Death Penalty Thesis

Pages: 7 (2701 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

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This is similar to the old age dunce cap in the classroom. If a child acts up in class, you sit him in the corner with a white cone on his head. Seeing the boy or girl thus humiliated, the other kids will think twice before they follow suit. Instead of sticking the criminal in the corner, he or she is executed. Fearing for their own lives and their sense of self-preservation, the criminals will not commit heinous acts. According to statistics that have been gathered, there is no validity to the deterrence theory at all (Facts 2011). States that have the death penalty reportedly have twice as many murders than states that do not possess the death penalty. Pro-death penalty advocates say that this is because these states generally have larger populations anyway and that is why there are more murders. Anti-death penalty advocates say that there is no research that clearly demonstrates a connection between the death penalty and a deterrence of further criminal activity.

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The other basis for the present existence of the death penalty is the retribution factor. This is the idea that the victims of crime and the families of the crime victims have the right to seek vengeance. The retributive argument gives two explanations for the pertinence of the death penalty. "Only those who are responsible for a crime should be punished, and only to the degree that they are responsible" (MacKinnon 305). Also, "it is essential in the retributivist view that the punishment fit the crime" (305). This theory states that only a life is acceptable payment for the taking of another life. Supposedly this allows the family to get over their grief better, or at least have the relief of feeling that the perpetrator of the crime has received his just desserts. Some people absolutely agree with this theory. However, one of the problems with this stance is the simple fact that punishment of any kind to the perpetrator will never concretely undo the wrong done to the victim. You can get revenge but you can't undo the action or return to the world before the crime.

TOPIC: Thesis on Death Penalty There Are Many Assignment

"As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder." ~ Corretta Scott King

There are individuals who do not agree with this argument. In several instances, the families of victims in death penalty cases have not wanted prosecutors to seek the ultimate punishment. These people feel that an eye for eye will metaphorically make everyone blind. Michael Jordon, after his father was murdered was quoted as saying, "You believe and eye for an eye until you're put in that situation. If they kill those guys, it really doesn't mean much to me. My father is gone." There is no getting back the loved one or returning to an unpained time. Causing more death will not make anyone feel justified and will not fill the void that has been left by the perpetration. Anti-death penalty and pro-death penalty advocates are constantly at odds over this issue. Who is right and who is wrong? Who deserves to die and who deserves to live?

"When a juvenile commits a heinous crime, the State can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a more mature understanding of his own humanity." ~ Anthony Kennedy

Another note of contention is over the rights of juvenile criminals. In the controversial case of Roper v. Simmons in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that imposing the death penalty on anyone for committing a crime when they were younger than 18 was unconstitutional, violating the 8th Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment (Roper 2005). There is a current bill being reviewed which declares that any criminal convicted when they were younger than 18 would be up for parole after 25 years in prison rather than spend life in prison without the possibility of parole (Yee 2007). The argument is that a life sentence without the chance for parole is akin to the death penalty, only slower and in some ways more torturous. Minors, no matter how diabolical their actions, should be considered differently than those who commit crimes as adults.

There are arguments against the death penalty in addition to the ones already mentioned. There is the fear that the wrong person could be convicted and subsequently executed for a crime of which they were innocent. "The main public concern seems to be the risk of executing innocent people, primarily because of revelations of withheld evidence, mistaken eyewitness identification, questionable forensic practices, prosecutorial misconduct and simple error (MacKinnon 301). There is always a chance that evidence is false or a witness's statement isn't accurate. Almost 70% of all capital convictions are overturned because of new evidence or other factors (Facts 2011). If the person found guilty is put into prison and they are later proved innocent, they can be released. In the case of an execution, there is not chance to fix an erroneous conviction.

"I support the death penalty. I think that it has to be administered not only fairly, with attention to things like DNA evidence, which I think should be used in all capital cases, but also with very careful attention. If the wrong guy is put to death, then that's a double tragedy. Not only has an innocent person been executed but the real perpetrator of the crime has not been held accountable for it, and in some cases may be still at large. But I support the death penalty in the most heinous cases." ~ Al Gore

Having said all this, I firmly believe that some people are extraordinarily evil and beyond redemption; these people need to be punished more severely so that they cannot be paroled or escape from prison in order to wreak havoc on more innocent lives. The world would be a better and safer place if certain people ceased to exist. For this type of individual the death penalty is appropriate. Someone who has committed a crime of such a heinous nature that it is not just against the victim, but against society itself needs to be dealt with in a way that they are no longer any potential danger to anyone.

"People who claim that sentencing a murderer to 'life without the possibility of parole' protects society just as well as the death penalty ignore three things: (1) life without the possibility of parole does not mean life without the possibility of escape or (2) life without the possibility of killing while in prison or (3) life without the possibility of a liberal governor being elected and issuing a pardon." ~ Thomas Sowell

Works Cited:

Axtman, Kris. "Judicial Rarity: Death Penalty in a Rape Case." The Christian Science Monitor.

"Facts About the Death Penalty" (2011). Retried from www.deathpenaltyinfo.org

MacKinnion, Barbara (2007). Ethics. Thomas Wadsworth.

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