The Death Penalty and All It Implies

March 1, 2011
By E1T2S3 BRONZE, Waterloo, New York
E1T2S3 BRONZE, Waterloo, New York
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"So, to their own unutterable torment, they go about among their fellow-creatures, looking pure as new-fallen snow; while their hearts are all speckled and spotted with the iniquity of which they cannot rid themselves." -Nathaniel Hawthorne

What is the one thing we all fear the most in life? For me it is losing my family. It would be bad enough if someone I love died of natural causes but if violence unjustly took them away? What if someone you know and love was murdered? You would want payback, you would want retribution. That is what the death penalty is, retribution for the living and the dead. As the Bible says “All they who take up the sword shall die by the sword.” This quote shows that those who take someone else’s life away forfeit their own rights, including their right to live. The death penalty isn’t only about retribution though. It is also a deterrent for criminals and is the most popular form of justice in America for murderers. Some people have misgivings about it however. Many fear that the death penalty may be executing innocent people for crimes they did not commit. For those people here is an answer.

The death penalty has been around for hundreds of years and according to records there has never been a person that has been proven innocent that received the death penalty. And today with the use of DNA technology plus our system of checks and balances the chance of someone innocent being executed is slim to none. We also use a justice system which contains a jury of 12 people for each trial. These people make a careful decision on a person’s guilt or innocence and then a judge must approve that decision. Also, the average time between the sentencing of the death penalty and the actual execution is 10 years. This is due to the numerous appeals a defendant can file. In all our justice system is nearly airtight and will continue to work to prevent erroneous executions while at the same time achieving justice.
So what do you think of the death penalty? Is it right or wrong? According to polls over 70% of Americans agree with the death penalty. As is demonstrated in this quote “Death penalty opponents have certainly not won the popular battle: despite relentless assaults, the public remains firmly committed to capital punishment. Nor have opponents won the moral battle: most of us continue to believe that those who show utter contempt for human life by committing remorseless, premeditated murder justly forfeit the right to their own life.” Today in the U.S. only 12 states do not have the death penalty. The death penalty is also an international punishment. 96 world nations have capital punishment; including the U.S. Plus another 15 nations who do not have capital punishment make exceptions in certain cases.
The death penalty is not just a simple form of justice for many Americans though; it is also a deeply emotional matter. For the families and friends of hundreds of horrific murder victims the death penalty is a chance for retribution, not revenge. “Retribution means paying back, making restitution to a victim of what has been unjustly taken away.” The difference between retribution and revenge however is that revenge would be executing the murderer in the same way they killed their victim. Their victims didn’t get an appeal, or a trial. They didn’t get an hour to say goodbye to their families; many didn’t even get a quick death. The death penalty can never bring back a victim or change the pain and grief in the people’s hearts that loved them, but it can bring them a small amount of comfort knowing that the person that hurt someone they loved can’t do it again to anyone else and can no longer hold the joys of life, just like their victim can’t. The execution of a murderer can maybe provide solace and a small amount of closure to the people besides a victim a murderer has hurt. The death penalty can give some amount of comfort to those who will feel the effect of a murderers actions for the rest of their lives. Maybe the death penalty can even save someone else’s life.
There is no bigger fear in life than the fear of death for many people. That is why the death penalty is a great deterrent for criminals plotting murder. According to the United States Department of Justice starting in 1950 there is a clear trend that when the death penalty was instated crime rates dropped, but when the death penalty was abolished crime and murder rates drastically rose. Also according to Professor Isaac Ehrlich of the University of Chicago for every one execution, eight murders are prevented. The alternative to the death penalty is a prison term. But did you know that the average prison sentence for murder isn’t life but only 20 years? The average criminal with a 20 year sentence only actually spends 8 and half years in prison before being released on parole. When a person is out in prison for murder there is no restrictions on whether they get parole and how soon they can be released. Did you know that this system of jail for murder is not only distorting the actual time murderers are spending in jail but also releasing these dangerous criminals back on our streets? With the death penalty we have neither of these problems. There is no chance of a criminal harming another person ever. “It is the finality of the death penalty which instills fear into the heart of every murderer, and it is this fear of punishment that protects society.”
Murder is a terrible thing, but the most we can do once a murder is committed is try and make it right. We can’t bring a person back but we can comfort the ones that are still here by punishing the guilty. To some the death penalty may seem cruel, but it prevents murders, gives solace to the living, is the popular choice, and hasn’t executed the innocent. In the end it’s all about the victims, the ones who have passed, and the future ones that are saved by the death penalty. But in closing please think about what you would want to happen to your murderer if you were a victim and what would you want if you were a family member or a friend of a victim. Would you want the terrible person who took an innocent life from the world to serve jail time then be paroled or would you want their life taken away as retribution for their terrible sin? Think about how you want to see that person brought to justice. I know my choice. What is yours?

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!