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Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper

In 1979, Lawrence Singleton raped and chopped off the arms of a 15-year-old girl named Mary Vincent in California. Singleton was sentenced to fourteen years in prison for this crime, but because of California statute he only served eight years of that sentence. When he was released in 1987, there was such uproar in California that Singleton had to be housed on the grounds of a prison because no community would accept him as an inhabitant. He moved to Florida that year, where his presence was a matter of great controversy. People cursed and spat at him when he roamed the streets. At age 69, just ten years after he got out of prison, Singleton stabbed a woman to death and was sentenced to death in Florida’s electric chair (“Crime Magazine”).

This story is not an unusual one; many repeat killers were out on parole at the time they committed horrendous multiple murders. This is an example of why I feel that people in society should believe that capital punishment is the only way to deter such killers from striking again. I believe that the death penalty is an effective deterrent when it is enforced, used consistently and if the process had fewer delays.

In an eight year period, from 1968 to 1976, when no executions took place in the United States, the number of murders rose at an alarming rate—in fact, it nearly doubled (HOOK, 43). In 1972 Texas commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment after the Supreme Court banished the death penalty. A recent study tells us what happened to those inmates when Texas stopped executing them. The study shows that since 1974 about three times as many prisoners have been released from death row by commutation, judicial reversals or dismissals as have been executed. After 47 inmates on death row were released into to general prison population, 12 of those 47 commuted prisoners were responsible for 21 serious violent offenses against other inmates and prison staff. I think this is a prime example of what can happen when these criminals are put in general prison population. Another commuted death row inmate killed a fellow prisoner while in general population and within a year of his release on parole a different commuted death row prisoner killed a girl (SOWELL, 106). In all of these cases, it’s my opinion that if the death penalty was used consistently and enforced the victims of these repeat offenders could possibly still be alive. These monsters should face the consequences and take the punishment they rightly deserve.

The American people want government to do something about the violent crime. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the interminable appeals process has made the death penalty more of a hollow threat than an effective deterrent. These appeals average nine years and last as long as seventeen years, which precludes capital punishment as being an effective deterrent (Specter, 115). It’s my belief that the public should put pressure on Congress to correct this problem. There should be a swifter process to execution once criminals are found guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt and I believe that historically this has proven to be a deterrent to these heinous crimes.

I feel that in society people should give an “eye for an eye”. When a criminal is found guilty in a court of law for a heinous crime the people should have justice. I believe capital punishment in homicide cases has proven to be a deterrent when effectively enforced, used consistently and when the process has fewer delays.

“Crime Magazine.” An Encyclopedia of Crime. Online. America Online. 6 Oct 1999.

Hook, Donald D., and Lothar Kahn. Death in the Balance: The Debate over Capital Punishment.

Canada, 1989.

Sowell, Thomas and John J. Dilulie, Jr. “Defenders of Muderers Spring into Action.”

Manchester Union-Leader. December 13, 1994, Rpt. “The Death Penalty:

Opposing Viewpoints.” San Diego. Greenhaven Press, 1997. Pages 103-107.

Specter, Arlen. “Congress Must Make Death Sentences Meaningful Again.” Human Events.

July 15, 1994. Rpt. “The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints.” San Diego.

Greenhaven Press, 1997. Pages 114-119.


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