Capital Assyrians, and Greeks all executedcitizens for a
Capital Punishment`s Cost How do you feel about the saying, an eye for an eye? Do you feel that itis a good saying to run a nation by? Or do you agree with Gandhi who added tothat statement, –and everyone is blind? There have been manycontroversies in the history of the United States, ranging from abortion to guncontrol; however, capital punishment has been one of the most hotly contestedissues in recent decades. Capital Punishment is the execution of a criminalpursuant to a sentence of death imposed by a competent court. It is not intendedto inflict any physical pain or any torture; it is only another form ofpunishment. This form of punishment is irrevocable because it removes thosepunished from society permanently, instead of temporarily imprisoning them, thisis the best and most effective way to deal with criminals.
The usual alternativeto the death penalty is life-long imprisonment. Capital punishment is a methodof retributive punishment as old as civilization itself. The death penalty hasbeen imposed throughout history for many crimes, ranging from blasphemy andtreason to petty theft and murder.
Many ancient societies accepted the idea thatcertain crimes deserved capital punishment. Ancient Roman and Mosaic Lawendorsed the notion of retaliation; they believed in the rule of an eye foran eye. Similarly, the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, and Greeks all executedcitizens for a variety of crimes.
The most famous people who were executed wereSocrates (Saunders 462) and Jesus. Only in England, during the reigns of KingCanute (1016-1035; Hoyt 151) and William the Conqueror (1066-1087; Miller 259)was the death penalty not used, although the results of interrogation andtorture were often fatal. Later, Britain reinstated the death penalty andbrought it to its American colonies. Although the death penalty was widelyaccepted throughout the early United States, not everyone approved of it. In thelate-eighteenth century, opposition to the death penalty gathered enoughstrength to lead to important restrictions on the use of the death penalty inseveral northern states, while in the United States, Michigan, Wisconsin, andRhode Island abandoned the practice altogether.
In 1794, Pennsylvania adopted alaw to distinguish the degrees of murder and only use the death penalty forpremeditated first-degree murder. Another reform took place in 1846 inLouisiana. This state abolished the mandatory death penalty and authorized theoption of sentencing a capital offender to life imprisonment rather than todeath. After the 1830s, public executions ceased to be demonstrated but did notcompletely stop until after 1936. Throughout history, governments have beenextremely inventive in devising ways to execute people. Executions inflicted inthe past are now regarded today as ghastly, barbaric, and unthinkable and areforbidden by law almost everywhere. Common historical methods of executionincluded: stoning, crucifixion, burning, breaking on the wheel, drawing andquartering, beheading and decapitation, shooting, and hanging.
These types ofpunishments today are banned by the eighth amendment to the constitution (TheConstitution, Amendment 8). In the United States, the death penalty is currentlyimplemented in one of five ways: firing squad, hanging, gas chamber,electrocution, and lethal injection. These methods of execution compared tothose of the past are not meant for torture, but meant for punishment for thecrime. For the past decades, capital punishment has been one of the most hotlycontested political issues in America.
This debate is a complicated one. Capitalpunishment is a legal, practical, philosophical, social, political, and moralquestion. The notion of deterrence has been at the very center of the practicaldebate over the question of capital punishment. Most of us assume that weexecute murderers primarily because we believe it will discourage others frombecoming murderers. Retentionists have long asserted the deterrent power ofcapital punishment as an obvious fact. The fear of death deters people fromcommitting crimes.
Still, abolitionists believe that deterrence is little morethan an assumption and a naive assumption at that. Abolitionists claim thatcapital punishment does not deter murderers from killing or killing again. Theybase most of their argument against deterrence on statistics. States that usecapital punishment extensively show a higher murder rate than those that haveabolished the death penalty. Also, states that have abolished the death penaltyand then reinstated it show no significant change in murder rate. They sayadjacent states with the death penalty and those without show no long-termdifferences in the number of murders that occur in that state.
And finally,there has been no record of change in the rate of homicides in a given city orstate following a local execution. Any possibility of deterring a would-bemurderer from killing has little effect. Most Retentionists argue that none ofthe statistical evidence proves that capital punishment does not deter potentialcriminals.
There is absolutely no way to prove, with any certainty, how manywould-be murderers were in fact deterred form killing due to the death penalty.They point out that the murder rate in any given state depends on many thingsbesides whether or not that state uses capital punishment. They cite suchfactors as the proportion of urban residents in the state, the level of economicprosperity, and the social and racial makeup of the populous.
But a smallminority is willing to believe in these statistics and to abandon the deterrenceargument. But they defend the death penalty base on other arguments, relyingprimarily on the need to protect society from killers who are considered highrisk for killing again. Incapacitation is another controversial aspect of thedeath penalty.
Abolitionists say condemning a person to death removes anypossibility of rehabilitation. They are confident in the life-sentencepresenting the possibility of rehabilitating the convict; however,rehabilitation is a myth. The state does not know how to rehabilitate peoplebecause there are plenty of convicted murderers who kill again and again.
Someof these murderers escape and kill again or they kill while still in prison.While reading different articles both on the internet and in magazines I cameacross many stories of inmates who kill another inmate for a piece of chicken,how pathetic is this rehabilitation system? The life-sentence is also amyth, because of overcrowding in prisons early parole has released convictedmurderers and they still continue to kill. Incapacitation is not solely meant asdeterrence but it is meant to maximize public safety by removing any possibilityof a convicted murderer to murder again. The issue of execution of an innocentperson is troubling to both abolitionists and Retentionists alike.
Some peopleare frightened of this possibility enough to be convinced that capitalpunishment should be abolished. This is not true at all! The execution ofinnocent people is very rare because there are many safeguards guaranteeingprotection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. There is legalassistance provided and an automatic appeals process for persons convinced ofcapital crimes.
Persons under the age of eighteen, pregnant women, new mothers,or persons who have become insane cannot be sentenced to death. Capitalpunishment saves lives as well as takes them. We must accept the few risks ofwrongful deaths for the sake of defending public safety. Abolitionists say thecost of execution has become increasingly expensive and that life sentences aremore economical. A study of the Texas Criminal System estimated the cost ofappealing capital murder at approximately $3.2 million.
This high cost includes$265,640 for the trial; $294.240 for the state appeals; $113,608 for federalappeals (over six years); and $135,875 for death row housing. In contrast, thecost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum-security prison single cell for 40years is estimated at $535,000 (TheElectricChair.com). This is a huge amount oftaxpayer money but the public looks at it as an investment in safety since thesemurderers will never kill again. Retentionists argue that these high costs aredue to the lengthy time and the high expenses result from innumerable appeals,many over technicalities which have little or nothing to do with the question ofguilt or innocence, and do little more than jam up the nations court system.If these frivolous appeals were eliminated, the procedure would neither take solong nor cost so much.
The moral issues concerning the legitimacy of the deathhave been brought up by many abolitionists. They think that respect for lifeforbids the use of the death penalty, while retentionists believe that respectfor life requires it. Abolitionists usually cite the Bible saying, To mebelongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for theday of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them makehaste (Deuteronomy 32:35). Whereas the retentionists usually cite, Whososheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed (Genesis 9:6). Bothof these verses are good arguments and seem contradictory; however, manyreligious people say that God works in mysterious ways and one thing He worksthrough is the government so the sentencing of criminals could be God workinghis vengeance through our court systems.
The latter of the two verses is manypeoples moral justification for supporting the death penalty, and let thepunishment fit the crime usually goes right along with the verse also. All threeof these quotes could imply that the murderer deserves to die and it was his ownfault for putting himself on death row. Supporters of capital punishment saythat society has the right to kill in defense of its members, just as anindividual has the right to kill in self defense for his or her own personalsafety. In the United States, the main objection to capital punishment has beenthat it was always used unfairly, in at least three major ways. First, femalesare rarely sentenced to death and executed, even though 20 percent of allmurders that have occurred in recent years were committed by women. Second, adisproportionate number of nonwhites are sentenced to death and executed.
Ablack man who kills a white person is eleven times more likely to receive thedeath penalty than a white man who kills a black person (TheElectricChair.com).In Texas in 1991, blacks made up twelve percent of the overall population, fortyeight percent of the prison population, and 55.5 percent of the population ondeath row (TheElectricChair.com). Before the 1970s, when the death penalty forrape was still used in many states, no white men were guilty of raping nonwhitewomen, whereas most black offenders found guilty of raping a white woman wereexecuted. This data shows how the death penalty can discriminate and be used oncertain races rather than equally as punishment for severe crimes on both races.
And third, poor and friendless defendants, those who are inexperienced or havecourt-appointed counsel, are most likely to be sentenced to death and executed.Defenders of the death penalty, however, argue that, because nothing found inthe laws of capital punishment causes sexist, racist, or class bias in its use,these kinds of discrimination are not a sufficient reason for abolishing thedeath penalty on the idea that it discriminates or violates the 8th Amendment ofthe United States Constitution. Opponents of capital punishment have replied tothis by saying that the death penalty is subject to miscarriage of justice andthat it would be impossible to administer fairly. In the 1970s, a series of U.S.
Supreme Court decisions made the death penalty in the U.S. unconstitutional, ifit is mandatory, if it is imposed without providing courts with adequateguidance to make the right decision in the severity of the sentence, or if it isimposed for a crime that does not take or threaten the life of another humanbeing.
The death penalty was also confined to crimes of murder, including afelony murder. A felony murder is any homicide committed in the course ofcommitting another felony, such as rape or robbery. After the 1972 court rulingthat all but a few capital statutes were unconstitutional, thirty-seven statesrevised and reinstated their death penalty laws.
In 1989 the Supreme Courtdecided that the death penalty could be used on those who were mentally retardedor underage (but not under sixteen) at the time of the killing. A trend that theSupreme Court is following is making a cut back on the appeals that death rowinmates could make to the federal courts. I feel strongly toward using the deathpenalty as punishment for unspeakable crimes. I feel that it is a deterrent forcriminal activity because of its severity and it will never allow a murderer tokill again and destroy another family. The death penalty is not a problem if allavenues have been investigated and nothing is questionable. I do, however, feelthat restrictions should be put on its uses. Not all crimes deserve the deathpenalty.
Let the punishment fit the crime, if a person performs a premeditatedheinous murder he should be put to death. It is that simple. If the convictedoffender shows no remorse for his actions, then the decision should be eveneasier. Repeat offenders and people who enjoy killing do not deserve to walk ourstreets; this method of punishment will prevent that from ever happening. I fellthat it is important to send a message to all future thrill-killers thattaking the life of another human is wrong and if they decide to try it, theymust face the consequence of death.
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