Ever since the death penalty has been declared constitutional in 1976,
thousands of people have been placed on death row and 314 of them have been
executed.( Yaffe,1) Thirty-eight states now allow the death penalty, with New
York being the last to adapt this legislation last March. Massachusetts and
Iowa have been trying to pass a law that would to allow the death penalty to be
used in their states. Capital punishment is most often saved for murder and
sometimes arson, treason, burglary, and forcible rape of a 14 year old or under
from a 18 year old or older, but it varies within each state. There are many
politicians who are trying to pass laws banning the death penalty. There are
around 3000 people on death row across the country right now and if these
politicians get their way, then 3000 lives will be spared.(Matthews,1) The rage
of this issue continues to persist with many people questioning if capital
punishment is really the answer to solving the problem of crime. The death
penalty sh ould beallowed because it is not inhumane but rather fair and it’s
continued use will end up helping out society in many ways.
Many people who oppose the death penalty say it is inhumane and unfair.
These people who oppose it say that all human life has the right to be respected.
All human life does have the right to be respected but there is a point when
that right can be lost, if someone takes the life of another human being then
they have given up that right. Another claim the opposers to the death penalty
make is that the death penalty encourages more murders because if people see the
authority taking someone’s life, then they will think they can do it too. This
is not true, if criminals see that more and more people are getting the death
penalty, this will cause them to think their actions over. The United Kingdom
abolished the death penalty in 1965 and since then, violent crime has more than
doubled.(Matthews,2) The death penalty is not inhumane because it can be done
painlessly and quickly. In most cases when the execution was performed the
process that was most often used was lethal injection. Out of the 314
executions that have taken place since 1976 the majority of them, 179 have been
done by means of lethal injection. The electric chair has been used 123 times,
the gas chamber: 9 times, a firing squad: twice, and hanging: once.(Rodriquez,
4) Lethal injection is a quick, non-suffering way to execute the death row
prisoners. Opposers to the death penalty don’t even realize that these inmates
are being done a favor. By being executed, they are being put out of their
misery. There are not that many people who want to be stuck in a small cell for
the rest of their life where prison rape has become more common. By executing
these prisoners, they won’t have to suffer. Another reason the people who
oppose the death penalty feel that it is unfair is that it denies the person the
privilege to be retried if any new evidence comes up. On the average, an inmate
in kept in prison 8 years before their death sentence is carried out.(Yaffe,2)
If no evidence is found by then to prove their true innocence, chances are no
evidence will ever be found. Besides anyone who is on death row has already
gone through a trial so they had their chance to prove their innocence. The
jury obviously found them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and decided they
should get the death penalty. Justice has already prevailed. Even though the
Old Testament book of Exodus commands “Thou shall not kill,” just three chapters
later in the same book it is advocating “life for life,” “eye for eye,” and
“tooth for tooth”. The death penalty can be justified because it can be done
painlessly, it is actually putting the prisoners out of their misery, and the
prisoner has to deal with the consequences from what they did.
The death penalty also keeps dangerous criminals from ever returning to
the streets again where they can recommit they same crimes. There are criminals
who have been sentenced for 50 years to life in prison but end up getting out
years earlier for good behavior because the prisons are getting so crowded.
When the U.S. Department of Justice studied all the available criminal records
of those that were on death row they found out some pretty interesting facts.
Sixty-seven percent of the people on death row were convicted of a previous
felony. Every two out of five of them committed their capital offense while
they were on parole or on probation. Forty- two percent of them had active
criminal justice records.(Matthews, 3) Some criminals are too dangerous too
even be put in prison because of the risk of them escaping. Terrorists
threaten and endanger the lives of many people so if they are caught, they
should immediately be put to death. This doesn’t seem to be a problem because
most terrorists have no fear of dying. Many take huge risks with dangerous
explosives or carry out attacks that could kill themselves as well as the others.
If the inmates are eventually let out, most have nowhere to go and it is hard
for them to find a job so they will return to their old ways. Only 37.4% have
finished high school, 15.3% have never even finished eighth grade and only 10.2%
have attended college.(Matthews, 4) Not only do the prisons get crowded but it
gets to be too expensive to keep all these criminals in prison until they die.
More and more people are put in prison each year and the inmates from all the
previous years still remain there and few are released so it is an unequal
balance. Eventually, more prisons are going to have to be built which means
more money being spent or dangerous criminals are going to be put back onto the
streets. It is cheaper to execute the ones who have life sentences. Many who
oppose the death penalty say that the execution would cost more, but that is not
true. It only costs more when the trial that decides if the defendant should
get the death penalty goes on for a long time and when the jury can’t decide a
verdict. The death penalty will allow more room in prison so less dangerous
criminals will be forced to return back to the streets of society and it will
lessen costs as opposed to keeping an inmate in prison for the rest of their
life. This will help the country out a lot.
The death penalty should be allowed because it is not inhumane but
rather fair and it’s continued use will end up helping out society in many ways.
The thousands of criminals who take a person’s life should be punished. If a
jury decides what they did was severe enough to earn the death penalty, then
their judgement should be approved. This way society is showing it is not going
to go soft on criminals who victimize and frighten the country. This way the
tables are turned and the criminals are the ones who are frightened for their
lives, it may sound cruel to some people but at least there is one less person
who is out there to victimize them and that person will never be able to hurt
anyone else again.
Matthews, Robert. “The Final Judgement.” Focus, 18 November 1995: CD Newsbank.
Rodriquez, Era M. “Court Ponders Limits of Its Own Power.” The Recorder, 19
Internet. Yaffe, Deborah. “Federal Court Weighs in on California Rule
for Death Row Cases.” New York Times, 4 June 1996: CD Newsbank.