Should the U.S. Continue to Use Capital Punishment?
The topic of capital punishment is a highly controversial one. It does not get any easier to choose a side-pro or con-on this very touchy subject. In order to make an informed decision; one must know at least an element of the facts.
Facts Regarding the Death Penalty
According to the Death Penalty Information Center; 14 states plus the District of Columbia do not have the death penalty; the remaining 36 states, the U.S. Government, and the U.S. Military do have the death penalty. First Degree Murder; in conjunction with a certain number of mitigating circumstances (varied by state); is a capital crime according to the states that have the death penalty. A new addition to what constitutes a capital offense in some states; including Oklahoma; sex crimes against a child under the age of 14 years.
Against the Death Penalty
It is a very tough decision to make. Do we say “an eye for an eye”? The problem I see with this is if the U.S. government wants to take “God” out of the equation in our courtrooms; should we also take it out of our criminal justice system? Is the threat of a death sentence a deterrent to those committing capital offenses? According to a survey of former and present presidents of the country’s top academic criminological societies, 84% of these experts rejected the notion that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. (Radelet & Akers, 1996) If this is true; then what is the point? Why kill in order to show others that it is wrong to kill? Liken it to spanking a child in order to punish for hitting. There are extenuating circumstances where a sentence of death may be plausible; serial killers, child killers, child molesters/rapists, brutal murders. Will “lawful” killing then make a difference? Convicted and sentenced to death; automatically one can appeal, it takes years to proceed through the appeals process, costing the public millions of dollars. What constitutes cruel and unusual punishment? Lethal injection is neither cruel nor unusual, supporters will tell you; yet it is a more difficult process than one might think. It is not as if the condemned simply lie down and go to sleep. No doctor will perform an execution; it is against their oath. Would you allow someone off the street come, put an I.V. in your arm, and administer even water? I would not think so.
My position concerning capital punishment is contingent upon a few things: 1) Will it deter others from committing the same crime? 2) The U.S. and all 50 states should come to an undeniable consensus upon what constitutes a capital crime and the punishment to be exacted upon those convicted of said crime. 3) Take race, religion, sex, and other distinguishing characteristics out of the equation. If these questions could be answered positively, I may be for capital punishment. At this time, they cannot. Due to the unreliability, non-uniformity, prejudices, and ever-changing rules I am, at this time, against capital punishment.
Death Penalty Information Center. (n.d.). http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=121&scid=11. Retrieved April 6, 2008, HYPERLINK “http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=144#BJS” http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=144#BJS HYPERLINK “http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=121&scid=11” http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=121&scid=11 Death Penalty Information Center: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/