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Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper

The death penalty is a necessary evil that has a positive effect on society

today. It is an effective deterent of crime as well as a safeguard for

society. It also helps to keep order in our cities. Furthermore, I fell it

is a just and effective punishment for those who have commited crimes heinous

enough to deserve death.

The death penalty is not a new idea in our world. Its origins date back over

3,700 years to the Babylonian civilization, where it was prescribed for a

variety of crimes. (Capital Punishment p.10). It was also greatly used in the

Greek and Roman empires. It continued into England during the Middle Ages,

and then to the American colonies where it exists still today. In the

colonies, death was a prescribed punishment for crimes such as: murder, rape,

arson, and perjury. In America today, the main crime deserving death is

obviously murder. (Capital Punishment p.11-15).

Does the death penalty truly deter crimes and murder? This question is at

the heart of a heated political controversy over the punishment. Opposers to

the death penalty say no because of the large amount of people on death row

today. They also say that states that have the death penalty have a higher

crime rate than those that do not, and therefore it is not effective and

somewhat contributes to the problem. (http://www.rit.edu/~wwl2461/cp.html). I

must point out though that states that have the death penalty are usually

highly urbanized areas that most likely will have high crime rates because of

the large population. Rather, in rural states there is no need for the death

penalty because the population is most likely low and scattered throughout the

region. States that practice capital punishment do so because of high crime

rates, not vice versa. (http://www.rit.edu/~wwl2461/cp.html). Abolitionists

also state that the death penalty is a racist punishment, and only given to

African Americans. In the May 11, 1998 issue of JET magazine it stated that

over 50% of all blacks favor the death penalty. (JET Magazine). According to

a U.S. Dept. Of Justice press release on December 13, 1998, ^?those executed

were all males: 45 whites, 27 blacks, 1 Asian, and 1 American Indian. Five

were hispanics…At the end of last year, 34 states and the federal prison

system held 3,335 men and women (44 females) on death row: 1876 whites, 1406

blacks, 28 American Indians, 17 Asians, and 8 of other races. There were 283

Hispanic prisoners…^? (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/press/cp97.pr).

Also a 1985 University of North Carolina study by economist Stephen K. Layson

states that, ^?every execution of a murderer deters, on average, 18 murders^?

(http://www.rit.edu/~wwl2461/cp.html). This proves that without the death

penalty our murder rate would be immense. For example in Utah on June 10,

1988 Arthur Gary Bishop was executed for sodomizing and then killing a group

of young boys. In the first half of the year (January-June) there were 26

murders in Utah. In the second half (July-December) there were only 21

murders, an almost 20% drop in the murder rate.

(http://www.rit.edu/~wwl2461/cp.html).

The sanctity of human life is at the heart of a huge philosophical and

spiritual debate over the death penalty. Many Catholics believe that all

people^?s lives are sacred and killing them only adds to the fire. They say

that two wrongs don^?t make a right, and that God and the bible states that

^?thou shall not^?(Exodus: 10 Commandments) kill. (Survey done of 50 Catholics).

Professor Ernest van den Haag said that ^?All religions that I^?m aware of feel

that human life is sacred and that its sacredness must be enforced by

depriving of life anyone who deprives another person of life.^? (Capital

Punishment p.31). Many christians say that all life is holy because it was

given to us by God and it is not up to us to decide if a person should die.

According to Pope Pius XII: ^?When it is a question of the execution of a man

condemned to death the State does not dispose of the individual^?s right to

live. It is then reserved to public power to deprive the condemned of the

benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already he has dispossessed

himself of the right to live.^?(The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints p.70).

This forcefully disproves any and all statements of christians to claim that

the death penalty is morally wrong to the church. Also many people believe

that by not executing a victim^?s murderer, one is putting higher value on the

murderer^?s life than on the victim. (Survey of 50 Catholics) John Stuart Mill

says in his 1868 address to Parliment, opposing a bill banning capital

punishment that, ^?When there has been brought home to any one, by conclusive

evidence, the greatest crime known to the law; and when the attendant

circumstances suggest no palliation of guilt…nothing to make it probable

that the crime was an exception to his general character rather than a

consequence of it, then…it appears to me that to deprive the crimianl of the

life of which he has proved himself to be unworthy…is the most

appropriate…^?(http://ethics.acusd.edu/mill.html).

Capital punishment is truly a safeguard to society because, ^?It is the

finality of the death penalty which instils fear into the heart of every

murderer, and it is this fear of punishment which protects society.^?(The Death

Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints p.41 quote by Robert E. Crowe printed in The

Forum). An example of this is England practiced capital punishment throughout

the early 20th century, and had a lower crime rate than that of any large US

city. Since England has abolished the death penalty in 1968, their murder

rate has risen over 100%, and 75 English citizens have been murdered by

released killers. (http://www.rit.edu/~wwl2461/cp.html). This proves not only

is it a safeguard but it also helps deter crime because in the hundreds of

years before England had one of the lowest murder rates in the world.

The death penalty is the most effective means of crime detterent as you can

see. It not only punishes those who commit the crimes, but also prevents

future crimes by scaring the would-be murderer with the consequence he would

pay for his actions. It has proven effective throughout history, and will

hold strong through the ages as long as people continue to be corrupt and

commit crimes.

Bibliography

The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints

Written by David L. Becker, ? 1991

pp.41, 70

Capital Punishment

Written by Michael Kronenwetter, ?1993

pp.10-15, 31

^?More Blacks Favor the Death Penalty^?

JET Magazine, Vol. 93, Issue 24, May 11, 1998

pp. 5-6

Pro Capital Punishment Page

http://www.rit.edu/~wwl2461/cp.html

Capital Punishment

http://ethics.acusd.edu/mill.html

U.S. Department of Justice

Press Release, Sunday December 13, 1998

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/press/cp.97.pr

Survey of 50 Catholics

Performed by Amit Juneja

Ages of surveyed range from 15 to 55 years of age


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