Dead Man Walking - A True Story About The Death Penalty - Criminology - Essay

1225 words - 5 pages

Adam Hodges
Dead Man Walking
Capital punishment, otherwise known as “The Death Penalty,” has been around
for many years and has been the cause of death for over twelve hundred inmates since
1976, but is the Death Penalty really beneficial to the American public? This question is
in the back of many people’s minds, and has left many questioning the meaning of the
punishment. The death penalty targets murderers or high profile cases. Some say that
the death penalty should apply to those who murder, rape, or abuse human beings such
as children, or women. The significance of the penalty is to teach these criminals that
there are laws that must be followed. In a figurative sense, it is to teach those potential
wrongdoers a lesson. By examining the facts around us, we can gain a greater sense of
security, and a greater understanding of what the death penalty can accomplish, all
while assessing the high-quality aspects that the penalty has to offer.
Many who have been touched by these crimes, the supporters, show a strong
encouragement for the penalty, whereas those who have never had a loved one
murdered by a deranged psychopath, the opposing party, show a sturdy opposition. The
supporters encourage this endeavor usually seeking some sort of revenge against said
“deranged psychopath.” These few represent the vast majority of citizens that find
“comfort” in knowing that justice had been done. On the other hand, people who have
not been affected by this find the penalty harsh and uncalled for, although the killer
showed no mercy for the deceased. The individuals mentioned above are the faces
representing the death penalty, whether they are for or against it.
One area of disagreement that many encounter when analyzing the need for the
death penalty is whether or not the act itself is a form of murder that should be ignored.
For instance, opponents of the death penalty would pose that the act is a form of
murder, heavily recognized by the fact that such an act is reported as a “homicide” when
the executed’s death certificate is printed. However, supporters would suggest that the
act is keeping criminals and other bad people off the streets and out of the population.
Which viewpoint is sounder? Well, the opposition would suggest that society show
mercy towards these criminals by keeping them locked up for life, but had they shown
mercy to their victims, then they would not be in this situation. Though the opposition’s
viewpoint is true, they cannot refute the fact that it was the criminal’s performance of the
crime that lead to their outcome. Criminals should recognize the reasons for the laws
and abide by them. Many of the criminals who have murdered someone have been
incarcerated and awaiting trial, giving them a chance to think about what they have
done. However, eventually, they are released on parole, and a murderer is loose in the
community claiming to be a changed person, though remaining completely capable of
committing the crime again.
Having the death penalty insures that the public is safe. This reasoning is shared
by thirty four out of fifty states that still perform the death penalty A second area of
disagreement in the death penalty debate that rages in America is the actual “cost” of
the execution. For example, the supporters of the death penalty believe that it has the
ability to keep the criminal population in prison to a minimum, thus saving the state and
county jails money. On the other hand, the opposition would argue that the cost of
execution is costing “taxpayers $114 million per year beyond the costs of keeping
convicts locked up for life”. Which side is right? Knowing which side is stronger depends
on how each person looks at the meaning of the word “cost.” Do they see it as just a
monetary value, or can it be understood as the “cost” of a human life? The meaning of
the word can change both arguments completely by replacing a dollar sign with
someone’s life, the most valuable thing in the world. The supporters view is now weaker
because the financial value saved each year does not surpass the cost of a human
existence. That being said, neither side overpowers one another, because the real
problem lies hidden beneath the connotation of the word.
Another area of disagreement in the death penalty debate poses a
problem for the supporters. Supporters of the death penalty would say that capital
punishment teaches potential criminals that the law is the law and that it is nothing to
play around with. Some may say that it is a deterrent of crime, yet in the opposing view
point, sometimes an innocent person is killed on death row. What should determine
when an individual is sent to death row? The state of Texas require it jurors to answer
three question before deciding to send an offender to death row. The first “question”
posed states “whether there is a probability that the defendant would commit criminal
acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society”. The next states
“whether the defendant actually caused the death of the deceased or did not actually
cause the death but intended to kill…”. Next, only if the first two are decide affirmatively,
the jury must decide if the crime “is a sufficient mitigating circumstance…to warrant that
a sentence of life imprisonment without parole rather than a death sentence…”. Does
this system create a foolproof way of determining whether or not an innocent person
with be executed on death row? No, like many other things, there are flaws in this logic
and it does not keep an innocent person safe. Therefore, the opposing argument seems
to be stronger in the case of innocence.
When looking at the death penalty and the reasons that the death penalty was
invented, then we can see that it was created to prevent crimes from getting out of
hand. The death penalty has been abolished in many states because of the growing
opposition, but to family member of victims of the heinous crimes, perpetrators need to
pay the ultimate price. For many individuals, the death penalty is a way to vindicate the
memory of their loved ones. This being said, many depend on the death penalty to
serve justice that is so rightly deserved.
By reviewing all of the argument above, it’s easy to see that there are some pros
and cons to capital punishment. The death penalty does bring about revenge on the
murderer, helps clean the streets, and keep the criminal population down. But then
again, the affects of the death penalty make it a costly thing for state governments to
handle, with some innocent people being executed. The two sides both show strong
point and both balance each other out. Upon further examination, one may realize that
the death penalty will remain controversial. The death penalty argument is not
something that anyone will ever agree on or solve over night. The death penalty is a
part American culture that will never go away, because the debate is so highly argued.
So, is the death penalty justifiable, or beneficial to America? There is not an answer to
that question. Although the death penalty debate rages on, people will always take sides
and the debate will rage on forever.

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