Life or Death





Murder! Rape! Terrorism! Most consider the people that commit these heinous crimes, but some say these people deserve a second chance. The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has endured for years, and continues to be an extremely complicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the Dahmers and Gacys. Capital punishment is the legal infliction of the death penalty on persons convicted of a crime (Cox). It is not intended to inflict any physical pain or any torture; it is only another form of punishment. It is irrevocable because it removes those punished from society permanently, instead of temporarily imprisoning them. The usual alternative to the death penalty is life-long imprisonment.
Capital punishment is a method of retributive punishment as old as civilization itself. The death penalty has been imposed throughout history for many crimes, ranging from blasphemy and treason to petty theft and murder. Many ancient societies accepted the idea that certain crimes deserved capital punishment. Ancient Roman and Mosaic law endorsed the notion of retaliation; they believed in the rule of "an eye for an eye." Similarly, the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, and Greeks all executed citizens for a variety of crimes. The most famous people to be executed are Socrates and Jesus. Only in England, during the reigns of King Canute and William the Conqueror was the death penalty not used, although the results of interrogation and torture were often fatal.
In looking back to previous societies that relied upon the death penalty, such as ancient Athens and the Roman Empire, one realizes the effectiveness of this sentence and its usefulness as a tool for deterring crime (Pro Death Penalty 3). Although there is no punishment that can entirely eliminate violent crime, a more stringent use of the death penalty would significantly help.
Those who are for the death penalty argue the following points:
“Last October, Louisiana executed a man named Ernest Knighton. Knighton had killed a gas station owner during a robbery. Like any murder this was a terrible crime. But it was not premeditated, and is the sort of crime that very rarely results in a death sentence. Why was Knighton electrocuted when everyone else who commits this same crime was not? Was it because he was black”( Bruck,1985, P. 483).
According to deathpenalty.org, 54% of death row inmates are black. Why is race always an issue? This man murdered an innocent man and the author is defending him. Thousands of people will attack the death penalty. Victims family should be physically sickened when they think about how monsters gets three meals a day and a bed to sleep in, while someone they loved dearly lies dead in a coffin because of his actions. They will give emotional speeches about the one innocent man or woman who might accidentally get an execution sentence, and certainly that is a serious concern. However, all of these people are forgetting one crucial element. They are forgetting the thousands of victims who die every year by the hands of heartless criminals. There are more murderers out there than people who are wrongly convicted, and that is what we must remember. The Bible can be enterpeted many ways but this is clear “Whomever sheds a man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”(Genesis 9:6) The death penalty saves lives in that, by executing murderers, you prevent them from murdering again. Why should we let people who have been convicted of murder not be given the same punishment as what they did to their victims? Most convicted murderers and their lawyers plead for life instead of the death penalty. If they were tough enough to rape a little kid they should be tough enough to take the punishment?
Those who oppose capital punishment bring to light the following arguments. When committing a serious crime does it occur to the criminal that, if Caught, he/she could be, electrocuted, gassed, or lethally injected? I highly doubt it. So why do people who support the capital punishment call it a deterrent? The death penalty violates constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. Although murderers come from all classes, those on death row are almost without exception poor and were living in poverty at