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Capital Punishment

In the past, people have invariably felt that if they had

been wronged in some way, it was his or her right to take

vengeance on the person that had wronged them. This mentality

still exists, even today, but in a lesser form because the law

has now outlined a person’s rights and developed punishments that

conform to those rights, yet allow for the retribution for their

crime. However, some feel that those laws and punishments are

too lax and criminals of today take advantage of them, ie.

organized crime, knowing very well that the punishments for their

crime, whether it be murder, theft, or any other number of

criminal activities, will be so negligible that it may be well

worth their risk.

Although in the past, the number of crimes that were

subjected to capital punishment, defined simply as the death

penalty for a crime, were outrageous. Amendments were made to

reflect the changes in the society’s views on the morality of

capital punishment. That resulted in the narrowing down of the

list of one hundred crimes to twelve, punishable by the death

penalty in 1833, and in 1869 it was cut down yet again to just

three: treason, rape, and murder because of violent nature of

these crimes. These crimes, even today, are still viewed as

violent and should be punished with the highest degree of

discipline available to achieve justice.

After much public pressure, capital punishment was suspended

on a trial run in 1967. This proved to be ineffective, because

even though the law stipulated that crimes such as treason or the

murder of law enforcement agents, were still to be subjected to

the death penalty, the federal cabinet continued to commute those

criminals from death to life sentences, hence the law was not

being followed and justice was not being served. This soon was

followed with capital punishment’s abolishment in 1976, as a

formal declaration of what was already happening or rather what

was not happening. It is felt that because of this and the fact

that there has not been an execution since 1967, that today’s

current form of punishments are no longer a sufficient deterrent

for such serious crimes and have contributed to a ever rising

crime rate.

So, this is where the real issue of whether or not capital

punishment should exist begins and such a controversial issue

could be best understood if we looked at capital punishment in a

perspective of how it fulfils or does not fulfil society’s ideas

of punishment :

Is not one of the four fundamental objectives behind

punishment retribution? The sentencing objective based on

the principle of “an-eye-for-an-eye”, which means that what

one person has done to another should also be done to that

person in return. Is that not justified, especially in

cases of premeditated murder of another human begin, another

life?

Does capital punishment not act as a deterrent? Does

it not threaten with an imposition of a penalty for the

commission of an act considered wrong by society?

What about segregation? Does capital punishment remove

criminals from society so that they cannot repeat their

offence or commit other offences against society?

Doesn’t capital punishment follow the above three objectives

well?? Most people would say it does. But then, of course,

people who support the abolishment of capital punishment would

ask about rehabilitation, the re-training of prisoners with

an employable skill for use when they are released. Not only

is it expensive to re-train and house criminals, but with some,

it is just not possible, because they are hardened criminals

and will not change. For those

people, it is just not worth the effort and the taxpayers’

money to even attempt to reform them.

Also, another point to consider is that today prison terms

are not enough. Many people are allowed out early on

parole and/or remission resulting in criminals just serving

one third of their prison terms and being released back into

society. This type of quick release cannot adequately

retribute someone’s death nor deter others strongly enough

from repeating the same offence that the criminals already

have.

As you can see, capital punishment fulfils our society’s

“checklist” of what a punishment should do, especially the

objective of retribution.

Many people who want capital punishment restored, have also

clearly stated that without a suitable punishments for crimes,

justice will never truly be served to those that have suffered

damages or losses. People will think less and less of the law

and start resorting to “private law and order”. This would not

only create chaos but raise the crime rate further with people

running around on private vendettas.

Even with these facts and arguments, the federal government

refuses to restore the death penalty. So all we can do now is

protest to the government, wait, and hope that it will not take a

high crime rate and the loss of many innocent lives before they

realize what a mistake they made in 1976 by totally abolishing

capital punishment.

… A sinner may commit a hundred crimes and still live.

- Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

Capital Punishment

By Huy Luong

The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has endured

for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and

complicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the

Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the

Dahmers and Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous

barbaric acts of these individuals and other killers, by taking

away their lives to function and perform in our society. At the

same time, we must insure that innocent people such as Marshall

and Millgard are never convicted or sentenced to death for a

crime that they did not commit.

Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of

deterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per-

capita basis in countries or states that do have it, then those

that do not. In order for capital punishment to work as a

deterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal’s mind

prior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware that

others have been punished in the past for the offence that he or

she is planning, and that what happened to another individual who

committed this offence, can also happen to me.

But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from

auto theft to 1st-Degree Murder, never take into account the

consequences of their actions. Deterrence to crime, is rooted in

the individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set of

conduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they

will and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made or

be broken by friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. An

individual who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child,

will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do,

until they have learned it themselves. Therefore, capital

punishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of human

nature to ignore practised advice and to self learn.

There are those who claim that capital punishment is in

itself a form of vengeance on the killer. But isn’t locking up a

human being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself?

And is it “humane” that an individual who took the life of

another, should receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3

meals a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one

receives nothing? Adversaries of capital punishment claim that it

is far more humane then having the state take away the life of

the individual.

In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex

offender, was scheduled to hang. But just days before his

execution, the then Liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted

McCorkell to life in prison.

Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and

convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenessee

boy. He was sentanced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leaving

Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the attempted murder of

an 11-year old boy.

What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in

1963, two boys would never have had to have gone through the

horror of being sexually abused. These individuals may themselves

become sex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused

as children.

McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in the

past, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do this

once, he killed two boys, and assaulted two others, leaving one

for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this

man have to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children, what

will he do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a

life would the state have been taking away in this case? An

innocent life? A forgiving life? No, a life that was beyond the

realm of reform, and did not care to be.

We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, even

when suspicion may cause considerable doubt, send an innocent

person to be executed. It could have happened to David Millgard,

it could have happened to Donald Marshall. It probably has even

occured numerous times in the history of the earth. But with

proper police investigations, and where the evidence shows that

the individual is a threat to the peace of society as long as he

or she is alive, capital punishment must be used.

Capital Punishment: Deters murder, and is just Retribution

Capital punishment, is the execution of criminals by the state,

for committing crimes, regarded so heinous, that this is the only

acceptable punishment. Capital punishment does not only lower the

murder rate, but it’s value as retribution alone is a good reason

for handing out death sentences. Support for the death penalty

in the U.S. has risen to an average of 80% according to

an article written by Richard Worsnop, entitled “Death penalty

debate centres on Retribution”, this figure is slightly lower in

Canada where support for the death penalty is at 72% of the

population over 18 years of age, as stated in article by Kirk

Makir, in the March 26, 1987 edition of the Globe and Mail,

titled “B.C. MPs split on Death Penalty”.

The death penalty deters murder by putting the fear of death into

would be killers. A person is less likely to do something, if he

or she thinks that harm will come to him. Another way the death

penalty deters murder, is the fact that if the killer is dead, he

will not be able to kill again.

Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should

be punished for their crimes, and that it does not matter whether

it will deter the crime rate. Supporters of the death penalty

are in favour of making examples out of offenders, and that the

threat of death will be enough to deter the crime rate, but the

crime rate is irrelevant.

According to Isaac Ehrlich’s study, published on April 16, 1976,

eight murders are deterred for each execution that is carried out

in the U.S.A. He goes on to say, “If one execution of a guilty

capital murderer deters the murder of one innocent life, the

execution is justified.” To most supporters of the death

penalty, like Ehrlich, if even 1 life is saved, for countless

executions of the guilty, it is a good reason for the death

penalty. The theory that society engages in murder when

executing the guilty, is considered invalid by most supporters,

including Ehrlich. He feels that execution ofconvicted offenders

expresses the great value society places on innocent life.

Isaac Ehrlich goes on to state that racism is also a point used

by death penalty advocates. We will use the U.S. as examples,

since we can not look at the inmates on death row in Canada,

because their are laws in Canada that state that crime statistics

can not be based on race, also the fact that there are no inmates

on death row in Canada. In the U.S. 16 out of 1000 whites

arrested for murder are sentenced to death, while 12 of 1000

blacks arrested for murder were sentenced to death. 1.1% of

black inmates on death row were executed, while 1.7% of white

inmates will die.

Another cry for racism, as according to Ehrlich, that is raised

by advocates of the death penalty is based on the colour of the

victim, for example “if the victim is white, it is more likely

that the offender will get the death penalty than if the victim

had been black”. This is true, if you look at the actual number

of people who are murder. More people kill whites and get

the death penalty, then people who kill blacks and get the death

penalty. The reason for this is that more whites are killed, and

the murders captured. Now if we look at the number of blacks

killed it is a lot less, but you have to look at these numbers

proportionately. Percent wise it is almost the same number for

any race, so this is not the issue.

In a 1986 study done by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the

University of North Carolina, the conclusions made by Ehrilich

were updated, and showed to be a little on the low side as far as

the deterrence factor of capital punishment. Professor Layson

found that 18 murders were deterred by each execution is the U.S.

He also found that executions increases in probability of arrest,

conviction, and other executions of heinous offenders.

According to a statement issued by George C. Smith, Director of

Litigation, Washington Legal Foundation, titled “In Support of

the Death Penalty”, support for the death penalty has grown in

the U.S., as the crime rate increased. In 1966, 42% of Americans

were in favour of capital punishment while 47% were opposed to

it. Since the crime rate United states has increased, support

for the capital punishment has followed suit. In 1986, support

for capital punishment was 80% for and only 17% against with 3%

undecided, but most of the undecided votes said they were leaning

toward a pro capital punishment stance, if they had to vote on it

immediately.

Let us now focus on Canada. The last two people to be executed,

in Canada were Arthur Lucas and Ron Turpin. They were executed

on December 11, 1962. The executions in Canada were carried out

by hanging. 1

The death penalty was abolished in Canada in the latter part of

1976, after a debate that lasted 98 hours. The death penalty was

only beaten by 6 votes. If we look back to 1976, the year the

death penalty was abolished in Canada, threats of death, were

being made to Members of Parliament and their immediate families

from pro death penalty advocates. Most members of parliament,

voted on their own personal feelings, as opposed to the views of

their voters.2

The same was the case in British Colombia, where accepting of the

death penalty, if it was reinstated 1987 , by the federal

government was discussed. The M.P.s were split, 17 out of 29

were for the death penalty. This showed, that even the majority

of the M.P.s were in favour of the death penalty in B.C. Support

for the death penalty in British Columbia at the time was

almost 70%, but the M.P.s felt that it was up to them to vote how

they felt was right, and not to vote on which vote would give

them the best chance for a second term.3

In 1987, the Progressive Conservative government wanted to hold a

free vote on the reinstatement of Capital punishment, but Justice

minister Ray Hnatyshyn, who was opposed to it, pressured the

M.P.s, into voted against the bill. Ray Hnatyshyn, was the

deciding factor, if not for him, it was widely believed that the

reinstatement of capital punishment would have gone through, and

the death penalty would be a reality today.4

Capital punishment is such a volatile issue, and both sides are

so deeply rooted in their views that they are willing to do

almost anything to sway all of the people they can to their side.

We personally feel, and our views are backed up by proof, in the

form of studies by the likes of Isaac Ehrlich’s 1975 and Prof.

Stephen K. Layson’s, that was published in 1986, and polls that

have been taken both in Canada and the United States over the

past few years. All of these studies and surveys show that

capital punishment is a valid deterrent to crime, and obviously

the public, and society as a whole are in favour of it. The

death penalty makes would be capital offenders think about

weather committing a crime is really worth their lives. Even if

capital punishment did not deter crime, the simple fact that it

will allow society to “get even” with murders. Capital

punishment also insures peace of mind because it insures

that murders will never kill again.

1 From: Take Notice, (Copp Clarke Pitman Ltd., 1979) page 163

2 From: Article written by David Vienneau published in the March

24, 1987 edition of the “Toronto Star”, titled, Debate

Agonizing for MPs.

3 From: Article written by Kirk Makir, published in March 26,

1987 edition of the “Globe and Mail”, titled, BC MPs Split on

Death Penalty Debate.

4 From: Article written by Hugh Winsor, published in April 29,

1987 edition of the “Globe and Mail”, titled, Debate on Death

Penalty placed on hold.

Capital Punishment

Capital punishment is the lawful infliction of the death

penalty and since ancient times it has been used to punish a wide variety

of offenses. The Bible prescribes death for murder and many other crimes

such as kidnapping and witchcraft. In the 1500’s in England only the major

felonies carried the death penalty. Some of these felonies are treason,

murder, larceny, burglary, rape, and arson. In the 1800’s however ,

parilament had enacted many new capital offenses, and hundreds of persons

were being sentenced to death each year. In the United States prior to the

civil war the death penalty was imposed on slaves for many crimes, but the

penalty for others were less severe.Although people argue that the death

penalty is needlessly cruel, it should be used in every state, because

paroled murders get out of jail too fast and the only punishment equal to

murder is the death penalty.

Capital punishment is always going to be questioned by the

states. The United States doesn’t like the death penalty because they say

its not a valid purpose of punishment. The states say a punishment that

conflicts harm can hardly be good for us. The states don’t want to kill a

man who is already imprisoned. They say he’s already being punished.

However the states don’t keep all murders in jail forever. Some

of these criminals will get out and will probably start all over again. Its

not that they have to kill, but they have a problem. Problem or no problem

the states just can’t let a killer get away with it. These criminals are

taking an innocent persons life and they get to live. They also get a place

to live, free food and don’t have to pay for nothing. They get to kick back

while another family suffers for it. If the don’t care about killing

somebody they won’t mind if you execute them or else they wounldn’t have

done it. Rarly do you see a person kill another person and he doesn’t mean

it.

Secondly there is no punishment that you can give a murderer.

There is nothing painful enough you can do to a person who has killed a

loved one. These criminals don’t deserve a punishent. Punishment is for

people who are doing smaller crimes. A murderer will kill again because he

has no feelings for nobody and doesn’t care what happens. Some murderers

will ask for death role but rarly does it happen. If the states have any

feelings for their citizens they should let them vote on it. The citizens

pay taxes and they want a death penalty not a punishment for murderers.

The United States needs to make a change for its self and start

doing whats right for its counrty. Even thought two wrongs never make a

right , if its the best thing you can do you have to do it. The death

penalty will give people a clear warning before they plan murdering

somebody. The death penalty will do more good then harm ,and will make the

United States a better and safer place to live.

Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment In the past, people have invariably felt that if they had been wronged in some way, it was his

or her right to take vengeance on the person that had wronged them. This mentality still exists, even today, but in

a lesser form because the law has now outlined a person’s rights and developed punishments that conform to

those rights, yet allow for the retribution for their crime. However, some feel that those laws and punishments are

too lax and criminals of today take advantage of them, i.e. organized crime. Knowing very well that the

punishments for their crime, whether it is murder, theft, or any other number of criminal activities, will be so

negligible that it may be well worth their risk. Although in the past, the number of crimes that were subjected to

capital punishment, defined simply as the death penalty for a crime, were outrageous. This leads to the reason

that capital punishment should be legal in all states. Amendments were made to reflect the changes in the

society’s views on the morality of capital punishment. That resulted in the narrowing down of the list of one

hundred crimes to twelve, punishable by the death penalty in 1833, and in 1869 it was cut down yet again to just

three: treason, rape, and murder because of violent nature of these crimes (Steele). These crimes, even today,

are still viewed as violent and should be punished with the highest degree of discipline available to achieve

justice. After much public pressure, capital punishment was suspended on a trial run in 1967. This proved to be

ineffective, because even though the law stipulated that crime such as treason or the murders of law enforcement

agents were still to be subjected to the death penalty. The federal cabinet continued to commute those criminals

from death to life sentences, hence the law was not being followed and justice was not being served. This soon

was followed with capital punishment’s abolishment in 1976, as a formal declaration of what was already

happening or rather what was not happening. It is felt that because of this and the fact that there had not been an

execution since 1967, that today’s current form of punishments are no longer a sufficient deterrent for such

serious crimes and have contributed to an ever rising crime rate (Steele). So, this is where the real issue of

whether or not capital punishment should exist begins and such a controversial issue could be best understood if

we looked at capital punishment in a perspective of how it fulfils or does not fulfil society’s ideas of punishment.

Is not one of the four fundamental objectives behind punishment retribution? The sentencing objective based on

the principle of “an-eye-for-an-eye”, which means that what one person has done to another should also be

done to that person in return. Is that not justified, especially in cases of premeditated murder of another human

begin, another life? Does capital punishment not act as a deterrent? Does it not threaten with an imposition of a

penalty for the commission of an act considered wrong by society? Does capital punishment remove criminals

from society so that they cannot repeat their offence or commit other offences against society? Doesn’t capital

punishment follow the above three objectives well? Most people would say it does. But then, of course, people

who support the abolishment of capital punishment would ask about rehabilitation, the re-training of prisoners

with an employable skill for use when they are released. Not only is it expensive to re-train and house criminals,

but with some, it is just not possible, because they are hardened criminals and will not change. For those people,

it is just not worth the effort and the taxpayers’ money to even attempt to reform them. Also, another point to

consider is that today prison terms are not enough. Many people are allowed out early on parole and/or

remission resulting in criminals just serving one third of their prison terms and being released back into society.

This type of quick release cannot adequately tribute someone’s death nor deter others strongly enough from

repeating the same offence that the criminals already have. As you can see, capital punishment fulfils our

society’s “checklist” of what a punishment should do especially the objective of retribution. Many people who

want capital punishment restored to all states, have also clearly stated that without a suitable punishments for

crimes, justice will never truly be served to those that have suffered damages or losses. People will think less and

less of the law and start resorting to “private law and order”. This would not only create chaos but also raise the

crime rate further with people running around on private vendettas. Even with these facts and arguments, the

government refuses to restore the death penalty to all states. So all we can do now is protest to the government,

wait, and hope that it will not take a high crime rate and the loss of many innocent lives.


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