The exact same category of offense – in other words, cost comparisons are valid only if you compare the cost of death penalty cases to the equivalent life without parole cases. But the cost for justice does not have to be so high for the execution of murderers. If we only allowed appeals that are relevant in proving ones innocence and eliminated the many more that are used merely as delaying tactics, it would save millions in taxpayers dollars. Abolitionists claim that the death penalty is unconstitutional by quoting the eighth amendment which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.
But cruel and unusual was never defined by our founding fathers. So where does the Supreme Court stand on the cruel and unusual claim of the abolitionists? In several cases the Justices of the Supreme Court have held that the death penalty is not cruel and/or unusual, and is in fact, a Constitutionally acceptable remedy for a criminal act. The Supreme Court has constantly held that the death penalty in itself, as a sentence for a crime, is neither cruel or unusual. The court said: The punishment of death is not cruel, within the meaning of that word as used in the Constitution. It implies there is something more inhuman and barbarous, than the mere extinguishment of life. There are those who insist that the Constitution does not support the death penalty.
This is simply not true. The fifth amendment states: No person shall be held for a answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Note: ..a capital, or otherwise infamous crime.. ..be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.. ..nor be deprived of life..without due process of law..
So the constitution does allow capital punishment through indirect reference. I would imagine that the Founding Fathers could not have conceived of a world or nation without capital punishment. Indeed, in those days, there was absolutely no question of the value of public safety and personal responsibility. Had they foreseen the rise in violent crime we have had in the 70s, 80s, and into the 90s, they might have declared the death penalty in the Preamble. As for the penal system accidentally executing an innocent person, I must point out that in this imperfect world, citizens are required to take certain risks in exchange for relative safety. After all, far more innocent lives have been taken by convicted murderers than the supposedly 23 innocent lives mistakenly executed in this century.
For instance, over 600 repeat offenses occur within prison walls each year in this country. Not only that, but over 13,000 Americans citizens are murdered each year by released and paroled criminals. These are the serious flaws in life sentences that abolitionists prefer to trivialize to nonexistence. One United States Senate report stated this position this way: All that can be expected of..[human authorities] is that they take every reasonable precaution against the danger of error..If errors are..made, this is the necessary price that must be paid within a society which is made up of human beings. Also, the death penalty isnt the only institution that require that we accept risks in exchange for social benefits.
We, in fact, mindlessly use far more dangerous institutions that take the lives of innocents by the hundreds every day, cars for example. After all, how can we accept the average 45,000 person a year death toll in this nation due to car wrecks for our personal conveniences when we cant accept the few risks of wrongful executions for the sake of defending public safety? To enjoy the privilege of using cars, airplanes, or any other device that improve the quality of our lives, we accept the risks and deaths that are caused by them in order to reap their full benefits. The same concept applies for the death penalty only on a far lesser scale. As long as we are entitled to recklessly endanger hundreds of innocent lives daily for our personal conveniences, then surely we should be allowed to take on a lesser risk for public safety. Every institution that is of great benefit to our society always contains risks so that we may enjoy a better world.
The death penalty happens to be the least dangerous of them, yet it is focused on with the most paranoia. Abolitionist like to establish the illusion that the death penalty is the only risk that exists. Thats why they rarely, if ever, pay attention to the hundreds of innocent human beings that are brutally slaughtered daily by cars, airplanes, fire, and electricity, let alone violent crime. The only time they assign the most worth and reverence to human lives is when they help rationalize their own standards like the possible victims of wrongful executions. Also, whenever we have to go to war, it happens that all the gunshots we fire that are meant for the enemy may hit and kill many of our own soldiers and allies.
It had been known to occur, but that unpleasant factor doesnt prevent us from going to war. On a final note, how can murder be taken seriously if the penalty isnt equally as serious? A crime, after all is only as sever as the punishment that follows it. As Edward Konch once said: It is by exacting the highest penalty for the taking of human life that we affirm the highest value of human life. As the flagship of democracy, it is the United States responsibility to demonstrate that public safety is not some trivial privilege, but an unalienable human right for every citizen. Therefore, the United States should set the example that every civilized nation has a moral responsibility to defend the safety of their citizens at least as diligently as they defend national security with an army.
Every country in the world is ready and willing to kill thousands, even millions of human beings in brutal, merciless ways to defend their nation from the aggression of other countries. I dont see why public safety doesnt deserve as much respect and protection as a nations national security does. In fact, it can be reasonably argued that supporting armies and waging war is far more barbarous than the death penalty. So I find it hypocritical that the same countries who have abolished capital punishment because it is barbaric are at the same time prepared to enforce political power and defend their territorial claims through infinitely more violence and bloodshed than the death penalty would ever require. The whole reason why nations and governments exist is to defend their citizens from vicious criminals.
When it fails to do that, it becomes of little use to its citizens. When a society ignores their moral duty to defend the safety and security of their citizens and leaves them at the mercy of violent criminals, they are negligent. I am certain that there will come a time when all the nations in the world will be forced to agree after decades of experience on this issue, that capital punishment, like the military and the police force and taxes, is an inevitable and unavoidable consequence of every civilized society and it will no longer be a question of whether or not a nation should have the death penalty, but rather how it should be used. While I believe that prompt and consistent executions would have a deterrent effect, there remains one great virtue, even as infrequent as executions. The recidivism rate for capital punishment is zero.
No executed murderer has ever killed again. You cant say that about those sentenced to prison, even if you are an abolitionist. Bibliography Bibliography: Bronwyn Calton, ed. The Big Book of Death New York: Paradox Press, 1996 Joel Rose, ed. The Big Book of Thugs New York: Paradox Press, 1996 JoAnn Brenn Gurensey, Should We Have Capital Punishment? Minnesota: Lerner Publications Company,1993 Carol Wekesser, ed.
The Death Penalty (Opposing Viewpoints,) California: Greenhaven Press, Inc.,1991 Don Nardo, Death Penalty California: Lucent Books, 1992 Thurgood Marshall, Social Ethics: Morality and Social Policy United States: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.,1997 Capital Punishment, http://ethics.acusd.edu/mill.html U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, Sunday December 13, 1998 http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/press/cp.97.pr Sociology.