Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper
Why is the Death Penalty in Existence? Why is the death penalty used as a means of punishment for crime? This question is asked by many who have either known someone whose life has been taken or just someone who values the meaning of life. On TV, we hear about prisoners being executed every few months, but is it wrong or unethical? Or is justice simply being served? I want to know why the government believes that taking the life of a convicted person is the only solution for the crime they have committed. People make the assumption that death is always feared and that is why it is and will always be a strong deterrent to crime. In an article written by Tom Wilson, a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, he expresses his thoughts and a solution other than the death penalty. A criminal who loses a limb or his/her sight resulting from punishment, would think twice about committing the crime again. While the fear of this alone won t prevent crime completely, it would be a strong deterrent to repeated crimes. How many blind people do you know can aim a gun with any precision? How many armless thugs or genital-less rapists do you know who can repeat their past crimes? These are just a couple of examples as to what the government can do instead of performing such an act of violence (http://pages.prodigy.com/DC/vortex/dp.html). However, not all congressmen agree with using the death penalty as a form of punishment. Congressman Mark Price has stated his views on this subject: While I do not think that sending a person to rehab will help them always, I do believe that people who once molested, raped, or murdered in cold blood can be healed and brought back to function in this society. The problem is that prison doesn t rehabilitate, it can make the person even more offended and sickened at society and prone to harming themselves or innocent victims. It is not just as simple to supply answers that will work when applied to reality. I think that placing a person in a loving, nurturing environment will eventually bring out the best in them. (http://www.flash.net/ john1916/death.html) I personally believe that he makes a valid point about the prisons being ineffective in certain situations. It is easy to say that we should kill someone who has done wrong, but when it happens in reality, it is not as easy to follow through with the initial plans. However, while researching this topic, I did find a few advantages supporting the death penalty. Michael Bryant, a 30-year old columnist writer, posted some facts and opinions on the internet regarding the death penalty. Keeping a prisoner in jail for life will be very expensive considering that it costs $80,000 a year; and the bad news is that the money comes from the taxpayer s pocket. Thousands of people will attack the death penalty. They will give emotional speeches about the one innocent man who might be executed. However, all of these people are forgetting one crucial element. They are forgetting the thousands of victims who die every year. This may sound awkward, but the death penalty saves lives. It saves lives because it stops those who murder from ever murdering again. Statistics show that since 1976, there have been 483 criminals who have been executed within the 38 states that administer the death penalty as punishment (http://www.4w.com/democrats/death.htm).
Jim Mattox, former Attorney General of Texas, who supported the death penalty during his term of office, does not believe that murderers in Texas are hindered by the death penalty. Mattox interviewed nearly all the people executed in Texas between 1976 and 1988 and concluded that the death sentence never crossed their minds before they committed their crime. It is my own experience that those executed in Texas were not deterred by the existence of the death penalty, he said. I think in most cases you ll find that the murder was committed under severe drug and alcohol abuse. (http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/death/playnec.htm) The overall concept from what Mr. Mattox says is that the death penalty is not thought about when a criminal commits a crime. If a criminal is high on drugs, he will definitely not be thinking about the consequences. Mr. Mattox makes an interesting point about the drug and alcohol abuse, but what about the many murders which resulted from gang related violence? I interviewed Stan Mathew, a sophomore who attends R.L. Turner High School, and asked him his thoughts on the death penalty. He said, For those who insist on the death penalty, we should force these criminals to repay society by donating their organs; or is that more hideous than death? Even the innocent victims of the death penalty may reconcile their fate with the thought that their sacrifice brings life to needy people. According to a group called the PFADP, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, to completely solve any problem related to the death penalty, they recommend using Canada s approach: abolition. Canada s murder rate has dropped greatly because of it and so will ours. Isn t that the ultimate goal? (http://www.netpath.net/ ucch/pfadp/myth1.htm) Through extensive research, I have found three reasons why the death penalty should not be a choice for someone s punishment. First of all, if they make the mistake of taking the life of an innocent person, it is impossible to undo. Secondly, millions of dollars and countless hours of court time go toward the execution of a single individual. Thirdly, is taking a life an effective deterrent to crime? (http://www.flash.net/ john1916/death.html) Why does the government continue to allow the death penalty to be used as punishment? There may be no definite reason, but until it is done away with, there may be innocent lives taken away. Instead of spending millions of dollars and wasting countless hours on preparing to execute a person, the money and time can be spent on other things much more important. Throughout the course of my research upon this subject, I have found advantages and disadvantages towards the death penalty. However, I still have not fully understood why the government continues to use the death penalty. Hopefully they will soon realize the barbaric nature of taking a life of a human being regardless of the crime.