Death to the Death Penalty




Death to the Death Penalty

Murder by definition is the destruction of another human being. When polled, ninety percent of adults, aging from twenty to forty, responded that murder was wrong. In 1994, Polly Klaas, a twelve-year-old girl was abducted from her own home. Her body was later found, and her killer, Richard Alan Davis, pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping and first degree murder. When polled, seventy-five percent of the same adults felt that sentencing Richard Alan Davis to death was not wrong. The death penalty can often be approached in this matter. The definition seems somehow inadequate when it is compared to the crime. It is a paragon of situational ethics, and solid moral arguments are slim. As with many debates of human rights, the moral implications tend to be individual. But, the facts against the death penalty are less vague. Concrete examples of false convictions, unnecessary pain, and barbaric practices can be found within this practice. Due to the imperfect nature of human behavior, no one human entity possesses the arbitrary ability to end the life of another human being.
Richard Alan Davis did indeed commit what the government considers to be the most heinous of crimes. By lawful standards, if anyone deserves to be executed, it would be him. To some, it would appear that executing Davis would be the fit punishment for the crime committed. In such cases, any other form of punishment can simply seem inadequate. Jailing these people for life just doesn’t seem punishment enough. However, there is a sincere irony found within the death penalty. It brings to mind the parental saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” The government, in essence, has granted itself rights that the individual has not. Furthermore, these individuals are murdered just the same. If it were indeed moral to take the life of one who has killed, there would be nothing. A massive domino effect would be unleashed wherein retribution would be the accepted norm. Eventually, we would all fall victims to capital punishment.
Despite opinion, the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. Whether it is by gas chamber, electric chair, or lethal injection, the process is entirely savage. There have been tales of faulty electric chairs or ineffective cyanide tablets. In a satiric comic dating from 1994, Newsweek portrayed a man awaiting death in the gas chamber. He is thinking to himself, that had he known execution to be so painless, he would have killed from an earlier date. “Execution can never be made humane through science.”-New York Times. The eighth amendment to the U.S. Constitution strictly prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. In recent years, science has provided what is thought to be a less cruel form of execution. Sitting upon death row, waiting to die is cruel. Every time we execute someone, we as a society sink to the same level as the killer. How can we hope to end barbaric practices, if we still stand in acceptance of them?
In theory, the death penalty serves as a deterrent for further murders. Many politicians argue that executions prevent heinous crime, while virtually no criminologists agree. Some studies indicate that the crime rate actually increases following an execution. In Louisiana, for example, during the summer of 1987, eight people were executed. In that same period, the murder rate in New Orleans rose 16.9%, the highest the area had seen in years. Statistics also indicate that those states with the death penalty do not have a lower rate of crime than those that do not.
In the endless arguments over capital punishment, questions of the agony suffered by the victims and their families’ are raised. The end result always produces one more dead body, one more set of grieving parents, and one more cemetery slot. Those whom support the death penalty feel that the only vindication the victims’ family can receive is to execute the criminal. But, the criminal has a family too. When a person is executed, not one, but two families must grieve. When a person is dead, the punishment is over. Only those left behind are punished. Like the families of terminally ill patients, families of condemned killers experience grief