A Debate of the Death Penalty Essay
1242 Words5 Pages
The death penalty raises important questions about the right to life, who has a right to life, and under what circumstances a right to life can be taken away. I believe there are no circumstances under which capital punishment is justified. I will proceed to defend my claim that capital punishment is unjustified by arguing a position that killing is wrong because it deprives individuals of valuable futures. To support my thesis that capital punishment is not justified, I will expand upon an argument made my Don Marquis in his essay “Why Abortion is Immoral” in which he argues that killing is immoral on the grounds that it deprives human beings of a valuable future. My argument is as follows:
1. Killing is wrong because it deprives the…show more content…
The outside factors and conditions are irrelevant. Rather, the value is determined by how that person perceives his or her own life and these future experiences. Thus, when someone is killed, he or she is deprived of all the things that were of value and will be of value to him or her in the future. Causing this loss of a valuable future is ultimately what makes killing wrong and immoral because that individual has permanently lost the opportunity to enjoy his or her future experiences which are valuable to him or her. My second premise states that death row criminals are in the same moral category as other human beings with respect to the moral value of their lives. The only factor which differentiates a criminal from a non-criminal is the fact that the criminal, usually irrefutably, violated community standards and the law to commit a crime. In the case of a criminal on death row, he or she would have had to have committed a serious capital crime to receive the death sentence. Since committing a capital offense is the only reason death row criminals are different from other human beings, death row criminals are the same as other human beings in every other respect, including with respect to the value of their futures. Furthermore, the future of a criminal on death row is just as valuable as the future of a human being not on death row. Any form of capital punishment is a form of killing. It does not matter who is actually doing the
The death penalty has been used throughout history, and has evolved from stoning women to death in Afghanistan for committing adultery to giving lethal injections in the U.S. to serial killers (Amnesty International). Today, the death penalty is reserved only for the absolute worst criminals, but that could change if the anti-death penalty fanatics that are so prominent in today’s media have their way. They claim that the death penalty is barbaric, unconstitutional, and should be banned. This view is the most prominent in the media when in fact 75% of Americans support the use of the death penalty (Koch 561). So why is the anti-death penalty movement so prominent today? Members of this movement take an activist position and are trying to change the laws, while pro-death penalty people take a more passive stance. They know that the death penalty is the law and they expect it to be carried out. The arguments that the anti-death penalty activists use look good on the surface, but upon close inspection they really don’t amount to much of anything.
The anti-death penalty activists in this country would have you believe that every time a murderer is executed the justice system has just committed murder as well. They would have you believe that every person on death row is a victim. What they don’t talk about is what that person did to get onto death row. They forget about the people that where killed, and the people whose lives where affected by the murders; these are the real victims. They had a right to live just like every else in the world but their lives where snuffed out by a murderer. In my opinion, every one has a right to live, but as soon as you murder another human being you forfeit that right. I cannot see a convicted felon as some sort of victim, because it was his own actions that brought about his fate, not the actions of another person.
Some people would argue that putting a murderer to death will not bring their victims back to life, or console their victims family, so what is the point? Well, putting someone in prison for the rest of their lives, or any other punishment for that matter, won’t bring their victims back to life either. So do you suggest we just don’t punish the killer for his actions? What punishment is supposed to do is prevent the killer from ever killing again, and what better way to do that than to take their own life away from them. If the most severe penalty a person can receive is to spend the rest of his/her life in jail, then what do you do when this is no longer enough? For example, a New York prisoner named Lemuel Smith, while serving six life sentences for his various crimes, including murder, strangled a female security guard, then mutilated and dismembered her body. Because New York has no death penalty, there is nothing that can be done to punish him beside another meaningless life sentence (Koch 562). What better way to preserve innocent life than to eliminate the people that would seek to destroy it? As for consoling the victims family, true, the death of their loved ones murderer may not make them feel better, but at least they can rest easy knowing that the killer is dead and gone instead of sleeping soundly in a prison bed.
What about all of the innocent people that are on death row? Before a prisoner is executed they go through a very extensive and effective appeal system. True, with new DNA evidence, we have been able to exonerate many people that were on death row, however, “there is, in fact, no proof that an innocent has been executed seance 1900”(Sharp). That’s right even with DNA testing anti-death penalty activist can’t truthfully say that America has executed an innocent person in the past 100 years.
Death penalty critics would argue that the death penalty does nothing to deter people from committing violent murders. If this is true, then why do people fear the death penalty so much? Every day people confess to their crimes in the hope that they won’t get the death penalty for them. If the death penalty doesn’t deter criminals, then why did Luis Vera murder Rosa Velez? He burglarized her Brooklyn apartment then shot and killed her when she recognized him. He later admitted “Yeah, I shot her. She knew me and I knew I wouldn’t go to the chair” (Koch 561). This seems proof enough to me that the death penalty deters criminals. I think John McAdams says it best. “If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call (McAdams).” I think that the main thing that would boost the deterrent effect of the death penalty would be to use it more often. 5900 people where sentenced to death between 1973 and 1996. Of those 5900 people only 358 people where actually executed (DPIC). That is only one execution for every 1600 murders in the United States, which means that the possibility of someone being put to death if they kill someone is extremely low (Sharp). If we increased the possibility of being executed, then we would increase the deterrent effect that the death penalty has.
What would you do if Osama Bin Laden walked into the room right now? Most people would say they would kill him for the crimes he committed against our country. This is the same thing that the family’s and friends of most murder victim’s feel about the person that took their loved one away from them. Then the anti-death penalty activists complain that the death penalty is cruel and unusual. They don’t like the quick and painless death that is awaiting the convicted murderer. They cite the way the prisoner is treated, the way he has to wait for the inevitable. I hope that this is the most terrifying experience of his/her life. While it is not possible to let victims family’s personally strangle the murderer, they will know that the killer felt, at least a small part, the fear that their victims felt just before they where brutally killed. Is the death penalty barbaric? No: raping, beating, torturing and killing people is barbaric. Fast, effective, painless execution of someone convicted of the aforementioned crimes is not barbaric; it is justice.
In conclusion, I hope that next time you hear about a death penalty being carried out that you will be able to see through the media about the murderer being a victim, and remember who the real victim’s are. The death penalty is justice; it is not wrong. Think about the horrible crimes that the person committed to get himself on death row and remember that they brought this upon themselves. I value human life, and the best way to preserve it is to send a message to those people that would seek to destroy it; we will not tolerate murder.
You can order a custom essay, term paper, research paper, thesis or dissertation on Death Penalty topics from our professional custom essay writing company which provides high-quality custom written papers at an affordable cost.
0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes
Tags: death penalty essay topics, death penalty research paper, death penalty term paper, essay on death penalty, sociology essays