The Debate on Capital Punishment

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The Debate on Capital Punishment

The Debate on Capital Punishment
Capital Punishment has been used for centuries, however, that does not mean that this form of punishment is universally accepted. Capital punishment has a long history of debate at least as long as the punishment itself. This debate is not resolved. To this day, it is a hot topic for most, even though 65 percent of adult Americans have indicated that they support this form of punishment. Additionally, this support does drop to 50 percent when life without parole is offered keeping this debate a hot topic (Baker, Lambert, & Jenkins, 2005). The United States is one of a few developed societies in the world that have retained capital punishment (Baumer, Messner, & Rosenfeld, 2003).. When discussing the use of capital punishment there are some arguments that always are on the front of discussion. Arguments like retribution, deterrence, and just punishment are used the most. However, very seldom do we hear about the crime itself or how the victims have been brutalized. Although in our current legal system there are people that do hear these voices of the victims. We have a prosecutor who speaks for the victims. Plus there is a jury who has been selected to be impartial to the facts. And they are the ones who decide if the defendant is actually guilty of capital murder and if the death penalty is justified in this case (Cassell, 2008). Historically, religious value has maintained that it is justified to take an “eye for an eye” and a life for a life. The New Testament states “let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment…If you do wrong, be afraid for [the authority] does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoers” (Romans 13:1-4). So, according to the Bible, the authority to punish, which presumably includes the death penalty, comes from God (Unknown, 2000). The argument that needs to be addressed is the victim’s families. Retribution, justice, closure and incapacitation are all topics that have surfaced when interviewing the families of victims who have been murdered. The first argument is closure for the families of victims of murder. SUPPORTING POINT 1:

The Journal of Violence and Victims has an article that states the death penalty is often touted as a punishment providing the only way to truly serve justice and offer closure for co-victims. (Defined as family members or friends of murder victims’) (Vollum & Longmire, 2007).

Families of murder victims often face grief, anger and pain that murder leaves in its wake. To some degree grieving must unfold in the criminal justice system the families rarely grieve in private. This usually involves a public trial and media scrutiny (Bandes, 2009).

Healing and closure is another view that must be taken when thinking of victims families. In a strong majority of cases of co-victims, 72% stated healing and closure was their major focal point. Another 41% of co-victims stated that the actual execution brought them healing and closure. Twenty-two percent of co-victims indicated that the execution was a form of a conclusion to a difficult and traumatizing time in their lives. One father states that the execution of his daughter’s killer was the end of a long road. Others said that this would be a beginning to a new phase in their lives and know that their family member is resting in peace. With others saying maybe they could be happy again and they are glad that this part was finally over. Eight percent of the co-victims were glad that there would be no more trials, hearings and appeals (Vollum & Longmire, 2007).

The second, most common focus among the co-victims was satisfaction with the execution. Out of 66% of cases where co-victims...
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