The Death Penalty Essay

Submitted By RDMichaelis
Words: 1605
Pages: 7

The Death Penalty The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the Eighteenth Century. Although some may think the death penalty is a cruel form of justice, it has actually improved over time. Death sentences have been carried out by such means of crucifixion, drowning, burning alive, quartering, and even impalement - just to name a few. With that being said, some still disagree with means of today’s death penalty. Jack Greenberg, Professor of Law from Columbia University, believes there are much more effective ways of dealing with criminals rather than the death penalty. He goes on to defend his opinion in his article “Against the American System of Capital Punishment”, stating that racism could play a major role in capital punishment. Siding with Greenberg is author David Chandler, who also believes that the death penalty is an insufficient way of dealing with the worst of criminals. Ernest van den Haag, on the other hand, disagrees with Greenberg and supports the death penalty, which he makes very clear in his writing “The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense.” He believes that racism is not an issue and that the death penalty serves as an intimidation factor to deter criminals. Siding with Van Den Haag is Dr. Don Boys, author for Cornerstone Communications. He uses a religious aspect as to why man has the right to decide whether or not a man deserves to live. Although the death penalty has a few perks, it should be abolished for a few reasons. It has never proven to deter crimes more effectively than other punishments, there are serious economic consequences, and most importantly it denies criminals their natural born right to life. Greenberg and Van Den Haag have two very different opinions, but Greenberg is able to back up his opinion with facts, and makes it very clear as to why the death penalty should be abolished. There are multiple factors involving the death penalty that prove there are more effective ways of dealing with society’s criminals. First, the death penalty has never been shown to deter crimes more effectively than other punishments. David Chandler includes studies recently conducted in Oklahoma and California that have failed to prove that capital punishment has a deterrent effect on crimes in America. Oddly enough, it has been discovered that there is a significant increase in killing and homicide rates after the death penalty has been reinstated. The ideas behind capital punishment may have good intentions, but as Greenberg states,“Americas simply does not have the kind of capital punishment system contemplated by death penalty partisans” (Greenberg). Greenberg makes a valid point when he says the potential killers have most likely convinced themselves they will not be caught after they have committed the crime (Greenberg 37). He goes on to say the majority of people who commit murders either do not expect to be caught or do not carefully weigh the differences between a possible execution and life in prison before they commit the crime; these murders are most often committed in moments of blinding anger or passion. However, Van Den Haag still believes that capital punishment serves as a deterrence despite recent studies proving otherwise. Van Den Haag is convinced that the death penalty inflicts fear into hearts and minds of could-be criminals. He shares his views with Sir James Fitzjames Stephen who says,“Some men, probably, abstain from murder because they fear that if they committed murder they would be hanged. Hundreds of thousands abstain from it because they regard it with horror (Stephen 16)”. Van Den Haag also believes criminals would prefer imprisonment for life rather than receiving the death penalty. Later in his article he also states that even if the lives of just a few victims are saved due to deterrence of the death penalty, then it is doing its job. On the religious aspect, Dr. Boys quotes Genesis 9:6,”whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for