Dr. Latasha Williams-Fleming
September 12, 2009
The Importance of the Death Penalty
The world can be a dark and cruel place to live in. Proof of this cruelty can be easily determined just by watching the news, or reading a newspaper of current events. It seems like every day a horrendous crime is committed: murder, kidnapping, and child molestation, just to name a few. These crimes are sufficient proof that there is enough evil in the world to make even the atheist pray for divine intervention. Amazingly, the human species has survived long enough to see another day. Perhaps the reason for our survival is sheer luck, but most of us would agree that luck has nothing to do with it. A more rational and logical answer for our survival may be linked to the rules that we have set to protect our lives. Without these rules, our world would be in a chaotic state of nature. Social contact theorist, Thomas Hobbes, believes that life in a state of nature is a "war of all against all," and in the state of nature life is "nasty, brutish, and short." He believed that rules and regulations were very impertinent to keeping order within our society (Waller, 2008). To an extent, I agree with Hobbes. I believe that it is very important that we are advocates for the death penalty, because it is a vital factor to keeping our society under order.
The death penalty is the most severe form of punishment sentenced to a person who has been condemned by the law. Although it is unclear how far back this particular form of punishment has been practiced, the first recorded statistics of the death penalty in the United States dates back to the 1930s (Green, 2005). The controversy of whether the death penalty is an adequate form of punishment, or an unconstitutional one has been debated for centuries on end. History can verify the roller coaster decisions about the issues concerning the death penalty. In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 153 (1972), the death penalty was declared "arbitrary and capricious" and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth and Fourth Amendments. However, in Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976), the death penalty was reinstated under a model of guided discretion. There are reasons why the death penalty was reinstated. It appears that the benefits of the death penalty outweigh the alleged detriments it presents.
It is important that we provide retribution due to the people who have been victimized in the most atrocious manner. Intentionally taking the life of an innocent human being is so evil that absent mitigating circumstances, the perpetrator forfeits their own right to life. The person deserves to die or be punished in proportion to the severity of their crime (Waller, 2008). A life taken prematurely by a criminal does not only affect the victim, but the lives of their loved ones forever. If a society fails to punish these criminals in a way thought to be proportionate to the gravity of a crime, the danger arises that the public would take the law into its own hands. The outcome is likely to be an anarchistic, insecure state of injustice (Bedau, 2005). Envisioning yourself in the same situation, where there was no retribution for the crime committed against you or a loved one, an act of private retribution will likely take place. The death penalty sentence could assist in alleviating these private acts of revenge.
It is essential that we find a method of deterrence to assist in preventing people from committing dreadful crimes in the future. The death penalty provides a justified method of deterrence. Contrary to the idea that it promotes violence, the death penalty helps us think twice about carrying out our intentions of belligerent behavior. Crimes would run rampant as never before if there is not some way to deter people from committing repulsive acts of crime (Messerli, 2008). The death penalty serves as a reminder that there are consequences to our...