Capital Punishment is True Justice
The ethical dilemma of capital punishment is one that has gone on since the dawn of time. From stoning in Biblical times to lethal injection of modern times, people on both sides of the debate have been highly vocal about their opinions. In the late 1960’s all but ten of the fifty United States of America were pro death penalty, with an average of one hundred and thirty executions per year. This proved quite contrary to the public opinion, which according to a Gallup poll in 1966, only forty-two percent of Americans were pro death penalty. Because of the great difference in what the law said and what the people were saying, in 1972 the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Furman v. Georgia that the death penalty was a violation of the eighth amendment, deeming it a cruel and unusual punishment. Since that ruling, the death penalty laws have been amended to require a “bifurcated” trial system that requires a minimum of two court trials, one to prove guilt, and the next to deem the death penalty a proper punishment, a system that is supported by the Supreme Court. Since 1976 when capital punishment resumed there have been over one thousand two hundred executions, with Oklahoma in the lead of executions per capita, followed by Texas (although Texas has the highest number of executions not taking into account the population) and Delaware. Now days, Americans support the death penalty at a rate of sixty one percent to thirty once percent opposed, which is actually the lowest it’s been in over twenty five years! Predating all of this however, is the Biblical history of the death penalty. Many Old Testament scriptures support the death penalty, such as Genesis 9:6, which is the first mention of a death penalty saying “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans let his blood be shed.” Many other stories of the death penalty being enacted can be found throughout the Old Testament, as well as examples of crimes other than murder that the death penalty was used for. The New Testament is known (somewhat mistakenly) to take a different approach, however. The most notorious instance of the “turn the other cheek” approach, is the scripture from which its name comes from- Matthew 5:38-42, where Jesus practically throws out the old law by challenging the people to quietly take whatever is done to them, instead of seeking justice or vengeance. However, on several occasions Paul supports the death penalty, saying that even he himself would willingly be sentenced to death if he had committed crimes worthy of the death penalty. With all the back and forth on the morality and legality of the death penalty, a few main points have been formed. Those opposed say that it destroys communities and that there are suitable alternatives to the death penalty that serve the same purpose. However, ethical theories such as utilitarianism and Hobbes’ social contract say that not only does the death penalty offer a way to better our communities and protect our families- it serves justice by supporting the legal system, and that because so, we have an obligation to take care of criminals in a way that best serves the community at large. I believe the death penalty is a permissible form of punishment because it offers a logical and justifiable consequence in the case of criminals convicted of murder. One of the major arguments that many pro death penalty arguments present is the fact that the death penalty in fact, betters communities. It assures that the one sentenced to death will have no opportunity to commit future crimes, saving future victims, it deters other criminals from committing the same crimes, and it builds up Biblical community by supporting scriptural belief that whatever crime a person commits, so it shall be done to him. For obvious reasons, the criminal executed is kept from committing future crimes. Many may argue that a prison sentence without parole would do the same thing. However, many criminals who are given a...
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