Essay, Research Paper: Death Penalty

Legal Issues

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When New York State’s governor George Pataki took office in 1995, crime
dropped in total of 45%, and the murder rate dropped by 1/3. As of September 1st
1995, the death penalty was reinstated in the state of New York, assuring safer
communities and fewer victims, and an over all drop in crime rate. People have
used a number of arguments to support their views regarding the death penalty.
Among the arguments used include deterrence, incapacitation, religious
viewpoint, rehabilitation and cost. Yet it is suggested that the true judgement
of a persons position on capital punishment is determined by emotional and moral
beliefs. The primary questions raised by the death penalty are whether it is an
effective deterrent to violent crime, and whether it is more effective than the
long-term incapacitation. Defenders of the death penalty believe that by taking
an offender’s life is a more severe punishment than any prison term, it must
be the better deterrent. “A life term is commonly a short vacation at State
expense with nothing to do but eat the fruit of others industry.” (Opposing,
p43.) The term deterrence is used to suggest that with the execution of
murderers, there will be a direct decrease in homicide rate, due to the idea
that potential murderers will fear for their own lives. Under New York’s death
penalty law offenders involving: murder of a police officer; a probation,
parole, court, or corrections officer; a judge; or a witness or members of
witness’s family. Also those who murder while already serving life in prison,
escaping from prison, or committing other serious felonies, as well contract
killers, serial murderers, those who torture their victims, and those who have
murdered before. It is criminals and crimes like these that impose fear in our
communities. Due to change in sentencing laws, and other weaknesses in the
system, society is not protected from acts of crime. In 1962, James Moore raped
and murdered a 14 year old girl. He was not sentenced to death, but instead life
imprisonment. Twenty years later, due to a change in our system, Moore is
eligible for parole every two years. It is criminals like Moore, who do not
deserve the right to live, certainly not amongst innocent communities. In 1868,
in a debate before England’s Parliament one man stated “It is better that
the murderer should parish than that innocent men and women should have their
throats cut.” (Opposing, p57.) It are those individuals who commit a crime so
grave, that they relinquish their right to life. On a religious and moral
standpoint, it is said that the death penalty is a fitting punishment. Written
in the bible by Luke: “a certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to
vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time
he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might gave him some of the
fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away
empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him
shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they
wounded him and cast him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘what shall
I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see
him..’ But when the vinefressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves,
saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be
ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what
will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those
vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.”-Luke 20:9-16. (Pro-capital,
p15.) It is said that in this passage Jesus states that the probable punishment
for murder is death. Christians who morally support the death penalty may do so
for two reasons; they believe in an ‘eye for an eye’, meaning that with
those whose crimes are to grave, they deserve to die. They also believe if the
criminal is repentant of the crime they committed, they are regretful for doing
so, then by their execution they are justified to the Lord. Next there is the
issue of rehabilitation. Abolitionists who support the concept of rehabilitation
for murderers believe that imprisonment is effective in preventing murders from
happening again. Murderers have the lowest rates of effective rehabilitation.
Those who murder generally show no remorse, or guilt, and have the ability to
kill again. In fact, murderers who serve time in prison are more likely to
commit more murders, whether in prison, or upon their release. Civilization must
have rules to follow otherwise there will be utter chaos. With 3/4ths of
Americans in favor of the death penalty, and murder rates in New York State down
by nearly 1/3, one must question the downside of capital punishment. An
effective punishment not only forfeits the rights of the criminal, it deters
crime, increases public safety and helps provide restitution to victims. All
these components are found in the newly reinstated death penalty law. “Death
has a property that life in prison does not: finality.” (Does, p34.)

Bibliography1. Hagg, Ernest Van Den & Conrad, John. The Death Penalty; A Debate
Pro/Con. Plenum Publishing Corporation, New York. 1983. 2. Bender, L. David
& Leone, Bruno. The Death Penalty; Opposing Viewpoints. Greenhaven Press,
Inc., San Diego. 1998. 3. Barbour, Scott & Schonebaum, Stephen. Does Capital
Punishment Deter Crime? Greenhaven Press, Inc., Sand Diego. 1998. INTERNET: 1.
“Pro Capital Punishment.” Http://www.m.edu/~ww12461/cp.num.
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