In Support Of The Death Penalty Essays

Capital Punishment Essay - Benefits of the Death Penalty

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Benefits of the Death Penalty


Have you ever thought about if the person next to you is a killer or a rapist? If he is, what would you want from the government if he had killed someone you know? He should receive the death penalty! Murderers and rapists should be punished for the crimes they have committed and should pay the price for their wrongdoing. Having the death penalty in our society is humane; it helps the overcrowding problem and gives relief to the families of the victims, who had to go through an event such as murder.

First, people should know the history of the death penalty. The death penalty has a long history dating back to the 16th Century BC. "In 16th Century BC Egypt, a death sentence was ordered for members of nobility, who were accused of magic. They were ordered to take their own life. The non-nobility was usually killed with an ax"(Burns). During the 18th Century BC, King Hammurabi of Babylon had a code that arranged the death penalty for 25 different crimes although murder was not one of them (Burns).


The death penalty has been around since the time of Jesus Christ. Executions have been recorded from the 1600s to present times. From about 1620, the executions by year increased in the US. It has been a steady increase up until the 1930s; later the death penalty dropped to zero in the 1970s and then again rose steadily. US citizens said that the death penalty was unconstitutional because it was believed that it was "cruel and unusual" punishment (Amnesty International). In the 1970s, the executions by year dropped between zero and one then started to rise again in the 1980s. In the year 2000, there were nearly one hundred executions in the US (News Batch). On June 29, 1972, the death penalty was suspended because the existing laws were no longer convincing. However, four years after this occurred, several cases came about in Georgia, Florida, and Texas where lawyers wanted the death penalty. This set new laws in these states and later the Supreme Court decided that the death penalty was constitutional under the Eighth Amendment (Amnesty International).

The very first legal executions came in the United States was during the Revolutionary War against Great Britain. British soldiers hung the first person to die by the death penalty, Nathan Hale, for espionage (Farrell).

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Death Penalty         Capital Punishment         Benefits         Death Sentence         Overcrowding Problem         16th Century         Amnesty International         Own Life        




The reason that I have included this history is to prove that if something has been working, why stop this from working.Some people say that sending the murderers to death row is inhumane because these people deserve a right to live. This is wrong because they have given up their right to live for the horrible and heinous crimes they committed.

There also has been the problem of overcrowding in prisons and jails. Some people say that this is a problem but having more jails built will solve this problem. Having more prisons or jails built may help solve the problem but the death penalty effectively stops draining more money from the taxpayers to house murderers. These murderers get three warm meals a day; they do nothing all day, and have a place to sleep just because the taxpayers fund these facilities. Murderers on death row do not deserve to get a place to stay. They deserve to get their life taken away from them because of the atrocious crimes that these criminals have done.

The people who are on death row come from all types of race. The national death row population is 3,525, split with 3,477 men and 48 women. The ethnicity is much more varied. There are 1,610 whites, 1,490 blacks, 344 Latinos, 39 Native Americans, 41 Asians and 1 unknown, since August 5, 2003 (death row statistics). The total executions since 1976 are 870, which seem to be a lot, but in all reality, it is a small number compared to the 3,525 inmates still on death row (Farrell). Regardless of their race, they should be killed if they committed murder. With the statistics above it proves that any race can be put on death row, so there should be no problem of putting them to death.

Several countries use the death penalty, including China, Iraq, Iran, U.S.A., and Saudi Arabia. In the United States, twelve of the states do not allow the death sentence. The twelve states are Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Hawaii, Alaska, Iowa, West Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These states say it is inhumane to kill someone but I believe if a murderer kills someone they should be killed as well. Less than one percent of murderers are sentenced to death, while only two percent of death row inmates are executed. The reason that this is relevant is because having this many people on death row drains the taxpayer's money. Today more than 75 inmates on death row have sat more than 20 years. If an inmate has been on death row for over 20 years then he deserves to die because that person is draining the taxpayer's money. In May of 2000, a recent study on the death penalty found that 65 percent of the US supports the death penalty (Farrell). With that amount of people supporting the death penalty, there should be no problem putting murderers to death because the majority likes the death penalty.

Many people say that the death penalty does not even help because there are not enough people being executed. One major way the death penalty helps is that it could relieve a family if someone is murdered and the convicted criminal is put to death. A perfect example was Timothy McVeigh when he was put to death in 2001, which was the first execution by the government since 1963 (CNN.com). The death penalty is good because the inmates who deserve to be killed, should be killed. This is a circular argument, which is a logical fallacy. A circular argument is when someone reaches a conclusion because it is true by not proven by facts, in other words the argument chases its own tail. I believe that if the people are just going in a circular argument then there is no way that, the people will gain ground to get rid of the death penalty.

In the year 2002, there were at least 1,526 people executed in 31 countries, and at least 3,248 people were sentenced to death in 67 countries. In addition, 81 percent of the executions took place in China, Iran, and the U.S.A. (Farrell). Those facts are just for 2002 and it seems that the number of people executed during this time was a large number. The death penalty is helping cut down the population of inmates on death row. There is no reason for them to believe that this is not helping. It seems that there is not a large number but if someone was to look at the statistics, it is actually a lot (Justice For All).Giving relief to friends and families for the murders on the their sibling or friend is done through the death penalty. The death penalty solves the overcrowding problem and this process is a humane action. Many people are losing their tax dollars to the government to pay for death row murderers, while these murderers should receive the death. These murderers do not deserve to live and have all of their expenses paid for committing those crimes. Now, why should anyone agree with not having the death penalty? They should not! The death penalty helps resolve many problems, such as the overcrowding problem. This process is humane and the persons that perform this task are not playing God. In the Bible, God has said that the people should uphold the law (Holy Bible). In the future, many problems could be resolved keeping the death penalty and not getting rid of it.

Works Cited

Amnesty International. "The Death Penalty." The Death Penalty. 22 Oct. 2003 http://web.amnesty.org/pages/deathpenalty_index_eng.
Burns, Kari Sable. "Death Penalty." KariSable.com. 27 Oct. 2003 http://www.karisable.com/crpundeath.htm.
CNN.com. "Timothy McVeigh Dead". 11 June 2001. 14 Nov. 2003 http://www.cnn.com/2001/LAW/06/11/mcveigh.01/index.html.
Death Penalty Information Center. "Death Penalty Info." Death Penalty Information Center. 21 Oct. 2003 http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/.
Death Penalty Information Center. "The History of the Death Penalty." Death Penalty Information Center. 21 Oct. 2003 http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=199&scid=15.
The Holy Bible
Farrell, Mike. "Death Penalty." Death Penalty Focus. 22 Oct. 2003 http://www.deathpenalty.org/facts/other/facts_statistics.shtml.
Justice For All. "Pro-Death Penalty." Pro-Death Penalty. 22 Oct. 2003 http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Resources.htm.
News Batch. 15 Oct. 2003. 27 Oct. 2003 http://www.newsbatch.com/deathpenalty.htm.



Example Persuasive Paper on the Death Penalty

Introduction

Death penalty has been an inalienable part of human society and its legal system for centuries, regarded as a necessary deterrent to dangerous crimes and a way to liberate the community from dangerous criminals. However, later on this type of punishment came to be regarded as a crime against humanistic ideals by many, and its validity in the legal system has been questioned. Until now, the debate rages on. This resulted in a wide discrepancy of laws on this issue. Some nations including China, the US, Iran, Belarus, and others preserve the death penalty as an option, while others like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and almost all European nations have abolished capital punishment. Still others keep the norm in their legislations, but have de facto suspended execution of criminals sentenced to capital punishment. This paper will seek to prove that death penalty has to be preserved as a valid means of prevention serious crimes. It will examine the effect of death penalty on society and its relevance to the protection of interests of common citizens.

Background

The history of death penalty is almost as old as the history of mankind. Various means of capital punishment involved burning, hanging, drowning, crucifixion, breaking on the will, boiling to death, electrocution, firing squad, gassing - the list can be continued. The choice of a particular method in Europe in the Middle Age, for instance, depended on the social status of the condemned. Painless and respectable ways were reserved for the aristocracy; and more painful for the common people, such as hanging or breaking on the wheel. In other cases, the choice of the method was warranted by the time of crime: witches and heretics had to be burned at the stake. Capital punishment was envisaged for a broad array of crimes, “including robbery and theft, even if nobody was physically harmed in the action” (Wikipedia). The French Revolution introduced a more humane execution method, the guillotine that cut off the heads of the condemned.

The first decision to abolish capital punishment was made by the Grand Duke Leopold II of Habsburg in Granducato di Toscana (Tuscany) on 30 November 1786. The duke cancelled the penalty and ordered to destroy all the instruments of murder in his nation after being influenced by the book the Italian Cesare Beccaria Dei Delitti e Delle Pene "On Crimes and Punishments". The anniversary of the decree is since 2000 celebrated as a holiday in Tuscany.

In 2004, as reports Amnesty International, 3,797 people in 25 nations were executed. China accounts for the bulk of these executions - 3,400 cases. Kuwait is the leader in the number of executions per 100,000 residents - 400 compared to 260 in China and 230 in Iran, the runner-up on the total number, 159 (Wikipedia). In most nations, death penalty is used to punish criminals for war crimes or serious crimes associated with physical injury. In Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand) it is used to punish for drug-related crimes, even though these crimes are mot related to physical injury.

As part of anti-death penalty movement, this call to repeal this measure has been upheld by various international organizations. For instance, “the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which among other things forbids capital punishment for juveniles, has been signed and ratified by all countries except the USA and Somalia” (Wikipedia). Some international conventions such as the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Sixth Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights have been adopted, although they only bind nations that have ratified them. Organizations like the European Union demand from new members the abolition of death penalty as a condition of entry. Thus, there is a significant pressure on nations to cancel it. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are two prominent organisations fighting against death penalty.

The issues involved in the discussion of death penalty usually focus around two main parts. First, this punishment is analysed from a purely utilitarian perspective in an effort to find out whether application of capital punishment really helps to deter crime and reduce the risk of recidivism, when criminals commit repeated crimes. The evidence for this is sought in crime rates in regions and nations where executions are carried out. Second, supporters or opponents of death penalty need to find out whether this penalty can be acknowledged on moral grounds, solving the problem of whether human beings are justified in killing other human beings.

Although the arguments stated remain basically the same throughout history of the discussion, evidence can vary, and the findings, although controversial, can tilt the public opinion to one or the other side. Thus, the support for death penalty surges in nations where especially outrageous murders take place. On the contrary, a lower criminal rate reduces the support.

Argument

Death penalty, in my view, has to be supported on the ground of just retribution for murder. Still, I do not believe in death as a form of punishment for drug dealers, however heinous their activities might be, since they did not violate human lives. Political crimes should not be punished with death either, as this would open the way to political repression and physical elimination of political rivals, as it happened in Stalin's times in the Soviet Union. However, when a person murders another person, death is the right kind of retribution. This is analogous to penalties imposed for instance for robbery or theft - the criminal often has to forfeit one's possessions for taking the property of another person. Similarly, it is fair that one who has consciously taken the life of another person should suffer death.

In a research paper “Is Capital Punishment Morall Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs” by Cass R. Susstein and Adrian Vermeule, the authors suggest that death penalty is morally justified on the basis of distinction between acts and omissions. Most opponents of death penalty argue that it is barbaric for a government to take a human life since there is a difference between an act, such as killing a person, and omission, such as refraining from the act. But, researchers argue, by forbidding official penalty, government officials de facto allow numerous private killings that are left unpunished. However, a government that fails to maintain the welfare of the citizens by omitting death penalty from the criminal code will leave citizens unprotected and decrease their welfare “just as would a state that failed to enact simple environmental measures that could save a great many lives” (Sunstein, Vermeule 2005:41). Therefore, punishing the criminals is a necessary part of any state policy. The interests of victims or potential victims of murders cannot be overlooked in order to consider the interests of the criminals guilty of the most heinous crime - taking a person's life.

One of the most important arguments in favor of death penalty is the fact that it helps to deter capital crimes. This issue is debatable since there have been suggestions that application of death penalty has no serious effects on the rate of murders, for instance. Besides, opponents of death penalty claim that it is not possible to deter so-called crimes-of-passion committed in an emotionally affected state when a person is not capable of thinking about future punishment. However, there is evidence that application of capital punishment can indeed prevent crimes, even those that are committed by intimates.

A study by Joanna M. Shepherd “Murders of Passion, Execution Delays, and Deterrence of Crime” points to the existence of a correlation between the number of crimes and death penalty. To find this relationship, she looks at monthly murder and execution data using least squares and negative binomial estimations. Her conclusion is that one execution helps to avert three killings on average. Capital punishment also has an effect on murders by intimates and crimes of passion. The influence is evidenced by rates of crimes committed by victims of both European and Afro-American descent. The deterring effect of death penalty, however, was found to be reduced by longer waits on the death row. As a result of this trend, “one less murder is committed for every 2.75-years reduction in death row waits” (Shepherd 2003:27).

Another paper exploring the relationship between crime rates and death penalty is “State Executions, Deterrence and the Incidence of Murder” by Paul R. Zimmerman uses U.S. state-level data over the years 1978-1997 to find out if capital punishment indeed has a deterrent effect. The paper, in evaluating the deterrent effect of capital punishment, adjusts the data for the influence of simultaneity and therefore comes up with estimates of a deterrent effect that greatly those of previous findings. Zimmermann has found that “the estimates imply that a state execution deters approximately fourteen murders per year on average” Zimmerman 2004:163). Besides, he has established that it is the announcement of death penalty that drives the effect.

The above-mentioned findings suggest that the deterrent effect of capital punishment is present and should not be neglected. If the killing of one criminal can prevent at least three, or fourteen deaths, by different calculations, this opportunity has to be exploited. We cannot forgo an opportunity to save the lives of honest, innocent, law-abiding citizens. Although any human life is precious, the efforts of the society have always been directed mostly at maintaining the well-being of those who live by its rules. They are getting more economic benefits that anti-social elements and can enjoy a more secure future. Thus, these people have to be protected by the law in the first place.

Death penalty, however improper it may seem from the point of view of defending criminals' interests, is “a guarantee of no repeat crime” (NCWC). Evidence of repeat offenders returning to normal life is scarce, and instances of recidivism are abundant. Once again, the solution depends on the main goal set for the legal system: is it to defend the interests of everybody alike or is it designed to support those who spend their lives without harming each other? If we side with those who believe that the system should in the first place support those who are law-abiding, the focus will be on prevention of deaths though murders as the greatest evil generated by crime. Despite the above-mentioned deterrent effect, we cannot effectively prevent crimes by first-time offenders. It is much easier to prevent those by repeat offenders.

One of the most outrageous instances supporting the above claim was the incident that happened in Alabama prison in 2001: Cuhuatemoc Hinricky Peraita, 25, an inmate who was serving life without parole for 3 murders was found guilty of killing a fellow inmate (Recidivism). The killer was finally sentenced to electrocution. However, if he had been sentenced to death right after the first murder, the other three could have been prevented. The life of an inmate who died at the hands of Peraita is no less valuable than his own. In fact, I strongly believe that it could have been more valuable: maybe that person has repented and was going to return to the society a re-born person? Maybe that person was not guilty of such a heinous crime as murder? Unfortunately, there is too much evidence that certain individuals tend to commit murder while others are less prone to it. Death penalty would then free society from the return of such individuals.

Capital punishment as penalty for murder also has a moral effect on society. It signals to the criminals that murder is a serious crime the community feels strongly about. In fact, it creates the useful perception of human life as something so precious that taking it has no justification. Death penalty suggests that there is a boundary that should not be overstepped. This should send a message to society members that taking a person's property, however reprehensible, is not to be condemned via taking a life. On the contrary, murder will not be tolerated, and people who have committed this crime should be removed from society as incapable of social living.

Another common argument given in favour of death penalty is an economical consideration. Comparisons differ depending on the bias of the people carrying out the comparison. Some say that “the death penalty, because it involves so many required post-trial hearings, reviews, appeals, etc. ends up costing more than life imprisonment” (NCWC). However, these extra expenses have to be diminished through increasing the cost-efficiency of the legal system, and society that is spending huge amounts on legal services would benefit from such a reform. Just considering the cost of keeping a 25-year-old inmate incarcerated till the end of one's life is startling and endorses the view that society has to select death penalty as a cheaper option.

Refutation

Opponents of death penalty have given a number of arguments to support their position. In the first place, it is opposed by people on religious grounds. Representatives of various religious groups claim that only God can take a human life and human being are then not sanctioned to kill each other. However, in the Hebrew Scriptures there is evidence that Jews applied death penalty to criminals for selected types of crime. The only instance in the Christian Scriptures includes punishing by death “for lying about Church donations: Acts 5:1 to 11 describe how a couple, Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of real estate” (Religious Tolerance). The couple was killed for lying about the size of the proceeds from the sale of a house in an effort to conceal part of their income.

Proceeding to the Christian Scriptures, one finds some evidence that was said to be indicative of Christ's opposition to death penalty questionable. Thus, there is a renowned episode with the female sinner (John 8:3 - 8:11) who was supposed to be stoned to death and saved by Christ saying “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”. Jesus was not in fact censuring the right to kill the woman according to the ancient law. Besides, there is evidence suggesting that this passage was not present in the original version of the Scripture and was later added by an unknown person (Religious Tolerance). Besides, the passage from Matthew 5:21-22 is supposed to condemn killing: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment..." These words implicate a person who kills out of anger, but is hardly applicable to cases where a person is murdered through a verdict of qualified jury.

Thus, Christian intolerance of death penalty appears doubtful. To negate death first of all would mean the moratorium on wars that take lives of more people than death penalty. The war casualties are often innocent peaceful people who just happened to be caught in the cross-fire, unlike recidivist criminals who end up on death row. Yet most Christian states prepare military doctrines and demonstrate to each other readiness to employ their military machine to kill people if necessary. Still others are practicing war if it suits their political goals. How significantly will then abolition of death penalty forward the goal of living a Christian life?

The same argument applies to the anti-death penalty claim that the legal system should not be allowed to execute because there is a possibility of a legal mistake that will result in the death of a wrong person (NCWC). On these grounds, wars have to be forbidden in the first place since they keep killing people that are not to blame at all. They either do their best fighting for their motherland in expectation of a heroic death or just, as mentioned before, get caught in cross-fire. Thus, any nation that does not exclude a war should not exclude death penalty that is a much more balanced mechanism. Besides, the legal system is unfortunately prone to mistakes, as are all social institutions, but this does not mean that they should not be used to carry out their functions. Most other penalties like imprisonment take a heavy toll on human life, yet they are applied to criminals, even if there is a threat of ruining a person's life by mistake. Besides, returning to the incident in Alabama in the previous section, a person dying at the hands of an acknowledged murderer in prison is also a fatal mistake of the legal system. If the system rightfully recognized the capacity to continue killing in the criminal, his final victim would have saved his life.

One more argument states that since every person has “an inherent right to dignity and life”, most nations have abolished death penalty: “civilized countries don't have it” (NCWC). First, it is still preserved in many nations including the US that fits into many criteria of a civilized country. Besides, quite a few nations that have it in their penal codes like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Barbado, Bangladesh enjoy a relatively low crime rate. This underscores that death penalty adequately serves the main purpose of the legal system: to protect law-abiding citizens.

Conclusion

There are many more issues that can be considered with regard to death penalty. One can evaluate the racist argument, for instance, claiming that death penalty is more often imposed on Afro-Americans than European Americans and see how it relates to crime rate in the two groups. Besides, ethical perspectives on this issue can be diverse and supported by many different theories. With the arguments presented above, however, it seems clear that there are many valid reasons in support of death penalty. On the contrary, anti-death penalty arguments need to be assessed critically, as, for instance, the religious argument.

Further research into the topic is necessary, with more authoritative studies on the deterrent effect of death penalty on the criminal rates, tracing various states in the US as well as evidence from other nations. It would also be interesting to examine the historical background of nations that have both capital punishment in their law codes and extremely low crime rate to see how death penalty affects crime rates. On the more practical level, it is my deepest belief that currently capital punishment has to be preserved in order to protect potential victims. Any consideration of the crime rate cancellation would become viable if the crime rate at least for murders goes sharply down. At present, however, capital punishment serves as an important barrier on the way of criminals ready to take another person's life.


Bibliography

North Carolina Weslyan College. Death Penalty Arguments & Internet Resources. <http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/410/410lect15.htm>.

Recidivim. < http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/repeat_murder.htm>.

Religious Tolerance. Capital Punishment: The Death Penalty: All Points Of View. <http://www.religioustolerance.org/execute.htm>.

Shepherd, Joanna M. Murders of Passion, Execution Delays, and the Deterrence of Capital Punishment. Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 283-322. <http://people.clemson.edu/~jshephe/DPpaper_fin.pdf >.

Sunstein, Cass R., and Adrian Vermeule. Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs. Working Paper 05-06. <http://aei-brookings.org/admin/authorpdfs/page.php?id=1131>.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. “Capital punishment”. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment>.

Zimmerman, Paul R. State Executions, Deterrence and the Incidence of Murder. Journal of Applied Economics, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 163-193. <http://www.cema.edu.ar/publicaciones/download/volumen7/zimmerman.pdf>.

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