Free The Death Penalty Argumentative Essay Sample

Published: 2021-06-18 06:30:36
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The death penalty is the oldest form of punishment that humankind has known. It has been changed over the years by advanced societies to lose its barbaric outlook and bear resemblance towards a civilized approach to deter violent crimes. Yet in recent times, studies have indicated that this form of punishment cannot provide valid justification for its existence within the criminal justice system for want of purpose. Our nation has witnessed several wrongful death sentences and some of these unfortunate people were exonerated posthumously. This nation’s laws were founded based on the natural law and did not copy those followed by colonial Britain after independence. We have changed from a crime fighting nation to a crime prevention culture. Our law enforcement is in its community era and has succeeded in preventing crime effectively. The declining crime rates are an indication to its success. The death penalty, despite its frightful reputation has no place in this advanced society.
The death penalty is the most widely used maximum punishment in the history of our nation. The first death penalty was conducted in 1608 during the British Colonial era. The early criminologists believed that public hanging was potentially a critical deterrent for heinous crimes. Hence many of the crimes carried the capital punishment. However, the punishment never lived up to the expectation. If not for, it even increased the homicide rates in states that rigorously enforced the capital punishment (CNN, “Death penalty facts that may surprise you”). Punishment in any criminal justice system is not only for the offender to regret the offense, it is also to ensure that others do not follow suit. The punishment for crimes are not intended as acts of vengeance. However, criminology studies have advanced immensely in the last few decades and the perception of crime deterrence has changed.
There have been lobbyists for both in support and against the death penalty throughout the debating period. The idea of letting killers live or even releasing them back into the society is unthinkable in the minds of the victims. Yet, there are several killers who have turned their lives around while in prison. The Son of Sam, preaches the Bible in prison these days and the world’s youngest child killer is living peacefully with her daughter and granddaughter. There are many more who can be added to the list. Although there are thirty-two states that still use the capital punishment in our country, these are also states that have the highest homicide rates. There are several nations that have abolished the death penalty and lowered the homicide rate. This is due to the reduction in avoidable homicides.
Criminology is about why criminal commit crimes and how their mind operates during the commissioning of a crime. If a certain state punishes drug dealing with death, the number of deaths in possible informants or witnesses will increase the death penalty is at stake. A criminal looks to commit a crime to benefit from it in some way. Allowing a witness or possible informant to live might only complicate the situation; hence, killing becomes necessary. In the absence of such a sentence, the chance for the intended victim to survive is increased substantially. Capital punishment is no longer an effective punishment.
Several flaws have also been revealed since the advent of DNA evidence in the mid-1980s. There have been at least 300 exonerations due to DNA evidence testing (Amnesty International USA Staff. “Know the Facts About Capital Punishment”). Moreover, the chinks in the process of police investigations have also been exposed. The Reid technique used by several police departments has the potential to emotionally wear out suspects and elicit confessions even if the person was innocent. In some cases like the Norfolk Four, the DNA evidence was ignored. Furthermore the jury based justice system cannot afford to offer capital punishment even for suspected serial killers since juries can rule based on emotion and not necessarily facts. This was the case in the James Bain trial; the defendant spent 35 years in prison before he was exonerated. Hence the capital punishment can potentially harm the society by killing innocent people. Furthermore, prosecution misconduct rates as the highest ranking reason for wrongful convictions. Hence, it is not conducive or justified in sentencing people to death irrespective of the charges.
The context of the paper is the case of the death penalty. Should America continue with this punishment or should this type of punishment be completely abolished? What would we gain from the abolishment for the criminal justice system? What would society gain? These are questions that arise from an anxious public that may or may not feel comfortable with the idea of letting killers or serial rapists to live indefinitely in the state’s care with the taxpayer’s money. Is the abolition proposal justified when we consider victims or their families? We also need to look at what the world has to say regarding this form of punishment. Are we undertaking a similar punishment that ISIS is using on captured soldiers, pilots and aid workers? Is this really the way forward. Even countries like China and third world countries now have laws that restrain judges from sentencing defendants to death unless the crime is unusually gory.
We are a nation that champions human rights across the globe. How should we approach this particular problem? We already suffered heavily for sentencing and killing juvenile defendants well into the present times before it was abolished. However, there are judges who still sentence adolescent defendants to death. Does the capital punishment curb certain crimes? The answer is an overwhelming ‘no’. If this sentence was effective, we should have been rid of murderers, gang offenders, drug dealers, serial rapists and child molesters a long time back. Yet, we deal with the same problems and the murder rates seem to have multiplied.
The most effective deterrent to crimes such as rape and murder is the swift closure of the case with the actual defendant. If the prosecution is successful in allowing an innocent person to become the recipient of the death penalty, it will only increase the resolve of the real killer. Imagine if the prosecutor depended on misconduct and fraud to get convictions; how would this affect the murder rate in that district? The system is flawed from the police who question the defendant, the forensic lab expert, the prosecutor and the jury. The judge is no better since the person was a former prosecutor who probably practiced the same protocols earlier in his/her career. The cost of legal battles when a death penalty is pronounced is enormous.
The cost doesn’t end with the sentencing of the defendant; it begins to spiral further in a string of appeals that the defendant’s attorneys would pursue. In addition with the advent of initiatives such as the Innocence Project, the appeals and subsequent re-trials end in acquittals at least for four percent of the cases. The exonerated will ensue in another set of lawsuits that usually result in damages worth millions of dollars. Moreover, the real perpetrator needs to be caught and launching the case again brings in additional cost. This cost is substantially higher even if the sentenced individual stays in prison for sixty years.
The main goal for punishments within the criminal justice system involves two key elements. One part for the defendant to pay a price for the crime the second part to deter the others from committing such crimes. It has been three decades since Theodore Robert Bundy was executed. Do we not have serial killers who sexually abuse their victims anymore? In fact, several other monsters emerged after his execution. This sentence has outgrown its usefulness as society has advanced. It will no longer serve as a deterrent for psychopaths or any individual who wants to commit criminal acts that attract the death penalty. It immortalizes them instead and creates several more who want to try their luck; killers like the I-5 killer are examples of this behavior (Guernsey, “Death Penalty: Fair Solution Or Moral Failure?”).
Embracing change is not easy and a punishment that has taken several infamous criminals to their grave is not likely to be shown the door anytime in the near future. The death penalty has been the biggest bargaining element for prosecutors when the case reaches a stalemate. It is not easy to give up such a powerful aspect of convicting a dangerous criminal. In addition, the death penalty has deterred common citizens from committing heinous crimes due to the advancements in forensic technology. These advancements allow law enforcement the opportunity to catch and convict the actual killer.
The most important factor in any criminal case is the impact on the victim and other potential victims. The justice department has been working several new strategies for deploying community imprisonment plans to reduce the cost of imprisonment. If such practices were made available to dangerous predators, would the victim or others who fit the profile of the victim feel safe? In a reality scenario, can we be comfortable in Gary Ridgeway living in the neighborhood based on the community incarceration program? How would our women feel about it? Would this move reduce violence against women or even prevent homicide? The scenario is not unrealistic. Not so long ago, we fought a war on drugs and yet it is legal to trade drugs in Colorado now. How long before the homicidal decide to use loopholes in the law to roam freely to kill more people? Many serial killers were convicted previously for lesser charges including assault and even attempted rape. Letting them out did not help the society at all. Hence, the abolishing of the death penalty cannot be fathomed when there is no available retribution for mindless killings.
The crime rate in the United States has steadily declined in the last two decades. Only violent crimes such as homicide and serial killings are still on the rise. Clearly, the capital punishment has been ineffective. Yet, the other lesser charges that involved community corrections or short term jail sentences have declined (Garland, McGowen and Meranze, “America's Death Penalty: Between Past and Present”). Hence, the correctional techniques should be gauged on data that was conceived in the present decade rather than the comparison of how an infamous serial killer might have coped up with community corrections. Bargaining chips were also used to procure convictions for innocent people. The capital punishment should not be used as a bargaining tool since it only reflects the desperation to close the case rather than apprehending the actual criminal. The only states that have achieved lower levels in homicide rates are those without the death penalty and the ones that closed cases promptly by apprehending the actual perpetrator. One out of every ten people on death row is innocent. How do we indiscriminately kill these people when we know that a good number of them could be innocent?
Society today is not overtly out for vengeance. The perspectives have changed. For example, in the 1910s till the 1980s, any shark attack would prompt immediate culling of sharks. Today, even the victims or victims’ families do not bay for the shark’s blood in return. This is the case in situations that influence our primal fear of being eaten alive. How much more would the society have changed when it comes to killing another human being when they know that another family would be subject to the same pain that they had just experienced? Society today is interested in rehabilitation and not revenge. Embracing change is the way of life today. We no longer wait in lines to pay bills; we purchase everything on the internet. Similarly, the American society is not looking for a barbaric way to say that someone was wrong.
There were several forms of punishments that we have rendered obsolete on account of the brutality involved including burning at stake, death by firing squad and public hanging. Similarly, it is time to remove the death penalty or to reserve it for the rarest of cases. The punishment has lost its crime fighting abilities and also lost its place with the society. Moreover, the criminal justice system is not free of malpractice or misconduct on any level. How can we risk killing innocent people? In addition we have juries to decide the guilt of defendants (McElwee, “It's Time to Abolish the Death Penalty”). Juries have been known to base their decisions based on the emotions of the victim than the hard evidence that is presented. A punishment that suffers the innocent, does not deter crime and is used by prosecutors/police interrogators to coerce false confessions has no place in the present day’s American society.
Works Cited
Amnesty International USA Staff. Know the Facts About Capital Punishment. Web. Accessed on 17 May 17, 2015.
McElwee, Sean. It's Time to Abolish the Death Penalty. Web. Accessed on 17 May 17, 2015.
CNN Staff. Death penalty facts that may surprise you. Web. Accessed on 17 May 17, 2015.
Garland, David, McGowen, Randall and Meranze, Michael. America's Death Penalty: Between Past and Present. New York, NY. New York University Press. 2011. Print.
Guernsey, JoAnn Bren. Death Penalty: Fair Solution Or Moral Failure? New York, NY. Twenty-First Century Books. 2009. Print.

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