End the Death Penalty For many years, arguments have been made both for and against the execution of criminals. The main arguments in favor of the death penalty are that: it is supposed to be a deterrent to future crime; it is supposed to exact Justice for victims and for society as a whole; and it is a more financially sound way to deal with the worst kind of criminals. For each of these beliefs, those who oppose capital punishment can provide studies and facts to contradict any possible benefit that the death penalty could offer society.
These same opponents also raise the important uestion: does the government approved killing of any human being have a place in civilized society? It would seem that in this day and age, there has to be a better way to punish the worst criminals in a way that respects their humanity, but provides justice for victims and for society as a whole. The truth is, the use of the death penalty is an expensive, barbaric, and ineffective deterrent that is often times unjust and unnecessary within the United States today. The use of the death penalty dates back to the times of the Babylonians.
During that time, the death penalty was sed as a crime deterrent. In the Code of Hammurabi, the law the Babylonians followed, it says “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” “An Eye for an Eye”. This meant that for whatever wrong you committed, you would receive equal punishment “An Eye for an Eye”. The death penalty kept society in line at that time and kept crime relatively in check. In Roman times, major roads were lined with hundreds of crucified criminals in order to show others what would happen to those who committed crimes against the laws of Rome. During those ancient times prisons were not as secure as they are now.
Therefore, it was logical to use the death penalty because it helped keep Roman citizens safe. In addition, because execution was carried out swiftly, and because the methods of execution often used were heinous and gruesome, the death penalty actually deterred crime. Things have changed greatly since then. Capital punishment is no longer swiftly carried out, nor is it the gruesome public display of the Roman era. In addition, today, our prison system is capable of securing dangerous criminals. Supporters of capital punishment claim that the death penalty in 2011 continues to deter crime.
Studies have shown that this is far from the truth; the death penalty may deter crime from the person being executed, but it has little to no effect on those outside of prison. In 2010 over fourteen thousand people were murdered (United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010). Although numbers have been decreasing over the past several years, the number of murders within the United States annually is still far too great to even consider the fact that criminals are thinking of the consequences of their actions before they commit them (United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010. ). Eighty-eight percent of the ountrys top criminologists do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide, according to a new study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology and authored by Professor Michael Radelet” “Facts about Deterrence”. Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. ” Clearly, he believed that revenge and retaliation only lead to more damage. In his view, the idea earlier, the death penalty definitely deters the executed person from committing further crime, but the execution, in itself, is an act of violence.
Therefore, violence is ot at all deterred. “The “eye for an eye” mentality will never solve anything. A revenge philosophy inevitably leads to an endless cycle of violence. Why do you think the Israeli-Palestine conflict has been going on for 60+ years? ” (Should The Death Penalty Be Banned) The hypocrisy of imposing a death sentence on someone as a punishment for killing someone else is pretty obvious. Killing is killing and either way it is it is barbaric.
Our government says that murder is a severe crime and should never be committed, but then contradicts itself by taking criminals convicted f killing another, and killing them for the same thing they said not to do (Should The Death Penalty Be Banned). This sends the wrong message to society and creates a cycle of revenge that seems to be never ending (Balancedpolitics. org). The methods used to execute a criminal claim to be humane; however, what is humane about killing a human being? Whether it’s a firing squad, electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection, or hanging, it’s barbaric to allow state-sanctioned murder before a crowd of people.
We condemn people like Ahmadinejad, Qaddafi, and Kim Jong II when they urder their own people while we continue to do the same. (Should The Death Penalty Be Banned) Advocates of the death penalty claim that the carrying out of an execution exacts Justice. If our system was perfect, perhaps this argument would be stronger. However, many, many times, our criminal Justice system has unjustly convicted individuals, unjustly sentenced individuals to death row, and even unjustly executed innocent people. Justice for the victim does not always equate with justice for the accused.
Our country has been known to execute the mentally ill hich goes against the Eighth Amendment in the United States Constitution. If a person is not of a sound mind, how can he possibly be held responsible for the actions he takes? Granted, if a mentally ill person does commit a horrible crime he should receive some kind of discipline, but the death penalty is a far too “cruel and unusual” punishment for someone who cannot fully think for himself. Often times, accused criminals cannot afford a good lawyer. Consequently, they are represented poorly for crimes they may not have even committed.
On the contrary some people ho have been accused of horrible crimes and all the evidence says they were guilty like OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony, have gotten out of their situations because they had the best lawyers they could afford. “There are several documented cases where DNA testing showed that innocent people were put to death by the government. We have an imperfect Justice system where poor defendants are given minimal legal attention by often lesser qualified individuals. ” (Should The Death Penalty Be Banned) Our Justice system is too inconsistent with who qualifies to receive the death penalty and who does not.
According to Death Penalty Focus, “Out of at least 400 innocent people convicted of capital crimes they did not commit, 23 were executed. Execution of an innocent person is an injustice that cannot be rectified” (Death Penalty Proven Ineffective). If Justice is truly what we seek many would argue that a life spent in prison is a much worse form of punishment than the quick exit of an executed criminal. “With a death sentence, the suffering is over in an instant. With life in prison, the pain goes on for decades” (Should The Death Penalty Be Banned).
Most When an individual is unjustly accused, improperly represented, or rongly convicted and executed, the accused, the victim, and society are denied real justice. Lastly, there is a false belief that executing a criminal saves the federal funding, and ultimately the tax payer’s money. During these difficult economic times, government is constantly looking for places to cut spending. If the death penalty were abolished in the United States, over the course of the next five years, billions of dollars could be saved (Death Penalty: The High Cost).
In the state of California alone, if all current prisoners on death row were incarcerated for life entences instead of being executed, it would save over 1 billion dollars (Death Penalty : The High Cost). “Most people dont realize that carrying out one death sentence costs 2-5 times more than keeping that same criminal in prison for the rest of his life,” (Should The Death Penalty Be Banned). It would also reduce taxes paid by citizens. “California taxpayers pay $90,000 more per death row prisoner each year than on prisoners in regular confinement” (Death Penalty : The High Cost). It’s not unusual for a prisoner to be on death row for 15-20 years. Judges, attorneys, court eporters, clerks, and court facilities all require a substantial investment by the taxpayers. Do we really have the resources to waste? ” (Balancedpolitics. org). All of the factors listed above add up and can cost millions per person on death row at a time when we do not have money to waste, it is clear that the use of capital punishment is a financial burden on society. The death penalty has been utilized in societies for centuries. Though it may have been an effective form of punishment long ago, that is no longer the case now.
Given that humans have grown n civility, knowledge, and an improved ability to punish through incarceration, we can no longer Justify the barbaric practice of taking the life of another. The death penalty is not a deterrent. The “Justice” it is supposed to provide is defective. It offers no financial benefit to society. It is time to acknowledge that the death penalty is ineffective in this day and age and that Justice is better served through incarceration. Works Cited “Should The Death Penalty Be Banned Balancedpolitics. org – Free Balanced, Non- Partisan Discussion of Political & Social Issues for Debate (Pros and Cons – Decision
Making Politics). Web. 16 Nov. 2011.. “Death Penalty Proven Ineffective on Many Levels. ” MGoclub. web. 20 NOV. 2011. . “Death Penalty : The High Cost of the Death Penalty. ” Death Penalty. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.. “Deterrence (In Support of the Death Penalty). ” Welcome I High School Curriculum on the Death Penalty. Web. 16 Nov. 2011 .. “An Eye for an Eye, a Tooth for a Tooth. ” The Meanings and Origins of Penalty. ” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.. “United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010. ” The Disaster Center – Home Page. Web. 16 NOV. 2011.