The death penalty, also known as execution or capital punishment, is the sentence of death imposed by courts as punishment for a crime. People who receive the death penalty typically are convicted of murder and similar crimes like aggravated murder or a felony murder. State legislatures establish the death penalty and set forth the offenses that may be punished up to death. Although some people are against the death penalty, it is something that has been around for generations. Some people have argued and have been arguing over years that its inhumane, unethical, lacks morality, and so on. Just like there is those against the death penalty, there is those in favor of it and agree that it’s what every person deserves for their crimes.
The death penalty or even capital punishment has been used for years as a form method of crime deterrence since the earliest recorded history we have. Ancient civilizations utilized methods of punishing wrongdoers, including taking their lives to pay for the crimes they have committed. Almost most often murder warrants this ultimate form of punishment. “A life for a life” has been one of the most basic or simple concepts for dealing with crime(s) since the start of or known history. As European settlers came to “The New World”, the death penalty had come to America and in return have had brought the practice of capital punishment. Our first known execution that we know of was that of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in about 1608. It didn’t just start there or end there. According to Michael H Reggio’s article, “History of the Death Penalty”, he states that it has been recorded as early as 450 BC used by those of Jewish religion and even in the middle ages. There are multiple forms of the death penalty which they all result with the same outcome. We have all seen movies where the electric chair is shown as a form of the death penalty, but there are other forms such as lethal injection, electrocution, lethal gas, firing squad, and hanging. A well-known terrorist Saddam Hussein was publicly hung, in the Salem witch trials those accused were thrown off cliffs, drowned, and stoned. Even crucifixion was a meth of the death penalty known to be used by the Greeks and Romans centuries ago. We have seen this portrayed on the big screen many times.
Some people have argued over the years how unethical the death penalty is. These people that are against this argue that the U.S. death penalty system flagrantly violates the human rights law. It is often applied in a discriminatory manner without affording vital due to any process rights. Overall, methods of execution and even death row conditions have been condemned as a cruel, evil, degrading treatment and even torture, or inhumane from one person to another person. An eye for an eye is the phrase that is often heard when debating the death penalty and one we have heard in previous discussions in this course. I think this phrase is illogical. What it basically says is revenge is ok, and in my opinion, revenge is never ok. The bible states “Vengeance is mine, saith the lord, leave it unto me.” Jesus therefore is saying that taking revenge on someone, no matter what they have done, is wrong. Most religions usually agree with this. I am sure you can find it in yourself to agree that the attitude that agrees with revenge is an immoral attitude and, in some sense, ridiculous. If we start “getting back” at everyone who has done us wrong then we just become the animals feuding and hurting each other all the time. We are no better than the murderers and we are basically stopping down to their level. Rather than helping each other and making the world a much better place, we would destroy the world we love and live in. Execution for murderers, many of its proponents tend to say, is not revenge, it is justice. It is revenge and it is no better than pulling the hair of someone who took your pudding or took something from you. In fact, it is worst. At least when you pull someone’s hair you do not kill them. Some people in this sense forget what is the difference between justice and revenge, or maybe they have forgotten for whatever reason they have. Secondly, many proponents of the death penalty say that it brings a sense of peace to the victim’s family for their suffering. While this is true, it hurts the family of the murderer victims as well, and while the murderer obviously did something wrong, for the most part their family did not do anything wrong. It must be an awful feeling for the mother of a murderer to know that the child they raised purposefully killed another human. It would kill any person to know your family member took a life of another. Despite this you will always love them.
Family is family and no matter how awful they are you still love them until the end of time. You may not like them, but you may not approve of what they do but you still love them. To kill a murderer adds even more pain to the lives of the murderer’s family and friends. Unnecessary, a and unwanted pain. The comfort that the victim’s family gets from the execution is founded, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any less sick, any less wrong. As I said in the previous paragraph, revenge is immoral even it does give you a since of finality and comfort for the loss. Lastly, the death penalty is very inhumane. The 8th amendment of our U.S. constitution states clearly that “cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted” by the government. To me ending another human’s life prematurely is cruel and it certainly is something unnatural. You may say, “But the founding fathers said it was ok so it must not count as a type of cruel and unusual punishment.” The founding fathers also thought slavery was ok, but do you agree with them on that issue? Every human has a divine right to live and not worry about losing that life, just as every human has a right to freedom. It is a horrible tragedy to have any human desecrate that right, and it is even worse to have that right violated by the government in the name of the entire citizenry. Thomas Jefferson said that the three greatest rights we have are liberty, life, and the pursuit of happiness. Life is the first one he lists, for without a right to life all other rights are irrelevant.
To conclude, execution is wrong. It is wrong because it is revenge, inhumane, and punishment for the criminal’s family. You can call it whatever you want. Justice, execution, come upping’s, but it is at its core simply, murder. It is legal murder but murder just the same and therefore no better than any other cold-blooded murder. Holly Near said at one point “We kill people, who kill people, to show that killing people is wrong.’ This pretty much sums up the logic of the death penalty perfectly, or rather its lack of logic. So, the next time you hear of an execution remember their funeral bell isn’t just only ringing for you, it is ringing for all of us. Again, there are those in favor of the death penalty. In Stephen Nathanson’s article “An Eye for an Eye”, he states “whatever the criminal did to the victim must be done to the criminal”. We have to see both sides of the argument.
The primary question we have to ask our self when we question the death penalty is, “Is this fair?” In situations like this we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the victim’s family and in the shoes of the murderer’s family. Yes, it is inhumane but I personally have changed my decision overtime and agree that the death penalty should not be allowed or permitted, No one has the right to play god. If we look at things from a historical point of view, each generation of humanity has excelled due to working together. If we keep going against one another or taking lives, we will not be excelling in life. Part of what we do and why we do things is to set an example for the next upcoming generations.
In conclusion, we live in an amazing country where we have the right to choose as we please. The main objective in understanding how ethical the death penalty relies in understanding both sides of the arguments. Although, some people will be too hard headed and closed minded that they. Will choose ignore the facts. Not only that, the choices we make reflect our upbringing and our families. Ultimately, everyone will have their opinion and it is up to them.