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Death Penalty

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It is more reasonable to utilize the death penalty than to abolish it. The death penalty should not be abolished because (1) it deters people from committing murder and (2) because the death penalty gives peace of mind to the victims and their families and puts an end to the crime.

(1) The death penalty should not be abolished because the fear of the highest form of punishment will keep potential victims alive.

(2) The death penalty should not be abolished because the families of the victims can only begin the healing process once the murderer is put to death.

Response to objections to the thesis

(1) Objection: The death penalty should be abolished because even the highest form of punishment will not remove the evil from society.

Response: If the death penalty was abolished, the convicted murderer has the potential to escape and kill again. This will spread more evil and give the option to kill again to the murderer.

(2) Objection: The execution of a convicted murderer will never bring the victims back to life. Therefore it serves no purpose other than to kill.

Response: Resurrection has never been the purpose of the death penalty. The family members just want to start healing and they can’t while the perpetrator is still alive.

Van der Haag, Ernest and John P. Conrad, The Death Penalty: A Debate (New York: Plenum Press, 1983).

Arlen Specter, “Congress must make Death Sentences Meaningful Again” (Human Events, July 1994).

Hugo, Adam Bedau, Ed., The Death penalty in America: Current Controversies (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997)

Blumstein, Cohen, Nagin, Deterrence and Incapacitation (National Academy Press January 1978)

It is more reasonable to utilize the death penalty than to abolish it. The death penalty should not be abolished because (1) it deters people from committing murder and (2) because the death penalty gives peace of mind to the victims and their families and puts an end to the crime.

The death penalty deters some people from committing heinous crimes and thereby also saves human lives. Not everyone will be deterred from committing heinous crimes because of the death penalty. However, since the death penalty is the highest penalty for crimes it will obviously evoke the most fear in a human being. This fear will save human life. As legal expert Ernest van den Haag explains:

The threat of 50 lashes deters more than the threat of 5: a $1000 fine deters more than a $10 fine; 10 years in prison deters more than 1 year in prison just as, conversely, the promise of a $1000 reward is greater than the promise of a $10

reward, etc. (1) Most murders happen in the passion of the moment, however, serial killers, burglars, gang members, and others who plan their crime in advance can and do think of the possibilities. Many criminals don’t carry weapons while committing crimes, for example, to keep from killing, as Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania recalls:

My twelve years’ experience in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office convinced

me that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime. I saw many cases where professional burglars and robbers refused to carry weapons, for fear that a killing would occur and they would be charged with murder in the first degree, carrying the death penalty.(2)

Because the death penalty is final and more feared than imprisonment, it deters some prospective murderers not deterred by the thought of imprisonment.

Abolitionist’s main argument is that capitol punishment can’t remove the evil from society. No matter what the juridical laws that a country holds, heinous crimes will haunt and spread fear throughout as long as mankind is on this earth. There have been numerous studies that have concluded that the death penalty is not a deterrent. One of which is from the National Academy of Sciences. They concluded: “it seems unthinkable to us to base decisions on the use of the death penalty” on such “fragile” and “uncertain” results.”4 Therefore, they feel the death penalty should be abolished.

Although there is no concrete proof that executing convicted murderers deters future murders, common sense would indicate that as humans, we respond to punishment. If the death penalty deters even one innocent victim’s murder, it is worth more than preserving the lives of convicted murderers. If there were no death penalty and a convicted murderer was sentenced to life without parole, they would not only soon adjust to prison life, but would have the potential to escape and kill again. The severity and finality of the death penalty is appropriate to the seriousness and the finality of murder. (3)

The death penalty gives peace of mind to the victims and their families and puts an end to the crime. Most victims and relatives to victims have of peace of mind if the death penalty were allowed. There are countless testimonies to this fact. No other penalty has prerequisite to give the inner harmony back in a concrete way. The heart may say: “finally justice has been made and respect has been shown for the victim! Capital punishment has therefore an atoning influence on citizens; it rehabilitates humans in general but especially the relatives of the dead victims. It is understood that capital

punishment isn’t a cure for the crime. The pain will remain, but when a death penalty is carried out, it means a clear and decisive turning point for many. This becomes a concrete step on the road to greater inner peace. This will allow the relatives to breath easier and start the healing process. If a state governed by law is to be able to show warmth, compassion and peace of mind to victims and their families, then the death penalty is the most effective way to bring this about.

The argument to the above is that the death penalty does not bring back any victim to life, therefore, unnecessary. Just because someone has taken a life, it doesn’t mean that the convict’s life should also be taken. Is it fair to take a bad situation and make it worse?

The death penalty will never sweep away the emotions and feelings of grief that the relatives and friends feel. Murdering the convicted murder would only cause more grief for his family, therefore, over time, grieving would become commonplace.

Resurrection has never been the purpose of the death penalty. It is understood that the death penalty will not totally take away the emotions and feelings of the relatives, however the death penalty will ease those pains. The grief and despair would be considerably heavier to carry if the relatives knew that the perpetrator was only sentenced to prison and would be released after a period of time. Therefore, I feel that the death penalty will never become unnecessary.