For the longest time, there has been a raging debate about the issue of the death penalty. As of 2017, there are over 31 states in the United States that have administered the death penalty. The state of Texas is by far the most notorious in the number of people that have been sentenced to death. It accounts for over 38% of all the death penalty sentences that have been issued throughout the entire country with over 440 people killed. The stubborn debate concerning the death penalty mainly revolves around the morality and the effectiveness of the law in the administration of justice. There are people who hold the perception that the capital punishment law is barbaric and that no human being has the right to choose the fate of another human beings life based on his or her actions. On the other hand, there are those who maintain that the death penalty is an appropriate justice administration tool because it deters criminals from committing a serious crime and it serves as a fair ruling to appease the victims of serious crimes like murder. The main point of discussion, in this case, is if the death penalty is good and if so, then if it should be applied in all states in the United States. Even though the death penalty has some adverse effects, it is an appropriate law in administering justice against people who have committed serious crimes, and thus it should be applied in all states throughout the country.
Death Penalty Pros and Cons Debate
The primary reason behind the support for the death penalty is the morality behind its enactment. The United States justice system or any other justice system in the world have failed to come up with the right legislation regulations that can deter its people from committing serious crimes. According to Mooney and MeiHsien, most of the states that have so far failed to enact the capital punishment law because of the immense influence of public opinions (766). The state governments fail to see the appropriateness of this rule in deterring dangerous criminals from committing the worst crimes. The main purpose for the enactment of the capital punishment is for it to act as a filter that separates the worst offenders from normal offenders. However, people who have the relevant authority to introduce it in the states where it does not exist fail to do so because of political pressure. Mooney and MeiHsien insist that most politicians fear to instill this law because of the negative public image that they may create for themselves that may jeopardize their political careers.
There is no clear way to administer justice to the people who have participated in the most heinous of crimes apart from the capital punishment. Steiker and Jordan argue that the capital punishment is the only clear way to spate those who have killed numerous people and those who have mistakenly or willingly killed one person (355). It does not seem fair for a person who has committed one murder in mysterious circumstances to be given the same sentence as a person who has committed numerous murders in consistency. In this regard, it is fair and just for people who have committed serious crimes like numerous murders or rape to be given the death penalty.
The death penalty has some disciplinary powers that make it a viable option that should be available to all states throughout the country. According to Passell, the death penalty sentence is sufficiently effective in deterring people from committing a serious crime. There are various studies that were conducted to substantiate if the death penalty is indeed effective in deterring people from committing dangerous crimes like murder and rape. The statistics about serious crimes like murder and aggressive assault were evaluated in the states that have applied the death sentence. The statistics of states that have not applied the death sentence were also evaluated. A comparison between the two sets of data showed a notable difference in the number of murders and serious offenses committed in death penalty states and non-death penalties. Apparently, states that have instituted the death penalty had fewer murder crimes as compared to states that had not instituted the death penalty.
The disparity in the murder figures of the states included in the study was attributed to the deterrence effect that is imposed by the death penalty. The criminals who take part in the commission of serious crimes that lead to the death and infliction of pain on other people in the society are also humane. Human nature makes them prone to common emotional incapacities like fear. The thought of dying is a powerful factor that determines the sort of choices that an individual makes in his or her life. Therefore, if a criminal knows that his or her participation in a vile crime might lead to his or her death, then the criminal will be influenced to desist from participating in that crime. The key stakeholders that are responsible for the formulation and institutionalization of rules and regulations should be objective when deciding if the death sentence should be applied in all states in the country. If statistics have indeed proven that the death penalty is an effective countering measure against serious crimes, it should be applied to all states so that people living in states that have not yet applied the law can feel the benefits of reduced murder rates.
Ehrlich is famous for his attempt to statistically substantiate the existence of the deterrence effect in the capital punishment law (Ehrlich 417). He counters the arguments brought about by previous studies that insinuated that the capital punishment had no deterrence effect. The studies that lead to the premature conclusion of the lack of deterrence of this law were not credible since they had not conducted a formal survey and thus most of their assumptions were influenced by personal opinions. Ehrlich's study was based on a primal assumption that suggested that criminals just like normal human beings were influenced by incentives. An individual could only do a certain activity with the information that he or she will rip some benefits for the effort vested in the activity. Therefore, if a person deems a certain activity as not so rewarding, then the individual might not put in the effort to actualize that activity. On the other hand, if an individual finds it worthwhile to participate in that crime, then he or she will be influenced to actualize it. Ehrlich developed an unorthodox econometric model to measure the incentives that bring out the capital punishment's deterrence effect.
The study was completed by using an equation to compute the economic incentives that a criminal could derive from the commission of a serious crime that falls under the death penalty sentence. Ehrlich utilized a number of reliable variables to quantify the magnitude of incentives that criminals could derive by committing serious crimes in states whereby the capital punishment law is applicable. A comparison of the results between capital punishment states and no-capital punishment states reveals that criminals in capital punishment states were subject to lesser incentives and thus they were deterred from committing serious crimes. However, there are some concerns about Ehrlich's study. The study might not be entirely accurate because it was based on some questionable assumptions. Nonetheless, it provides a scientific approach to understanding the deterrence effect of the death penalty and why it should be uniformly applied across all territories that lie within the borders of the United States.
The other reason as to why the death penalty should be instituted in all states within the country is that it helps to console the family members and close friends of the victims killed by the perpetrators. It hurts enough to bear the information that a loved one has been heinously killed by another person without a valid reason. Most people can easily bear the pain of losing a loved one knowing that he or she died through a deadly illness or other natural means. However, it becomes extremely difficult to accept the death of a loved one who has been taken away from earth because of the conduct of another person. What can be even more painful is the thought that the person who took away the life of a loved one is serving the same sentence served by criminals with less heinous crimes. Kanwar believes that closure is critical for the affected family members on their road to emotional recovery (12). There are three main ways explored by Kanwar that can be effective in the provision of closure for the surviving members.
There are those who might regain closure by showing mercy on the criminal responsible for the death of their loved one. Secondly, there are those individuals who might get closure by exerting revenge on the person responsible for the death of their loved ones. Thirdly, there are those who might feel appeased when they see the perpetrator being locked for the rest of his or her life. The judicial system must ensure that the family members of the victims of murder receive justice. For those who might not find solace upon showing mercy towards the person who killed their family member, they are entitled to avenge revenge on the perpetrator through the constitutional provision of the death penalty. No person should be given the power to distort the lives of other people without suffering sufficient consequences. The penalty for killing another person or multiple people should also be death. The application of the death sentence across all state will ensure that every American citizen is subject to justice if he or she is affected by the committers of serious crimes like murder.
There are those who maintain that the death sentence is extremely vile and thus should not be applied in all states across the country. Additionally, some people feel that the death penalty should indeed be banned from all states in the country. Those who oppose this law base their argument upon the moral hypocrisy of the death sentence. It is of no essence to repay the commission of murder with murder. Quotes of the great Mahatma Gandhi are included in their argument. Gandhi once said that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. Therefore, the judicial systems that subject people to die are made up of people with the same animosity as the one possessed by the criminals who participate in deadly crimes (Bedau 24). The main purpose of the judicial system and the supporting correctional facilities is to rehabilitate people whose behavior has been deemed unfit for the wellbeing of the society. Killing a person because of his or her deeds does not rectify it instills fear. Schabas indicates that the death sentence should be abolished because there are chances that people who have been placed under that sentence might actually be innocent (14). For instance, Jesse Tafero was sentenced to die only for him to be found not guilty two years after his death.
In conclusion, the research conducted emphasizes the validity of the death sentence and why it should be applied in all states within the country. The death sentence has a deterrence effect that discourages people from participating in heinous crimes. States that have applied the capital punishment have experienced lower crime rates as compared to states that have not institutionalized this law. The capital punishment also acts as a sieve that filters the worst of the worst criminals from normal criminals. Some of the concerns raised about the death sentence include its moral hypocrisy and the chances of judicial errors. The benefits of the death sentence outweigh its demerits, and thus it should be applied in all states within the country.
Bedau, Hugo Adam, ed. The death penalty in America: Current controversies. Oxford University Press, 1998.
Ehrlich, Isaac. "The deterrent effect of capital punishment: A q...
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