The Benefits of the Death Penalty
Criminals have become a part of our daily lives. Does this mean we let them be the darkness of our society? No, definitely not. Eliminating crime and criminals is our duty, and we cannot ignore it. Getting the rightly accused to a just punishment is very important. Some criminals commit a crime because they have no other option to survive, but some do it for fun.
I do not advocate death penalty for everybody. A person, who stole bread from a grocery store, definitely does not deserve death penalty. However, a serial killer, who kills people for fun or for his personal gain, definitely deserves death penalty. Death penalty should continue in order to eliminate the garbage of our society. Not everybody deserves to die, but some people definitely do. I support death penalty because of several reasons. Firstly, I believe that death penalty serves as a deterrent and helps in reducing crime.
Secondly, it is true that death penalty is irreversible, but it is hard to kill a wrongly convicted person due to the several chances given to the convicted to prove his innocence. Thirdly, death penalty assures safety of the society by eliminating these criminals. Finally, I believe in “lex tallionis” – a life for a life. 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 onvincing. 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). Deterrence means to punish somebody as an example and to create fear in other people for the punishment. Death penalty is one of those extreme punishments that would create fear in the mind of any sane person.
Ernest van den Haag, in his article “On Deterrence and the Death Penalty” mentions, “One abstains from dangerous acts because of vague, inchoate, habitual and, above all, preconscious fears” (193). Everybody fears death, even animals. Most criminals would think twice if they knew their own lives were at stake. Although there is no statistical evidence that death penalty deters crime, but we have to agree that most of us fear death. Suppose there is no death penalty in a state and life imprisonment without parole is the maximum punishment.
What is stopping a prisoner who is facing a life imprisonment without parole to commit another murder in the prison? According to Paul Van Slambrouck, ” Assaults in prisons all over US, both against fellow inmates and against staff, have more than doubled in the past decade, according to statistics gathered by the Criminal Justice Institute in Middletown, Connecticut” (Christian Science Monitor, Internet). There is no stopping these inmates from committing further crimes within the prison, if they are already facing the maximum punishment.
Anti-death penalty advocates argue that imprisonment itself could deter criminals. They believe that we do not need to go to the extreme measure of killing the criminals to deter crime. Hugo Adam Bedau in his article, “Capital Punishment and Social Defense” mentions, “Crimes can be deterred only by making would-be criminals frightened of being arrested, convicted, and punished for crimes& ” (301). Unfortunately, the ever-increasing population in the prisons proves otherwise. Somehow, just imprisonment is not enough for some people to stop them from committing a crime.
The number of criminals is increasing every year. In 1990, there were 42,733 prisoners in Alaska, whereas in 1999 it increased to 68,599 (Death Penalty USA Pages, Internet). Some criminals may think that they would never be caught, and just keep committing crimes. The perfect example for this would be serial killers. For such people, death penalty should be there, so that others, who even think about committing such crimes, learn a lesson that every criminal is eventually caught.
Anti-death penalty advocates believe that death penalty is irreversible and may become a cause of irreversible mistakes. Once a person has been sentenced to death and thus death penalty practiced, there is nothing that can be done to undo the punishment if the accused turns out to be innocent. I agree that death penalty is irreversible, but the chance of making a mistake in death penalty is extremely low. Death penalty is considered an extreme punishment and the judicial system takes a lot of care in finalizing the decision.
There are several safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. For example, “Capital punishment may be imposed only when guilt is determined by clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts”, “Anyone sentenced to death shall receive the right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction”, etc. (Capital Punishment: Life or Death, Internet). There are several other privileges provided to the convicted that assure that death penalty is given to the rightly accused person.
According to Haag, “Trials are more likely to be fair when life is at stake – the death penalty is probably less often unjustly inflicted than others” (192). Statistics reveal that there is far less number of death sentences than life imprisonment sentences without parole given out every year. According to Federal Justice Statistics, in 1998, there were approximately 5000 criminals sentenced to life imprisonment as opposed to 74 criminals sentenced to death (Internet). This shows that judicial system itself is very careful with death sentences.
Even if we assume that there are chances that an innocent person is executed, it is the problem with the trial, not the punishment. “It is not the penalty – whether death or prison – which is unjust when inflicted on the innocent, but its imposition on the innocent”, writes Haag (192). When an innocent person is sentenced to death, it is not the fault of the punishment itself, but the trial that led to this punishment. There have been cases in which a person has been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, and then after several years, it was revealed that the person was innocent.
No court or compensation in this world can return the horrifying years spent in the prison by that innocent person. If we stop giving life imprisonment sentences to criminals on this ground, then probably most of the criminals would be walking around free on the streets within ten to fifteen years. The fear and trust that the society has in the judicial system would be lost. The judicial system has minimized the chances of mistakes. It is almost impossible to sentence a wrongly accused person. Then, why cause death of several innocent victims just on the bleak assumption that some day we might make a mistake?
Incapacitating a person is “depriving s/he of the physical or intellectual power of natural il/legal qualifications” (Webster, 574). Death penalty is not advocated for all criminals. Those criminals, who commit murders during self-defense or during times of passion, do not deserve death penalty. However, those people who just do not seem to learn the lesson the first time, or those who kill for fun, definitely deserve death penalty. Defendants (murderers) are allowed to shield themselves from justice by pleading insanity. Insanity means a failure to respond to the usual sort of incentives in the usual ways.
If insane people are completely unresponsive to incentives, then their profits serve no social purpose, thus leading to another beneficial factor of the death penalty. People who have no social purpose do not benefit society, culture of mankind, or the basic rules of humanity. For example: This drug related brain-damaged killer barely knew his own identity when he murdered a mother and her daughter in front of a 3 year old boy. When he was finished raping the females and performed their deaths, he move on to sexually molest the boy in which he then left him to die.
The retarded man then pled insanity, got to stay in jail for 22 years, eating three square meals a day, sleeping on a mattress with a blanket in air conditioned comfort and having a roof over his head (Shapiro, 61). Where do we draw the line between mentally incapable and criminally insane? When are they going to learn to resume the responsibility for their actions? I am not saying that all mentally disabled people should be subject to death penalty because they are no good to the society. However, some people pose a great fatal danger to the society in such a ruel way as seen in the above example. In such cases, death penalty becomes crucial for the benefit of the society. I believe every criminal, no matter how cruel he is, should be given at least one chance to change himself/herself. Thus, I do not advocate death penalty for people who have performed only one murder. However, there have been cases in which people have committed several murders (e. g. , serial killers), or have committed crime even after imprisonment. For such people, I advocate death penalty. There needs to be a limit to which society should put up to.
If somebody does not understand that going around killing people is wrong, then I believe, that letting such people live is not only a great threat to the society, but also a great burden. Advocate of anti-death penalty, Adam Bedau, wrote, “Prevention by means of incapacitation occurs only if the executed criminal would have committed other crimes if he or she had not been executed and had been punished only in some less incapacitative way (e. g. , by imprisonment)” (Capital Punishment and Social Defense, 301).
If people commit a crime while facing an imprisonment sentence, then their sentence should be changed to death sentence, since it is evident that they are just habitual to committing crimes and are a constant threat to the society, including the other inmates. 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. Some people might think that death penalty is inhuman and barbarous, but ask those people who have lost their beloved or whose lives have been tied to a hospital bed because of some barbarous person.
I am sure they would be very unhappy to see the person who ruined their lives just getting a few years of imprisonment or mere rehabilitation. Consider the example of the rapist and killer given above. Now, suppose the woman raped was your wife, sister, or daughter. How would you feel knowing that the person who ruined your family is calmly enjoying the benefits of an asylum and an air-conditioned room? Anti-death penalty supporters believe that death penalty is barbarous. Well! So is murder. Death penalty is not revenge.
Rather, it is a matter of putting an end to a life that has no value for other human lives. Sentencing a murderer to death is in fact a favor to the society. Despite the moral argument concerning the inhumane treatment of the criminal, we return to the “nature” of the crime committed. Can society place an unequal weight on the tragically lost lives of murder victims and the criminal? This is not an exam question in a college philosophy course but a moral conundrum at the core of perhaps the most intriguing issue facing the U. S. Supreme Court today.
Punishment is meted out because of the nature of the crime, devoid of any reference to the social identity of the victim. In “The Death Penalty in America”, Adam Bedau wrote, “even in the tragedy of human death there are degrees, and that it is much more tragic for the innocent to lose his life than for the State to take the life of a criminal convicted of a capital offense” (308). I believe that if one cannot value the life of another human being, then one’s own life has no value. 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. Death penalty is good and serves a definite purpose of reducing crime as well as bringing justice to the criminals and innocent.
In order to serve its purpose, it must be adjusted and made more effective and efficient. The justice system has changed dramatically in the past thirty years in order to make sure that the rightly accused is brought to justice. I believe that death penalty should not be abolished, as it ensures the safety of the society, brings justice to those who have suffered and most importantly helps in reducing crime and criminals in our society. Death penalty is important to keep the brightness of justice and public safety shining brightly on our society.
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.
Works Cited Budau, Hugo Adam. “Capital Punishment and Social Defense. ” Reserved reading for Philosophy 203. Bedau, Hugo Adam. ” The Death Penalty in America. ” New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. Browning, Tonya. “Capital Punishment: Life or Death. ” Computer Writing and Research Lab, University of Texas. Online. Internet. 27 April 2000. Haag, Ernest van den. “On Deterrence and the Death Penalty. ” Reserved reading for Philosophy 203. Shapiro, Walter. “What say should victims have? ” AskJeeves. com. Online. Internet. 29 April 2000. Slambrouck, Paul Van. “US Prisons –