Pro Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper
A battle rages between Americans who are fighting for a safe and just world and those who want to abolish the death penalty, thereby weakening our already struggling legal system. Capital punishment may not be a pretty subject, but it is one that is necessary in today s violent society. Our nation s cities have become plagued with crime and violence with the encouragement of a soft legal system. Capital punishment provides the necessary penalty and deterrent for criminals in
An anti-death penalty protestor may claim that a major problem with capitalpunishment is the high price tag for the process of appeals and warrants that death row inmates go through. Many claim that the annual cost of a person on death row is higher than the cost of jailing that person for life. Meaning that capital punishment, when compared to life imprisonment, is very costly. These people are in fact correct when taken into consideration that our legal system forces endless appeals and stays of execution, only delaying the inevitable. Most states with the death penalty provide for an automatic appeal to the state s highest court in cases where the death penalty is imposed, whether or not the defendant wishes to waive this right. Other tie-ups and delays in the death sentencing occur in a direct appeal to the state supreme court. Here the defendant may challenge his or her conviction
on the grounds of any legal or constitutional errors that come about at the trial. State supreme courts want no doubt when they convict these people so many times the supreme court will review the cases for legal error and also compare death sentences with sentences given in similar cases. This determines whether the death sentence is proportionate to other sentences brought on. If the state supreme court decides to uphold the conviction or sentence, oddly the defendant still has a chance to survive by petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision (United States of America: The Death Penalty p.123-125). Appeals such as these, along with many others are reoccurrant in our present day legal system. That is where our conservative legal system needs to take a step back and look at the big picture. Should these murderers and rapists have the rights to waste our hard earned tax money on endless appeals and stays of execution that just prolong their death s. Cutting back on these appeals by the defendants would greatly effect the price of a prisoner on death row. No more excruciatingly long, drawn out sentences and convictions where the prisoner is awaiting his or her death regardless. Just touch down with reality here, how much would it really cost for a bullet which could sufficiently do the trick? Compare that price, possibly fifty cents, to the cost of keeping a prisoner in jail for their entire life.
Christians may turn to the Bible for the morality and justness of capital punishment, while many anti-capital punishment supporters appeal to the sixth amendment that states, Thou shalt not kill (Ex 20:13). This statement may seem bold and very subjective to a person with little knowledge or background of the Bible, and this statement could be easily misunderstood. These anti-capital punishment supporters look at this issue of capital punishment and relate it directly to that famous quote, Thou shalt not kill. They may say that executing a murderer is just the same as the murderer s crime itself. But on the contraire, the Hebrew word kill in the Old Testament means to murder especially with premeditation. It also states that murder and other major crimes such as kidnapping, and rape are punishable by the death penalty. In (Genesis 9:5-6), God says to Noah and his family, And surely your blood of your lives will I require, at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; and at the hand of every man s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth a man s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. These verses are simply saying that murder is forbidden. Any person guilty of murder of another is to be
killed. Not the person who carries out the execution like an anti-capital punishment supporter may believe. This supporter may strike back at God s quote that a person who kills should be killed and point out that people in war kill, however,God excuses persons who execute by legal terms and persons who kill enemies in war. No one can deny that execution of a murderer is a horrible spectacle. But we must not forget that murder is more horrible.
Even though a state prescribes the death penalty for a given crime, not
everyone who commits such an offense and who is arrested is actually subjected to a possible death sentence. A guilty person may escape trial for their crime by a plea of non vult (no defense), or the court may determine that he should not be tried for reasons of his insanity. Most jurisdictions require that he be committed to a hospital for the criminally insane. Though rare, it is even possible that the prosecutor will decide not to press charges against the guilty party. But by far the most common reason for exempting a person from trial on a capital crime, even when he is guilty, is his age. The standard Juvenile Court Law, prepared by the National Council on crime and Delinquency, prohibits execution of any child under sixteen. This also gives jurisdiction to the regular adult criminal courts at their discretion to convict on a capital or a felony charge any person sixteen to eighteen. The big debate arising on this issue is whether or not these juveniles should be tried as adults and sentenced to the death penalty. This law exempts most of these children offenders, but there are cases where children were tried as adults. This should not happen and our legal system should not let this happen. Dr. Ralph S. Bancy, associate director of the Research on Social Deviation in New York, said: The apparent philosophy statutes concerning juvenile offenders is that a child has not reached a degree of intellectual and emotional development that would qualify him as fully responsible for his acts. The law, however, covers an obvious contradiction for when the offense is too major, complete responsibility is placed upon the child and he must face the full weight of the law.
While the very thought of death penalties, in the legal sense, may be insultingto many people, it generally seems to be tolerated under circumstances in which a large number of innocent lives are spared. For example, there has been no objection to the killing of persons that have hijacked airplanes. Any sane person would want these people to be taken out immediately in concern for the innocent lives on the airplane that are subject to die. If this is true, then why shouldn t a murderer or serious offender be put to death in order to spare the innocent lives he or she could potentially kill? Most people might prefer capital punishment if it were known that executions deterred a sufficiently large number of homicides. Sadly, the deterrent of homicides due to the enforcement of capital punishment is a hard subject to find sufficient proof or evidence to back it up. Many potential murderers are deterred simply by their knowledge that capital punishment exists, and may be their fate if
they commit the crime. In 1950, eighty-two convicted felons were executed, a great percentage of which were homicide cases. During that year, 7020 criminal
homicides were reported. A decade later, the number of executions dropped to
fifty-six and the number of criminal homicides rose to 9140 (The Death Penalty in America). Through the 1960 s there also was a steady increase in the number of criminal homicides, with 14,590 recorded in 1969. During that same decade, there was a practical end to the utilization of the death penalty.
Abolitionists claim that there are alternatives to the death penalty. They say that life in prison without parole serves just as well. This could be, if you ignore all the murders criminals commit within prison when they kill prison guards and other inmates. Also, when prisoners kill decent citizens upon escape, like Dawud Mu Min who was serving a 48-year sentence for the 1973 murder of a cab driver when he escaped and killed a storekeeper in a 1988 robbery. Fortunately, there is now no chance of Mu Min striking again because he was executed by the state of Virginia in 1997. Another flaw in life imprisonment is that order deteriorates as appeals arise, laws change and over time, and people forget the past. Take the New York state Moore case for example. In 1962, James Moore raped and strangled 14-year-old Pamela Moss. Instead of sentencing the murderer to death, the parents of Pamela wanted Moore to suffer in prison with the life sentence without parole. Just a few years later, changes in sentencing laws led to the parole of James Moore. If Pamela s parents knew that they couldn t trust the state, Moore could have been executed long ago and they could have but the whole horrible incident behind them
forever. Instead they have the nightmare of dealing with the release of the murderer of their child from from prison. According to the US Department of Justice, the average prison sentence served for murder is five years and eleven months. This is why putting a murderer away for life just isn t good enough. Laws change, paroles vary, and people do forget the past. Those are the things that cause life imprisonment to fail. As long as the murderer lives, there is always a chance that he will kill again.
Within a racist society, capital punishment has a hard time escaping the
scrutiny of being racially biased. However, there is no difference in the law for black murderers or white murderers. Many people believe that the death penalty does discriminate against blacks, but this statement is false. Actually, a 1991 Rand Corporation study by Stephen Klein found that white murders received the death penalty slightly more often (32%) than non-white murderers (27%). Also, the study found that murderers of white victims received the death penalty more often (32%)than murderers of non-white victims(23%). These statistics are, however, merely coincidence proving that racial biases do not exist in capital punishment.
Difficult times call for tough measures. Capital punishment has been a
necessary feature of the justice system throughout both this nation s history as well as that of the world. The death penalty has been used continuously since the beginning of recorded history, often for far lesser crimes than what are punishable by the death penalty in today s society. The question today shouldn t be whether or not to have capital punishment, but instead why do we fail to carry out the law as it is intended? Before you start attacking the effects of a law, you should try enforcing it. Enforcing all of our Capital Punishment laws to their fullest extent will be an important first step towards returning our justice system to one that protects the innocent and punishes the guilty.