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Essay in Support of The Death Penalty in The United States

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According to the eighth amendment in the United States Constitution, every American citizen is protected from cruel and unusual punishment in the criminal justice system. Throughout history, there have been many court cases that have ruled against or for the death penalty, but the issue of whether capital punishment is morally just or not is still debated today.

As a culinary arts student, I am for the death penalty as I see it a good form of punishment on the grounds that it deters citizens and prevents criminals from committing violent acts, is an extremely cheap financial method of punishing criminals that affirms righteous life, and provides retribution to victims and their families. An opposer of the death penalty on this argumentative platform could reference the Supreme Court case of Furman v. Georgia. In Edward Koch’s essay, “Death and Justice,” he points out that many people debate that the seizure of any life cheapens the value of life itself, and no price should be put on it. Despite all the opposing arguments that criminalize capital punishment, society cannot disregard the fact that by executing dangerous murderers, we make it impossible for cruel people to ever commit violent crimes again. As American citizens, we should appreciate that the amendments of the Constitution guarantee rights and protections to each and every citizen, and the death penalty works to uphold the American Constitutional foundation of liberty and justice for all. This appellate case was able to abolish the death penalty in 1972, with the argument that all present methods of execution, such as hanging, electrocution, and the gas chamber, were forms of cruel and unusual punishment.

Some victims don’t agree that the “eye for an eye” mindset can be morally justified, according to their religion or spiritual standards in my opinion. Instead of attempting to implement new laws based on ambiguous religious scriptures, spiritual opponents should first be informed of all the rules established by Supreme Court cases that clarify how capital punishment upholds all human and American rights. By carrying out death penalty sentences, the government successfully prevents serious offenders from ever killing again, and warns citizens that they might receive the same punishment if they ever commit brutal crimes. This view is understandable, but fails to realize that the government has different rights compared to individual citizens. It is irrefutable that the death penalty is cheaper than incarcerating menacing citizens for life, and by putting such treacherous human beings to death, we improve the quality and value of life for society. Many current arguments against capital punishment, like Bright’s, provide examples of outdated death penalty cases that have sentenced children, mentally ill, and self-represented defendants to death.

One of the main goals of punishment in the criminal justice system is retribution, which means equal punishment is ordered according to the severity of the crime. This establishment ensures that indignant or mentally ill defendants will not be executed because they couldn’t properly represent themselves. No matter what a person’s spiritual denomination, he or she cannot deny that the death penalty is the only humane way for retribution to adequately be served to murderous criminals. (United States of America) Because of this clause, many Supreme Court appellate cases throughout history have been debated and established standards that justify the death penalty and uphold citizen’s rights.

After that amount is multiplied by the number of dangerous inmates serving life sentences, it is economically logical to employ capital punishment in the corrections system, which only costs taxpayers $86.08 per lethal injection. This case ruling protects citizens’ Constitutional rights, and establishes guidelines to the death penalty that ensures the upholding of each defendant’s dignity throughout the corrections process. The sanction of the death penalty is not murder, because it is not a violent and immoral act, and it is performed in the best positive interests of society.

This discrepancy proves to be “problematic” for both sides of religious arguments because Westmoreland-White and Stassen evaluate that the “original context of The Sixth Commandment neither demands nor prohibits capital punishment”. Koch reports that spiritually based arguments frequently reference the Ten Commandments and teachings of Jesus in the Bible.

In 2002 and 2005, the Atkins v. Virginia and Roper v. Simmons cases outlawed the execution of mentally ill or developmentally disabled offenders, as well as offenders under the age of 18.

In their essay “Biblical Perspectives on the Death Penalty,” Westmoreland-White and Stassen declare that The Sixth Commandment has been translated as “Thou shalt not kill,” as well as “Thou shalt not murder,” in different languages. Mainly, the 1976 Gregg v. Georgia case ruled that death penalty, executed by lethal injection, was a lawful sanction because it required that defendants facing capital punishment must be offered the opportunity to appeal at any time during the court process, their cases must be split into trial and sentencing phases, and both mitigating and aggravating factors contributing to the defendant’s guilt or innocence must be presented during trial. Religious advocates and opposers of the death penalty tend to argue specific quotes of The Bible in their favor, but throughout their essay, Westmoreland-White and Stassen reiterate the well-known fact that Jesus’ teachings and biblical verses should be interpreted as morally directing “proverbs,” not as literal “laws”.

However, others, like Koch and myself, argue that funding the well-being and sustenance of convicted killers is much more diminishing and disgraceful to the quality of human life, than if such monsters were just put to death. How can the families of victims live peaceful lives, knowing that their tax money is being used provide a healthy, comfortable, and long life for the person who murdered and striped their loved one of human dignity? The capital punishment requirements outlined by The Supreme Court allow victims and their families to know that justice was served for the despicable crimes committed against them, and relieves families of any guilt, knowing that the criminal was punished humanely and fairly. According to a 2012 survey from the Vera Institute of Justice, holding one criminal in prison costs taxpayers an average of $31,286 a year. Direct biblical sayings from Jesus Christ such as “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword,” and “love your enemies and pray for your persecutors,” (Matthew 26:52, 5:44) are powerful statements used to argue that humans should “break out of cycles of rivalry, jealousy, bitterness, hatred, and violence” because God will justly “give rain and sunshine” to each individual, according to his actions.

In summary, to establish an orderly legal system that functions with clarity, our founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, in which a guideline for the creation of laws in America was embedded, that gives citizens the power to voice their opinions and work to update statutes as time goes on: Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed – that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.

Work Cited

  1. Bright, Stephen B. “Why the United States Will Join the Rest of the World in Abandoning Capital Punishment.” Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? The Experts on Both Sides Make Their Best Case. Ed. Hugo Adam Bedau and Paul G. Cassel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 152-182. Print.
  2. Cole, George F., and Christopher E. Smith. Criminal Justice in America. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2014. Print. Hall, Charlene. ‘Methods of Execution.’ Pro-death Penalty. N.p., 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
  3. Henrichson, Christian, and Ruth Delaney. ‘The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers.’ Center on Sentencing and Corrections 20 July 2012: 9. Vera Institute of Justice, 2012. Pdf. 1 Dec. 2014.
  4. Koch, Edward I. “Death and Justice.” N.p.: 1-3. N.d. Pdf. 9 Dec. 2014. Matthew. Holy Bible, New International Version. Colorado Springs: Biblica, 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
  5. United States of America. Congress. The Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia: n.p., 1776. Independence Hall Association, 4 July 1995. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
  6. Westmoreland-White, Michael L., and Glen H. Stassen. “Biblical Perspectives on the Death Penalty.” Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning. Ed. Erik C. Owens, John D. Carlson, and Eric P. Elshtain. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004. 123-138. Print.

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