October 18, 2010
Abolishing the Death Penalty
The death penalty has been an active force in the United States for decades. In the early history of our country, public executions were quite popular. Thousands have been executed with the majority occurring in the early twentieth century. But public sentiment towards the executions began to wane as the concepts of basic human rights were being developed throughout the century. As a result, a kind of unofficial moratorium was placed on all executions while several Supreme Court cases were taking place to determine the legality of the punishment. The result of the cases actually made the death penalty illegal as it stood, so several states rewrote their laws, being more specific as to the circumstances as to which the penalty can be applied. The Supreme Court reversed its decision and those states that met the new compliance could reinstate the death penalty. Today, it is legal to execute death row prisoners in all but fifteen states. While it may be legal, it still holds that the death penalty has not and cannot accomplish the task that it has been reinstated to fulfill. Part I: Thesis
The death penalty should be abolished for a variety of reasons. Initially, the death penalty has long been held to be inherently unjust. It is considered unjust in relation to its application, unjust as to the type of punishment utilized and unjust as a punishment at all. It has and continues to be argued in court that the executions amount to what is considered cruel and unusual punishment and so barbaric that it should be done away with as a type of punishment. It is a sad but true statement to say that the United States is one of the last democratic nations to continue to utilize the death penalty. Our country has wavered back in forth on the issue of capital punishment being illegal and a breach of human rights. Additionally, even while continuing to use the death penalty it has not shown to be a deterrent of crime and actually may increase it. Opponents of the death penalty also recognize that it has not been applied fairly. For instance, minorities, the poor, and the mentally disabled tend to receive the death penalty with far greater consistency than their counterparts. That cannot be a punishment representative of a great industrialized country. Those against the death penalty also recognize the cost involved with executing a prisoner. To actually take a death row inmate through the complete appellate system, so as to ensure the inmate’s guilt without any doubt, would cost exponentially more than housing the same inmate for the duration of their life. The monies saved could be better served if used towards something positive, like victim’s programs or the like. Lastly, the death penalty is a punishment that is irrevocable; its effects are permanent and there is the sad reality that innocent lives may be lost. There is no perfect system and mistakes are bound to be made. This is one mistake, however, that cannot be corrected. This is why the death penalty cannot be the United States’ answer for grave offenders of the law. Part II: Anti-Thesis
Proponents of the death penalty are large in number. According to many polls, as many as 80% of the American population still favor capital punishment. One reason for this is society as a whole believes that if a person kills another person, the killer forfeits his right to his own life. (Christie, 1990). If a person shows such complete and utter disregard for human life, the question is posed, why should any regard be shown for the person? Also, those in favor of using the death penalty argue that it is a just punishment for the crime and it is reliable. After all, though some states are trying to punish people with death for other heinous crimes, such as rape and repeat child molestation, so far the death penalty can only be imposed on murder cases. As far as the...