Essay, Research Paper: Capital Punishment

Legal Issues

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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 practiced 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 sentenced 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 assault 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 occurred 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.
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