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Capital Punishment Justice Or Murder Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 2818 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Capital Punishment has been around since ancient civilizations. According to the Public Broadcasting Service the first recorded death penalty was in the 16th Century BC where a man was accused of using magic, and ordered to take his own life. Different forms of the death penalty where used back in ancient times including stoning, hanging, beheading, crucifixion, throwing the criminal from a rock, and sawing asunder. Later, the form of punishment was stoning where heavy rocks where placed on the convicted or they would be hanged. Beheading was the form used for the upper-class (Reggio). In the article “Capital Punishment” it states that “The forms of capital punishment in ancient China were varied and ran the gamut from boiling and burning to beheading and burying alive” (2). PBS says the electric chair was brought to life in the late 1800s when an electric company, that used direct current, made videos killing animals to show how dangerous alternating current was, which was used by their rivals. The public figured if it could kill animals it could kill humans. Today the most accepted form of the death penalty is by lethal injection, but some states still use electrocution, hanging, firing squad, and lethal gas (Reggio). Attempts have been made to abolish capital punishment and it will most likely never be completely abolished.

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Although capital punishment can be said as legalized murder, it needs to be an option of punishment referred to more often and not get abolished. The death penalty is said to be a cruel punishment, but in reality it is not as cruel as one may think. Capital Punishment reduces the chances of offenders returning to society indefinitely. Future offenders will be deterred from murdering in order to live. Families of victims will gain closure for their lost one and will not have to go to court more than what they have to. All of the citizens in the United States have to pay taxes and a large amount of those tax dollars go into our prison system. The death penalty is the appropriate punishment for the offender of serious crimes. In the bible it says criminals should be killed for several different acts of crime. Capital punishment is said to kill innocent people though. Despite one negative side of capital punishment it still needs to be used more often in the United States justice system.

When capital punishment is brought up to someone opposed to it their number one argument will be that innocent people are being put on death row. The way the justice system works in the United States is that a jury decides whether or not the defendant is innocent or guilty. A jury is said to not be one hundred percent accurate since they did not witness the crime and are deciding just based on what they are told. Lie detector machines also cannot be used as a way to convict people since they are not always completely accurate. There have been several people that have been wrongfully convicted in the past, but the number of people getting wrongfully convicted has dropped since years past. In the process of gathering evidence to convict criminals investigators will gather DNA evidence from the crime scene. Once the police have arrested suspects, the police will then gather DNA taken from the suspect. New technology has allowed the investigators to compare the DNA taken from the crime scene and from the suspect. If the DNA does not match then the police know they do not have the person who committed the crime. Aronson says that “DNA evidence is more accurate and reliable than any other forensic science” (603). If the DNA does match then the police know they have the right person since nobody in the world has the same exact DNA and that DNA cannot be false. According to Aronson “DNA profiling is based on the fundamental premise that, with the exception of identical twins, no two human beings have exactly the same genetic make-up” (612). The chances of putting a criminal on death row are not entirely impossible but are very close thanks to new DNA technology. If the death penalty does end up killing a few innocent people it is not a reason to completely abolish the death penalty. In Ted Gottfried’s book he says “many desirable social practices cannot avoid killing innocents by accident. For instance, ambulances save many lives, but they also run over some pedestrians. We do not abolish ambulances, because they save more innocent people than they kill. So does the death penalty” (57). If people want to abolish the death penalty due to the fact of killing innocent people then nearly everything will have to be abolished since anyone can be killed anything.

The 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of cruel and unusual punishment. At first thought some may say the death penalty is a cruel punishment. The death penalty today is a lot less cruel than previous forms of the death penalty. The point of the death penalty in years past was literally to torture the person. When getting beheaded sometimes the ax would miss and hit a different part of the body or the ax would not go all the way through and the person would remain alive until another swing occurred. Even the electric chair took a few minutes before the person would be killed. Lethal injection is the most common form of the death penalty used today. The person being injected feels no pain and passes away peacefully with no side effects. “The US Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is not cruel per se and is not in conflict with the 8th amendment of the US constitution” (Zivot).

Many will say that it is wrong to kill someone for any punishment. In the article “White Paper On Ethical Issues Concerning Capital Punishment” it states that “You can say that the human life is so valuable that we do not have any right to take it away. But you can also say the opposite: that it is so valuable that he who wastes his life has lost his right to live (84). It may be wrong for killing people in some instances but the death penalty needs to be necessary for serious crimes such as mass murder or pre-meditated murder, but does not need to for small less harmful crimes. Steven and Naomi Shatz say that “death sentence rates demonstrate that prosecutors and jurors consider certain kinds of murders to be more aggravated (i.e., more “death-worthy”) than others” (95). Mass murders and pre-meditated murders are two types of murders that are more death-worthy than other types. The reason they are more death-worthy is because they are planned out. The person who is committing the crimes wanted to kill people for some reason. If the murders are not planned out and just happened then putting the person to death does not fit the crime. The fact that the murder is planned out is what gives it the possibility to have a death sentence with it.

Even if a judge and jury do accidently put someone on death row that is innocent in the long run the death penalty will have saved more innocent people than killing them. The death penalty will have saved more people because after spending some time in prison, convicts can get released from prison on parole even if they have a life sentence. If someone in prison has good behavior they will usually get released on parole. Even if the criminal has good behavior in prison that does not mean he or she will never commit another crime once they are back out in society. Criminals also escape from prisons very occasionally. Once a prisoner has escaped they will most likely kill again. A person who testified against the prisoner is at danger from an escaped convict or just another person that the prisoner did not like. When someone escapes from a prison it raises a huge threat to the public putting everyone in a state of fear and hundreds of law enforcement officers have to be called out to search. Having that many officers in a man hunt requires valuable resources and a lot of tax payer dollars. The death penalty will always make sure that the prisoner will not commit any more crimes from either being released on parole or from escaping the prison they are being held at. The criminal would not even be able to return to society since they will no longer be alive.

During trials for capital punishment the defendant will usually always try to plead guilty due to insanity. If the jury thinks that the person really is insane then they cannot put him or her on death row and instead be put into a mental hospital. Claiming to be insane is the only way to get out of being put to death. A lot of the time the defendant will act to be insane even when they really are not. People will act like these because they want to live and not be put to death. Ted Gottfried exclaims that the psychological truth that people want to live instead of die will deter people from committing crimes. The convicted and their attorney will always plea for life in prison instead of death showing that capital punishment brings fear. If executions where faster than the deterrence of crimes would increase even more. Prisoners themselves even think the death penalty should be the most feared punishment (41). People will stop committing serious crimes because they do not want to be put to death. If the death penalty did not exist then there would be no serious punishment to deter people from committing crimes. Criminals could kill as many people as they wanted and not be seriously punished for it. Some criminals do not mind being in prison for their whole life so they could commit a mass murder and all that would happen would them spend time in prison. The death penalty will show criminals that these crimes are serious and are not taken lightly. People that are thinking of committing a crime that is serious enough to have the death penalty as a punishment will think again before committing the crime since they would rather live than be put to death.

When a family member is murdered or a victim of a serious crime it is one of the most heartbreaking things that could ever happen. The family of the victim may never be able to return back to a normal state of feeling secured. In the back of their mind they are thinking what if this criminal comes after me next. The trial for serious crimes can take years to get complete. The family will have to be put through all of these trials which will take them on an emotional rollercoaster having to relive the crime all time. Even when the convict is in prison the family would still have to go to more court dates for whenever the convict would try to get an appeal to his crime by coming up with new evidence that he or she is innocent or to get out of prison on parole. In the article Facing Facts on the Death Penalty it says “because of the appeals and occasional re-trials, the families are forced for years to relive the grisly details of their loved one’s death-over and over again” (Gray). If he or she does get out of prison there is that chance that they might come back after the family. With the family knowing that the previous prisoner was back in society they would be living with a fear and have no sense of security. If the prisoner was sentenced to death in the first place the family would have known that justice was served for the crime committed. Also if the convict was sentenced to death in the first place it would prevent the family from trying to get revenge on him or her when they got out of prison. Another death would then put more people in prison and inflict more pain on more people. Ted Gottfried says that closure can mean several different things, but putting an end to the nightmare of the crime is common in all of the definitions of closure (44). The death penalty will give closure to the family of lost ones and will help to prevent more deaths from revenge.

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All of the prisons in the United States are run by either the state or federal government. The way the government gets the money to pay for these prisons is by using the money that innocent citizens pay through taxes. It is not fair that the innocent people in this country have to basically pay to let criminals still live. Why should innocent people have to pay to take care of the people who put everyone in fear or even pay to house the person that may have killed a friend or a relative? David Bender proclaims “the thought that the man who cruelly and deliberately slaughtered your child for fun or profit is entitled peacefully to live out his days at tax payers’ expense, playing tennis or baseball or enjoying the prison library, is hard to stomach” (55). Citizens should not have to pay for people to live such a peaceful life when they ended another’s life and destroyed a family. Ted Gottfried states in his book that the cost to take care of someone in prison for fifty years will cost almost 3.01 million dollars per inmate. It will only cost 1.88 million dollars total per inmate to take care of someone on death row (45). 1.13 million dollars would be saved if inmates were put on death row instead of being in prison for life. The cost of using the death penalty may be more upfront, but the cost of a person with life in prison will eventually be a considerably larger amount. An inmate on death row would have to be housed for a few years tell their execution compared to someone with life in prison that could be locked up for nearly one hundred years if convicted at a young age. Our government would be able to spend the saved money from using the death penalty on other services that will be more useful to all of the taxpayers.

Life in prison is not as cruel as many people think it is. Big prisons have different activities for inmates to do such as basketball, weight lifting, and several other activities. Getting life in prison is not a serious enough punishment for someone who committed such a horrendous crime. Why should a criminal get such a nice and peaceful punishment? The death penalty needs to be mandatory for serious enough crimes since life in prison is not near as bad as the pain he or she inflicted on the family of the victim.

On the Public Broadcasting Service website it says that “the most infamous execution of history occurred approximately 29 AD with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ outside Jerusalem” (Reggio). Berns says that “The first man and woman violated God’s commandment and were banished” (1). The death penalty is talked about in several different books of the bible. Murder, kidnapping, and bestiality are discussed in the book of Exodus. The Bible says “he that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death” (KJV, Exodus 21.12). A few verses later it says “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death” (KJV Exodus 21.15). Sarah Roberts-Cady declares “punishment should be like an “eye for an eye” principle. That is, if a person steals, that person ought to have an equivalent amount of personal belongings taken from them. If a person murders, that person ought to be killed” (186). The way the bible describes all of the punishments for every crime is with the “eye for an eye” or “tooth for a tooth” principle. Since the bible says that if someone commits a crime then that same punishment should also be inflicted on them then the death penalty needs to be used for murder cases.

The death penalty has been a topic of debate for several years on whether or not it is a good form of punishment or if it is murder. There will most likely never be a clear answer for which one will be completely socially accepted. The death penalty may kill some innocent people, but the number is being constantly reduced thanks to new advances in DNA. The death penalty is not a cruel and unusual punishment so it does not break the 8th amendment of the United States Constitution. Offenders will not return to society since they will be dead. People who are contemplating of committing crimes will be scared away from actually committing the crime in order to stay alive. Families will not have to endure an emotional roller coaster ride by having to go to several court dates. Tax payers do not want to spend valuable money on people who bring fear to everyone in the country. The death penalty needs to always be a form of punishment in certain serious crimes. The bible also even talks about how people should be killed for committing certain criminal acts. It will most likely never be completely abolished, but does need to be used for certain circumstances.


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