When it comes to the topic of the death penalty, there are opposing opinions.
There is an ongoing debate on whether or not the criminal deserves to have their life taken because of the degree of their crime. On one hand, the death penalty is useful at getting closure for victims’ families as well as making an example and setting a precedent. On the other hand, some argue that the death penalty is immoral and is against religious beliefs.
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Crimes like treason, kidnapping (resulting in death), many high-level drug trafficking, and anything that results in death are capital offenses. The most common reasoning for keeping capital punishment is taken from Hammurabi, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. If you murder someone you should be penalized with the same consequence, in this case, death. In an article published in 2002 “The Death Penalty Deters Crime”, Johansen found that as the death penalty increased in usage, the crime rate fell dramatically. According to this author, “Such consistent correlation between homicide rates and executions is not a result of coincidence—it is proof that capital punishment works”. Even when the death penalty came to a pause, then restarted in 1976, the homicide rate decreased tremendously (Johansen). Therefore, when capital punishment is prohibited, innocent people’s lives are at stake.
Convicts being set free from their death sentence can fall back in just as easily. Criminals on death row show an example to probable criminals of what happens if you act upon your intentions. “Other people, however, argue that the death penalty discourages would-be criminals and ensures that the worst offenders never get the chance to leave prison and commit more crimes” (Rust-Tierney). The death penalty secures extreme criminals from hurting more innocent people. Another reason that capital punishment is good for society is that studies show that the death penalty causes more potential criminals to think before they act. Capital punishment is a direct way for criminals who have committed capital offenses to get the retribution they deserve.
Possible criminals think twice before committing a crime that can potentially become their own death sentence. Another reason why the death penalty is an acceptable means of punishment is that it helps to give the victims’ family closure. With the death of the felon comes the relief knowing that the person will never be able to hurt anyone again. Murder is not simply an act toward one person, it has a ripple effect on the whole extended family. Murderers think that they are only hurting one person but instead, they are harming everyone who knew and were close to that victim.Therefore, studies have shown that even though homicide rates do not drop to zero, they do decrease when capital punishment is in use.
Getting rid of capital punishment can increase homicide rates by criminals knowing they could get out of prison for good behavior. “It not only punishes those who break the law, but it can also deter possible felons from committing those crimes in the first place” (Lippold). The death penalty stops many people from committing capital offenses knowing that death for them is a potential punishment. This doesn’t stop crimes from happening, but it does help the crime rate go down. Having crime rates go down is better and safer for society. Opponents of capital punishment claim that it is unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
Many offenders “can and should be rehabilitated, to once again enter as a functioning member of society, instead of being sent away to their awaited fates” (Lippold). Some people on death row can recover and become a normal functioning human being. A crime is a crime regardless of who commits it. The death penalty should be an option for serious crimes such as brutal murder and rape even when the attacker is considered a youthful offender. “Since the first execution of a youthful offender more than 350 years ago, 365 executions for crimes committed by juveniles have been carried out in the U.
S.” (Juvenile Death Penalty). Criminals under the age of 18 are usually sent to juvenile court which does not have the death penalty. This is, however, contingent upon severity and location of the committed crime. “Just 12 states have juvenile offenders on death row, and just three—Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma—are responsible for 18 of the juvenile executions carried out since 1976” (Juvenile Death Penalty). One might argue that minors are more easily manipulated and coerced into committing a crime, but they should understand the severity and magnitude of crimes that they have committed.*Additionally lethal injection, the most common method of execution, consists of a combination of three chemicals mixed together which are intended to put to sleep, paralyze, and then kill the inmate being executed (Lethal Injection). These injections can be inhumane if done incorrectly.
Prison officials should be taught the right way to administer it so it isn’t painful for the felon. Although physicians are not allowed to administer the execution, they should make sure the injections are done correctly and painless. “Proponents add that it is not so hard for prison officials to learn the right way to administer lethal injections, making it a viable method” ( Lethal Injection). Many crimes resulting in contain the death penalty as the punishment . The death penalty gives justice to cases involving intense crimes like murder. Although the firing squad isn’t the main way of execution for capital punishment it is painless for the criminal. Being shot in the chest will kill someone almost instantly. This also causes less pain than lethal injections could do “it’s quick, it’s humane, it’s reliable” (The Firing Squad Is Making a Comeback in Death Penalty Cases).
The firing squad is also helping with the cutback of lethal injection drugs. The firing squad was considered too brutal and offensive but now is making a comeback as an option in death sentencing. If lethal injection were to ever be cut off or not at hand the firing squad is an exceptional way of execution.Following executions, hanging first came along there was no one specific who knew how to properly hang someone. ” But they did not import professional hangmen, so executions fell to sheriffs and other local officials” (Zimmerman). They didn’t know how far to drop the criminal or for to tie the rope so it wouldn’t break. ” Or sometimes the rope wasn’t taut enough, so executioners had to pull on the prisoner’s legs until he expired” (Zimmerman).They created a pulley system to make sure the person would die when dropped by pulling on the rope to ensure more force.
The hanging method is still used in Delaware and Washington but the us of lethal injection is used more often. Hanging costs less than lethal injection which makes it a viable option if lethal injection wasn’t at hand. !Electrocution was said to “execute prisoners “in a less barbarous manner,”( Zimmerman). The first execution by electricity was on William Kemmler. ” It took the state over eight minutes — and shocks of 2,000 volts — to kill Kemmler” (Zimmerman). The executed even started to catch on fire due to the high voltage and how long it took to kill him.
But several states are reintroducing the electric chair. This form of capital punishment can be used as an alternative to lethal injection if it is not at hand or can not be found.The risks of murdering a white person has a higher punishment than murdering blacks “defendants whose victims are white have a substantially greater risk of receiving a death sentence than do killers of black and Hispanic victims” (Baldus). This is a problem with the system and understanding the actions that have happened. The lives of whites and blacks should be equal in charges as well as in deaths. Many people are blinded by the color of people’s skin rather than what has happened to them and what they have done.
Many people are not informed about this problem even in the system. “Confirming this viewpoint are several studies, including one done at UNC-Chapel Hill several years ago, that found that a defendant’s odds of getting the death penalty in North Carolina increased by 3.5 times if the victim is white” (Baldus). These studies state that victims that are white have a more ” heinous” and “aggravated” murder happen to them.
More than 75% of murder cases with execution have white victims. Those who killed a white person are 3 times more likely to get the death sentence if they are black and 4 times more likely if they are hispanic. But, those who are white criminals murdering a black or hispanic person have a 20% rate of getting sentenced to death.Although capital punishment may seem to only concern criminals and executioners this should also concern victim’s families and anyone who wants our society to be safe. The safety of the upcoming generations is important and creating a safer world with less death. Imagine you’ve been murdered or had a family member murdered would you want that criminal set free? Capital punishment doesn’t give a criminal a second chance to hurt more innocent people.