Deserving to Die Essay

Deserving to Die Essay

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Robert Lee makes many arguments to argue justification of capital punishment in his article, “Deserving to Die.” Some of the stronger ones involve the deterrent effect of the use of the death penalty, why the cost of execution is so high, and how the use of the death penalty increases overall public safety. In Lee’s first argument, he argues that the use of capital punishment helps reduce overall crime by acting as a deterrent to crime. In at least one respect, capital punishment is unquestionably a deterrent, as Lee puts it, “It simply cannot be contested that a killer, once executed, is forever deterred from killing again” (142). Of course, a deceased killer can never kill again, but the effect that death penalty has on others, potential future criminals, is the important question. Lee argues that whether or not it is a deterrent, relies on how swiftly and surely the death penalty is executed. The majority of people are afraid of dying, and if they could choose, would prefer not to die anytime soon. This proves how the death penalty can be a deterrent to other potential criminals to not kill someone, out of fear that they will be put to death themselves. There have also been some circumstances where actual statistical evidence proves the deterrent effect of capital punishment. In the time since the Utah Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that capital punishment be legalized again in the state, there have been three executions. After each of the executions, specifically the year after the executions took place, there were significant decreases in both the number and the rate of murders within the state, compared to previous year(s) (Lee 143). Lee himself does acknowledge that of course there are other variables that could have influence...


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...bvious propositions—e.g., that a heavy ball will fall faster if dropped from the Leaning Tower of Pisa than a light one [would]—are actually false” (150). Freedman also lists some empirical statistics that further prove his point that it does not necessarily deter crime, including that, “Eighteen of the 20 states with the highest murder rates have and use the death penalty,” and that, “of the nation’s 20 big cities with the highest murder rates, 17 are in death penalty jurisdictions” (151). He also points out, among other statistics and claims, that, while this deterrent effect of capital punishment is “…perhaps the single most studied issue in the social science, The results are as unanimous as scholarly studies can be in finding the death penalty not to be a deterrent” (emphasis added) (151). These statistics mostly speak for themselves and are very surprising.

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