The Debate Over Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper
The Debate Over Capital Punishment
By William Lee
The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has endured for years, and
continues to be an extremely indecisive and complicated issue. Adversaries of
capital punishment point to the Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents
point to the Dahmers and Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous
barbaric acts of these individuals and other killers, by taking away their lives
to function and perform in our society. At the same time, we must insure that
innocent people such as Marshall and Millgard are never convicted or sentenced
to death for a crime that they did not commit.
Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of deterrence
does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per-capita basis in countries
or states that do have it, then those that do not. In order for capital
punishment to work as a deterrence, certain events must be present in the
criminal’s mind prior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware that
others have been punished in the past for the offence that he or she is planning,
and that what happened to another individual who committed this offence, can
also happen to me.
But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from auto theft to
1st-Degree Murder, never take into account the consequences of their actions.
Deterrence to crime, is rooted in the individuals themselves. Every human has a
personal set of conduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they
will and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made or be broken by
friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. An individual who is never taught
some sort of restraint as a child, will probably never understand any limit as
to what they can do, until they have learned it themselves. Therefore, capital
punishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of human nature to
ignore practised advice and to self learn.
There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itself a form of
vengeance on the killer. But isn’t locking up a human being behind steel bars
for many years, vengeance itself? And is it “humane” that an individual who took
the life of another, should receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3 meals
a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one receives nothing?
Adversaries of capital punishment claim that it is far more humane then having
the state take away the life of the individual.
In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender, was scheduled
to hang. But just days before his execution, the then Liberal cabinet of Lester
Person commuted McCorkell to life in prison.
Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and convicted for
the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenessee boy. He was sentanced to 63
years in prison. Prior to leaving Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the
attempted murder of an 11-year old boy.
What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in 1963, two boys
would never have had to have gone through the horror of being sexually abused.
These individuals may themselves become sex offenders, as many sex offenders
were sexually abused as children.
McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in the past, but that
does not justify what he did. He did not do this once, he killed two boys, and
assaulted two others, leaving one for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing.
What right does this man have to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children,
what will he do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a life would
the state have been taking away in this case? An innocent life? A forgiving
life? No, a life that was beyond the realm of reform, and did not care to be.
We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, even when suspicion
may cause considerable doubt, send an innocent person to be executed. It could
have happened to David Millgard, it could have happened to Donald Marshall. It
probably has even occured numerous times in the history of the earth. But with
proper police investigations, and where the evidence shows that the individual
is a threat to the peace of society as long as he or she is alive, capital
punishment must be used.