31 October 2013
The Death Penalty
The death penalty is the execution of a convicted criminal by government authority. It is a form of capital punishment that has been practiced since ancient times. It is generally enforced only when punishing a criminal who has committed a heinous crime such as murder, espionage, or treason (Issitt). The United States is one of the countries still remaining that implements the death penalty. However, not all states in the U.S. implement it, and have made it illegal to do so. Thirty-two states in the U.S. use the death penalty, and the other eighteen have abolished it (“States With and Without the Death Penalty"). It is a hotly debated issue in the U.S. today, and the arguments revolve around the legal, moral, and economic aspects of its use. (Issitt). Although it is debated, the death penalty has proven to be an efficient form of punishment for heinous crimes throughout time. The death penalty should be legalized in all states because it serves justice, is cost-efficient, and is an effective crime deterrent. For justice to properly be served, the punishment must fit the crime. Obviously, with lesser offenses such as stealing, or possession of drugs, time in prison would serve as a sufficient punishment. However, for serious crimes such as murder or treason, the only form of justice is the death penalty (Pearce). The death penalty restores order with the use of authority and it adequately punishes the criminal. Those willing to take the life of an innocent victim should be punished in turn by their life being taken away. The retribution for a heinous crime committed isn’t necessarily rooted in revenge, but rather motivated by the need to serve justice.
How would you feel if one of your family members was murdered and the murderer was let off the hook with an early release from a life sentence in prison? Would you feel like justice has been served? You would probably feel betrayed in some way. There are several examples of murderers who have been sentenced to life imprisonment but are released fifteen or twenty years later, only to kill again (Robinson). If the death penalty had been implemented, this would not have occurred. The death penalty is an assurance that those who commit the atrocious crime of murder will never have the opportunity to commit the same crime again. This is something that life imprisonment cannot guarantee for one-hundred percent certainty.
The death penalty also serves as a solution to the overcrowding in many U.S. prisons today. There are 13.5 million people in the U.S. that serve time in prison every year. Nineteen of the nation’s fifty top prisons are overcrowded. Hundreds being housed in those prisons are murderers ("States With and Without the Death Penalty”). The death penalty would solve this problem, as the necessary justice would be served. No longer would tax money have to be drained from citizens to house murderers, so they can have three warm meals a day and a free place to stay. If justice was served up front through the death penalty, the amount of time these murderers would stay in prison would greatly decrease, depending on the line for death row. This would in turn decrease the amount that citizens pay to house criminals in jail.
The death penalty serves as a crime deterrent to violent crimes. Statistical evidence supports this fact. “From 1966-1980, when only six executions took place, the murder rate in the United States nearly doubled, from 5.6 per 100,000 people to 10.2. That rate fell to 5.7 in 1999, when executions reached a 45-year high of 98” (Pearce). When murderers act on their impulses to kill, they may think twice before carrying out their plan. John McAdams, a political science professor at Marquette University, proves this point when he states, “Capital punishment is a certain deterrent for those who need to be deterred the most: the murderers themselves” (Pearce). Statistical