April 21, 2013
The death penalty has been around for many centuries, dating back to 1700s BC where “The Code of Hammurabi,” (Procon) which was a legal document containing the death penalty laws. It was used in most cases to punish those who broke the laws or standards that were expected of them. Some people were stoned to death, buried alive, crushed beneath the feet of elephants, whilst others were hanged. Now in the twenty-first century people are put their death via lethal injection(s). “For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists. Why? Because the instincts that are warring in man are not, as the law claims, constant forces in a state of equilibrium.” (Camus) The government would like us to believe that the death penalty is a deterrent of crime. However, the crime rates are unchanged, and homicide rate are still considerably high in states that have the death penalty in effect. The death penalty needs to be abolished, especially for the sake of the innocent people who are killed by the system. Take for example an innocent man in Texas at home with his three children, the house burns down killing the three little girls. The father is the prime suspect, and gets committed for homicide and sentenced to death, as told in the “Innocence Project.”
Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Texas in 2004 for allegedly setting a fire that killed his three young daughters 13 years earlier. He always claimed his innocence, and the arson investigation used to convict him was questioned by leading experts before Willingham was executed. Since 2004, further evidence in the case has led to the inescapable conclusion that Willingham did not set the fire for which he was executed.
This is my point exactly on why the death penalty needs to be abolished in all states. “The preface points out that during the past five years, five states have abolished or refused to reinstate the death penalty” (Randall Coyne). Once someone is executed, and years later due to better technology they are found to be innocent, there is no reversing an execution, we are not to take someones life on the beliefs that they have taken a life. However, retributive justice seems to come into play, “Retribution has its basis in religious values, which have historically maintained that it is proper to take an “eye for an eye” and a life for a life” (The Death Penalty). In other words, we should treat people the way they have treated others. For instance, if someone kills someone, then they should be killed. But just as many people are grown from childhood being told that “Two wrongs do not make a right,” why can this not be taken into account in the justice system.
We live in a society with extensive technology at our finger-tips. Take foe example, DNA testing, this is a technological breakthrough which has concluded many cases, and has been the cause for people to be freed of their implied crimes. “After the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, the execution rate reached a peak of 98 executions in 1999. Since then, the trend has been downward--attributed in part to some high--profile cases in which death row inmates have been found innocent after DNA testing.” (The Christian Century)
Although I oppose the death penalty, there are many who think differently. For those that are for the death penalty, they feel that if someone is sentenced to death then that will be justice for the crime which they committed, and furthermore, it will deter future criminals from committing homicides if they see offenders getting executed for their atrocious crime. However, “Eighty-eight percent of the country’s top criminologists do not believe the death penalty acts a a deterrent to homicide”(Radelet). Some people might see that it is ok to go out and kill if the state does it by imposing the death penalty, therefore reinforcing the