Essay, Research Paper: Death Penalty

Legal Issues

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people will argue that capital punishment is inappropriate as a proper
means of punishment for murder and rape. The truth is the death penalty is the
most effective form of retributive justice for those crimes. The death penalty
is a fitting punishment for violent crime because executions maximize public
safety through a form of incapacitation and deterrence. The death penalty has
been around since the days of Moses and it is still around today. The reason for
this is simply because it works. The Jews believe that the death penalty was
God-given and therefore a necessary part of their religious and judicial system.
The Jews use the death penalty to punish such grotesque offenses as bestiality
and incest to somewhat minute charges of striking, cursing, or mere disobedience
to one's parents. The methods the Jewish people use to inflict capital
punishment are as varied as the crimes for which it is used: Stoning, burning,
hanging, beheading, and several more less popular methods. If we look at the
Roman Empire we see that crucifixion was a popular mode of execution because,
not only did it get rid of the problem, it also punished the criminal with a
great deal of torture. Crucifixion is probably the most cruel way to execute
someone and therefore one of the most effective ways to deter crime. Crucifixion
involved hanging a person to a device called a cross. The person first had to
carry his cross through his hometown and to the place of his death. This further
helped to deter crime since few people want their family and friends to witness
such a humiliating experience. The criminal was then tied or nailed to the cross
with his knees bent. The cross was then lifted up and set into a hole in the
ground. This force would dislocate every joint in the body of the criminal.
While the criminal hanged there, he could push himself up on a foot pedestal so
that he could breathe. Eventually the man grew tired, suffocated, and died. The
French government wanted a much quicker, cleaner, and simpler way to carry out
the death penalty. A doctor by the name of Joseph Guillotin suggested the use of
the guillotine in 1792 and, hence, it bares his name. The death penalty has
almost always been a part of the American judicial system. Although the methods
of inflicting the death penalty have changed since America began, the need for
punishing lawbreakers has not. While the firing squad and hanging were used
before the turn of the century, more modern executions are now common. These
modern methods include the gas chamber, the electric chair, and the lethal
injection. The lethal injection is the most widely used form of execution in the
United States. Political leaders know the advantages of capital punishment are
far reaching, not only for the citizens themselves but for their moral values as
well. The death penalty has been around for a long time and it will continue to
be around because it is the single greatest crime deterrent. All major world
powers have used the death penalty as a means of controlling crime. Israel
conquered all the kingdoms of their region to become the most powerful nation in
the world around the time of Moses and up to a few hundred years before Christ.
Their law plainly states in Exodus 21:23, "And if any mischief follow, then
thou shalt give life for life." The Jews followed that law flawlessly
because they knew that if they let lawlessness go on then their government would
soon fail. Hammurabi was an Ammorite ruler who conquered Mesopotamia and set up
the Babylonian Empire. He is most famous for his code of laws, called the Code
of Hammurabi. They were carved on to an eight-foot-high slab of black stone that
was set in the middle of his capital city. Most were harsh, particularly the
rule an eye for an eye and a life for a life. It simply meant that whatever a
person did to some one else that person would receive the same treatment. The
most powerful nation for the last 150 years is inarguably the United States of
America. The United States has always used the death penalty. The only exception
is the years between 1967 and 1977 when Supreme Court decision Furman v. Georgia
declared capital punishment unconstitutional. This was a time when the people of
the United States were in a "peace" movement. Actually, they were so
blinded by the use of drugs that they were left incompetent and unable to
distinguish right from wrong. Finally, in 1975, when all the drug use and
"peace" movement slowed down and people came to their senses, the
Supreme Court overruled the Furman v. Georgia hearing of 1967. This
controversial 1975 case, Gregg v. Georgia, stated that capital punishment did
not violate the Constitution of the United States of America. As of now, 37
states use capital punishment to help prevent crime and, at one time or another,
every mainland state has had the death penalty in effect. The United States or
any of these state governments show no sign of falling apart. It could be that
the death penalty helps to stabilize their justice system, economy, and the
morale of its people. Furthermore, even the United States military enforces the
death penalty. It is the best military in the world. It has beaten the British
navy, the German army, the Russian army, and the Japanese marines, just to name
the most prominent opposition. The United States military eliminates bad
soldiers as a way of strengthening the entire military. A government that does
not take care of its people soon loses its people. Despite the facts, many
people still feel that capital punishment is wrong for various reasons. One of
those reasons is that someone will be wrongfully executed. Here are several
safeguards to protect the rights of criminals facing the death penalty: 1.
Capital punishment may be imposed only for a crime for which the death penalty
is prescribed by law at the time of its commission. 2. Persons below 18 years of
age, pregnant women, new mothers or persons who have become insane shall not be
sentenced to death. 3. Capital punishment may be imposed only when guilt is
determined by clear and convincing evidence, leaving no room for an alternative
explanation of the facts. 4. Capital punishment may be carried out only after a
competent court allowing all possible safeguards to the defendant, including
adequate legal assistance renders a final judgment. 5. Anyone sentenced to death
shall receive the right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction. 6. Anyone
sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of
sentenced. 7. Capital punishment shall not be carried out pending any appeal
recourse procedure or proceeding relating to pardon or commutation of the
sentenced. 8. Also capital punishment shall be carried out so as to inflict the
minimum possible suffering. (Laijas 2) People say that the death penalty does
not belong in a civilized society. I could not agree more. The trouble with that
is our society is not civilized. If it were, then there would be no murder and
rape and no need for capital punishment. Some people say that the death penalty
does not really deter crime. This can not be proven. It is impossible to know
what person is deterred from criminal activities. Some people are so crazy that
nothing can discourage them from committing a crime. Protesters of capital
punishment say that since it is illegal for regular citizens to commit murder
then the state government should not be allowed to put someone to death. They
even go so far as to give it a name: "Judicial homicide." (Cox 2) The
people, of the people, and for the people elect the state government. It clearly
has more rights than its citizens because the state government has to make
decisions that effect an entire people. Besides, if the citizens truly wanted a
change, they could petition or vote the lawmakers out of office. Some people
think that when the death penalty is involved in a trial that the verdict is
automatically going to be guilty just because people are bloodthirsty and
looking for a slaughter. This is a blatant lie. All trials in the United States
of America are carried out via due process of the law, guaranteed under the
Sixth Amendment. Most importantly, the Supreme Court declared capital punishment
did not violate the Eighth Amendment. This means that the people that were
elected by the citizens of the United States to interpret the law have found no
reason to say that the death penalty should not be used. Supreme Court Justices
have devoted their lives to studying the law and the effects of law on history,
government, nations, and people and they are the ones who can best decide if a
certain law is acceptable to the people it governs. There are some irrational
and radical people that believe that everyone should have their rights no matter
what they do. Some acts of violence are so cruel and inhuman that the individual
who committed those crimes should have all of his rights denied. Not to mistreat
him, but to show him and others like him that crime will not be tolerated.
Someone who kills our parents, our children, and our siblings should have no
right whatsoever to live in luxury and comfort in these air-conditioned resorts
called federal penitentiaries for free. Our tax dollars should be used to solve
and end problems, not sustain them. The banning of the death penalty is absurd.
If the death penalty is removed, the justice system will be ineffective.
Homeless people and people who live in poverty will commit crimes just to get an
extended stay in a nice home, with plenty of socializing and good times. Let us
face it, if we had the choice of living in and out of garbage bins or living in
a clean, healthy, free environment, which would we choose? To eliminate the
death penalty would be to say it is okay to mooch off of good, taxpaying
citizens. There are several benefits of the death penalty. Capital punishment
affects a lot of people, both directly and indirectly. Here are just a few
illustrations as to why the death penalty should be imposed. Society will feel
that the justice system is working properly. When people see crime being
punished, they sense that all things are not as bad as they seem. If people see
criminals getting what they deserve, then those people will think that they are
doing something right by living and interacting with their government. The most
basic principle involving the disciplining of crime is that the punishment must
fit the crime. If someone is a murderer, there is nothing else to do but to end
that personís life as well. No amount of jail time, fines, and rehabilitation
can compensate for his crime. As for a rapist, how can you repay a rapist?
Isolation from the outside world in no wise cancels his debt to society and the
people he violated. The only way to resolve his guilt is death. One of the most
important factors of the death penalty is its deterrent value. Potential
criminals are more likely to think about the total consequences of their actions
if they know their own lives are at stake. No one in their right mind will risk
a one time thrill or moment of revenge when they know beyond the shadow of a
doubt they will die for it. Families of those who are murdered are often hurt
the worst. They obviously have a deep emotional burden to carry, but on top of
that, they are often worried and bother by the extra financial and physical load
that results. If a murderer goes to jail he will be living off of his victims'
family's tax money. This is a great disrespect to that family. What is more, a
lot of murderers are out walking free. How can a menace to society be allowed
back on the streets to haunt more good, moral citizens? I will tell you how: It
is the likes of radicals who have gone completely out of their mind to try to be
liked by everyone. When everyone has been murdered there is no one to be liked
by. One of the less popular reasons that capital punishment is better than jail
time is the fact that executions are far less expensive. Food, shelter,
clothing, recreation, and the numerous appeals of the incriminated cost only the
taxpayers. By treating criminals like this, we are encouraging crime rather than
impeding it. One of the major problems of prisons today is that they are
overcrowded. Execute those most vile criminals and there will be plenty of room
left over for the minor felons. It is estimated that there are 5,000 offenders
on death row each year that could and should be put to death. That translates
into 100,000 crime deterring executions in the next 20 years. The fact is there
have never been more than 200 executions in one year since 1933. No wonder we
have a problem with too many criminals in our prisons: One reason is that death
row inmates take up a good bit of the room, and another is that the deterrent
value is not as great as it can be. In conclusion, there is no better way to
deter and punish violent crime than the death penalty. It has been effective
down through time, since the earliest civilizations. It will continue to be
effective if we exercise it in a manner that is similar to our predecessors.
That is, not trying to work around it but to employ it as often as needed and in
a way that affects as many people as possible.
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