The Death Penalty Debate Essay, Research Paper
What is a Fair Punishment
94 federal attorneys have the power to submit a case to Janet Reno (Willing 3A). These attorneys seek the death penalty for these cases, and why should they not? Whys should one who has taken a life, or even several, deserve the air that they breathe? Capital punishment is a harsh punishment created for people who have committed harsh crimes. The death penalty should be used to punish violent criminals.
Some believe that capital punishment is unfair. Reno says, “Sadly, the same is true of the entire criminal justice system, both state and federal” (Justice Dept sees). How can a punishment be judged as fair? Every judge will have some biases. How is giving the opportunity of life to someone who has killed another fair? If one caused many deaths, should he not deserve to die as well? For example, Jeffrey L. Dahmer murdered and dismembered at least 17 boys and men. He, also, ate the flesh of at least one of his victims (Bonner). Does this man deserve the privelages of a comfy jail cell, generous meals, and a workout facility? Dying by lethal injection is a much less horrific way to die than the way the victims did.
Then, the argument is used that innocent people have been put to death. DNA testing and established standards for defense lawyers virtually eliminate that argument. George W. Bush, the governor of Texas, said he was certain that no innocent inmates died since he took office in 1995 (Sealey). Measures should be taken to ensure the guilt of death-row inmates, and they are.
Yet another argument by death penalty oppossers is the fact that no uniform policy determines which cases qualify for death. This allows each case to be looked at individually, and allows every circumstance to be looked over.
Using capital punishment is expensive, I agree. The loss of money, however, is not significant. The poverty rate is about the same in states with or without the death penalty (Bonner).
Statistics say that half the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above the national average, and 10 of the 12 states without the death penalty have homicide rates below the national average (Bonner). “Whatever the factors are that affect change in homicide rates, they don’t seem to operate differently based on the the presence or absence of the death penalty in a state,” said Steven Messner, a criminologist at the State University of NY at Albany (Bonner). The statistics, also, incenuate that the threat of a death penalty rarely deters criminals. This may be true; however, the death penalty is to punish criminals, not to stop crimes. The threat of a lifetime in prison does not affect criminals either.
Many believe that rehabilitation is the answer. The truth is that rehabilitation has been proven to be uneffective, and capital punishment is often the only penalty that matches the shocking nature of some crimes (Bonner).
The death penalty, also, can bring a closure to the victims’ families (Bonner). Revenge has been taken, and the victims’ families have recieved “an eye for an eye.” It may even help bring closure to the criminals’ families.
The Fifth Amendment states that “no persons shall be held to answer for a capital… crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury… nor be deprived of life… without the due process of law (Is the death).” This clearly permits the death penalty to be imposed. The Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is not a “cruel and unusual” punishment in 1976 (Sealey), therefore that argument is eliminated.
The death penalty is not overused. The government is not killing people left and right. The last federal execution was 37 years ago (Justice Dept sees).
Releasing innocent inmates from death row is evidence that the system is working (Sealey). The innocent people are being released, not killed. This does not mean that the system is flawed.
Capital punishment does lack a few items, however. Electrocution should be banned, and lethal injection should be used. This is a less horrific way to deal with these deaths. Second, all states should model after Alabama, Florida, and Georgia and push for more timely executions (Sealey). Also, in states with the death penalty, life without parole is not an option (Bonner). This should change and every state should offer both options.
Using the death penalty ensures that a harsh punishment will be given to all criminals that perform heinous crimes. Imposing a more fair punishment is almost impossible. 64 percent of Americans support the detah penalty (Sealey) because they know the facts. Hopefully, as people become more informed, this percentage will escalate.
Bonner, Raymond and Ford Fessender. “States with no death penalty share lower homicide rates.” 22 Sept. 2000: Online. Internet. 25 Sept. 2000. Available www: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/22/national/22DEAT.html
“Is the death penalty unjust?” 10 March 1995: Online. Internet. 25 Sept. 2000. Available www: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/.pages/frontline/angel/procon/deathissue.html
“Justice Dept sees race disparity in death penalty.” 13 Sept. 2000: Online. Internet. 25 Sept. 2000. Available www: http://abcnews.go.com-wire-politics-reuters20000913-1350.html
Sealey, Geraldine. “Death penalty debate at crossroads.”6 March 2000: Online. Internet www: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/deathpenalty1_000306.html
Willing, Richard. “Death penalty policies examined: studies suggest that disparities exist between federal and state guidelines.” USA Today 5 Sept. 2000, 3A