The Death Penalty: to Be or Not to Be...

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 202
  • Published : October 8, 1999
Open Document
Text Preview
The Death Penalty: To Be or Not to Be...

For the past several months Americans have regularly listed crime and violence as the number - one problem facing the nation, far surpassing worries over the economy or health care.
Despite the many government and community initiatives launched during recent years to reduce crime, most Americans see no improvement. In a 1993 survey asking respondents if they felt crime was increasing or decreasing in their areas, only 5 % felt that it was decreasing, a full 93 % felt that crime was either increasing or staying the same. And it is not just statistics: I consider myself along with those 93 %. Because while Guiliani administration is talking about crime rates in the New York City going down, all I see and hear in the media are reports about horrible crimes committed by New Yorkers. As George Pettinico states in his article " Crime and punishment: America changes it's mind ": The media's extensive coverage of crime, especially the most brutal and horrific cases have heightened the public's fear and anger over this issue to a near frenzy. When asked in January of this year, " How often do you see reports of violent crime on television ? " 68 % replied " almost every day ".

Although the media have played an important role in raising the public's awareness of lawlessness, crime in America is far from a media - created phenomenon. Government statistics support the image of a nation which has overwhelmingly lost the war against crime. For instance, in 1960 there were 161 reported violent crimes per 100,000 people By 1992, the figure had jumped to 758 per 100,000 -- a rise of over 350 %.

More and more people today are starting to think that something is terribly wrong when a modern, civilized nation must confront statistics like these. The American public is demanding an end to this violence, and surveys show that they believe swift and harsh punishment is the most appropriate and effective means to these ends.

The death penalty, or as it is sometimes being called " capital punishment " is the hardest punishment that could be received when a person is convicted of a capital offense. Until recently it did not exist in New York State but after new governor, George Pataki was elected he managed to bring it back. Since September 1, 1994 the death penalty law was in effect. And even though, as far as I know, there is no strong statistical evidence that the death penalty lowers the murder rate, many people were very happy with that decision. What they probably though was " some people would not commit a murder, rape or another violent crime if they would know that they could get on a death row for that ".

However, my personal opinion is that death penalty has to be justified on its own goodness, rather than by some pragmatic result it brings about. The governor and legislature of New York State evidently agree with this contention, for they enacted a death penalty law in the face of falling rates for murder and other serious crimes.

Currently there are two opinions about the death penalty law. First opinion is that the existence of such a law helps keeping the crime rates down. The opposite one is about a fact that killing people should not be done by anybody, including state and federal law enforcement system. Let us take a closer look on both of those opinions.

Bringing the death penalty law back to life was a part of Gov. George Pataki's election program. As we have seen learned from the media and from the results of numerous surveys, a quite large number of people who supported George Pataki, were doing that mainly because of this part of his program. But does having a death penalty law actually help keeping the crime rates down? The answer is in the statistics: it turns out that the violent crime rates in New York State did not go down for the past year since the death penalty law was in effect....
tracking img