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Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper

How criminals should be punished?

Before any test in class, some students who are not well prepared for the test usually think about cheating in class. But when they know that the punishment for being caught will not be just a zero on the test as usual but an F for the class, they will think about it ten times before they do it. So, I believe that all sentencing is based on the principle that punishment should be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime, especially when it is about a crime like murder.

While the debate over capital punishment wavers between its pros and its cons, the major questions are usually framed in terms of practicality: is execution of an offender the best way to protect society? Was the capital punishment fairly administered? Was the death penalty effective in deterring crime?

Many of our present-day murderers are professional criminals whose victims were slain in the course of holdups, robberies, and other crimes committed for profit. So, many murderers do not kill for revenge, they have no malice against the individual they kill. Instead, they kill out of cold-blooded calculation. Society for its own protection should make it impossible for these men to kill again.

In recent years the American public has been influenced to some extent by an active, persistent sympathy for the person accused of crime. But, I consider it a misplaced sympathy because it is a sympathy guided by emotion and impulse, It is so deep and passionate that it loses its senses of proportion. It forgets the life that was blotted out. It forgets the broken-hearts left behind. It forgets the fatherless and sometimes homeless children, which should be the real object of pity.

However, variations of the abolitionist moral arguments suggest that the death penalty may be applied discriminatorily and disproportionately or that innocents may be executed. Great effort has been made in pretrial, trial, appeals, and clemency procedures to minimize the chance of an innocent person being convicted, sentenced to death, or executed. Because we do not live in a perfect word, equal punishment for equal guilt is an ideal to strive for, but we should realize that it is not attainable. Systematic discrimination can be minimized and great strides have been made in that direction. But accidental inequalities are hard to avoid. Unavoidably, some capriciousness and even some discrimination will remain in the system.

Abolitionists argue that most murderers cannot be rationally deterred by any penalty, including death. They are crimes of passion, committed in moments of intense rage, frustration, hatred, or fear when the killers aren?t thinking clearly of the personal consequences of what they do. For people in such states, the death penalty cannot be a deterrent, because they don?t even think about it. Most other murderers, the ones who cold-bloodedly plan and carry out their crimes, think they are too clever to be caught. So the death penalty cannot be a deterrent for them because they are convinced they will escape detection and punishment entirely. However, the fear of the death penalty must have deterred some criminals and prevented some crimes in the past, even if it is difficult to prove with any certainty. As an example, in the early 1970?s, the Los Angles Police Department had interviewed many criminals and asked them about the reason why they did not use any weapons in their crimes. Most of them stated that they were afraid of the death penalty as a punishment.

Consequently, it is reasonable to conclude that people fear nothing more than death, and it is this fear of punishment that protects society from murders. An important analogy must be drawn. Society as a whole must be considered as though it were a single individual. I believe that capital punishment should be the penalty for murder, not because I believe that society wishes to take the life of a murderer, but rather because society does not wish to lose its own life. Capital punishment is therefore seen as a legitimate form of self-defense that society has at its disposal.


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