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History of Capital Punishment in the United States of America

By Edited Sep 16, 2015 0 0

Crime and punishment in the United States of America

Death penalty - the ultimate punishment for heinous crimes

The imposition of capital punishment has been debated on for almost a century now, and it still is today. The debate continues but has become more intense; in fact, the Supreme Court of America itself disallowed the death penalty in 1972 in the case of Furman vs. Georgia only to reverse its decision later in Gregg vs. Georgia in 1976. This shows the ambivalent nature of the court, the most learned in the law, on the death penalty issue; this indecisiveness stance is more apparent in the common man position on the issue.

As the debate rages, the arguments for the pro-death penalty stance begin to outweigh the cons against the imposition of the death penalty. The abolitionists of the death penalty argue that death penalty is uncivilized and brutal to the assailant; accordingly, in proposing arguments in the death penalty, there are two lives to think about. Too much emphasis is placed on the convicted murderer, the one being executed, and the victim is all forgotten.

If we are to scrutinize the arguments proposed by the abolitionists, much importance is given to the convicts; they forget that the victims suffered in most brutal and heinous ways when they are murdered; yet, it is as if the murderers are the victims here worthy of care and compassion from the society that they have offended.

Lori Ornellas, an aunt of a murdered nephew, explained that a criminal on death row has a chance to prepare his death, make a will, and make his last statements, etc. while some victims can never do it. There are many crimes where people are injured by stabbing, rape, theft, etc. To some degree at least, the victims' right to freedom and pursuit of happiness is violated.

The death penalty is meant to deter the commission of crimes. If a person plans about murdering another person, he must think twice or thrice about doing it and the consequences that will befall on him when he is captured. The fear of death is a major deterrent to committing crimes. Thus, capital punishment is not excessive, unnecessary punishment, for those who knowingly and intentionally commit murder in premeditation, to take lives of others. Even though capital punishment is not used so often, it is still a threat to the criminals.

Still, there are other reasons why we should impose capital punishment to perpetrators of heinous crimes. One advantage of death penalty is that it is not costly. Accordingly, money is not an inexhaustible commodity and the state may very well spend our limited resources on the old, the young and the sick rather than the long term imprisonment of murderers, rapists, etc. To support this argument, F. Kim stated that the death penalty is economical. It costs $59 a day to house an inmate, or $21,535 a year. There are numerous programs that depend on America's tax dollars where the funds could be better spent.

One sure thing is that criminals who are put under lethal injection or other modes of capital punishments cannot commit any other crimes again. The society is much safer with the criminals dead or permanently gone than putting them in prison where they have the chance of escaping or the possibility of being released on parole.

The law must be imposed whenever it is warranted. Criminals in states imposing the death penalty should not argue that the punishment is harsh because they already know the law before they committed the crime. The law must be imposed; dura lex sed lex-- the law may be harsh but it is the law. Another advantage of imposing the death penalty is that it gives a victim's relatives and friends closure. The victim's family has peace of mind when they know the killer can never murder again.

People are losing their faith in the justice system because of the fact that it cannot decrease the high rate of crime, but little do they know that they indirectly influence the efficient implementation of policies for an effective justice system. The move to abolish the capital punishment delays the rendition of justice to be given to the victim and his/her family. Instead of derailing policies that help in the reduction of high crime rates, what the people should do is assist the law enforcement agencies in the implementation of these policies.

Theodore L. Sendak, former Attorney-General of Indiana, in his speech to law enforcement officials said that our system of criminal law is to minimize human suffering by works or order primarily to forestall violence or aggression. In the question of the death penalty, we must ask ourselves which action will serve the true humanitarian purpose of criminal law. Hence, regarding the debate on the imposition of the capital punishment, we should not only focus on the right to life of convicts but must take into consideration numerous lives taken by these murderers.

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