Against Capital Punishment Assignment

818 words - 4 pages

In Canada, David Milgaard was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1969 murder of Gail Miller, a Saskatoon nursing aide. David spent 22 years in prison, The Supreme Court set aside Milgaard's conviction in 1992, and he was cleared by DNA evidence in 1997. The Saskatchewan government awarded Milgaard $10 million to try and compensate for 22 years of his life gone to waste. If David was in the United States, he would be condemned to capital punishment. He would have been wrongfully murdered and no amount money could compensate for his death. This case could have caused even more problems if capital punishment was reinstated. After the abolition of capital punishment murder rates in Canada have gone down. The deterrent effect of capital punishment has been proven futile. More and more of the public are now opposing the death penalty. Also, many relious groups are against the death penalty. Canada should not reinstate the capital punishment.Capital punishment was removed from the Canadian Criminal Code in 1976. The murder rate did not increase after this act, but instead it went down. The total number of murders in Canada in 2001 was 554. That is 167 less than in 1975. Reactions to this suggested that because there have been advancements in crime fighting since 1975 such as DNA testing, people realize that there is a greater risk to being caught, therefore the decrease in murder. But this is proven to be wrong because compared to American murder rates; Canada is generally three times lower. In 1999, Canada's murder rate was 1.8 per 100 000 population. In that same year, the U.S. homicide rate was 5.7 per 100 000 population in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.Just as in the case of David Milgaard there have been many wrongful convictions. Donald Marshall Jr. was convicted of the 1971 stabbing murder of Sandy Seale in Nova Scotia. Marshall was released in 1983 after spending 11 years in prison. Guy Paul Morin was sentenced to life in 1992 for the first-degree murder of a nine-year-old girl. Morin was set free in 1996 by DNA testing. Morin received a $1.25 million settlement. Thomas Sophonow tried three times and convicted twice of the 1981 murder a waitress in Winnipeg, Manitoba. DNA evidence cleared Thomas in 2000, and he was awarded $2.6 million in compensation. If there was capital punishment in any of these five cases including David Milgaard the Canadian government would have erroneously killed these people. Our government can not be responsible for the death of innocent people.There has been research in Canada on the deterrent effect of punishment. It concluded that the death penalty has no difference in deterrent when compared to other punishments. This studied was supported by other American research. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police stated that it is ineffective to base an argument for the reinstatement of capital punishment on the grounds of deterrence. This has proven that capital punishment does not have a greater effect on the prevention of murder than our current punishment.In 1987 there was a motion to reintroduce capital punishment. On June 30, the motion was defeated on a free vote (148-127), despite public opinion pollsshowing majority support for the death penalty. At that time 73% of the public supported capital punishment. An opinion poll in 1988 on capital punishment showed a dramatic increase of people who opposed it. The percentage of people who opposed it went up from 27% in 1987 to an astonishing 49% in 1998. Obviously the difference in the percentages must mean that Canada is doing something right by not reintroducing the death penalty.Many religious groups oppose to capital punishment which include: the Anglican Church of Canada, the United Church of Canada, the Canadian Catholic Conference, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec, the Canadian Unitarian Council, the Lutheran Church, the Quaker Society of Friends and the Mennonite Central Committee. Many denominations and religious leaders were actively involved in opposing the 1987 reinstatement attempt. Religion is a very large portion in our lives, and when it comes to the issue of capital punishment religion has a large influence.Returning to the case of David Milgaard, a long time opponent of the death penalty once said that, "if an individual is imprisoned for an offense he did not commit, the error can to some extent be rectified, but if he is executed, the wrong that has been done can never be corrected."


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