Issues On The Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper
Does executing murderers really stop violent crime in the U.S.? Our government seems to think so. In many states the death penalty still exists or is being reinstated. Many people contend that the death penalty should be used in cases of heinous crime where guilt is obvious. Bill Clinton signed a bill adding 58 more crimes that are punishable by death. For example, if you see a murder or know of one and do not report it, you could be executed. If you know a gang killing, you could report it and be killed in a revenge, or you could remain silent and let the government kill you. Is this justice? (Biringer 1)
It has been statistically proven that the death penalty doesn?t deter crime. In 1982, Texas reinstated the death penalty. From 1982 to 1991 the national crime rate increased five percent, while Texas crime rate rose by twenty-four percent. Their violent crime rate rose by fourty-six percent (Hughes). Obviously killing criminals did nothing to curb crime. Races are targeted by the death penalty. Killers of whites are 4.3 times more likely to be executed than killers of blacks. In total, 18,000 people have been executed in the United States, only thirty-one involved a white person killing a black person. Is justice truly color blind? (Vandeberg 2)
The death penalty is a convenient and easy answer that may appeal to some but which,unfortunately, fails to tackle the problems it?s supposed to solve, There is always the one problem that executionists face; the risk of executing the innocent. In the United States, where one of the fairest judicial
systems exists, 350 people were wrongly convicted of capital crimes between 1900 and 1985. Over half the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law and practice. In the United States there are still at least thirty states that have the death penalty. (Doerr 2)
Since 1967 there has been one execution for every 1600 murders. There has been approximately 560,000 murders and 358 executions from 1967 to 1996. Almost 5900 people have been sentenced to death and only 358 executed. Most often people compare execution and murder. They believe if two acts have the same ending or result, then the acts are morally equivalent. For instance, are kidnapping and legal incarceration the same? They both involve imprisonment against one?s will. Is killing in self defense the same as capital murder? Both end in taking human life. The moral confusion of some people are astounding. Some equate the American death penalty with Nazi holocaust. People see no moral distinction between the slaughter of 12 million totally innocent men, women and children and the executions of society?s worst human rights violators. (Death Penalty 1)
There are also a great deal of religious issues with the death penalty. The bible states clearly ?Thou shall not murder.? Does this mean, under certain circumstances? In Genesis 9:6, it states ?God himself instituted the death penalty.? God gave to the government legitimate authority to use capital punishment to restrain murder and to punish murderers. The death penalty is a flagrant disregard for God?s divine law which
recognizes the dignity of human life as a product of God?s creation. Life is sacred, and that is why God instituted the death penalty. Consequently, whoever takes innocent human life forfeits his own right to live. (20)
There are different executions in every state and country. The classic form of execution, still in use in several states, is hanging. When the person is hung, the neck is broken. If the drop is too short, there will be a slow, agonizing death by strangulation. If the drop is too long the head is torn off. The first major substitute for hanging was electrocution, the most widely used form of execution in this country. The prisoner is led , or dragged into the death chamber, strapped into the chair, and electrodes fastened to head and legs. When the switch is thrown the body strains, jolting as the voltage is raised and lowered. Often smoke rises from the head. There is the awful odor of burning flesh also. No one knows how long the prisoners retain consciousness. (McCuen 53).
An attempt to improve electrocution was the gas chamber. The prisoner is strapped into a chair, a container of sulfuric acid underneath. The chamber is sealed and cyanide is dropped into the acid to form lethal gas. As the gas fills the chamber, the prisoner turns purple, drools, and the eyes pop. Unconsciousness may not come for several minutes, but even then, the body continues to struggle for air. Most people observing an execution are horrified and disgusted. Revulsion at the duty to supervise and witness executions is one reason why so many prison
wardens, and people unsentimental about crime and criminals, are opponents of capital punishment. (22)
There is also the issue for executing children and pregnant women. In Iran, 12 pregnant women were executed in the past ten years. In the same time period, 42 people under the age of 18 were executed. Amir Molki, who was 16 years old, was held in Evin Prison for three months before being executed without trial. In the United States, there is a law against having a child on death row. In Iran they comment, ?A nine year old girl is considered mature. So there is no difference to us between a nine year old child and forty year old man, and it does not prohibit us from issuing any kind of sentence.?(128)
The death penalty will be a battled issue probably for the rest of our lives. many agree if you take the life of another than you lose your right live, simple as that. Everyday innocent people are sentenced to the death penalty. Everyday guilty people are let off death row from lack of evidence or other substantial reasons. Is that justice? Many will say no.
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