Capital Punishment Should Be Used For Serious Offences - Mercer Community College And Government - Essay

1611 words - 7 pages

Capital Punishment Should Not Be Suspended
Capital punishment also known as death penalty is a form of punishment in which a
person who has been convicted of a serious crime is executed under the precept of the criminal
justice system.The death penalty has been in existence for thousands of years and has gained
wide acceptance in the United States since early colonial times. Despite the growing acceptance
of the death penalty as an appropriate punishment for certain kinds of crimes such as first degree
murders, there are still some people who argue against it on certain grounds. Although capital
punishment appears to be a barbarous act and most people are in support of it being suspended,
it is a necessary part of life because it deters crime, serves as retribution, it is just and saves
more innocent lives. This paper will also refute the ideas that the death penalty is
unconstitutional, irrevocable mistakes are made, and that there is a disproportionality of race and
income level.
In the United States, there was a gradual rise in use of capital punishment in the
seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries; a peak of executions in the early 20th century;
moratorium; and finally, a trend toward more executions in recent years, Britain influenced
America's use of the death penalty more than any other country. When European settlers came to
the new world, they brought the practice of capital punishment. The first recorded execution in
the new colonies was that of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in
1608. Kendall was executed for being a spy for Spain. In 1612, Virginia Governor Sir Thomas
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Dale enacted the Divine, Moral and Martial Laws, which provided the death penalty for even
minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, and trading with Indians.
Laws regarding the death penalty varied from colony to colony. The Massachusetts Bay Colony
held its first execution in 1630, even though the Capital Laws of New England did not go into
effect until years later. The New York Colony instituted the Duke's Laws of 1665. Under these
laws, offenses such as striking one's mother or father, or denying the "true God," were
punishable by death. (Randa)
The use of capital punishment greatly deters citizens from committing crimes such as
murder.. The death penalty is the best way to stop a killer from killing someone else. Some say
that prison is enough, but it isn’t. Death is necessary because if they are only sent to prison there
is always the risk that someday the same killer that brutally killed a 5-year old or raped and
strangle a college student might return to the streets. That cannot be allowed to happen, therefore
death penalty is necessary. Once again death penalty is the most effective way of terminating
with cod blooded killers. Many people’s greatest fear is death; therefore if they know that death
is a possible consequence for their actions, they are less likely to perform such actions. "The
death penalty is there to deter others from committing murder. The prospect of having
lifetime room and board for those contemplating murder is not much of a deterrent. Moreover,
providing those benefits hardly seems to balance the moral scale when the victims have lost their
lives." (Martelle).
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Moreover, death penalty also carries out retribution justly. “Deserved punishment
protects society morally by restoring this just order, making the wrongdoer pay a price
equivalent to the harm he has done.” (Budziszewski). When someone commits a crime it disturbs
the order of society; these crimes take away lives, peace, and liberties from society. Giving the
death penalty as a punishment simply restores order to society and adequately punishes the
criminal for his wrongdoing. Retribution also serves justice for murder victims and their
families. Some may see this as revenge, but this retribution is not motivated by malice, rather it
is motivated by the need for justice and the principle of lex talionis (“an eye for an eye”) . This
lack of malice is proven in the simple definition of retribution: “retribution is a state sponsored, rational response to criminality that is justified given that the state is the victim when a crime
occurs” (“Justifications for Capital Punishment). The death penalty puts the scales of justice back
in balance after they were unfairly tipped towards the criminal.
Furthermore, capital punishment is a justifiable means of punishment for the most
heinous crimes Moral justification of the death penalty can be justified by one simple principle:
punishment should be roughly apportioned in severity to the nature of the crime. The criminal
justice system throughout the world is grounded on this basic concept. While there are
understandable variations from society to society on the specifics of punishments, the principle
remains universal. If a society chooses through established and legitimate means to impose the
death penalty for an identifiable set of particularly heinous criminal behaviors, there is no
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principled basis on which to object other than the speciality of the punishment due to its
finality insofar as the ending of a human life is concerned. In addition, the means of execution
should not matter if the basic principle behind this form of justice can be justified by the specific
crime. Any form of capital punishment in effect today is warranted and fair. Apart from
acting as a deterrent, the death penalty stands out as the only punishment that can be
equated with the crime of murder. It is worth noting that when a life is taken by another, an
imbalance in the justice system is the outcome. If the imbalance is not corrected, society is left to
a rule of violence. Therefore, in conformity with the requirement that the punishment accorded
should be proportional to the magnitude of the crime committed, death penalty is the right way to
          In continuation, an argument put forth by death penalty my opponents ‘abolitionists’ is the
possibility of executing an innocent person. Many people that argue this overestimate how often
this happens, it is an extremely rare occurrence and has not happened since the death penalty was
reintroduced in 1976. No system of justice can produce results which are 100% certain all the
time. Mistakes will be made in any system which relies upon human testimony for proof. We s
hould be vigilant to uncover and avoid such mistakes. Our system of justice rightfully demands a
higher standard for death penalty cases. However, the risk of making a mistake with the
extraordinary due process applied in death penalty cases is very small, and there is no credible
evidence to show that any innocent persons have been executed at least since the death penalty
was reactivated in 1976. The inevitability of a mistake should not serve as grounds to eliminate
the death penalty any more than the risk of having a fatal wreck should make automobiles
illegal. (
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The morality of the death penalty has been hotly debated for many years. Those opposed
to the death penalty say that it is immoral for the government to take the life of a citizen under
any circumstance. This argument is refuted by Immanuel Kant who put forth the idea that, “a
society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else’s life is
simply immoral” ( It is immoral to not properly punish a person who has committed
such a horrendous crime. The criminal is also executed humanely; in no way is he subjected to
torture or any form of cruelty. All states that use the death penalty use lethal injection; the days
of subjecting a prisoner to hanging or the electric chair are long gone in the US. Inmates are first
given a large dose of an anesthetic so they do not feel any pain (Bosner); this proves that the
process is made as humane as possible so the inmates do not physically suffer. Although the
issue of morality is very personal for many people, it is important to see the facts and realize that
capital punishment does take morality into account and therefore is carried out in the best way
In conclusion, Today’s present system, with the death penalty is much better off then
without it. The negative side, which I represent, feels that that death penalty should not be
abolished and that today’s system, which allows states to choose if they want to impose the death
penalty, should continue to be used. It is true that innocent people have been executed, but that
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number is miniscule compared to the amount of “true” criminals that are rightfully executed. T
here is 28-step procedure necessary before any person can be given a death sentence .By having
the process consist of numerous steps and involving many different people human error is
greatly reduced. The death penalty is not racially or gender bias, much to the contrary of what
the affirmative team believes. The fact is that men commit more crimes, so they will be
convicted at a greater rate than women.
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Bosner, Kevin. “How Lethal Injection Works.” How Stuff Works. Web. 29 March 2013.

Budziszewski, J. . "Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice." Orthodoxy Today Web. 21 Nov.
“Justifications for Capital Punishment.” Web. 21. Nov. 2014
Kiener, Robert."Honour Killings." 8 183-208.CQ Researcher. Middlesex County College library,
New Jersey.
Martelle, Scott . "Does the death penalty deter would-be killers?." Los Angeles Times. 8 Feb.
2014. 21 Nov. 2014.
. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
"Society's Final Solution: A History and Discussion of the Death Penalty," L. Randa, editor,
.University Press of America.

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