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The death penalty pros and cons essay discusses the issue that has the United States quite divided. While there are many supporters of it, there is also a large amount of opposition. Currently, there are thirty-one states in which the death penalty is legal and nineteen states that have abolished it.
I believe the death penalty should be legal throughout the nation. There are many reasons as to why I think the death penalty should be legalized in all states, including deterrence, retribution, and morality; and because opposing arguments do not hold up, I will refute the ideas that the death penalty is unconstitutional, irrevocable mistakes are made, and that there is a disproportionality of race and income level.The use of capital punishment greatly deters citizens from committing crimes such as murder. Many people’s greatest fear is death; therefore if they know that death is a possible consequence for their actions, they are less likely to perform such actions.
Ernest van den Haag, a professor at Fordham University, wrote about the issue of deterrence: “…capital punishment is likely to deter more than other punishments because people fear death more than anything else. They fear most death deliberately inflicted by law and scheduled by the courts….Hence, the threat of the death penalty may deter some murderers who otherwise might not have been deterred. And surely the death penalty is the only penalty that could deter prisoners already serving a life sentence and tempted to kill a guard, or offenders about to be arrested and facing a life sentence.”
Van den Haag brings forth the argument that capital punishment is the strongest deterrent society has against murder, which has been proven in many studies. “Since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder…”
In a study conducted by Isaac Ehrlich in 1973, it was found that for each execution of a criminal seven potential victim’s lives were saved (Death Penalty Curriculum for High School). This was due to other possible murderers being deterred from committing murder after realizing that other criminals are executed for their crimes. Ehrlich’s argument was also backed up by studies following his that had similar results.
Capital punishment also acts as a deterrent for recidivism (the rate at which previously convicted criminals return to committing crimes after being released); if the criminal is executed he has no opportunity to commit crimes again. Some may argue that there is not enough concrete evidence to use deterrence as an argument for the death penalty. The reason some evidence may be inconclusive is that the death penalty often takes a while to be carried out; some prisoners sit on death row for years before being executed. This can influence the effectiveness of deterrence because punishments that are carried out swiftly are better examples to others.
Although the death penalty is already effective at deterring possible criminals, it would be even more effective if the legal process were carried out more quickly instead of having inmates on death row for years.The death penalty also carries out retribution justly. “Deserved punishment protects society morally by restoring this just order, making the wrongdoer pay a price equivalent to the harm he has done”. When someone commits a crime it disturbs the order of society; these crimes take away lives, peace, and liberties from society. Giving the death penalty as a punishment simply restores order to society and adequately punishes the criminal for his wrongdoing. Retribution also serves justice for murder victims and their families. Some may see this as revenge, but this retribution is not motivated by malice, rather it is motivated by the need for justice and the principle of lex talionis (“an eye for an eye”).
This lack of malice is proven in the simple definition of retribution: “retribution is a state sponsored, rational response to criminality that is justified given that the state is the victim when a crime occurs”. The death penalty puts the scales of justice back in balance after they were unfairly tipped towards the criminal. The morality of the death penalty has been hotly debated for many years. Those opposed to the death penalty say that it is immoral for the government to take the life of a citizen under any circumstance. This argument is refuted by Immanuel Kant who put forth the idea that, “a society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else’s life is simply immoral” .
It is immoral to not properly punish a person who has committed such a horrendous crime. The criminal is also executed humanely; in no way is he subjected to torture or any form of cruelty. All states that use the death penalty use lethal injection; the days of subjecting a prisoner to hanging or the electric chair are long gone in the US. Inmates are first given a large dose of an anesthetic so they do not feel any pain; this proves that the process is made as humane as possible so the inmates do not physically suffer.
Although the issue of morality is very personal for many people, it is important to see the facts and realize that capital punishment does take morality into account and therefore is carried out in the best way possible. The eighth amendment to the United States Constitution prevents cruel and unusual punishment. Many opponents of capital punishment say that execution is cruel and unusual punishment and therefore violates the Constitution. As was stated earlier, the recipient of the death penalty is treated humanely and is not tortured in any way, shape, or form. After the anesthetic is administered the person feels no pain; the only part of the process that could be considered painful is when the IV is inserted, but that is done in hospitals on a daily basis and no one is calling it unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the death penalty as constitutional in cases they have presided over. In the case of Furman v. Georgia the court stated, “The punishment of death is not cruel, within the meaning of that word as used in the Constitution. It implies there is something more inhuman and barbarous, than the mere extinguishment of life”. The Supreme Court has not found capital punishment to be unconstitutional, and therefore this argument for abolition is invalid.Capital punishment can be a difficult topic to approach because people tend to have extreme views on it.
The death penalty is an asset to society; it deters potential criminals as well as serves retribution to criminals, and is in no way immoral. The arguments against the death penalty often do not hold up when examined more closely. It is important that the nation is united on this issue, rather than having some states use capital punishment while others do not. The death penalty can be an extremely useful tool in sentencing criminals that have committed some of the worst crimes known to society. It is imperative that we begin to pass legislation making capital punishment legal throughout the United States so that justice can be served properly.
Twenty-nine states in the United States have legalized the death penalty. That means that twenty-one of our states are smart enough to keep it banned for the sense of our society now-a-days. Statistically, there has been over fifteen thousand killings with the death penalty since it has been originated. Most executions, in the olden days, were from over-siding racially or dislike onto another family/person. No one wants to be sent to death row; it is by far the most cruel and inhuman punishment anyone could ever receive.
In this world, there are eight different types of execution still being used. The United States being able to use three of these methods: Lethal injection, Electrocution, and Gas inhalation. Other Countries around the world still use the processes of Hanging, Shooting, Beheading, Stoning, and Crucifixion. Most of these areas have some kind of legal government utilizing which methods to use, if multiple is available. Hanging was abandoned in the United States when a hanging went in the wrong direction and instead of the spinal cord being severed, it was either a decapitation or slowly strangling to death. Alternatives towards the hanging process was a share of electric through one’s body and inhaling gas. Most of which had their own problems as well, but still being more reliable. “More than 4,000 people were put to death by electrocution. Approximately 2 percent of them were botched, some of them when the condemned caught on fire and filled the death chamber with smoke and the smell of burning flesh. The gas chamber, first used in 1922, proved to be even less reliable. More than 5 percent of executions in the gas chamber were botched when the gas did not produce rapid loss of consciousness and witnesses watched as the condemned suffered an agonizingly slow asphyxiation.”
Along side all of the horrifying types of dehumanizing one, most people don’t agree with any of these methods because they are so unfair, and society is more pro life today. Back in the 1600’s, people were less pro life because no one lived longer than thirty to thirty-five years of age. In today’s society, most of the population has the objective to live and to have friends and family around them for a lifetime. We also considered that the average age for men and women are both around seventy-four to seventy-eight years of life. Being pro-life is a huge part of this age’s society. We have a lot more people who think about what they do and decide they want to live over dying any day. I believe we have potential and we deserve the choice to live, because “a society that respects life does not deliberately kill human beings.”
The cost of the death penalty is more money than the cost of incarceration. “The death penalty was eventually reintroduced in New York and then found unconstitutional and not reintroduced again, in part because of cost.” Most states that chose to make it illegal look over all the viewpoints, including how much it would cost, knowing that quite a few people on average would end up being executed. Even if it didn’t cost what it does, is it actually helping the nation or are we just making excuses up to be able to hurt people and get revenge?
As a reaction to capital punishment, there are families out there who suffer from losses of children, loved ones, and family members. Some might even be innocent, but most wouldn’t know due to most people not getting their fair trial. Not letting those who are on death row have an equal trial is in violation of amendment 14 and 6 of the Constitution. Amendment 14; section 1 states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (Legal Information Institute) A brief simplified version stating that everyone deserves an equal protection of the law. Amendment 6 states, in brief words, that everyone is guaranteed a fair trial before sentencing or coming up with a solution. Most adults who wants capital punishment doesn’t realize that it is against the Constitution of the United States of America. It is wrong and unfair, not to mention the most unusual and cruel punishment that the world has ever had. In the opinion of most people, capital punishment should be legal because someone people just deserve to die from doing morbidly horrific things. Me as a human with choices, I decided to be on that lower sided percentage and refuse to let people just murder anyone they want on death row, whether innocent or not. Whatever happened to the phrase, “…a defendant is innocent until proven guilty…?”. This phrase should mean in all criminal cases that someone objected to law deserves and receives a trial to be proven guilty or innocent.
In a final look at this argument between right and wrong, it seems to be capital punishment is also a way to keep population at good standards. So many people being on death row every year are killed and left behind which cuts the population down and makes it easier for the new and upcoming generations to change things. While most adults on death row are between 20 to 50, give or take few in different locations. The authorities believes that capital punishment is going to keep the population at a decent level so the world doesn’t began to over populate but in most occasions the death penalty is only used about 15 times a year. The death penalty isn’t used enough consistently for it to be an effective solution. “A punishment can be an effective deterrent only if it is consistently and promptly employed. Capital punishment cannot be administered to meet these conditions.”
On the opposite side of the argument, its understanding is that capital punishment does have a deterrent against any crime one wishes or happened to commit. This is not possible because it doesn’t happen enough in the United States for it to have an effective deterrent. Another side would be that lethal injection is used most because it has been said to be the easiest and less painful way to kill a criminal. That being known it is used the most on people but there has recently been killings that are interrupted because the dosage was gave to them wrong or it was the wrong medicine, making it a not-so-easy way of killing these people and making it an aggressive or slow way to die.
In conclusion, Capital Punishment is wrong. Everyone deserves to have a fair trial whether innocent or guilty. If only one person tries to help an innocent criminal on death row, it could take up to fifteen years just for them to get everyone else to switch sides. No one deserves to be thrown into death row without a fair trial and someone actually helping them. Even then, it’s still wrong and against the laws and the United States Constitution from the 1970’s. No one deserves to be killed. Everyone has a path and it never ends on death row.
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