Capital punishment and the practice of the death penalty is an issue that is passionately debated in the US today. Opponents of the death penalty believe capital punishment is unnecessary and inappropriate in our modern society. In their minds, such an act by the government serves no positive social purpose and only denigrates life (Death Penalty Focus, 2005). On the other hand, those in favor of capital punishment, including the US Supreme Court, see the death penalty as the proper punishment for certain criminals who have committed specific crimes. Supporters also argue that the death penalty is a necessary deterrent to saving innocent lives (Pro-Death Penalty, 2005).
Based on my research of this issue I tend to agree with the death penalty advocates and believe that execution is the appropriate sentence and punishment for capital offenses. There are six main rationales for abolishing the practice of capital punishment that are commonly heard. One reason is that capital punishment does not deter crime. Anti-death penalty advocates contend that scientific studies consistently fail to demonstrate that executions discourage people from committing crime (Death Penalty Focus, 2005). Another reason for stopping the death penalty is because it can and has been inflicted on innocent people. In addition, abolitionists suggest that the US is unable to prevent such occurrences (Death Penalty Focus, 2005).
A third rationale is that the death penalty discriminates against certain ethnic and racial groups. According to Justice Department figures, nearly 80 percent of inmates on death row are Black, Hispanic or from another minority group (Eddlem, 2002). Yet another reason for abolishing capital punishment is that the death penalty is often applied at random. "Politics, quality of legal counsel and the jurisdiction where a crime is committed are more often te determining factors in a death penalty case than the facts of the crime itself" (Death Penalty Focus, 2005). A fifth rationale in opposition is that the death penalty is too expensive or too costly to taxpayers to justify its use. According to those who oppose the death penalty and certain studies, it costs more to execute a person than to keep him or her in prison for life (Death Penalty Focus, 2005).
Finally, it is believed by some that the killing at the hands of the state is not a righteous act but instead is on the same moral level as the murderers themselves. According to capital punishment supporters, many of these reasons of the anti-death penalty movement are false and are now wrongly accepted as fact. The argument that the death penalty does not deter crime is debatable. By executing murderers you prevent them from murdering again.
If these people no longer exist then they obviously cannot commit more crimes. In addition, criminals have admitted, in thousands of fully documented cases, that the death penalty was the specific threat which deterred them from committing murder (Pro-Death Penalty, 2005). The opponents of capital punishment claim that the death penalty has caused and can cause the execution of innocent people. However, according to the supporters, no evidence indicates that innocent people have been executed. Upon reviewing 23 years of capital sentences, a Wall Street Journal study indicated that they were unable to find a single case in which an innocent person was executed (Eddlem, 2002).
Furthermore, advocates note that the methodology used in studies conducted by anti-death penalty organizations are so flawed that they consistently present incomplete and misleading facts. The claim that the death penalty is racist is another accusation that is discredited by supporters of capital punishment. The Bureau of Justice Statistics show that since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, white inmates have made up the majority of those executed and in the year 2000, 49 of the 85 people put to death were whites (Eddlem, 2002). The opposition say that the death penalty it is too expensive because the cost of an execution exceeds the cost of life in prison. It is true that the initial up-front costs of the death penalty are significantly higher than life in prison, however, these pronouncements by the opposition are not entirely accurate because over time, life without parole costs are more expensive than death penalty costs (Pro-Death Penalty, 2005). But no matter how much money it takes, death penalty supporters passionately feel that no cost is too high if it achieves justice.
In my opinion, people who commit heinous crimes against humanity should be executed. Regardless of cost or how long it takes I believe that putting these people to death is the correct sentence, not only because I feel that they deserve to die but because the death penalty is a deterrent and society is better off without these criminals. Therefore I agree with supporters of capital punishment and that the death penalty should remain in existence. My research further solidified my position because I felt that the arguments in favor of capital punishment clearly debunked many of the reasons for abolishment by the anti-death penalty movement.
References Death Penalty Focus (2005). Facts. Retrieved April 8, 2005 from: web T. R. (2004). Ten Anti-Death Penalty Fallacies.
Retrieved April 10, 2005 from: web fallacies. htm Pro-Death Penalty (2005). Death Penalty Paper. Retrieved April 9, 2005 from: web.