Capital Punishment Essay - Death Penalty as a Deterrent to Crime

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The Death Penalty as a Deterrent to Crime

Brutally murdered by a man no one would have suspected, an innocent twelve-year old girl was taken from her mother. Although, this poor girl's mother was stricken with grief and anger, she did not wish for this murderer to die for her own sake, but to protect other innocent girls like her own. She sat and watched, staring into the eyes of the man who had killed her daughter. She watched as they inserted the needle containing the fluid that would take his life.

Is it morally unjust to execute criminals after they have committed a certain horrific crime upon another innocent victim? Until mid-twentieth century, this had been the tradition of practice, dating back to ancient times. In the United States especially, capital punishment is a hot topic of discussion and controversy. It is a difficult issue with many different points of view. Some are pro death penalty, others against the death penalty, and yet others with mixed feelings. So many different questions originate when the topic of the death penalty arises. Some of these are cost, sentencing equality, religious beliefs, the possibility of executing the innocent, and deterrence. These are just a few of the heated issues to consider. The death penalty is deterring crime, showing that individuals in the United States will be held responsible for their actions.

Some of the first death penalty laws can be dated as far back as the Eighteenth Century. This was a time when death was the only punishment for all crimes. These death sentences were done by means of beheading, drowning, beating to death, and burning alive, among others. From 1823 to 1837, the death penalty was eliminated, in Britain, for over 100 of the 222 crimes punishable by death. In 1967, after many legal challenges through the courts, executions were stopped in the United States. Finally, the Supreme Court placed a suspension on capital punishment in 1972, although later allowed it in 1977, under certain conditions (Changes).

Cost plays a major role in the death penalty. Opposing views say that it is far more expensive to execute someone than to give them life without parole. On the other hand, many others disagree. It has been estimated that life without parole cases will cost 1.2 million to 3.6 million dollars more than that equivalent to using the death penalty. On average, a life without parole sentence lasts thirty to forty years, while the annual cost of imprisonment is 40,000 to 50,000 dollars for each prisoner or more, each year (Lowe).

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