Essay example on Death Penalty:
In all societies, many cases occur where a criminal must be punished, so that they can be taught a lesson, and they can stop committing crimes. There are many different ways of punishing criminals: one is the death penalty. The issue of the death penalty has been avidly discussed throughout history. Some people support the idea of the death penalty, since they say it is only fair for one to forfeit their life if they take the life of another.
Others feel that the death penalty is not fair, and fear that many innocents have been penalized for something they did not do. The issue of capital punishment deals with the moral issues of many people with different opinions within a community. It is a cruel punishment, and many have stated that legal systems should be able to devise another punishment to replace it. Prejudice is present in cases involving the death penalty. Many feel that all civilized communities should abolish the death penalty.
It can seem dreadfully unfair to the families of those found to be innocent after the fact, if they are executed for crimes they did not do. If the Courts of Justice were to misjudge a person and claim them to be guilty, they cannot repair their mistake once that innocent person is dead. Executing an innocent is just as wrongful as any murder committed by in public. Perhaps it can also be considered murder if the jury causes the death of an innocent.
Francois Robespierre, a well-known French revolutionist, once said, “Human judgments are never so certain as to permit society to kill a human being judged by other human beings. Why deprive ourselves of any chance to redeem such errors?” (Goldenman 1998)
It is unjust for anyone to make judgments about others, and to decide whether they should live or die. Courts of Justice are known to make numbers of errors, which means it is unreasonable to allow defendants with the least doubt of guilt to be sentenced to death.
John Stuart Mill, the famous philosopher, wrote that capital punishment – another term used for the death penalty – is a wrong done to innocents. It is impossible to restitute all wrongful executions ever made. “If by an error of justice an innocent person is put to death, the mistake can never be corrected; all compensation, all reparation for the wrong is impossible.”(Blacks 1999). The courts of justice and all legislative bodies bear the onus, and should regard it with great respect, because if they do not, they become no different from wrong-doers in society who commit the crime of taking another’s life.
It is a grave mistake to consider the death penalty as the main method to solve cases, or the best way to discourage crime, because wrongful convictions do occur, and it has been shown that the institution of the death penalty is no great disincentive. There are other methods of punishment, such a long prison terms, which can serve to exact reparation for heinous crimes. The first cause of wrongful convictions is faulty or false information given by witnesses. For example, a US Army Sergeant, named Timothy Hennis, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in South Carolina in 1986. One witness said he saw Hennis at the site of the murder, but the witness had mistaken Hennis for someone who looked like him.
Some witnesses lie to ensure the defendant is convicted of murder. This usually happens when the actual killer attempts to shift the blame to someone else, so they can get away with it. In most cases, it is rather difficult to tell who the murderer is, and is based most frequently on who can tell the most persuading story to police. Because of this, the death penalty is the worst solution in most cases, because it does little to solve the case in a more clement way.
A great number of people consider capital punishment an evil act, because it is a cruel punishment exacted without just cause. It is might seem prudent to punish murderers with death because it tortures them, but their families, and the victims’ families, might think differently.
The horror of a sentence of execution is compounded by years of waiting. Death row inmates are kept in solitary cells, where they are likely to be confined for twenty-three hours of each day. Interaction with others is kept to a minimum. Perhaps this kind of treatment might be punishment enough.
Many consider the ultimate form of punishment as no disincentive for the crime of murder, and feel it increases killing, rather than diminishes it. They also hold it to be morally wrong. There are many difficult issues to deal with after a death sentence, which puts the family of the convicted person into as much discomfort and strife as the sentenced person. The most horrifying part is that they are constantly reminded of what will happen. The horrors of execution, the preparation for it, the psychological infliction of pain and the actual means of execution are considered by many to be barbaric.
A whole sector of the community feels that it is an evil act to have any person put into that circumstance. “In criminal justice, combining this kind of ritualism with killing is considered an aggravation of murder. Yet this is the kind of death the state imposes on those it executes. (Black 1998)” To punish evil with evil, the writer continues, and to exact an eye for an eye, and measure for measure, is to become as callous as the criminals.
Discrimination is also created by dint of the death penalty. In some cases, the court is prejudiced against the defendant. The reasons for their prejudice might be what they consider ignorance, racial bias, or poverty, as well as other undesirable traits. These characteristics can affect the way a judge and jury adjudicates the defendant. The family of a convicted person is also made to suffer from referred guilt and connectedness to crime, which is rarely repairable.
Race is often an issue. Clarence Brandley, a black school janitor, was convicted in 1981 and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a white high school girl in Conroe, Texas. He was told by the police officer that since he was black, he had to be guilty of the murder. Judge Pickett stated about the case, “The conclusion is inescapable that the investigation was not conducted to solve the crime, but to convict Brandley” (Goldenman 1998). Prejudice in the court case proceedings has often contributed to the execution of many innocent people.
Many supporters of the death penalty argue that it will deter violent crime. Dudley Sharp (2000) states, “The incapacitation effect saves lives – that is, that by executing murderers you prevent others from murdering, thereby saving an innocent life. The evidence of this is conclusive and incontrovertible.” People of this opinion believe that murderers would think twice before killing, because they fear death. This idea has been shown to be entirely false. Murderers rarely consider the consequences before they commit a crime. If all murderers think of the consequences before they kill, the murder rate would be lower in legislative areas where the death penalty exists. In fact, it has been shown that murder incidence remains the same when regions that carry the death penalty are compared with those with no form of capital punishment. There is no conclusive evidence to prove that the death penalty deters crime.
It does make sense that all criminals should be penalized to preserve peace and justice. Murderers are criminals, and deserve to be punished for their crime, but not with their own death. The death penalty has many flaws. Innocent people can lose their lives for crimes of which they bear no blame. The death penalty is considered to be highly immoral. It is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. People suffer greatly, both emotionally and physically, before their execution, and their families likewise. Capital punishment is not an antidote for violent crime. It is perfectly possible to deprive murderers of their freedom and throw them in prison for the rest of their natural lives.
Jamie Hebert – 12/24/2011
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