Let the Punishment Fit the Crime
The death penalty is a form of punishment used for convicted criminals who have committed a capital crime. Initially, the first established death penalty laws date as far back as the Eighteenth Century B.C. in the city-state of Babylon. The death penalty was used for about 25 different crimes stated in the Hammaurabi Code. By the Tenth Century A.D. Britain adopted this method as a usual punishment for many crimes. Eventually, when the colonies in the Americas were starting to be created, the British brought over many cultural practices including the death penalty. The first recorded execution that took place in the colonies was in 1608, to Captain George Kendall who was a convicted spy for Spain. Yet in the 1960’s all of the sudden the death penalty was to be considered “cruel and unusual” punishment, but if it was, then why has it been used for so many centuries? When in reality, the death penalty should be used and enforced by every country and state for capital crimes, because it is a physiological deterrent and it is justifiable for the crimes committed. To begin, the death penalty is considered a physiological deterrent. A physiological deterrent is something that prevents actions through fear of punishment. Considering the previous statement, statistics show that during the years of the Moratorium, which was basically the suspension of the death penalty, murder rates went up; but the years following the murder rates go down yearly because the death penalty makes people think twice before committing a capital crime, such as murder.
According to professor Sustein, “if people know, if they do something horrible they’re going to lose their lives; the likely hood that they’re going to do something horrible is decreased.” Furthermore, “Those who favor the death penalty argue that its practice keeps dangerous offenders from committing the same crime again” (Capital Punishment); for example, if a man rapes and kills a woman and gets 15 years in jail, when he is let out, he will be warned that if he does it again he will get the death penalty. Therefore that man is more likely to not commit that crime again for fear of being killed. As stated, “People fear nothing more than death. Therefore, nothing will deter a criminal more than the fear of death” (Ernest Van Den Haag); this statement is accurate because who actually wants to die? The victims don’t want to die and neither do the criminals, which is why they will try to plead for a sentence of life without parole instead of the death penalty. Criminals do fear death unlike abolitionists say they don’t: Abolitionists also hold the notion that criminals do not fear death because they do not take time to think about the consequences of their acts. If that were true, then I wonder how police officers manage to arrest criminals without killing them.
When a policeman holds a criminal at gunpoint and tells him to get on the ground, the criminal will comply fully in the vast majority of these cases. Why would they do that unless they were afraid of the lethal power of the gun? (Wesley Lowe) As Wesley Lowe also says, “The most striking protection of innocent life has been seen in Texas, which executes more murderers than any other state. According to JFA (Justice for All), the Texas murder rate in 1991 was 15.3 per 100,000. By 1999, it had fallen to 6.1 — a drop of 60 percent” without the death penalty the murder rates surely would’ve gone up because there would’ve been no physiological deterrent, such as the death penalty, to stop criminals. There are about 12 crimes in the United States that are considering capital crimes and are punishable by the death penalty. In China there are about 55 capital crimes which the death penalty is suitable for. So essentially, the amount and type of capital crimes vary between countries and even states, which can determine the amount of deterrence per country or state. There are few different types of capital punishment such as, hanging, firing squad, lethal injection, and the electric chair (Kim Masters). However, even though different types of punishment are used all over the world the most common and humane way is lethal injections.
Furthermore, as surveyed by the Amnesty International, of the 179 countries surveyed only 58 have retained the death penalty (Capital Punishment). Luckily, the U.S. is a country that has retained the death penalty. To demonstrate the deterrent effect across the world, the United States has retained the death penalty while Haiti is a country that has abolished it. In Haiti the average murders per 100,000 is 33.9, while the United States average murders per 100,000 is 5.9; which is a huge difference (Crime Stats: Haiti vs. United States). Also, out of the top ten countries with the highest murder rate per capita, 9 out of 10 have abolished the death penalty (Control, European Institute for Crime Prevention). With that information it’s easily noted that the countries without the death penalty have a higher murder rate than the countries with the death penalty. This can be related to the deterrent effect, because the countries with the death penalty have fewer murders since people are physiologically deterred from committing a crime. To sum it up, the death penalty should be enforced and carried out everywhere because it is a proven physiological deterrent on people committing capital crimes such a murder.
In addition, to being a physiological deterrent the death penalty is also justifiable. Today in the justice system, as a nation we chose punishments that fit the crime; so if the best punishment for a DUI would be a strike on your license and needing to take a drug and alcohol course wouldn’t the best punishment for a serial killer would in fact be the death penalty? The death penalty is justified because there is no other way to bring these types of gruesome murderers to justice. When criminals are given life without parole, there are still chances they can kill again, and which those murders will go unnoticed. As Wesley Lowe states, “As long as the murderer lives, there is always a chance, no matter how small, that he will strike again” he is correct, although they’re in prison they can still kill the prison guards or other prisoners. As I have always heard the saying “an eye for an eye”, it’s true in this sense. It is morally wrong not to put a murderer to death because life in jail just doesn’t match up to taking away someone’s life. In a public opinion survey, 62 percent of people thought the death penalty was morally justified(Kim Masters Evans).
“As Edward Koch once said “It is by exacting the highest penalty for the taking of human life that we a firm the highest value of human life”” (Wesley Lowe) this statement means so much in the sense that if people go around killing people unpunished the value of life isn’t so sacred anymore. Wesley Lowe also makes a good point when he says, “The USA should set the example that every civilized nation has a moral responsibility to defend the safety of their decent civilians at least as diligently as they defend national security with an army.” If the president was assassinated, we sure as heck know that the murder would be killed, so why should it be different for any other human being?
Another way to look at it would be from a victim’s families’ point of view; from losing a child, sibling, or family member is rough. But to lose them to a murderer, who could have ghastly tortured them, is extremely painful. Where the death penalty is not used the murderer will get off on 30 to life and then maybe parole. It’s just crazy. However where the death penalty is allowed, state legislatures can recommend the death penalty as long as it does not inflict unnecessary pain or suffering (Capital Punishment.) In other words, to a grieving family knowing the murderer is dead they can feel that justice was served. All in all, the death penalty can certainly be justified for capital crimes such as murder; the punishment should fit the crime.
In conclusion, the death penalty should be enforced and used in practice by every country and state because it is a physiological deterrent and it is justifiable for capital crimes. The death penalty has been around for so many centuries and has done so much to reassure safety, why should we get rid of it now?
Haag, Ernest Van Den, PhD. “Top 10 Pros and Cons – Death Penalty – ProCon.org.” Top 10 Pros and Cons – Death Penalty – ProCon.org. N.p.,16 Apr. 2008. Web. 31 Mar. 2013. “Capital Punishment.” Gales Student Resources in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Student Resources in Context. Web. 10 Feb.1013. “Does Death penalty Deter Crime?” News& Notes 20 Nov. 2007. Gale Student Resources in Context. Web. 10 Feb. 2013 Kim Masters Evans. “Capital Punishment around the world.” Capital Punishment: Cruel and Unusual? 2010 ed. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Information Plus Reference Series. Gale Student Resources in Context. Web. 10 Feb.2013 “Crime Stats: Haiti vs United States.” NationMaster.com. NationMaster, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013. Control, European Institute for Crime Prevention and. “Murders (per Capita) Statistics – Countries Compared.” NationMaster.com. NationMaster, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2013. “PRO DEATH.” Pro Capital Punishment Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2013. Kim Masters Evans. “Public Attitudes Toward Captial Punishment.” Capital Pusinshment: Cruel and Unusual?. 2010 ed. Detroit: Gale, 201.
Information Plus Reference Series. Gale Student Resources in Context. Web. 10 feb. 2013