Death Penalty

This essay has a total of 1555 words and 8 pages.

Death Penalty

I. After spending ten long years on death row, he is escorted today by the warden down
the dimly lit white hallway to the room in which judgement day will finally arrive. As he
moves closer, he begins to regret having led a violent life of crime and murder that had
caused him to be sentenced to death so long ago. The door finally opens, and there he
stands face to face with "old sparky", a.k.a. the electric chair. He is strapped in and a
leather helmet containing a wet sponge is placed over his head along with a brass liner
that functions as an entry electrode through which nearly 2500 volts of electricity will
pass. The exit electrode- a band of brass also with a soaked sponge- is attached to the
prisoner's shaved calf. As a final preparation, a leather hood is placed over his face.

The switch is then pulled and 2,350 volts strike though the inmate's body for eight
seconds, followed by 22 seconds of one thousand volts. The cycle is repeated immediately.
This high-voltage electrocution raises the temperature of his brain to 140 degrees
Fahrenheit, and fries his internal organs (Freedberg 2).

The passage above describes a typical criminal execution by the electric chair, one of the
various methods of capital punishment, otherwise known as the death penalty. The sentence
of death has long been an accepted form of justice, yet today, capital punishment has
remained a hotly debated issue. Some believe this punishment to be cruel and unusual and
therefore violating the United States Constitution, while in reality the death penalty is
fair and just punishment for murder and other extremely violent crimes. With these
clashing viewpoints, there are also differences in the policies of various states, with
some states supporting the death penalty, and others not. This serves as an injustice
because murderers convicted in states such as Texas or Florida, which support the death
penalty, will truly be brought to justice, while murderers in states such as North Dakota
or Wisconsin will not (Staletovich 5-6). It is with this reasoning that the death penalty
should undoubtedly be implemented in all fifty United States and the District of Columbia.

II. In the United States today, capital punishment is an integral part of the criminal
justice system, and has been an accepted form of justice through the ages. During the
Colonial era the English Penal code, which prescribed death for14 offenses, was enforced
in the American colonies. Generally, colonies authorized capital punishment for a smaller
number of offenses than English law allowed, but all colonies authorized public execution
as mandatory punishment for some crimes against the state, people, or property.
Massachusetts was the first American jurisdiction to prohibit cruel and unusual
punishments with its adoption of the Massachusetts Body of Liberties in 1641. The
Puritans, however, did not consider execution cruel and unusual punishment, and even
authorized it for some religious offenses (Smith 2).

III. Even though capital punishment has been practiced in the US since Colonial times,
many people believe that the death penalty is unconstitutional and should be completely
abolished in the United States. They believe that one of the alternatives to death
sentencing is jailing offenders for the rest of their lives without the chance of parole,
commonly known as "life without parole" or LWOP. However, capital punishment contains many
advantages over LWOP and other forms of punishment for murderers.

IV. The death penalty is both constitutional and morally right. It is true that
prisons serve in reforming criminals, but in certain cases where the offender is
unmistakably guilty and has a history of violent behavior, society has the right to demand
the ultimate punishment to ensure their own safety. It is all too frequently that someone
who has been convicted of murder is given the chance to commit another. For example, in
April of 2000 in Minneapolis, a 32 year-old man was arrested for the murder of a woman.
The same man had been convicted of a third-degree murder in 1987. In Texas, Algernon Doby,
only seven months after being paroled for a previous murder, was captured after shooting a
pregnant woman and killing her boyfriend (Barry 2). With failures such as these in our
criminal justice system, Americans deserve to know that murderers will face the same fate
as their victims. Capital punishment is the only way to ensure that this will happen.

The death penalty will not only bring justice to murderers, but will also cause
incapacitation- the disabling of a criminal to murder again. An example of this effect is
provided by James Marquart and Jonathan Sorenson, sociologists at Sam Houston State
University. They examined the histories of all those resentenced after the Supreme Court
emptied state death rows with a decision made in the 1972 trial of Furman vs. Georgia.
Seven of those released prisoners committed another murder after leaving prison (Smith

The implementation of capital punishment functions as a deterrent to the committing of
violent crime. In one study, Stephen Layson, an economist at the University of North
Carolina, Greensboro, showed that each execution in the United States from 1933 to 1969
resulted in 15 fewer homicides. As the appeals process continues to be shortened,
criminals will begin to see the death penalty as a likelihood, rather than a slight risk,
if they commit homicide. Death rows must be emptied by execution to show criminals that
society will not show mercy to murderers. If this is done, the deterrent effect will
become much more apparent by the reduction in violent crime incedents in death penalty
states (Smith 12).

V. Opponents of my position believe that the death penalty is morally wrong and in
violation of the sixth commandment, which reads, "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13).
However, the Hebrew equivalent to the word "kill" in this verse is used 49 times in the
Old Testament of the Bible, and in every relevant usage it means "to murder", especially
with premeditation, according to biblical scholar Charles Ryrie. Furthermore, when the
sixth commandment is repeated in the New Testament a word is used that never means
anything else than to murder. Therefore, the sixth commandment is clearly a prohibition
against murder, not an injunction against capital punishment.

In addition, capital punishment is what God demands for the murder of a human being by man
or beast. In Genesis 9:5-6, God says to Noah and his family,
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