Capital Punishment Or Death Penalty - Short Description

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Is there really a right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a side for capital punishment? After reading that question, you may have asked yourself what capital punishment means. According to capital punishment is legally authorized killing of someone as punishment for a crime. Any crime that makes one face capital punishment or the death penalty is what is referred to as a capital crime or a capital offense. Over several years there have been different methods of executing someone who's found guilty of capital offenses. Shooting, beheading, hanging, lynching and many others were and are still commonly used in many places where the death penalty is practiced. Today, the most common methods of execution are either the electric chair or lethal injection. Capital punishment is not legal all over the United States. Texas is one of many states who actually legalize capital punishment. In 2019 there were 9 executions in the state of Texas. According to TDCJ, there are 214 people currently on death row waiting to be executed, six of which are women. I am all for the death penalty because it cuts down on costs of housing these criminals, allows a possibility of deterring additional crimes, and gives the victim's family closure. Later on in this essay I will explain in great detail why I am for capital punishment. First, let's explore the process of coming to a capital punishment conviction, the states where it is legal and the different routes for capital punishment.

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For starters let's talk about the process of getting a death penalty conviction in the United States. It involves four very critical steps, such as: sentencing, direct review, state collateral review and federal habeas corpus. In a very recent Wikipedia article, it is said that of the 29 states with the death penalty, 27 require the sentence to be decided by a jury and 26 require a unanimous decision by that jury. The only state which does not require a unanimous jury decision is Alabama. In Alabama, at least 10 jurors must concur. A retrial happens if the jury deadlocks. If a defendant is sentenced to death at the trial level, the case then goes into a direct review. In direct review one must decide if any legal errors occurred during the trial. After a death sentence is affirmed in state collateral review, the prisoner may file for federal habeas corpus, which is a unique type of lawsuit that can be brought in federal courts. Federal habeas corpus is a type of collateral review, and it is the only way that state prisoners may attack a death sentence in federal court. The purpose of this is to ensure that prisoner's constitutional rights are upheld. There are currently 29 states that capital punishment are legal in: Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisianan, Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgie, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida. There are several routes for the death penalty. There's the lethal injection by a drug or a group of drugs, electrocution via the electric chair, a firing squad, and hanging. Capital punishment can be imposed for treason, espionage, murder, large-scale drug trafficking, or attempted murder of a witness, juror, or court officer in certain cases. One may ask why it takes so long for a person to be executed from the time of conviction. According to Doctor Robert Lytle, an assistant professor in UA Little Rock's Department of Criminal Justice, there are steps that the government has to take in order to ensure that they are executing the worst of the worst and they are not executing innocent people. According to the Bureau of Justice and Death Penalty Information Center, the average time from sentencing to execution for was just around 16 years. If no appeals are raised, that process can happen as soon as six months, but that rarely happens.

There are so many pros and cons to the capital punishment but there is no right or wrong answer. It just depends on one's views and beliefs regarding the issue. The death penalty allows a much deserved punishment for the most heinous crimes ever done. Graphic and cruel murderers need to be punished with the death penalty conviction. Those people who commit those crimes are far too gone for any rehabilitation to occur. This means that the person is cruel, heartless and has no regard for human life. Why would someone like that deserve to live amongst society, even if it is inside prison walls? The death penalty conviction helps to prevent that person from committing another heinous crime and reduces their influence on the prison population if convicted for life or an extremely long sentence.

The capital punishment conviction can also help prevent prisons from becoming over-populated. According to Natalie Regoli, in the United States, there are more than 2.3 million people being held in state and federal prisons, local jails, juvenile correction facilities, immigration detention centers, military prisons, and civil commitment centers. It will help cut down on costs. Let's be honest here, it's very expensive to imprison criminals because of the fact that the state will have to feed, shelter, clothe and provide the basic things needed for the prisoners to live humanely. Therefore, this means that society's tax dollars will be paying to house a violent criminal until the day he or she dies. Just imagine if the system keeps those violent criminals imprisoned for the rest of their lives. This would mean that it would end up costing taxpayers a lot more money, but if such person were executed it would cut down the overall cost drastically. More inmates being incarcerated will mean that more staff will have to be employed and bigger facilities will need to be built.

The capital punishment conviction also offers closure for the victim's families that were affected. Some of the criminals who committed these heinous and cruel crimes were against children or elderly. They may have committed these crimes for some of the stupidest reasons, such as: money, greed, jealousy, high on drugs, mental illness or just pure boredom. None of the reasons mentioned above justify a reason for taking another person's life. Families already have to worry about losing loved ones to freak accidents, illnesses, and or suicide. So, to have some stranger or friend take one's life is wrong. In order to give the family peace and closure, the death penalty would be a perfect solution. It allows the families of the victim's know that the defendant is being held accountable for their actions and will pay for what they have done. It doesn't give the defendant an opportunity to keep on living life while the other person is dead for no reason at all.

Finally, capital punishment may possibly help deter criminals from committing such terrible crimes. Generally, people are scared to die, which will make it easier for some to deter from committing any crimes. A 2008 extensive review of capital punishment research since 1975 by Drexel University economist Bijou Yang and psychologist David Lester of Richard Stockton College concluded that the majority of studies that track effects over many years and across countries find a deterrent effect. According to researchers in 2009, who found that adopting state laws allowing defendants in child murder cases to be eligible for the death penalty was associated with an almost 20% reduction in rates of these crimes. In turn, capital punishment does save lives!

I know that there are a lot of people who oppose the death penalty. Some may take religion into consideration and may feel that another death will not make the crime any better. Remember that opposing the death penalty would make taxpayers dish out more money to house these criminals, overpopulate our prison systems, allow room for more crimes to be committed while that person is in prison and it doesn't place any real accountability for their actions. I know that killing another individual won't bring the victim back. However, it will definitely ensure that the person never gets the chance to hurt another family, kill an innocent individual or continue to put society in danger by their cruel and thoughtless actions. Its very important that we consider all the variables when deciding to agree or disagree with capital punishment. Use your mind and not your heart to come up with a decision. Remember the goal is to ensure that everyone inside and outside the walls of prison remain safe from any additional harm that could be avoided. I do hope that after reading this you will make a smart decision by choosing to continue to uphold the law in Texas to legalize capital punishment for heinous crimes. Your family could one day be affected by a terrible crime so think about what kind of justice you would want for your family!

Works cited

  1. Death Penalty Information Center. (2022). Facts about the death penalty.
  2. Regoli, N. (2021). Pros and cons of the death penalty. Criminal Justice Degree Hub.
  3. Stimson, G. (2020). How the death penalty saves lives. National Review.
  4. Amnesty International USA. (2021). Death penalty.
  5. Kaur, H. (2021). Capital punishment in the United States. Council on Foreign Relations.
  6. Schabas, W. A. (2013). The death penalty as cruel treatment and torture. Journal of International Criminal Justice, 11(1), 5–22.
  7. Ogletree, C. J., & Sarat, A. (2018). The handbook of the death penalty, Volume 1. Oxford University Press.
  8. Bessler, J. D. (2020). Cruel and unusual: The American death penalty and the founders' Eighth Amendment. Boston College Law Review, 61(1), 1-66.
  9. Baumgartner, F. R., De Boef, S. L., & Boydstun, A. E. (2011). The decline of the death penalty and the discovery of innocence. Cambridge University Press.
  10. Sunstein, C. R., & Vermeule, A. (2005). Is capital punishment morally required? The relevance of life‐life tradeoffs. Journal of Legal Studies, 34(S2), S467-S503.

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