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Keeping the Death Penalty
Imagine if some person willfully and forcefully took the life of someone close to you. Would you then want that person to spend the rest of his or her life in an environment where they would receive free food and board, paid for with hard-earned taxpayer dollars? Even more, if that person were to escape, be released or paroled, he would have the opportunity to kill again. Using the death penalty in our justice system is just and reasonable because it would reduce overcrowding in prisons, serve as a form of retribution, deter capital crime, and also remove dangerous elements from normal, civilized society.
One reason why it would beneficial to exact capital punishment is because it would reduce over crowding in prisons. In 2005, inmates convicted for violent crimes made up 53% of the prison population. Executing these offenders would drastically help to reduce prison violence.
When homicide offenders are put in prison, even if they are sentenced for life, they still have a chance of escaping, being paroled or even released. In 1994, the reconviction rate for homicide offenders was 41%. Executing murderers would destroy any chance they have of being able to kill again. An example of this is Ted Bundy, who was arrested twice, escaped both times and killed over 35 people in his life time.
If he had been executed the first time that he was arrested many of those people would still be alive today.
Using the death penalty would also act as retribution. It would not only bring closure to the victim’s family, but it would also demonstrate to society that we will not tolerate the criminal taking of human life.
The use of capital punishment would also act as a deterrent for would be killers. The majority of people fear death more than anything else. If someone thought that he or she would be killed if they were to murder someone, they would most likely think twice before actually committing the crime. In 1973, Isaac Ehrlich, an acknowledged professor and researcher in law, crime and justice, conducted an analysis that showed that for every inmate who was executed, the lives of seven to eight potential victims were spared because others were deterred from committing murder. And, according to a study conducted in 2003, 18 murders were deterred for every execution.
A lot of people have a false notion that the use of the death penalty will not act as a deterrent because when people kill, they are not thinking clearly and won’t consider the consequences of their crime. However, when we look at raw statistics of when the death penalty was being used in murder cases and then when it was temporarily abolished, we see that capital punishment is most certainly a deterrent. In 1960, there were 56 executions in the United States and 9,140 murders. In 1964, there were only 15 executions, and the number of murders rose to 9,250. In 1969, there were no executions and 14,590 murders, and in 1975, after six more years without executions, 20,510 murders occurred, rising to 23,040 in 1980 after only two executions since 1976.
An argument commonly used by anti-death penalty activists is that it is possible for an innocent person to be wrongly sentenced and executed. Unfortunately, that is a possibility. Human judgment is far from perfect and sometimes innocent people are wrongly accused and convicted. Nevertheless, the deaths of a few falsely accused people pale in comparison to the thousands of victims who would be spared if capital punishment was to be implemented for all murderers. There are risks involved in everything we do in society. We drive around in cars that kill about 45,000 people a year, but we still use them because they get us from place to place quickly and easily. No one would really expect us to give up cars, so why is the slight possibility of executing an innocent person so intolerable? Besides, there is no solid evidence that a single innocent person has been executed in the past century. Also, the reform needed to make sure that innocent people aren’t executed is establishing the use of better scientific research, DNA evidence, and representation in court, not abolishing the death penalty.
A lot of people think that sentencing killers to life without parole is a better punishment than the death penalty. This belief is simply stupid and easily refutable. The fact is prisoners get food, board, use of exercise equipment, access to recreational activities, TV and other luxuries that are paid for by taxpayers. That really seems more like a reward for criminals rather than punishment. And even when someone is sentenced to life without parole, there is no guarantee that they won’t kill again, inside or outside prison. For example, in 1966, Kenneth McDuff was convicted and sentenced to death for killing three teenagers. The sentence was later changed to life without parole because the Supreme Court temporarily abolished the death penalty in 1972. In 1989, he was released
because of the overflowing prison populations. Then, in 1992, he was arrested again for murdering a woman, and finally executed. So even sentencing someone for life doesn’t guarantee that they won’t eventually be released.
Another argument that people have against capital punishment is that is that it costs more to execute someone than it does to sentence them to life without parole. I won’t deny that this is true. The process that leads up to an execution is both costly and time taking because of all the legal issues that are involved with executing someone. However, even though it takes more taxpayer dollars, I’d rather see taxes used to execute someone who needs it, than to have tax money used to provide a murderer with food and other things for the rest of his life. Also, if we were to execute all murderers, more people would be deterred from committing murder. Fewer murders would result with fewer people on death row. Fewer people to execute would consequently require fewer taxpayer dollars to pay for executions.
My point is that implementing the death penalty in all murder cases will save the lives of thousands of potential victims and demonstrate the ultimate respect for human life. Edward Koch said:
"It is by exacting the highest penalty for the taking of human life that we affirm the highest value of human life."
The use capital punishment will be beneficial for all of society. It would improve the quality of our communities and our nation and make the world a safer place.