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Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper

?In our understandable desire to be fair and to protect the rights of offenders in our criminal justice system, let us never ignore or minimize the rights of their victims.? The death penalty is a necessary tool that reaffirms the sanctity of human life while assuring that convicted killers will never again prey upon others. Through the death penalty many families of victims find solace and retribution by seeking to put an end to it all; the sleepless nights, the terrifying nightmares of what their son, daughter, wife, husband, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend went through and the constant reminder of why their loved ones aren?t with them. In June 1997, a parade of witnesses at the trial of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, described the explosion?s impact on their lives. Survivors of the blast expressed their belief that killing McVeigh would be justified, given their loss, and many expressed their fury. ?The sooner McVeigh meets his maker, the sooner justice will be served,? said Darlene Welch, whose 4-year-old niece, Ashley, was killed in the blast. ?He will get what he deserves in the afterlife, where he will meet Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer,? says Ernie Ross, who suffered serious injuries from the blast while working across the street. ?He deserves the death penalty, there?s no doubt about that.? This would seem to be what Americans want. In poll after poll, more than 70% say they support the death penalty, a figure that has remained consistent for the past decade. But increasingly, another argument for the death penalty is being voiced, one far more basic. It centers not on the criminal?s debt to society but on the right of a victim?s loved ones to gain peace of mind through his death. The right, in other words, would be therapeutic vengeance. Death-penalty opponents have traditionally viewed this kind of personal retribution as barbaric. But isn?t bringing solace to a victim and their family a legitimate justification for the death penalty? And isn?t providing solace a powerful form of compensation? On the afternoon of October 1, 1997, 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley told his grandmother, ?I have to go do something. I?ll be back in a little while.? Then he left her house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His grandmother would be the last one to see him alive. When Curley did not come home that night, his family, their neighbors and police organized a huge search. They also distributed flyers with the boy?s picture on it. The next day Salvatore Sicari, Curley?s neighbor and adult ?friend,? arrived at the Curleys? home with a handful of the flyers. He expressed his concern over the boy?s disappearance and offered his assistance. Sicari also began to speak to Cambridge police, offering bits of information. Sicari told police that he had last seen Curley on the morning of October 1, when Curley had apparently threatened him with his dog. Sicari said that he told Curley that he would kill the dog if the boy didn?t stop. After that encounter, Sicari said he met up with Charles Jaynes. Sicari told authorities that he had seen Curley riding in Jaynes? Cadillac in the past. He also claimed that Jaynes had promised Curley a bicycle. He had warned Curley to stay away from Jaynes. Cambridge police contacted Jaynes on October 2. While he denied knowing Curley, he was arrested on an outstanding warrant and taken into custody. In Jaynes? wallet, police found four receipts for items purchased with a credit card bearing his father?s name: Edward Jaynes. The items included a receipt from Bradlees for a Rubbermaid container, a receipt from Home Depot for cement and lime, a receipt for a bicycle and a receipt from an Osco Drug Store for cigars and caffeine pills. All of these purchases were made on the day of Curley?s disappearance. When questioned, Jaynes said that he knew Curley, but denied seeing him on the day the boy disappeared. Sicari was contacted again by Cambridge police and continued to provide details. In his statement, Sicari described the killing. While he drove Jaynes? Cadillac, he explained, the 250-pound Jaynes sat on Curley in the back seat. As Curley struggled, Jaynes allegedly told him, ?Don?t fight it.? Jaynes then placed a gasoline soaked rag to the boy?s mouth and held it there, killing him. After the boy had been suffocated to death Sicari and Jaynes drove to numerous stores to buy the items necessary to dispose of Curley?s body. Video cameras in two of the stores captured the men at the checkout counter purchasing a Rubbermaid container, a bag of lime and a bag of concrete. The men then left Massachusetts and drove to Jaynes? apartment in Manchester, New Hampshire. There, Jaynes took off Curley?s clothes and molested the boy?s dead body. When Sicari became sick he ran to the bathroom and Jaynes said to him, ?Don?t be a baby. Come out here and help me, he?s starting to stiffen up.? Sicari then admitted to helping Jaynes prepare the body. First they placed Curley?s body in the cement-filled Rubbermaid container, put lime on his face and in his mouth to speed decomposition, and sealed the container with duct tape. Then they drove to Maine, where they dumped the container into a river. Prosecutors believed that Sicari and Jaynes lured Curley into Jaynes? Cadillac with the promise of $50 and a bicycle. One or both of the men allegedly made sexual advances towards the boy, then suffocated him when he resisted. Prosecutor David Yanetti said it doesn?t matter which man physically performed the kidnapping and murder. Even if it was Jaynes who actually kidnapped and murdered Curley, Sicari is equally culpable because he intended to commit the crimes and assisted Jaynes in carrying them out, Yanetti insisted. Sicari plead not guilty to charges of kidnapping and first-degree murder. He maintained that it was Jaynes, a self-admitted pedophile, who killed Curley. Sicari claimed he in no way cooperated with Jaynes or shared in any intent. Sicari also said it was Jaynes who later molested Curley?s dead body. The defendant conceded, however, that he did nothing to prevent the killing, that he helped Jaynes prepare Curley?s body for disposal, and helped Jaynes dump Curley?s corpse into the river. On May 11, 1982, Allen Lee Davis, an ex-convict, entered the Jacksonville, Florida, home of the John Weiler family. Weiler, an executive was on a business trip in Pittsburgh. In the Weiler home, Allen Lee Davis attacked Nancy Weiler, 37, who at the time was three months pregnant with the family?s third child. Davis beat Mrs. Weiler, who was the secretary of the PTA at her children?s school, so severely that she was barely recognizable when police found her body. Davis brutalized Mrs. Weiler with such force that the trigger guard on the gun with which he was beating her broke, as did the wooden grips and metal frame of its handle. Davis then tied up the Weiler?s 10-year-old daughter, Kristy, a 5th-grade student who hoped to become a nuclear engineer someday and shot her in the face, killing her. The Weilers? other child, 5-year-old Kathy tried to run from Davis. He shot her in the back, and then beat her head so severely that he crushed her skull. Cary Ann Medlin was an average 8-year old little girl. Brown hair covered the sides of her sweet face, and big brown eyes that enhanced her constant, glowing smile. This darling won the hearts of any who crossed her path with her soft-spoken ways and her love for life. Cary attended Sunday school at the First Baptist Church on Sundays, and learned at an early age the love of her Lord and Savior. Even during her last breaths, Cary tried to save this man who had hurt her beyond description. Her favorite colors were pink and blue. She loved country music, and often pranced around the house singing. She loved to swim and ride her bike. Cary hated to wear shoes. She sucked her thumb until she was almost 2 years old. She was a carefree little girl that loved life, and lived it with enthusiasm. One day, Cary and her brother Michael were riding bikes in the neighborhood. A seemingly friendly man, named Robert Glenn Coe, in an old car pulled up beside her. She parked her bike in front of a nearby church and climbed into the car. That was the last time Cary was seen alive. As soon as Cary was reported missing, the entire community went into action. Hundreds of volunteers searched the nearby areas searching for her and the suspect?s vehicle. After two days, the family?s worst fears were confirmed when Cary?s body was found at the end of a field road on the outskirts of town. Most of the killer?s confession was a nightmare for the family. There was, however, one part of the suspect?s testimony that stood out. It was that something that told Cary?s loved ones that the Lord had taken care of her, even until the very end. Just prior to ending the misery of this poor defenseless angel, Coe said she looked up at him and said, ?Jesus loves you.? It was said that even Coe choked a bit of emotion when telling that part of the story. Coe was convicted of the crime in 1981 and sentenced to death. On a final note, how can murder be taken seriously if the penalty isn?t equally as serious? A crime, after all, is only as severe as the punishment that follows it. As Edward Koch once said: ?It is by exacting the highest penalty for the taking of human life that we affirm the highest value of human life.? Award-winning Chicago journalist Mike Royko strongly defended this position by stating: ?When I think of the thousands of inhabitants of Death Rows in the hundreds of prisons in this country…My reaction is: What?s taking us so long? Let?s get that electrical current flowing. Drop those pellets [of poison gas] now! Whenever I argue this with friends who have opposite views, they say that I don?t have enough regard for the most marvelous of miracles-human life. Just the opposite: It?s because I have so much regard for human life that I favor capital punishment. Murder is the most terrible crime there is. Anything less than the death penalty is an insult to the victim and society. It says that we don?t value the victim?s life enough to punish the killer fully.?

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