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Death Penalty

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Absolute Justice

English 1101

The death penalty has been and always will be a controversial issue. Most people have strong opinions and arguments to support their side. Arguments for both sides can be extremely convincing but it boils down to personal opinions. In fact, each state governs the death penalty differently. Although there are opposing views to the death penalty, I am in favor of the death penalty because of the retribution, morality, and its deterrence. The death penalty gives retribution to the victim, their family, and the American society. “Capital execution upon the deadly poisoner and the midnight assassin is not only necessary for the safety of society, it is the fit and deserved retribution of their crimes. By it alone is divine and human justice fulfilled.” (The Death Penalty 33) The death penalty gives retribution to the victim, because it makes the criminal pay an equal price for the crime he/she has done. By taking the life of the criminal, no one else will ever be victimized by that criminal again. Putting the criminal to death, it will not only ease the mind of the victim’s family, it will also ease the minds of others who may be in fear of the same crime happening to them. This is especially true when it comes to serial killers. The public is justifiably fearful of the killer until he/she is captured and put to death. “Americans used to believe that executions deterred murderers even if the real reason they favored capital punishment was retribution.” (Kiss of Death 17-18) The death penalty gives retributions to the victim’s family by providing closure to the crime. The victim’s family often feels that the only way to have complete closure is to do everything possible to make sure the criminal receives the death penalty. “For example, while antidiscrimination laws make it unlawful to retaliate against those who report sexual harassment, death penalty laws allow grim retaliation, masquerading as retributive justice, against criminals.” (Kiss of Death 50) The death penalty gives retribution to the American society by showing there is an ultimate penalty to pay for the crime that was committed. If the death penalty did not exist, I feel that there would not be any deterrent for people not to commit murder and other serious violent crimes. Some feel that retribution is just a neat way of saying "revenge.” They believe a life for a life is just continuing the cycle of violence. “While many supporters of capital punishment will cite its alleged value as a deterrent as the reason for their opinion, there can be little doubt that the most widely-help and important basis of support for capital punishment is not deterrence but the desire “to see justice done”-the motive of retribution.” (The Death Penalty 118) These people feel that retribution or revenge is not a deterrent. They feel that is just a continuation of a vicious cycle of violence. They believe that getting revenge only expresses anger, and expressing anger only builds more anger. I believe the death penalty is morally correct because it honors human dignity by allowing the defendant to control his/her own destiny whether it is good or bad. It is known to be accepted in the Christian community as well. “Christian moralists have traditionally recognized the state’s right to take life. This right derived not only from the individual’s right of self-defense, but from the right of the community to protect itself.”(The Morality of Capital Punishment 25-26) We are morally obligated to protect the innocent and punish the criminal. The punishment needs to fit the crime. If someone intentionally kills another person, then they themselves need to be put to death also. This is the only way to properly punish the criminal and to insure that they are never able to do the same crime to anyone else. “If capital punishment is moral, it must be because it is a fitting punishment for humans when circumstances require it. If capital punishment is moral, it is because its use protects society with dignity and justice.” (The Morality of Capital Punishment 3) Everyone is free to choose to right or wrong. The criminal has the choice to commit a violent crime that would be considered eligible for the death penalty. Some believe that the death penalty is immoral because two wrongs do not make a right. They feel that governments should never take human life. “It is a dehumanizing ritual, one that brings more injury to each of us.” (The Death Penalty 74) Some believe that it is cruel and unjust punishment to enforce the death penalty. They often feel that the death penalty is a hysterical reaction to a violent crime. “Capital punishment does not deter; it is applied arbitrarily and in a discriminatory fashion; it is cruel and unusual punishment; it is irreversible; and it mocks the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” (The Death Penalty 74) The people who believe that the death penalty should be abolished for these reasons do not believe in the theory of an eye for an eye. “Abolitionists, minority rights advocates, and civil libertarians continue to inspire a highly visible and real opposition to capital punishment.” (The Morality of Capital Punishment 2). It is often the minority of people who cry out the loudest against capital punishment and receive the most attention to their moral believes. I feel that the death penalty is the ultimate deterrence to crime. “Capital punishment is an expression of society’s moral outrage at particularly offensive conduct.” (The Death Penalty 60) Statistics show that the death penalty deters murder. People fear death more than anything else; therefore the death penalty deters murders. “Morally, I do not believe that having done something wrong entitles an adult to rehabilitation. It entitles him to punishment. Murder entitles him to execution.” (The Death Penalty 61) Murders do not prefer the death penalty, they prefer life in prison. However, if it is known that there is a death penalty for certain crimes, then criminals may think twice before committing a crime that is punishable by death. “The punishment of death is unquestionably the most powerful deterrent, the most effective preventive, that can be applied. Human nature teaches this fact. An instinct that outruns all reasoning, a dreadful horror that overcomes all other sentiments, works in us all when we contemplate it.” (The Death Penalty 31) The possibility of death motivates people to follow the law, henceforth, the death penalty is deterrence to crime. Opponents to the death penalty do not believe that it is a deterrent to crime. “In summary, proponents of capital punishment cannot evade the implications of their own inability to demonstrate the deterrent effect of the death penalty.” (The Death Penalty 118) Statics show that the death penalty does not decrease the murder rate. “Social scientists conducting regression and time-series analyses-have repeatedly found no credible evidence that the death penalty deters violent crime more effectively than prison sentences.” (Kiss of Death 36) States that have the death penalty do not have higher crime statistics that ones that do. It is often a very political issue. “American politicians, by contrast, have retained capital punishment laws, often citing its “deterrent” value even though scientific studies show no support for such assertions.” (The Kiss of Death 88) Even though many American tend to support the death penalty as at deterrent, others argue that it is not. “Because polling data show that over 40 percent of Americans continue to believe that the death penalty deters crime, the deterrence myth needs to be dispelled so that those who cling to it will come to see the death penalty as counterproductive.” (The Kiss of Death 87) These people often believe that is does not deter crime, it just creates more crime.

I feel that the death penalty is an ethical, moral, and religiously correct means of deterring violent crimes and punishing murders for their crime. Although both sides can be argued, I believe that it is essential to have the death penalty for certain violent crimes such as murder. Though my research, I have concluded that the death penalty is the only answer in some cases. I do not condone violence, but I do believe that one must pay the ultimate price, such as the death penalty, if one decides to and carries out a crime that involves taking the life of another person. We must as a society, enforce the death penalty in such cases.

Annotated Bibliography

Bessler, John D. Kiss of Death. Boston: Northeast University Press, 2003. This writer explores the life of convicted criminal Clifton Belyeu and many others convicted to die, and his view on the death penalty. Endres, Michael E. The Morality of Capital Punishment. Mystic, Connecticut: Twenty-Third Publications, 1985. It examines the moral framework of capital punishment. Mill, John Stuart, David Bruck, and Clarence Darrow. The Death Penalty. St. Paul: Greenhaven Press, 1986. Opposing viewpoints of the death penalty.

I. The death penalty is a controversial issue. Most people have strong opinions and arguments of support to this issue. My personal opinion is that I am in favor of the death penalty. II. Although the death penalty is a very controversial issue, I am in favor of the death penalty because of the retribution, morality, and its deterrence. III. The death penalty gives retribution to the victim, their family, and the American society. A. The death penalty gives retribution to the victim because it makes the criminal pay an equal price for crime he/she has done. B. The death penalty gives retributions to the victim’s family by providing closure to the crime. C. The death penalty gives retribution to the American society by showing there is an ultimate penalty to pay for the crime that was committed. IV. Retribution is just a neat of saying "revenge.” A. A life for a life is just continuing the cycle of violence. B. Getting revenge only expresses anger, and expressing anger only builds more anger. V. The death penalty is morally correct because it honors human dignity by allowing the defendant to control his/her own destiny whether it is good or bad. A. The criminal has the choice to commit a violent crime that would be considered eligible for the death penalty. B. The death penalty honors the victim by extracting true justice. VI. The death penalty is immoral because two wrongs do not make a right. A. Governments should never take human life. B. Some believe that it is cruel and unjust punishment to enforce the death penalty. VII. The death penalty is deterrence to crime. A. Statistics show that the death penalty deters murder. B. People fear death more than anything else; therefore the death penalty deters murders. C. Murders do not prefer the death penalty, they prefer life in prison. 1. People fear death more than anything else. 2. Criminals will fight to have life in prison vs. the death penalty. VIII. The death penalty is not a deterrence to crime A. Statics show that the death penalty does not decrease the murder rate. B. The states that do not have the death penalty do not have higher crime statistics that ones that do. IX. I feel that the death penalty is an ethical, moral, and religiously correct means of deterring violent crimes and punishing murders for their crime.

Bibliography: Bessler, John D. Kiss of Death. Boston: Northeast University Press, 2003. This writer explores the life of convicted criminal Clifton Belyeu and many others convicted to die, and his view on the death penalty. Endres, Michael E. The Morality of Capital Punishment. Mystic, Connecticut: Twenty-Third Publications, 1985. It examines the moral framework of capital punishment. Mill, John Stuart, David Bruck, and Clarence Darrow. The Death Penalty. St. Paul: Greenhaven Press, 1986. Opposing viewpoints of the death penalty.

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