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Life Imprisonment Vs Death Penalty: is There a Right Solution?

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The death penalty has been a very controversial issue since the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutionally permissible in 1976. Although as a country America has been practicing capital punishment (the death penalty) for centuries, it has never been a hundred percent approved of. The questions that are debated are which punishment method should be used when a brutal murder has been committed and under which circumstances should the death penalty be considered, if at all. Many agree that by sentencing murderers with a death sentence, death is deserved for the gruesomeness they have perpetrated to another human being. Others believe that the death penalty is not the way to teach criminals to stop violence. They believe that a death resulting from a death has no effect on society, just another life taken and another family left in mourning. I personally believe that the death penalty is not the best sentencing and should be avoided, but I do believe that in extreme cases the death penalty should be justifiable.

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Those in favor of execution as a punishment for people who commit crimes think of the death penalty as a deterrent, a discouragement to repeat the same behavior by fear. Each human is able to control their own destiny be it good or bad and therefore the death penalty is looked at as a sort of moral code. In fact many think the death penalty makes it possible for justice to be done to those who commit the worst of all crimes. The execution of a murderer sends a powerful moral message: that the innocent life he took was so precious, and the crime he committed so horrific, that he forfeits his own right to remain alive. So life imprisonment vs death penalty?

By approving of this, one is hoping for a dramatic drop in violent crime. Being pro death penalty you strongly believe that no criminal should be let off “easy” for the death they committed. The governor of New York says “I supported the death penalty because of my firm conviction that it would act as a significant deterrent and provide a true measure of justice to murder victims and their loved ones”. By easy they often mean rehabilitation, the chance of parole, or what some would consider the “luxury” of serving time, paid for by tax payers, in a prison where they are allowed to bond with other criminals, watch television, and or participate in recreational activities outside of their cell. The death penalty is a console and closure for families who suffer from the unlawful decisions of the offender.

Anti death penalty questions: What about the family of the wrongdoer? Do two wrongs really make a right or are we justifying that living in an eye for an eye society is the appropriate way to live, and if that’s the case wouldn’t death have to be assigned to every killer regardless of the circumstance to be just? Is there even such a thing as a just killing? All of these do have answers that should be considered when taking a position on death sentences.

The family of the criminal is ceased to be thought of when the death penalty is sentenced due to the choices the criminal chose to do. Two wrongs don’t make a right. In fact studies show the inconsistency of crime rates over the years in states with and without the death penalty. Giving someone life in prison or death has no correlation with homicides. According to the New York Times, “Indeed, 10 of the 12 states without capital punishment have homicide rates below the average, Federal Bureau of Investigation data shows, while half the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above the national average. In a state-by-state analysis, The Times found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 percent to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty.”

An eye for an eye society is what in American history many of our ancestors fought. Our ancestors encouraged jail so that one could be tried fairly and then punished to confinement in a cell to think about their wrong doings. They wanted one to rot or to potentially change rather than taking the easy and cruel way out, losing their life. A lot of anti death penaltists worry and fear the execution of innocent beings due to mistrial, sloppy police work, or false information. Many accused criminals have been released from death row showing the errors that has and could be made in execution cases. But when speaking of death penalties, even for the vilest of murders, it is considered cruel and unusual punishment. The protection of cruel and unusual punishment is the eighth amendment in the United States Bill of Rights, a legal document that entitles rights and protection to every human by guaranteeing equality and justice. You can’t punish one killer over the other if your arguing killing is wrong, because no matter the situation a death was at a beings hand. What about the physicians who kill each criminal? Are they not killing as well? Therefore, if we went around killing everyone who killed someone as a deterrent how many deaths would be on the government’s hands? Then the question would be: are we protecting our country from murderers or are we silently becoming victims of tyranny, the cruel use of power?

Where is the line drawn between imprisonment and death? Other than deterrence there is no other reason why someone’s life should be taken instead of giving them jail time or life without parole. I understand that if I was the victim’s family I would want the killer to die on behalf of my loved one because when you’re grieving it seems like the only fair response. As a member of society I would also fear that my safety is in jeopardy, knowing that a vicious killer will be eligible to release from prison in fifteen to forty years with good behavior if given parole or just a sentence. However, the average price to execute someone through intravenous lethal medicines, the cost of double the court fees, lawyers, and the process all come to a total sum of two million dollars. Two million dollars is spent to kill one human for taking another human being’s life.

“Defense lawyers and prosecutors spend far more time on a capital case than a noncapital one. It takes longer to pick a jury, longer for the state to present its case and longer for the defense to put on its witnesses. There are also considerably greater expenses for expert witnesses, including psychologists and, these days, DNA experts.”

That is a great amount of money which could be invested in community projects to stop the violence, not to demonstrate why it shouldn’t be done. Many crimes are committed by impulse, consequences are not thought of frequently or at least enough to stop someone from doing their crime at the moment they feel it needs to be done. A prosecutor and judge for thirty plus years, Mr. O’Hair, states “Most homicides are impulsive actions, crimes of passion, in which the killers do not consider the consequences of what they are doing”.

Race and ones social and economic status is a topic brought up in many major issue. It has been noted that over fifty percent of death row inmates are African American males and then the Hispanic culture takes over the next large proportion. These cultural populations that majorly cannot afford the best representation and are often put in positions where life or death is the only outcome. In no way are African Americans or Hispanics, or any race for that matter entitled to take the life of anyone, but given the race and economic facts, it is proclaimed that the government are targeting the minority groups. “It is rare for a wealthy white man to get executed, if it happens at all,” says Mr. E. Michael McCann, a thirty two year district attorney vet in the state of Wisconsin.

My take on the death penalty is in between. I feel that the death penalty is an expensive process that does more harm than good and should not be considered unless a massive murder spree of some sort has taken place. Only then, not for deterrence, will I believe it is for the safety of the citizens and inmates that their life be taken due to their repetition of violence, torture, and gruesomeness. To me, that is an acceptable circumstance for the government to intervene and announce them a threat to society. Their life in that situation would be the cost for their actions. I don’t feel that the death penalty is a form of racial discrimination. I just believe it points out the disproportion of killings that happen in minority communities. Many people feel very strongly about this controversial topic. Death Penalty campaigns have streamed worldwide on the internet, the news, newspapers, magazine articles, student essays, and more. Life in prison with no chance of parole has been granted a lot more over the past years. I say not because the court systems are becoming more lenient but because the death row waiting list has become so enormous. The cost, the time, and the effort required sways jurors, judges, and lawyers to choose imprisonment. The death penalty will always and forever be an issue no one comes to a one hundred percent agreiance on. Many take positions like I, somewhere in the middle. More and more people are starting to open their eyes and their mind on the subject and are voicing their opinions. Lives can be saved. Choose a side. 

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