Essay, Research Paper: Capital Punishment

Legal Issues

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I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Why do we kill people, who kill
people, to show that killing is wrong?” Suddenly I thought about what I had
read. I am against the death penalty as a solution to crime. Capital punishment
is a sign of a deep sickness in our civilization. Execution is an act of
violence, but you cannot use violence to end violence. The death penalty is not
an effective way to punish a criminal. It is used by the powerful to pretend
that violent crime is under control, and being disposed of, but in reality the
death penalty disposes of the poor, the uneducated, and the minorities in the
world. Even states that use the death penalty seem to have a higher number of
homicides than states that do not use it. Capital punishment has never been
shown to eliminate crime more effectively than other punishments. If the death
penalty isn’t lowering the murder rate then why waste the taxpayers money? It
cost more to put a prisoner to death with any method than it does to keep them
incarcerated. Our justice system shouldn’t just execute the criminal, they
should also make his life miserable. Prisons should supply the bare necessities
and nothing else. One solution is to eliminate televisions, libraries, gyms and
basketball courts. Even though our prisons need to toughen up, I do give them
credit for taking away a criminals freedom. Many family members want to see the
offenders dead. The families emotions are understandable, but death is not a
solution. The victims family has to suffer for a lifetime, so why shouldn’t
the murderer suffer too? Another problem is the chance or executing an innocent
person. The executed prisoner cannot be given another chance. In the last
hundred years there have been more that seventy-five documented cases of
wrongful convictions in criminal homicide cases. One example is Walter McMillian
who was released from Alabama’s death row after having spent six years there
because of perjured testimony and withheld evidence that indicated his
innocence. He was convicted of the shooting death of a storekeeper. On the day
of the murder he was at a fish fry with his friends and relatives, many of whom
testified to this at his trial. No physical evidence linked him to the crime,
but three people who testified at his trial connected him to the murder. Only
sheer luck saved Walter McMillian. After listening to a tape recording of a key
witnesses testimony against McMillian, a volunteer lawyer flipped the tape to
see if there was anything on the other side. Only then did he hear the same
witness complaining that he was being pressured to frame McMillian. With that
fourutious break, the whole case against McMillian began to fall apart. All
three prosecution witnesses recanted their testimony. On March 3, 1993, the
County District Attorney joined the defense in a motion to dismiss the charges.
Walter McMillian was finally freed. There are many other cases of mistaken
conviction and execution that occur and remain undocumented. An innocent person
can be freed, but neither release or compensation is possible for a corpse. If a
man is truly a murder, the thought of execution will not stop him from
committing murder. So if capital punishment is not lowering the murder rate, is
more expensive, and being alive is more of a punishment than being dead, then
why not abolish the death penalty?
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