Capital Punishment, execution as punishment for the most serious
crimes, has been a controversial issue for decades. People are very much in a
stalemate because some people believe that being sentenced to death is a
breach of our rights according to our “Universal Declaration of Human
Rights”, but Capital Punishment has been used for even longer to discourage would-be criminals from committed more unlawful actions. Society has a natural high interest in preventing murder; therefore it should have the strongest punishment possible, or the death penalty, in order to deter more murders.
For instance, in Article 3 it states: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Strangely, from this, abolitionists interpret that the death penalty is a human rights violation since it deprives a person’s right to life, but follow that reasoning for a moment; would we not then have to abolish prisons as a human rights violation as they deprive people of liberty, would not have to abolish charging taxes and fines since they violate one’s “security of person.”? Now I ask you, is the interpretation that abolitionists derive from Article 3 of the Declaration not clearly illogical and contradictory?
Polls have consistently shown that between 60 percent and 70 percent of Canadians want capital punishment reinstated.
In Britain, the world headquarters of Amnesty International, opinion polls have shown that between two-thirds and three-quarters of the population favor the death penalty.
In Italy, which has led the international fight against capital punishment recently, roughly half the population wants it reinstated.
In France, clear majorities continued to back the death penalty long after it was abolished in 1981.
There is barely a country in Europe where the death penalty was abolished in response to public opinion rather than in spite of it.
And in Article 5, it states: No one shall be subjected to cruel or degrading punishment. From this, abolitionists insist that capital punishment is ruled out because it is “the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.” But what is stated in Article 5 is highly subjective and open to interpretation and could just as easily be applied to prisons as well, at the time it was implemented; most nations who signed it still had the death penalty and continued to use it long after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved.
Abolitionists claim that there are alternatives to the death penalty. They say that life in prison without parole serves just as well, and it does, if you ignore all the murders criminals commit within prison walls, and when they kill decent citizens upon escaping, like Dawud Mu’Min who was serving a 48-year sentence for the 1973 murder of a cab driver when he escaped a road work gang and stabbed to death a storekeeper named Gadys Nopwasky in a 1988 robbery that netted $4.00. Fortunately, there is now no chance of Mu’Min committing murder again. He was executed by the state of Virginia on November 14, 1997.
Another flaw is that life imprisonment tends to deteriorate with the passing of time. Take the Moore case for example.
In 1962, James Moore raped and strangled 14-year-old Pamela Moss. Her parents decided to spare Moore the death penalty on the condition that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Later on, thanks to a change in sentencing laws in 1982, James Moore is now eligible for parole.
According to the US Department of Justice, the average prison sentence served for murder is five years and eleven months.
Putting a murderer away for life just isn’t good enough. Laws change, so do parole boards, and people forget the past. Those are things that cause life imprisonment to weather away. As long as the murderer lives, there is always a chance, no matter how small, that he will strike again.
Kenneth McDuff, for example, was convicted of the 1966 shooting deaths of two boys and the vicious rape and strangulation of their 16-year-old female companion. A Fort Worth jury ruled that McDuff should die in the electric chair, a sentence commuted to life in prison in 1972 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty as then imposed. In 1989, with Texas prisons overflowing and state officials under fire from the federal judiciary, McDuff was quietly turned loose on an unsuspecting citizenry.
Within days, a naked body of a woman turned up. Prostitute Sarafia Parker, 31, had been beaten, strangled and dumped in a field near Temple. McDuff’s freedom in 1989 was interrupted briefly. He was jailed after a minor racial incident; he slithered through the system and was out again in 1990.
In early 1991, McDuff enrolled at Texas State Technical College in Waco. Soon, Central Texas prostitutes began disappearing. One, Valencia Joshua, 22, was last seen alive Feb. 24, 1991. Her naked, decomposed body later was discovered in a shallow grave in woods behind the college. Another of the missing women, Regenia Moore, was last seen kicking and screaming in the cab of McDuff’s pickup truck. During the Christmas holidays of 1991, Colleen Reed disappeared from an Austin car wash. Witnesses reported hearing a woman scream that night and seeing two men speeding away in a yellow or tan Thunderbird. Little more than two months later, on March 1, 1992, Melissa Northrup, pregnant with a third child, vanished from the Waco convenience store where she worked. McDuff’s beige Thunderbird, broken down, was discovered a block from the store.
Fifty-seven days later, a fisherman found the young woman’s nearly nude body floating in a gravel pit in Dallas County, 90 miles north of Waco. By then, McDuff was the target of a nationwide manhunt. Just days after Mrs. Northrup’s funeral, McDuff was recognized on televisions “America’s Most Wanted” and arrested May 4 in Kansas City.
In 1993, a Houston jury ordered him executed for the kidnap-slaying of 22-year-old Melissa Northrup, a Waco mother of two. In 1994, a Seguin jury assessed him the death penalty for the abduction-rape-murder of 28-year-old Colleen Reed, an Austin accountant. Pamplin’s son Larry, the current sheriff of Falls County, appeared at McDuff’s Houston trial for the 1992 abduction and murder of Melissa Northrup.
“Kenneth McDuff is absolutely the most vicious and savage individual I know. He has absolutely no conscience, and I think he enjoys killing.” He told reporters
If McDuff had been executed as scheduled there is no telling how many innocent lives would have been saved.
On November 17, 1998 he was executed for his crimes.
In June of 1986, there was nothing in the law to deny convicted murderer Willie Horton what was supposed to be a routine 48-hour leave.
Predictably, Horton didn’t play by the rules. He fled, eventually arriving in Maryland, where, in April of 1987, he had pistol-whipped and knifed Clifford Barnes, then bound and gagged him and twice raped his fiance, Angela.
This is why for people who truly value public safety, there is no substitute for the best in its defense which is capital punishment. It not only forever bars the murderer from killing again, it also prevents parole boards and criminal rights activists from giving him the chance to repeat his crime.