides safely on their way. We don t have proof of the number of ships it saves, but we do not tear the light house down (Hyam Barshay). This quote is showing that although we cannot say how many murders capital punishment has prevented it is still known to help prevent people from killing.
Even with all the appeals and jail time, capital punishment is cheaper than life with out parole. On average, it costs three million dollars for a life without parole inmate. This cost comes from the thirty four thousand per year for the cell for fifty years and seventy five thousand dollars for the trial. On the other hand it only costs about one point eight million dollars for an inmate severing a death sentence. This cost is from the sixty thousand a year for the cell for six years and one point five million dollars for the trial. The death penalty is cheaper now than life without parole and if there were fewer appeals, the whole thing would be even cheaper.
One big question is what crimes warrant the death of the perpetrator. The obvious one is murder. This goes with out question, anyone that takes someone s Gulbin – four lives in a premeditated murder should have their life taken from them as well. Other crimes that may warrant a death sentence is drug dealers. This may seem very harsh and outlandish but it would be sure to stop the problem. Some people see drug dealing as a simple and easy way to make big money fast. They understand that there is a risk involved but not a very big one. They would be sure to think twice if they were going to die if they were caught.
In many countries in Asia, they have very strict rules like this and most of those countries are very safe to live in. One example of this is Singapore. They have very strict rules, people cannot even chew gum, but when you walk down the streets they are all spotless and you do not have to worry about being mugged. Therefore, while their rules may seem unfair, it makes the country a very nice place to live in. Many people who oppose the death penalty argue that it is not ethical to execute a murderer. When one stops to think about this, the statement does not hold much water. This punishment seems to be the only fair punishment for someone who took someone s life for whatever reason.
An eye for an eye, someone took a person’s life and the same should happen to him or her. If someone close to an abolitionist were murdered, they would make a quick conversion to a supporter because they would want the criminal dead. This is why most abolitionists are people who grew up in a well off family and in a nice neighborhood. They support the penalty because chances are a murder or a violent crime has never affected them. Capital punishment not only serves Gulbin – 5 as retribution for the victim but also for the family of the victim. It would not seem fair that someone took a way a loved ones life and he or she spent a little time in jail, death is the only fair punishment.
Abolitionists also say that when the state executes someone, it is just like murder. If it is murder when the state executes a criminal, is it kidnapping when we put inmates in a cell and they are held against their will? In both cases the answer is no. There is a difference between premeditated murder and a criminal s execution. When a murderer kills someone, there is no trial, there was no crime committed, and there was no reason why that person should loose his or her life. An execution is not wrong because this person has committed a crime that s punishment is death.
The United States is the last major commercial country in the west that is still using the death penalty. Some say that this shows that we should stop because everyone else is, but this quote from Ernest Van den Hag makes a valid point, I can t give much weight to the argument suggested by Prof. Conrad because many Gulbin – 7 countries have abolished the death penalty, we to should abolish it. If many countries follow the Soviets and institute cruel concentration camps, should we to follow? Should our national decisions follow international fashion? This country has a large crime problem and it is about time that it buckles down and acts against it. This country is being to easy on criminals and not being fair to the law-abiding citizens. The streets should be made safer for everyone. Police are on the streets trying to make this a safer place to live, and they should not have to worry, that the next person they pull over for speeding is going to pull out a gun and kill them to try to avoid being arrested. People like that should not have a chance to commit an atrocity like that more than once and others thinking about it should have a reason to be scarred away by the fact they may loose there life it they pull the trigger.
So while there are still people that say it is a much better solution to put criminals in jail for life, should research the subject deeper and see all of the benefits of capital punishment and how it could better the United States. The money that is saved from this should be used for important things such as schools, the homeless, and people who need and deserve it. It should not be used so a heartless murderer can stay alive in jail and possibly kill again. When it comes down to it, there is not one reason that the death penalty should not be used and not used more often.