Ever since the eighteenth century BC, the death penalty has been used to punish criminals. Back then, there were twenty-five crimes that were punishable by death.
Later on, in the tenth century AD, hanging was the most common method used to execute a criminal in Britain. However, it wasn’t used as often as it was six centuries later when Henry VIII reigned.
When he was in power, the death penalty was used for a larger variety of crimes and more frequently. Some execution methods were hanging, beheading, and boiling. Crimes punishable by death were very minor and included marrying a Jew, not fessing up to a crime that you were accused of, and treason.
It’s not surprising that Britain influenced America’s decision to begin using the death penalty as a form of punishment. It is surprising however, that now we can’t all agree on whether it should or should not still be used. The question is this: Is it right or is it wrong?
Why It’s Right
In this day and age, the prisons are extremely overcrowded. If we were to completely abolish the death penalty, prisons would become even more overpopulated. We would be spending more tax dollars so that a criminal can spend a life sentence in jail instead of being executed. Not only that, but we’d be shelling out even more dollars to build on the to already crowded prison facilities. Does this sound like a good idea to you?
Before states began outlawing the death penalty, crime rates were lower. Take New York for example. In 2004, they declared capital punishment unconstitutional. Two years later, their crime rates spiked. On the other hand, in Ohio where the death penalty is still used, crime rates have decreased in the past three years.
Last but not least, simply putting a murderer or rapist in a jail cell does not insure that they won’t harm again. Thousands of prisoners escape each year. Even more injure or kill another while they are incarcerated. To know for a fact that a criminal will not kill again, you must end his life. “An eye for an eye.”
Why It’s Wrong
Capital punishment does not solve anything. Taking a human life to show that killing people is wrong does not make any sense, whatsoever. Could you imagine telling your children, “He killed someone, so we killed him.” Is it just me, or does that sound like gang behavior? Taking one’s life does not bring his victim back nor does it mean that the world will become a better place. For each murderer that is executed, a new one is born. Crimes happen daily and we cannot kill everyone.
What about those who are innocent? In New York in 1996, there was an innocent man on trial and they executed him, only to find out later that he did not commit the crime. Think about all of the innocent individuals on death row. They are awaiting their fate simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Finally, wouldn’t you say that punishing someone by death is cruel and unusual? If torturing is cruel, how do you define killing someone? Is it just? Not by any means. The human life is valuable, no matter who you are. By taking a human life, you never give them a chance to turn their lives around. You kill them to show that what they did was wrong. Since when have two wrongs made a right?
Although capital punishment has been around for as long as anyone can remember, this doesn’t necessarily make it right or wrong. Deciding between the two is based on one’s views and beliefs on life. It’s really not for one person to decide. So I leave you with this: What do you think? Is it wrong or is it right?