“Forgiving violence does not mean condoning violence. There are only two alternatives to forgiving violence: revenge, or adopting an attitude of never-ending bitterness and anger. For too long we have treated violence with violence, and that's why it never ends.” (Coretta Scott King, Widow of Martin Luther King) Capital Punishment should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. The Catholic Church is adamantly opposed to the death penalty. The death penalty should be banned as long as there are non-lethal means to defend and protect the people’s safety.
In the United States, the death penalty is still in practice today. Capital punishment in the United States is exercised almost exclusively for the offense of manslaughter. Even though no one is on death row for any reason other than murder, the United States has federal capital statutes for non-murder crimes that warrant the death penalty including: espionage, treason, trafficking in large quantities of drugs, attempting, authorizing or advising the killing of any officer, juror, or witness in cases involving a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, regardless of whether such killing actually occurs. (Death Penalty for Offenses Other Than Murder) Many states also have their own laws involving the death penalty for non-murder crimes. “In Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, and Montana aggravated kidnapping is a capital offense. In Georgia and Montana aircraft hijacking is punishable by
the death penalty. Placing a bomb near a bus terminal is a capital offense in Montana.” (Death Penalty for Offenses Other Than Murder)
Although there are many laws involving the death penalty, there are many faults in current United States capital punishment legislation. The major flaw with the current legislation in regard to the death penalty in the United States is that the laws are not uniform among the states. This non-uniformity allows for many gray areas and could lead to someone who commits a crime in a state that does not enforce the death penalty for that particular crime to be executed in another state that does enforce capital punishment. In order to make sure that this does not happen, the United States should ban the death penalty completely, or at least make the laws uniform among the states. Another major fault of current capital punishment laws is that there is not always enough evidence for a conviction but the defendant is still found guilty and is executed. “Since 1973, one hundred forty people in twenty-six states have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.” (Innocence and the Death Penalty) This statistic shows the number of people that have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence, imagine how many people that have been executed or are still on death row that are innocent of the crime that they have been convicted of. Even though the United States has death penalty laws in practice today, there are still ways to protect falsely accused criminals. Under current laws, a case that has already gone to court and received its verdict cannot be reopened. Reopening cases would lead first and foremost, to saving the lives of the falsely accused criminals. Justice is something that everyone is entitled to, but it takes time for justice to run its full course. Even after a suspect is put in handcuffs and sentenced it does not mean that all evidence has been brought to light or that the case should be permanently closed by any means. Justice is not something that should be used purely to punish the guilty but also as something used to protect the innocent. Saving the lives of the innocent and the case being reopened would also lead to a happier society and a lower crime rate. The case of Rolando Cruz who was convicted for rape and murder in 1985 and pardoned in 1995 is the perfect example of a case being reopened leading to the release of a man sentenced to death and the real criminal being arrested. In this case...
Cited: Genesis. The New American Bible. Wichita: Fireside Catholic, 1970.
"Innocence and the Death Penalty." Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 02 Apr.
"The United States Constitution." - The U.S. Constitution Online. Web. 02 Apr. 2012.
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