Capital Murderer's Son Oppose the Death Penalty Term Paper

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¶ … Capital Murderer's Son Oppose the Death Penalty

The ongoing subject of the death penalty in the United States for those convicted of capital crimes (e.g., premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances; multiple premeditated murders; murder of a police officer, etc.) has been debated as long as I can remember, and probably much longer. Many besides me have strong, heartfelt opinions on the death penalty - rather it is good or bad; right or wrong; or helps or hurts society (or does neither). These are as varied and complex as crime. Opinions may spring from faith (e.g., no one but God should take a human life); a "get-even" mentality (an "eye-for-an-eye"); personal or social fear; or even something the media (e.g., television like Law and Order or America's Most Wanted) has put generally into peoples' heads. As the grown son of a convicted murderer; my death penalty opposition is personal - I know for example that: (1) life in prison without parole is worse than death; (2) life in prison without parole "evens the score" by creating a whole new set of deprived loved ones, and (3) life in prison without parole guarantees society's future safety.

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Now that I am the father of two girls ages five and three (I was four when my own father "had to go away") it feels like death to me (the helpless panicky death of a trapped mouse or flailing insect) when one even skins her knee or has a sisterly quarrel with the other and cries. Since my girls have started walking, talking, and interacting with others, I have been able to imagine the pain that my father, who is not without feelings (if anything, his feelings are too strong and that is what got him in trouble) experienced knowing his son was picked on regularly throughout school because of something he did and he could do nothing to help - not attend a parent-teacher conference or talk with other kids' parents by phone.

Term Paper on Capital Murderer's Son Oppose the Death Penalty Assignment

As I am sure every adult recalls in one way or another, childhood can be cruel to a child "different" from most. A misshapen finger or slight limp can fuel malevolent words; pranks; ostracism. With my having been (on my own, anyway) just a reasonably well-behaved; bright, curious, nice looking clean-cut little kid with decent athletic skills and no physical or mental defects, I should have blended right in with classmates - all I ever wished to do. Even by first grade, though, I was "marked" by my killer genes. Six-year-old girls feared me and six-year-old boys wanted to beat me up (and usually did). Even teachers approached me gingerly, as if they had better be careful or I might come murder them in their beds when I grew up. I was probably the only six-year-old that "practiced" gently petting dogs and cats and picking up fragile objects with care. Still, by fourth grade, I was as infamous as a leper or hemophiliac with AIDS (I use such comparisons because one (like me) has no choice of "difference").

This is also why I now know for sure now, that if society really wants to punish capital murder society should not just let a convicted killer off easy with the death penalty. Instead, I recommend giving this murderer frequent, vividly descriptive reports, in hand-written letters (as my mother did, and which will, I can also guarantee, be read and re-experienced again and again until the paper falls apart) about his or her child's latest black eye; bloody nose; knocked-out front teeth; torn sleeves and ripped buttons of a brand new shirt; never getting picked for soccer or baseball; "no room" in Cub Scouts or Little League; never being invited to a sleepover; eating lunch alone. That will be his or her "death of a thousand cuts" (actually millions of them). This is also why I know life in prison without parole is: (1) worse than death because the person dies hundreds of times daily and soon actually yearns for death instead; but cannot have the relief of death; and (2) life in prison without parole more than "evens the score" by creating a whole new set of deprived loved ones (I am an example, as is my mother; and now my little girls, who will never know their grandfather).

Still, I must be honest: early in life I would have been the most zealous of school-age death penalty proponents. It was callow but I used to wish my father had been executed or still would be, since I thought that would make people nice to my mother and me. I would have signed away the rest of my father's life if it meant that. As my reasoning went, I could then be showered with sympathy and have plenty of friends - a poor orphan whose father could now no longer possibly hurt anyone. His death would tell everyone his killer genes were gone for good; I (if only he would be executed) could not grow up to have them. If this seems irrational from any sane adult perspective, as it well should, I further suggest society's ongoing dread that a murderer not executed but sentenced to life without parole "will kill again" is equally so.

I know this because my father, in the conditions in which he is housed, with armed guards and 24-hour human and camera surveillance, can no more find the weapons or right conditions to kill again than attend my high school graduation or visit a newborn granddaughter. That is also the truth of my third argument, that life in prison without parole guarantees society's safety from the capital offender.

Here I rest my personal case, although there is more to say generally. For the arguments against the death penalty do not end here; and one need not have a murderer for a father to support them. Today it is well-known that DNA evidence clears many of capital crimes who have been or would otherwise have been convicted of them. However, often by the time that happens (sometimes decades after an original conviction) many a person (especially a black one; poor one, or even middle-class white one without a "dream team" defense) may be dead, courtesy of the state. Anyone who keeps up with current events also knows that real capital justice including a carefully prepared defense and a completely fair, impartial trial by jury (if that ever existed in America and I doubt it) is definitely a thing of the past now, except for the famous and rich. If my father had had a "dream team" defense, he would have made my fifth birthday, and (providing he stayed out of trouble) all the rest. But instead my father, on an average guy without fame or fortune on his side was found guilty of capital murder while O.J. And later Robert Blake (who both had very similar kinds of accusations leveled against them) were not. My father could easily have received the death penalty as well, while I doubt any judge would have seriously considered it had either O.J. Or Blake been convicted and then had to be sentenced. Especially for an elected judge, putting either a movie star or a sports star to death would make him or her most unpopular, while putting an average Joe to death (even with about the same amount of purely circumstantial evidence, in all three cases) would be praised, for "sending a strong message" and "helping protect society."

Widespread acceptance of the death penalty therefore needs reconsideration today. Even the majority of people who favor the death penalty are not themselves ones the system would spare if themselves ever accused of capital murder. Few, even upper-middle class whites, can afford a dream team. The Scott Peterson case, in which jurors… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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