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Essay/Term paper: Capital punishment: pro

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Politics

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Capital Punishment: Pro

Capital Punishment deters murder, and is just Retribution Capital punishment, is
the execution of criminals by the state, for committing crimes, regarded so
heinous, that this is the only acceptable punishment. Capital punishment does
not only lower the murder rate, but it's value as retribution alone is a good
reason for handing out death sentences. Support for the death penalty in the U.S.
has risen to an average of 80% according to an article written by Richard
Worsnop, entitled "Death penalty debate centres on Retribution", this figure is
slightly lower in Canada where support for the death penalty is at 72% of the
population over 18 years of age, as stated in article by Kirk Makir, in the
March 26, 1987 edition of the Globe and Mail, titled "B.C. MPs split on Death

The death penalty deters murder by putting the fear of death into would be
killers. A person is less likely to do something, if he or she thinks that harm
will come to him. Another way the death penalty deters murder, is the fact that
if the killer is dead, he will not be able to kill again.

Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should be punished for
their crimes, and that it does not matter whether it will deter the crime rate.
Supporters of the death penalty are in favour of making examples out of
offenders, and that the threat of death will be enough to deter the crime rate,
but the crime rate is irrelevant.

According to Isaac Ehrlich's study, published on April 16, 1976, eight murders
are deterred for each execution that is carried out in the U.S.A. He goes on to
say, "If one execution of a guilty capital murderer deters the murder of one
innocent life, the execution is justified." To most supporters of the death
penalty, like Ehrlich, if even 1 life is saved, for countless executions of the
guilty, it is a good reason for the death penalty. The theory that society
engages in murder when executing the guilty, is considered invalid by most
supporters, including Ehrlich. He feels that execution of convicted offenders
expresses the great value society places on innocent life.

Isaac Ehrlich goes on to state that racism is also a point used by death penalty
advocates. We will use the U.S. as examples, since we can not look at the
inmates on death row in Canada, because their are laws in Canada that state that
crime statistics can not be based on race, also the fact that there are no
inmates on death row in Canada. In the U.S. 16 out of 1000 whites arrested for
murder are sentenced to death, while 12 of 1000 blacks arrested for murder were
sentenced to death. 1.1% of black inmates on death row were executed, while 1.7%
of white inmates will die.

Another cry for racism, as according to Ehrlich, that is raised by advocates of
the death penalty is based on the colour of the victim, for example "if the
victim is white, it is more likely that the offender will get the death penalty
than if the victim had been black". This is true, if you look at the actual
number of people who are murder. More people kill whites and get the death
penalty, then people who kill blacks and get the death penalty. The reason for
this is that more whites are killed, and the murders captured. Now if we look at
the number of blacks killed it is a lot less, but you have to look at these
numbers proportionately. Percent wise it is almost the same number for any race,
so this is not the issue.

In a 1986 study done by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the University of North
Carolina, the conclusions made by Ehrilich were updated, and showed to be a
little on the low side as far as the deterrence factor of capital punishment.
Professor Layson found that 18 murders were deterred by each execution is the
U.S. He also found that executions increases in probability of arrest,
conviction, and other executions of heinous offenders.

According to a statement issued by George C. Smith, Director of Litigation,
Washington Legal Foundation, titled "In Support of the Death Penalty", support
for the death penalty has grown in the U.S., as the crime rate increased. In
1966, 42% of Americans were in favour of capital punishment while 47% were
opposed to it. Since the crime rate United states has increased, support for the
capital punishment has followed suit. In 1986, support for capital punishment
was 80% for and only 17% against with 3% undecided, but most of the undecided
votes said they were leaning toward a pro capital punishment stance, if they had
to vote on it immediately.

Let us now focus on Canada. The last two people to be executed, in Canada were
Arthur Lucas and Ron Turpin. They were executed on December 11, 1962. The
executions in Canada were carried out by hanging. 1

The death penalty was abolished in Canada in the latter part of 1976, after a
debate that lasted 98 hours. The death penalty was only beaten by 6 votes. If we
look back to 1976, the year the death penalty was abolished in Canada, threats
of death, were being made to Members of Parliament and their immediate families
from pro death penalty advocates. Most members of parliament, voted on their own
personal feelings, as opposed to the views of their voters.2

The same was the case in British Colombia, where accepting of the death penalty,
if it was reinstated 1987 , by the federal government was discussed. The M.P.s
were split, 17 out of 29 were for the death penalty. This showed, that even the
majority of the M.P.s were in favour of the death penalty in B.C. Support for
the death penalty in British Columbia at the time was almost 70%, but the M.P.s
felt that it was up to them to vote how they felt was right, and not to vote on
which vote would give them the best chance for a second term.3

In 1987, the Progressive Conservative government wanted to hold a free vote on
the reinstatement of Capital punishment, but Justice minister Ray Hnatyshyn, who
was opposed to it, pressured the M.P.s, into voted against the bill. Ray
Hnatyshyn, was the deciding factor, if not for him, it was widely believed that
the reinstatement of capital punishment would have gone through, and the death
penalty would be a reality today.4

Capital punishment is such a volatile issue, and both sides are so deeply rooted
in their views that they are willing to do almost anything to sway all of the
people they can to their side.

We personally feel, and our views are backed up by proof, in the form of studies
by the likes of Isaac Ehrlich's 1975 and Prof. Stephen K. Layson's, that was
published in 1986, and polls that have been taken both in Canada and the United
States over the past few years. All of these studies and surveys show that
capital punishment is a valid deterrent to crime, and obviously the public, and
society as a whole are in favour of it. The death penalty makes would be capital
offenders think about weather committing a crime is really worth their lives.
Even if capital punishment did not deter crime, the simple fact that it will
allow society to "get even" with murders. Capital punishment also insures peace
of mind because it insures that murders will never kill again.

1 From: Take Notice, (Copp Clarke Pitman Ltd., 1979) page 163

2 From: Article written by David Vienneau published in the March 24, 1987
edition of the "Toronto Star", titled, Debate Agonizing for MPs.

3 From: Article written by Kirk Makir, published in March 26, 1987 edition of
the "Globe and Mail", titled, BC MPs Split on Death Penalty Debate.

4 From: Article written by Hugh Winsor, published in April 29, 1987 edition of
the "Globe and Mail", titled, Debate on Death Penalty placed on hold.


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