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Essay/Term paper: The death penalty

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities Essays

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Some people are for the death penalty, and some are not. I hope after reading my essay you will have a better understanding of what the death penalty is and how it works, and maybe you too will change your views and ideas about the death penalty as I did. The earliest historical records contain evidence of capital punishment. A Babylonian King, Hammurabi that lived in the first half of the 18th century BC mentioned the death penalty in the code of Hammurabi, (a collection of laws and edicts). Many Bibles such as the Youth Walk Devotional Bible, mention death for the penalty for many different crimes, ranging from murder (Exodus 21:12 "Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.") to fornication (Deuteronomy 22:22, "If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die.") In the 11th century AD, the death penalty was not used in England, but torture and interrogation were often used, but in many cases it ended in death. In America, before the Revolution, the death penalty was used for a variety of different crimes such as treason, murder, larceny, burglary, rape, and arson. African Americans were usually sentenced to death for small petty crimes that if a white person had committed they would have been punished less severely, if even at all. Effort to abolish the death penalty was fought for many years until the 18th century, in England and America, the Quakers led the reform movement. In 1847, a few countries such as Venezuela and Portugal began to abolish the death penalty, and started spreading all throughout the United States. The first known execution was in the United States, Daniel Frank from Virginia. Daniel Frank was put to death in 1622 for the crime of theft. Obviously, the death penalty has been used for many centuries. The question seems to be, is the death penalty really effective? A Fundamental question raised by the death penalty are whether the death penalty is really effective, or is it more effective than the alternative of long-term imprisonment. According to scientific studies, the studies have failed to show any evidence that the death penalty deters crime better than other punishments. The Bureau of Justices stated that the death penalty makes police officers and guards much safer, police officers and prison guards are not murdered as often in the U.S. states without the death penalty than in states where the death penalty exists. Is the death penalty just a punishment for homicide? Recent crime figures from abolitionist countries fail to show that abolition has harmful effects. Abolition is a term for the abolishing of the death penalty in countries that either do not have a death penalty for crime or extradition agreements with other countries. In Canada the homicide rate per 100,000 people fell from a peak of 3.09% in 1975, the year before the abolition of the death penalty for murder, to 2.41% in 1980, and since then it has remained relatively stable. In 1993, 17 years after abolition, the homicide rate was 2.19% per 100,000 people, 27% lower than in 1975. The FBI Uniform Crime Reports Division state that in the United States in 1995, states that have abolished the death penalty averaged 4.9 murders per 100,000 people while states still using the death penalty averaged 9.2 murders. These statistics emphasize that in absolutely no state has the number of murders diminished after legalizing the death penalty. If our states and countries are using the death penalty and believe its justice, why is it that more than half of the inmates on death row is of the black race? What kind of justice is that? The race and the crime seem to play a huge role in the determination of the sentencing. For example if a black male had stolen like a candy bar out of a store, and got 10 years, that proves its more than likely an issue of race than the crime. But also if a black man murders someone, the death penalty is probably going to be a sentence, and a sentence of justice in my opinion. In a lot of state death penalty cases, the race of the victim is much more important than the prior criminal record of the defendant, or the actual circumstances of the crime. A study by the Bureau of Justice stated that more than one-half of people the people on death row are of color. Race and the crime are a very important factor in determining who is going to be sentenced to die. Several studies have been shown that the role of race in the death penalty, they include a study in 1990, a report from the General Accounting Office that stated that in 82 of the cases reviewed the race of the victim was found to influence the punishment for the crime. A black man who kills a white person is 11 times more likely to receive a death sentence than if a white person kills a black stated John Monty of the Bureau of Justice. And of blacks, which kill blacks, they even have less to worry about; it's almost like saying, oh, well, he needed killing anyhow! In 1991, in Texas, blacks made up 12% of the population, but 48% of the prison population and 55.5% of those on death row are black says the death penalty information center. Since 1988, the federal government has reviewed 92 death penalty cases. Of these cases; 56 defendants were black, 11 were Hispanic, 5 were Asian, and 20 were Caucasian. From 1930 through 1989, 3,939 people were executed in the United States, and 54% of them were black. Since 1972, 82% of those executed were convicted of killing white people. Because of the issue of race and other factors, the death penalty is very controversial. Throughout history, the death penalty has always been controversial. Some people say that the death penalty brings justice to the victim or the victim's family, or it makes them feel at ease to know that the person who commits a horrible act of crime will get just punishment for what they did. A researcher from Florida, Don Cabana did a study of Year-by -Year Chart of Executions. When the people of Florida were asked whether they favor the death penalty or life without parole, the figure dropped to 70%, and then to 60% when restitution is added to the question. For the 15-year period in which California carried out an execution every other month (1952 to 1967), murder rates increased 10% annually, on average. Between 1967and 1991, when there were no executions in California, the murder rate increased 4.8% annually. The study also found that in a four-month period of time the average monthly number of homicides in California was 306. According to Richard Dieter it costs up to three times the amount to keep a prisoner on death row than it would be to keep them in prison for the rest of their lives. Capital cases cost at least 2.6 million more per execution in some states. The expense comes from the long drawn out appeals process that we are giving our criminals, and the court appointed attorneys that the poor are receiving. According to a Gallup poll in 1995, 77% favor the death penalty as a punishment for murder. However, if they are given the option of life imprisonment with no possibility of parole, then the things change a bit: only 50% would take the death penalty, while 32% would take the life imprisonment. The funny thing is that the more education you have, the less likely you are to support the death penalty: 50% of people surveyed who had post-graduate education favored the death penalty as opposed to 37% of the people who had no college education who favored it. There are people today that insist that the death penalty is immoral, that it is not fair, and two wrongs don't make a right. Well, all I can say is that the criminals who commit these terrible crimes should have thought of that before they murdered people! The death penalty is a good way of making sure that the people will never commit a crime again. It is obvious that a person who is dead can not be a repeat offender. Some people might say that no one is ever completely beyond rehabilitation. But if that were true, then why do we have life imprisonment? Those people's argument doesn't work. Because if it did, why would they say that life imprisonment is an alternative to the death penalty? Obviously, you can't favor rehabilitation and still argue that life imprisonment is a good substitute for the death penalty. Expense is another important issue to think of in relation to the death penalty. What is more expensive: putting someone in prison for life and paying for food, health care, and lodging? Or simply executing the individual? Obviously, it's less expensive to execute them. Taxpayers should not have to pay for those individuals who have violated all of society's moral and legal standards. In a 1982 study in New York, the study found that the average murder trial and the first stage of appeal cost taxpayers $1.8 million. Of course, any discussion of the death penalty would be incomplete without bringing up the issue of justice or retribution. One of the important functions of sentencing is retribution: the guilty have to pay their debt to society. Well, when someone has committed the worst offense possible, obviously, they have a very large debt! In many cases, the only way that this debt can be paid is if the individual is executed. This is the only way that the victim's family can obtain peace. Who would be content knowing that the person who murdered their relative was still alive and well? And that they themselves were paying for this person's upkeep through their own taxes? There are many different kinds of ways of executing a criminal. There are many different methods to kill someone that is sentenced to be put to death. Many of these methods are very cruel and barbaric. Now many of these methods are illegal in most states and countries, here are a few of the methods of executing a person sentenced to death; crucifixion, boiling in oil, drawing and quartering (cut into four pieces), impalement (to pierce with a sharpened stake), tearing asunder (to tear into pieces), stoning, and drowning. In the United states, the death penalty is currently authorized in one of five ways: hanging (the traditional method of execution throughout the English-speaking world), electrocution (introduced by New York State in 1890), the gas chamber (adopted in Nevada in 1923), firing squad, or lethal injection (introduced in 1977 by Oklahoma). The majority of states provide for death by lethal injection. In most nations that still retain the death penalty for some crimes, hanging or the firing squad is the preferred methods of execution. In some countries that adhere strictly to the traditional practices of Islam, beheading or stoning are still occasionally used as punishment. Some states that use lethal injection as punishment for the death penalty are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, Tennessee, Oregon and New Mexico. States that are using Electrocution as a punishment are; Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma. States that are using the gas chamber are Arizona, California, Maryland, Missouri and Wyoming. States that use hanging as a method are Delaware, New Hampshire, and Washington. States that still use the firing squad are Idaho, Oklahoma, and Utah. As long as the death penalty is maintained, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated. Studies show that in this century, at least 400 innocent people have been convicted of capital crimes they did not commit. Of those 400, 23 were executed. In my opinion, the wrongful execution of an innocent person is an injustice that can never be rectified. Between 1973 and 1993, at least 48 people on death row were released after they were found to be innocent. A man and a woman who served four years for a 1990 strangling were released from prison on November 27, 1995. Laverne Paclinac, 62, and her former boyfriend, John Sosnovske, 42, went free for two months after Keith Hunter Jesperson confessed to the strangling of Taunja Bennett. Jesperson was nicknamed the Happy Face Killer for the smiley faces he drew on the letters claiming responsibility for eight murders. Pavlinac had told police she helped her boyfriend kill Bennett and dispose of her body. But at her trial, Pavlinac said that she had lied in attempt to get away from her abusive boyfriend, Sosnovske. She was convicted anyway and sentenced to life in prison after jurors heard her taped confession. Sosnovske pleaded no contest to murder to avoid the death penalty and also got life. See some people are for the death penalty and some are not. I know I changed my ideas about the death penalty. The death penalty has been around for many many centuries. Even though we use the death penalty do we even know it is effective? And there are many issues concerning the death penalty, such as race. Race and crime play a huge role in determination of the punishment of the criminal. And whose to say the death penalty is good or bad through out history the death penalty issue has been extremely controversial. Lastly what about the innocent people that are put to death? See some people are for the death penalty and some are not. I know I changed my views and ideas on the death penalty, I hope you did to. I used to be in favor of the death penalty, but after research and reflection, I have changed my views. I realized that the only reason I supported the death penalty was to assuage my anger and need for vengeance towards criminals. As it stands now quite a few states still have the death penalty, and it acts as a consequence for only the most hanus murder crimes. Do we have the right to sentence people to death for murder? If you believe in an eye for an eye theory, then yes. However, it's a rather hypocritical idea. For the crime of murder, our society tries to show how wrong it is by murdering the murderer. If it's against the law, then why does the government have permission? God knows what a person had done and will do. He in His own righteousness will take care of them during or after life. Are we really that egotistical as a society to believe that we have the right to do God's work and punish a person with death? Also, how many people have to die and be put to death for a crime they didn't commit? I just don't think that the death penalty is right. But yes, I do think that there are curtain circumstances. Like for child molesters or people who murder children or families, I think really it depends on the case. Because why should we let a guy/girl go just so they can go out and kill again, and sit there and say, oh, let Go deal with it. So in my opinion it goes both ways. The big concern I have is killing the innocent. In a way I changed my views on the death penalty and in a way I didn't. I think what really help me is that I am now more educated and know more about something I thought I knew about, but now I come to find, I knew nothing about the death penalty. 

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