Pro Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper
“Leave the people free to do as they please (Stephen Douglas as cited in Safire, 261).” This sentiment would seem to apply to the argument in favor of the death penalty, or capital punishment. In our democratic system, we must listen to the people. And on the critical issue of capital punishment, the people of the United States agree it must be used (Ogloff, 2). The following discusses why the American people agree with our present system.
Capital punishment is necessary because it deters crime. Statistics can be manipulated to show that capital punishment is ineffective as a deterrent. It is, however, the most effective deterrent our country could possibly have. “It assures that the convicted criminal will not terrorize society again or will be released on the basis of a minor technicality (Ogloff, 18).”
Psychological researchers have stated that criminals performing violent crimes cannot be altered in their plans, because their actions are either pre-meditated, and they expect to escape, or they commit the crime in a spur of passion, not realizing the consequences (Greenberg, 31). This suggests that we need to look at overall crime rates. They have been on the decline at the same time that the number of executions have increased (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1998, 958; Ogloff’s Web Page, 2; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 198). It would seem that crime is deterred by the death penalty.
Time and again, publicizing executions has been suggested to deter crime. Even though criminologists and psychologists have argued that theoretically such a policy could only produce imitator crimes, the widely publicized executions in the 1970s and 1980s led to a slightly, but significantly reduced crime rate (NRA Web Page, 2).
We must keep capital punishment because it is the fairest system our nation could possibly have. Contrary to popular belief, our justice system is not a discriminatory one. Some have argued, as a few U.S. Supreme Court Justices have done, that the justice system remains fraught with discrimination, unjustly killing poor, non-Caucasian peoples (Scalia, 1). One statistic often cited is that 53% of those executed are black, while only 12% of the nation is black (Ogloff’s Web Page, 2). Evidence has been presented to show that the poor and African-Americans are more likely to endure extreme ‘homicide-producing’ conditions, such as poverty, family disruption, and the subculture of violence (Morin, 2). “And no party has ever shown evidence proving that that this minority has not simply committed a majority of all crimes (Morin, 1).”
The states have also passed bills which ensure that juries consider other criteria beyond the simple verdict of guilt before deciding on a death sentence (The Fight Against the Death Penalty in the United States, 3). These criteria generally include sanity and extremely aggravating factors. “Certainly the entire crime force, prosecutors, jury, and judge are not all racist and discriminative (Death Penalty Home Page Information Center, 1).” Reese has this to say about discrimination and the death penalty, which seems to best support death penalty arguments:
If and when discrimination occurs it should be corrected. Not, however, by letting the guilty blacks and poor escape the death penalty just because guilty whites do, but by making sure that the guilty white offenders suffer it as the guilty blacks do. Discrimination must be abolished by abolishing discrimination – not by abolishing penalties. However, even if this cannot be done, I do not see any good reason to let any guilty murderer escape his penalty. It does happen in the administration of criminal justice that one person gets away with murder and another is executed. Yet the fact that one gets away with it is no reason to let another one escape.”
Another key factor of the death penalty is its legality. The Supreme Court had once declared capital punishment illegal, but reinstated it in 1976 (The Death Penalty in the USA, 1). If the death penalty has such serious faults, would it not have been abolished by now? “By taking away the pursuit of happiness, and other rights given to each American, the murderer, rapist, or other villain is actually allowing justice to take his rights away (Scalia, 12).” It can be argued that the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution allows for the death penalty (Pro Death Penalty Page, 3).
We must continue to execute criminals, because it allows for an ordinary, painless, and humane death. It is not cruel or unusual, therefore it does not violate the Constitution. Executions cannot be deemed unusual, as they have been performed since the beginning of time. How can we possible say the murderer and/or criminal was cruelly punished? What happened to the innocent victims – the children, the teachers, and other citizens? A death lasting under ten seconds is not cruel. Being forced to drink Draino, being stabbed repeatedly, and going through decapitation – these are the real cruel deaths! Surely the thirteen supposedly ‘cruel’ executions are a ‘drop in the bucket’ compared to the thousands of homicides committed. Have you ever known someone to be killed humanely (NRA Division, 2)?
Finally, we must have capital punishment because it is fair to society, utilizes public funds, and is morally correct. Seventy-five percent of the American people believe capital punishment is an effective and necessary punishment system (Ogloff’s Web Page: Polls, 1). Society has decided that it is willing to pay for an execution. To pay for the reduction of crime. To pay for a safe harbor in community. To pay for justice and appeals necessary to protect the innocent. Not to pay for odious criminals to be housed and fed better than the victims themselves.
Capital punishment is a non-discriminatory, fair, crime-reducing, legal, morally correct, and humane way of punishment. Maybe nothing will change in society if we kill criminals. But if we do not, it is showing that the American people and the justice system are unwilling to assign responsibility for hideous crimes (Will, 6). It will signify the end of the hard-fought American battle against crime. “To acts of war, me must answer with acts of war (Benito Mussolini as cited in Safire, 121).” In the United States, we take pride in our liberty. Let us protect this sacred creed that our republic was founded on. “Liberty, if it shall cement man into political unity, must be something more than a man’s conception of his rights, much more than his desire to fight for his own rights. True liberty is founded upon a lively sense of the rights of others and a fighting conviction that the rights and protection of others must be maintained at any cost! (William Allen White as cited in Safire, 905).”