Capital Punishment Essay Example
According to an article Published in TIME magazine, that was written by Chris Wilson, there have been“15,760 people executed since the 1700s, here in the US” and “More than half of the 15,746 executions in U.S. history have been by hanging”. Those are some pretty substantial numbers that we will discuss in this research paper. Capital Punishment is still legal in 29 states here in the United States. Capital Punishment, is another term for the death penalty. The word capital comes from the Latin word for head. In ancient times, capital punishment was often carried out by beheading. That is where we get the term Capital punishment. The death penalty is considered to be, one of the most severe forms of punishment in the United States. Capital Punishment is quite possibly the cruelest penalty because it takes away a person's most valuable right, that is, the right to live. It has been a topic of discussion for many years. There are people on both sides of the argument, there are many that believe the death penalty should be abolished, while there are others that believe it is good and something we need as a punishment.
The History of Capital Punishment in America
Capital Punishment, in the US, can be traced as far back as the 1600’s. Captain George Kendall was executed in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia in 1608 for spying for the Spanish government. Laws with regards to the death penalty varied from colony to colony. Crimes ranging from, stealing food, witchcraft, and heresy, trading with the Indians, to the murder of masters by slaves or the murder of husbands by wives all merited the death penalty. In the 1960’s the legality of the death penalty was challenged. At the time, it was suggested that the death penalty was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment and seen as cruel and unusual punishment. In 1986, the executions of insane persons were banned. In 1988, Executions of offenders age 15 and younger at the time of their crimes were declared unconstitutional. The last execution by the means of hanging took place in 1996, with the hanging of Billy Bailey. In 2006, The Supreme Court ruled that death row inmates can challenge the use of lethal injection as a method of execution.
The Agurment In Favor Of Capital Punishment
Since the 1990s support for the death penalty has fallen, but there are still quite a few people that do not want it abolished. Deterring criminals from committing serious crimes is one of the biggest arguments for keeping the death penalty. Knowing that your life could possibly be taken if you take someone else's life, might be a reason for future criminals to not commit crimes with the possibility of death as the punishment. In a book written by Joe Abercrombie entitled, “Before They Are Hanged”, He says “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.” Therefore, we can see there are some people that believe there are some crimes so heinous, that a person cannot be forgiven for what they have done, unless their life is taken. It is hard to say a person who has raped and killed a mother and her child, can be forgiven of their crimes by serving out a sentence in prison. Is life in prison enough? Should this person's life be taken in order to get justice for the mother and her child?
The Argument In Favor Of Abolishing The Death Penalty
“But what then is capital punishment, but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared? For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.” ~Albert Camus
“Under what circumstances is it moral for a group to do that which is not moral for a member of that group to do alone?” ~Robert A Heinlein
Is it right for one group of people to have the ability to take someone's life, but then tell other people not to kill? What gives a group of people the right to take someones life? Who gave them the right?
The possibility of executing an innocent being is one of the reasons people say we should abolish capital punishment. Once you take someone's life, whether it be legal or not, you can not take it back. It is a permanent thing that can have serious consequences. It will affect that person's family and friends. No one wants the guilt of knowing they took an innocent life. Another argument people use in favor of capital punishment is that it will “it will deter future criminals”, but according to an article published by amnesty.com “There is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than a prison term. In fact, evidence reveals the opposite.
Since abolishing the death penalty in 1976, Canada’s murder rate has steadily declined and as of 2016 was at its lowest since 1966”
According to Pew Research Center “ Today, 54% of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 39% are opposed” this is from a survey in taken 2018. A majority of Republicans favor the death penalty over Democrats. According to Pew Research Center “About three-quarters of Republicans (77%) currently favor the death penalty, compared with 52% of independents and 35% of Democrats.”
Whether you are in favor of the death penalty being abolished, or you believe it should be kept, it is an extremely important issue we all need to discuss. Death is a permanent thing that affects multiple people. Therefore it should not be something that is easily decided. We all must take our time when researching this topic and making decisions, to make sure we are making the right one.
“Death row is a nightmare to serial killers and ax murderers. For an innocent man, it's a life of mental torture that the human spirit is not equipped to survive.” ~John Grisham, The Confession
TIME magazine, Chris Wilson
Before They Are Hanged, Joe Abercrombie
Albert Camus, Goodreads.com
Robert A Heinlein, Goodreads.com
Five Reasons To Abolish The Death Penalty. Amnesty.com
Public support for the death penalty ticks up, PewResearcCenter.com
John Grisham, The Confession, Goodreads.com