The death penalty debate is an extremely controversial issue affecting the world today. In today’s society, people argue whether the death penalty is an acceptable form of justice. In America, the pros and cons of the death penalty are an ongoing debate. Countless questions arise whenever someone mentions the death penalty. Is Capital Punishment just? The death penalty is just. As a citizen of the United States, I am interested in this issue because I live under the statutes of the American justice system. Someone who disagrees with the death penalty claims that it is wrong to promote murder, yet he or she promotes murder by opposing an equal punishment for those who commit the crime. Not executing criminals who commit horrific crimes is preserving a life that has devalued all life.
People have been sentenced to death for various forms of wrongdoing all throughout history. One can trace back execution all the way to the crucifixion of Jesus. Stoning, drowning, burning at the stake, impaling, and beheading are other forms of punishment that people used hundreds of years ago. These previous methods are found cruel and unusual and evolve to what we refer to today as modern capital punishment. Capital Punishment today is the legal infliction of death as a penalty for violating criminal law and is justly so. Since 1976, capital punishment is accomplished through various means; lethal injection (primarily), electrocution, and gas chamber are the most prominent (Death Penalty Information Center). These new methods are more efficient and less inhumane for the party receiving the sentence of death. Thirty-eight states across the country currently take part in capital punishment; thirty-seven of which use lethal injection as the primary means. The law executes both men and woman for various crimes, but for the most part the severity of the punishment increases with the severity of the crime (Death Penalty Information Center). The crime most punished with the death penalty is murder, and rightfully so. Society is better off without people who commit inhumane crimes.
Opponents of the death penalty commonly portray the death penalty as a barbaric “eye for an eye” approach to criminal justice. Although most parts of the world do not take this philosophy literally, our culture still follows the spirit of this law. In America, two out of every three people support the death penalty, about sixty-six percent (Death Penalty Information Center). When a crime is committed, an important function of our criminal justice system is to administer a fair and just punishment for the crime underway. Americans seem to agree with or oppose the death penalty on a case-by-case standard. When it comes to murder cases, the majority of Americans believe that death adequately brings justice. In the case of Timothy McVeigh who was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing that killed one hundred sixty eight people, approximately eighty percent of Americans favored the death penalty (Carroll 1). After a murder takes place, the criminal should pay a penalty that is roughly equal to the loss brought about by the crime. Most cases of murder devalue life so grotesquely that the only punishment that directly compensates for this tremendous loss is the penalty of execution to the guilty party as a form of retribution for the lives taken.
Imagine hearing the news that your sister or loved one was violently murdered. There is no easy way to bring justice about to a family for such a loss. The death penalty brings about a sense of fairness and a form of justice to the family and friends of the dead. The death penalty is the only punishment for violent criminals and murderers if justice is to be administered. Violent crimes and murders are the cruelest, most inhumane crimes that exist and they violate the victim’s right to life, which are why the severest punishment is necessary to correspond to this lack of remorse. In one case where jurors administered the death penalty, the murderer raped, beat, and then stoned a seven-year-old girl to death. This man, Fred Mundt Jr., brutally raped Brittany Hendrickson, a young girl who looked to him as a father figure. After sexually abusing this seven-year-old girl, he then carried her bleeding body to a well and threw her in to drown. The young girl was not yet dead though, so he proceeded to cast stones at her, knocking her unconscious and drowning her (Ludlow 01A))
The respect for mans’ undeniable value is kept when the death penalty is used. When a criminal receives life in prison, he or she receives rights and certain freedoms, those that he or she stole from the victim. Even though the criminal has no chance to walk the streets again, he or she is given a chance to walk, breathe, and live inside the walls of a penitentiary. The victims, on the other hand, lie in graves without the chance to take another breath or see another day. The death penalty shows the seriousness of violent crimes and murders, and that they are not tolerated. Prosecutor Cliff Sickler says that the death-penalty statute is designed for cases like this one. Sickler believes that the death penalty serves to bring about justice anytime someone murders, especially when brutally raping and murdering a small child (Ludlow 01A). The horrific crime that took the life of seven-year old Brittany is inhumane and grotesque and deserves a punishment of death. Someone who takes the life of another human being, someone who has all the same inalienable rights as he or she, deserves to have his or her life taken in return. There is no reasonable argument in the favor of a murderer convincing enough to grant them life, even in jail. This appalling human being ought to be sentenced to death in retribution for the unspeakably atrocious crimes he or she has committed.
The death penalty supports every person’s right to life. By allowing a murderer to live, he or she attains a right to life. What rights do the victims have if they do not have justice? Some say that life in prison is a fair punishment for the criminal, yet by committing such a crime as murder, he or she has forfeited their right to life. Many people suffer because of these atrocious crimes, each of which deserves the death penalty. The death penalty offers a sense of compassion towards the victims and all those the crime affects. In our modern, civilized culture, unnecessary pain and suffering needs to be avoided. Instead, society must strive to provide safety for all people. What our criminal justice system seeks to achieve is justice, and in many cases, the death penalty provides this justice.
1) Carroll, Joseph. “Americans and the Death Penalty.” Gallup Polls News
Service 15 Dec. 2004. LexisNexis. 21 Mar. 2005.
2) Death Penalty Information Center. 1990. DPIC. 21 Mar. 2005
3) Ludlow, Randy. “CHILD’S MURDERER SHOULD DIE, JURY SAYS ;.” The
Columbus Dispatch Home Final ed., sec. A: 01A. LexisNexis. 11 Dec.