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Essay/Term paper: Capital pannishment

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Philosophy

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The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has endured

for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and

complicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the

Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the Dahmers

and Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous barbaric

acts of these individuals and other killers, by taking away their

lives to function and perform in our society. At the same time, we

must insure that innocent people such as Marshall and Millgard are

never convicted or sentenced to death for a crime that they did not


Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of

deterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per-

capita basis in countries or states that do have it, then those

that do not. In order for capital punishment to work as a

deterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal's mind

prior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware that

others have been punished in the past for the offence that he or

she is planning, and that what happened to another individual who

committed this offence, can also happen to me.

But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from

auto theft to 1st-Degree Murder, never take into account the

consequences of their actions. Deterrence to crime, is rooted in

the individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set of

conduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they

will and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made or

be broken by friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. An

individual who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child,

will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do,

until they have learned it themselves. Therefore, capital

punishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of human

nature to ignore practised advice and to self learn.

There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itself

a form of vengeance on the killer. But isn't locking up a human

being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself? And is it

"humane" that an individual who took the life of another, should

receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3 meals a day, while a

homeless person who has harmed no one receives nothing? Adversaries

of capital punishment claim that it is far more humane then having

the state take away the life of the individual.

In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender,

was scheduled to hang. But just days before his execution, the then

Liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted McCorkell to life in


Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and

convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenessee

boy. He was sentanced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leaving

Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the attempted murder of an

11-year old boy.

What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in

1963, two boys would never have had to have gone through the horror

of being sexually abused. These individuals may themselves become

sex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused as


McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in the

past, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do this

once, he killed two boys, and assaulted two others, leaving one for

dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this man

have to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children, what will he

do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a life would

the state have been taking away in this case? An innocent life? A

forgiving life? No, a life that was beyond the realm of reform, and

did not care to be.

We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, even

when suspicion may cause considerable doubt, send an innocent

person to be executed. It could have happened to David Millgard, it

could have happened to Donald Marshall. It probably has even

occured numerous times in the history of the earth. But with proper

police investigations, and where the evidence shows that the

individual is a threat to the peace of society as long as he or she

is alive, capital punishment must be used.


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