Capital Punishment vs Life in Prison

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Angela Long Long 1
ENGL 1213 Sec. 902
08 Mar 2012
Final Draft A2

An Eye For An Eye

There is an ongoing debate about capital punishment versus life in prison. I am in favor of

capital punishment because it totally removes the possibility of an offender repeating his or her crimes

and possibly saves the lives of others. The main purpose of the death penalty is to protect the right of

other Americans to live. In his book, “The Law”, Frederic Bastiat writes, “Humans have an inalienable

right to exist outside of and before government. These right's are life, liberty, and property. When one

person infringe on another persons rights, he must be punished. To do this, the punishment must be

harsh enough to deter potential criminals.” This punishment is the harshest form, but it is necessary to

maintain order (Bastiat).

Life in prison does not always mean for a persons entire life. There are many states in the U.S.

Where a convict can be released on parole after a decade or more has passed. For example, sentences

of “15 years to life” or “25 years to life” may be given; this is called a “indeterminate life sentence”

while ” life without the possibility of parole” is called a “determinant life sentence” (Lowe).

With the death penalty used for all murderer's you would always be certain the convict would

not kill again. There would be no chance of ever putting another innocent victim in harms way. “If we

execute murderers and there is then in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If

we fail to execute murderers, and in doing so would have in fact deterred other murderers, we have

allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would rather risk the former. This to me is not a

tough call” (McAdams).

It is really appalling to me how many convicted murderers have been released, some after only

a short stay in prison, and went on to murder more innocent unsuspecting people. To name a few,

Robert Lee Massie was convicted on one count of first degree murder in the January 3rd, 1979 death of

Boris G. Naumoff. Massie shot and killed Naumoff during a liquor store robbery, and wounded Charles

Harris, another store employee. This crime occurred while Massie was on parole for a murder he

committed in Los Angeles County in 1965. He had been given a death sentence for that crime, but it

was overturned in 1972 when the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional

(Lowe). Another instance of this happening was in 1985, 13 year old Karen Patterson was shot to death

in her bed in North Charleston, S.C. Her killer was a neighbor who had already served 10 years of a life

sentence for murdering his half brother Charles in 1970. Joe Atkins cut the Pattersons' phone lines then

entered bearing a machette, a sawed off shotgun, and pistol. Karen's parents were chased out of their

home by Atkins. Karen's mom ran to the Atkins home nearby where Joe then murdered his adoptive

father Benjamin Atkins, 75 who had worked to persuade parole authorities to release Joe from the life

sentence. There are also cases of murderer's given only life sentences instead of the death penalty that

kill other inmates or prison guards such as the case of Martsay Boulder of Illinois who murdered two

in a robbery and was sentenced to 1000 to 3000 years, and then killed another inmate in the prison in

1982. This is only a short list from the Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty web page (2012). This goes

to show you that a life sentence is not a deterrent to murder and given the chance many murderers will

repeat the crime.

Those who oppose the death penalty say that it is unjust. By committing the crime the criminal

volunteered to assume the right to receive a legal punishment he could have avoided by not

committing the crime. Thus the death penalty cannot be unjust to the guilty criminal. It is...
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