Should the death penalty exist in modern day society? As the number of churchgoers continues to climb, many religions have made their stands against the death penalty well known.
Although most people may not want to believe it, there have been a number of innocent people killed by the death penalty. And with the public not being able to witness executions, how do we as a society get the message out in hopes of deterring people away from crime?
Many churches adamantly oppose the death penalty. To name a few, The American Jewish Committee, Christian Church, Church Women United, and The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), all oppose the death penalty. However, many people who favor the death penalty happen to be churchgoers. This in interesting, considering the churches these people attend clearly stand against this form of punishment. The Holy Scriptures clearly mandate that we are not to kill, and we are not to seek retribution with vengeance for the evil done to us. (Death Penalty 8). The Christian Church said in a recent resolution opposing the death penalty, "Who are we
to decide when someone should die? It is God who gave us life. Therefore God should then be the only one to take it away." The Church Women United released a statement saying, "Whereas, Church Women United cannot accept retribution or social vengeance as a reason for taking a life because it violates our deepest belief in God as the creator and the redeemer of mankind." (Death Penalty 10-11). Is capital punishment a humane way to punish criminals? According to the Orthodox Church in America in their resolution, " there is no humane way to execute a human being." (Death Penalty 23). Obviously, churches do not feel capital punishment is acceptable to God.
With public executions are no longer held in the United States, how does the government present society examples of the consequences of committing crimes? The last public hanging was in 1936, in Owensboro, Kentucky, where a black man was hanged before 20,000 onlookers. (Foster 45). Capital punishment is supposed to be an effective deterrent to crimes. Would it be more of a deterrent if the person thinking of committing a crime saw what happened to another criminal? Maybe so, but legislatures feel that the death penalty is too hideous for the public to witness. Many opponents to this punishment feel that private executions hide the act from the public and make it more acceptable and some have recommended televised executions. (Foster 45). If the public viewed executions, the percentages of death penalty supporters would most likely decline.
Society does not take into consideration that there are innocent inmates on death row. In a most recent case, nine Illinois men were found innocent after totaling 52 years on death row and 36 years in county jails and state prisons. From 1993 to
1997, 17 death row inmates in the United States were found innocent upon further examination. These nine men in Illinois were very close to losing their lives for crimes committed by others. Marshall J. Hartman, director of the Capital Litigation Division of the Illinois State Appellate Defender's Office, summed it up best by saying, "If you have a money judgment, you can appeal and it's reversed and everyone gets their money, and it's fine. However, when somebody is executed you cannot bring him or her back. What if those nine innocent people had, been executed? That's a very frightening thought." (Henderson 3). New York City lawyer, Ronald Tabak stated, "People who commit worse crimes often don't get the death penalty if they have a better lawyer than people who commit less aggravated crimes." (Henderson 2).
Is the death penalty an inhumane and non-effective punishment for committing crimes? Our religions do not feel it is right. As a nation, we lack the courage to watch what is done to these criminals upon termination of their lives. Is the death penalty worth having if even one innocent person might be mistakenly killed? Many do not think so.
Those citizens who are against the death penalty feel this way because they believe it is inhumane and morally wrong. These "moral people," in some cases turn to violence. For example, a Florida man who happens to be Christian and against
both abortion and execution, took justice "into his own hands." An abortion doctor was on his way to work, when this Christian man shot and killed him for carrying out abortions. Although he may not agree with the doctor's choice of occupation, he figured that since the government actively executes convicted murderers, what would
the difference be if he killed a man he thought to be a murderer? The irony in this situation was that he killed a man who in all actuality kills babies. Do two wrongs make a right? (Gelernter 21-24).
The death penalty is carried out on many convicted murderers, resulting in substantial amounts of executions. People read and hear about executions in the newspaper, magazines, and televised newscasts. But the public is desensitized by the use and meaning of the death penalty.
Should people be put to death for committing crimes? Whose decision is it to end a human life? If the government was more harsh with it's laws then maybe there would not be as much violence and crime today. After all, it has been proven that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against crime. In the 1970s when executions were made public, crime rates went down. If making executions public results crime going down, thus making society a safer place for everyone, then they should all be made public. If something can be done about it, people should not have to suffer or worry about walking out of his or her home wondering if they are going to come back alive.
An example would be to say that mom has made brownies for dessert after dinner. They have been sitting on the kitchen table since 2 o'clock this afternoon.
They smell great and are rather hard to resist. The brownies are placed on the counter to where if anyone took one, it would be possible that mom might not even have a clue that one was missing because they have already been cut up and placed on a dish. If someone were to take one of mom's brownies and she found out, then being
rejected of the brownies after dinner would punish that person. Then again, if mom were just to yell, and give you a slap on the hand and still offer brownies after dinner, then why not risk it? Killing and crimes may be a lot more dramatic, but in terms of punishment, the two can be looked at similarly.
When Rhode Island abolished the death penalty over a century ago, only to reintroduce it for homicide, the complete abolition of capital punishment has had a steady opposition expressed by those who believe that police and prison guards need the special protection the death penalty provides. Perhaps even more than that, they need the visible proof that society stands behind them in the war on crime and will not hesitate to provide the fullest possible protection for these defenders of law and order. (Redau 35).
Should the mentally ill also be executed? If mentally ill people are going to be on the streets and become a threat to society then they should be put to death. There is no reason to lock them up like animals for years and years. If they were mentally ill, then locking them would not do any good if they do not have an idea about what wrong they have done. If they are mentally ill then they do not know any better, and can not control their actions and therefore are a threat to society. Executing the
mentally ill will also put a stop to people trying to say that they are mentally ill in order of getting out of having to go to jail or prison.
Age should not be an issue. I understand that some people do not have a good family background. Their parents have made wrong decisions themselves and it has reflected on them as a person. Parents are role models and no one has the chance to choose what type of family or environment they want to be born into. When it comes
to a serious crime of murder everyone knows it is wrong. No matter how old someone is, they know it is wrong to kill or commit a serious crime. Anyone who commits an act of murder or any other serious crime should have to accept the consequences for their actions even if means facing the death penalty.
The death penalty seems to be a very abrasive move, considering that the government is punishing the criminal, for killing someone (in most cases), by killing the criminal. This act seems contradictory. The government seems to think that two wrongs make a right. Not only is this act being contradicted, but it also causes the general public to get the wrong impression. The government thinks that the death penalty is a deterrent, yet in some minds it says it is acceptable to kill someone. Most murderers have a psychological problem, therefore when they hear about the government killing someone; they acquire some sort of a deranged idea that it is acceptable to take another's life.
Although some states have considered this and abolished the death penalty, other states are still acting upon this law. In fact, some states do not actively use the death penalty, but rather use life with no parole, while other states take full advantage
it. For example, Texas comes off as being somewhat execution happy. Yet, they have only executed people for murder, and have put other criminals on death row.
Everybody seems to be familiar with at least the two most common viewpoints of the death penalty, but recently a third angle of argument has been taken into consideration.
This third side, that few may care to even take time and notice, is the situational view. By taking the situational view when it comes to the death penalty, one is stating that he or she believes each individual case must be looked at + individually. This is opposed to believing that the death penalty should be either legal or illegal. Situationalists believe that keeping the death penalty legal will only hurt those who have the opportunity to exercise their right to appear in from of a judge for parole. These convicted criminals could either be innocent or in some cases simply deserve the right to regain their freedom. On the contrary, situationalists also believe that by making the death penalty illegal, those who actually do deserve death sentences will waste taxpayers money by wandering around prison yards for the rest of their lives, and in some cases maybe even walk freely, once again becoming a hazard to society.
Stating that you are both "for" and "against" the death penalty in the same sentence can be very misleading. One can be quick to judge that someone standing behind this belief seems to be somewhat confused on the subject. That is not at all the case.
Situationalists believe that each individual case resulting in a life sentence should be looked at closely for both human error and biased juries. Many people in modern day society have been raised Catholic, therefore knowing each of the Ten Commandments. One of these commandments that is quite relevant is "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Knowing that the creators of this religion may have not absorbed this
phrase as many have, they still believe that an eye for an eye should only be fair. Maybe so, but an eye for an eye has yet to become a law. For now, it is just a law of barbarism. (Marcel).
In the film, "Dead Man Walking," a nun becomes a spiritual advisor of a man that happens to be on death row. Before being killed through the process of lethal injection (which happens to be the number one form of carrying out the death penalty in recent years) on charges of kidnapping, rape, and murder, a guard screams out for his innocence. This led on to the question of whether or not the convicted criminal actually committed the crimes.
Because of the emotion and in-depth discussions of the death penalty, "Dead Man Walking" will be shown and discussed for a long time to come.
The latest of debates has been due to the fact that the majority of Americans that are for the death penalty (68 percent) are now saying that the issue is no longer a controversy. Their argument is that because the majority of Americans are for the death penalty, all forms of debate should no longer be considered, and the United States should simply listen to the louder voice so to speak. How idiotic is this? The issue of whether or not capital punishment is right or wrong has been accurately
labeled as "controversial." Just because those Americans who are either against it or take the situational approach make up the smaller fraction of society (32 percent) does not necessarily mean that their thoughts and beliefs should not be considered.
The only other area of concern is a possible biased jury. By using the death penalty, there will always be doubt going through the minds of the convicted person's
family as to a possibility of not using the correct judgment. The jury that decides guilt or innocence is made up exclusively for people who would be willing to sentence a person to death.
Therefore, jurors who state that they cannot consider the death penalty are not allowed to follow or participate in the decision-making process between death and life imprisonment.
For example, let us say there were four people placed onto death row for robbery and two more for rape. Although these convicted felons are not executed, they will still remain on death row. By the government system placing citizens on jury duty, they are allowing citizens to be in charge. With this in mind, many seem to think that the government does not look at life as something serious. If it cannot look at a life as something that should be sacred, then how can the government expect citizens to look at life as an important matter?