Sample Criminal Justice Essay on Death Penalty

Death Penalty

Introduction

Philip Kayser claimed the United States government was losing the sense of delivering justice at a fast and worrying pace. This is because rapists, murderers, and other criminals are being sentenced to and facing the death penalty. He asserted that prisons and death penalty are not biblical forms of delivering justice. This is because the criminals incarcerated in jails mentor each other in attempts to improve their criminal behaviors and skills. As a result, prisons can be regarded neither as effective nor efficient in delivery of justice. This has led to debates seeking to justify the use of death penalty in punishing criminals (Phillip, 2011).

The embassy of the United States sought to find out if the death penalty is a form of harsh and capital punishment. The discussion provided was based on the United States federal government powers while imposing State laws, which further influence politics and the role of Supreme Court with regards to interpretation of the Constitution. The embassy affirmed that different States support the death penalty. This States include New Hampshire, California, Pennsylvania, and Kansas. Although they support the death penalty form of punishment, some have not or rarely use it (Richard, 2002). This discussion paper therefore seeks to argue that the death penalty is a favorable form of punishment. This is because it is a form of capital punishment encouraging reduction in crime rates across the country.

Types of Crime Warranting the Death Penalty

There are three forms of crimes that can be punished by applying the death penalty. The first form of crime involves discretion of the judicial system through the use of the phrase’ surely he/she shall die’. These crimes rely on the death penalty as the punishment incapacitates the convicted criminals ensuring they are not released based on good behavior only to commit more cruel and heinous crimes. Kauffman an assemblyman asserted that at least eight hundred and fifty murderers are convicted annually. Those who are jailed and released back to the society commit similar heinous crimes. Thus, the death penalty ensures the convicted murderers and rapists are severely punished and removed from the society protecting an equal or greater number of lives as the criminals can kill more than one victim (UNHR, 2012).

The second form of crime involves the courts and victims applying clemency of forgiveness through discretion of the judicial system. Although this form of crime does not advocate for death penalty, it is regarded as a contribution towards increase in capital crimes. This is because forgiving a murderer or rapist does not motivate or encourage him/her to change. Instead, it encourages them to commit more capital crimes as they hope and believe the victims or victims’ families will forgive them for committing painful, undignified, offensive, unethical, and violent actions. The last form of crime involves premeditated actions carried out by the criminal before inflicting pain and violence. Thus, a premeditated murder involves the victim and the courts failing to show any leniency, hence applying capital punishments. This form of crime therefore advocates for the death penalty as it guarantees the offenders will receive an equal punishment for the crime committed (UNHR, 2012).

Crime Rates versus Death Penalty

For a period exceeding three hundred years, organized communities relied on the death penalty to punish criminals and offenders. This ensured criminal acts, such as theft or robbery, street gangs, drug peddling, murder, and rape among other petty and serious forms of crime reduced. This however has changed as most global nations have prohibited use of death penalty in punishing criminals. Developed world and democratic nations believe the death penalty is too harsh and unbiblical. More so, it is regarded as a violation of human rights. For example, Phillip asserts the death penalty robs the criminals their rights to use the civil laws in prosecuting, restituting, or forgiving them as their lives are forcibly taken away prematurely. Thus, this is neither ethical nor biblical. Conversely, Richard Dieter asserts the death penalty has attributed to a social evolution through human sacrifice rituals in attempts to deliver delivery. Richard further asserts that, United States does not embrace the human rights concept while employing the death penalty punishment (Richard, 2002).

The first incidence seeking to abolish the death penalty dates back in 1867 in Venezuela and 1870 in Netherlands. Countries across the globe however continue to abolish application of the death penalty as they believe it violates basic human rights. They believe civilized citizens and global societies should not be denied the right and dignity of life. However, defining the death penalty based on issues related to human rights restricts its purpose. The purpose of the death penalty is t reduce crime rates. This is because crime rates are committed by citizens without civil, human, moral, and ethical principles. The criminals commit diverse forms of crime, which deny their victims’ the right to a dignified life. As a result, those arrested and charged with criminal behaviors warranting the death penalty should receive the capital punishment (David, 2012).

In United States, the government has lagged in its attempts to abolish the death penalty punishment. The government believes heinous crimes such as murder diminish victims’ legal powers. The perpetrators should therefore receive capital punishment through a death penalty. The United States Congress asserts that, the Constitution has allocated legislative powers over criminal laws across the fifty States. This provides the states with power and opportunity to repeal forms of capital punishment. More so, the Eight Amendment to United States Constitution affects Bill of Rights prohibiting federal governments from imposing capital punishments including the death penalty. In 2003, Hashem and Joanna asserted death penalty does not influence the rates at which capital crimes are committed (Hashem & Joanna, 2003).

The Eighth Amendment versus Death Penalty

It was ratified in 1791 denying federal government from imposing various forms of punishment against criminals. These forms of punishment included imposition of excessive bail and fines as well as unusual, inhuman, and cruel punishment constituting to torture. This provision was inspired during the case of Titus Oates who succeeded King James II. Titus Oates was accused of multiple acts of perjury resulting to several executions of wrongly accused persons. This facilitated Titus Oates to be jail coupled with whipping. It however underwent changes under the United States Supreme Court through jurisprudence to facilitate development of the Eight Amendment. Thus, Titus Oates was not sentenced to death penalty as the judges believed it would have discouraged honest witnesses from ever testifying in similar cases due to fear. These sentiments are shared by Hashem and Joanna who assert that, death penalty and capital punishments reduce crime rates. More so, the Michigan State University believes death penalty criminals successfully executed prevent persons planning to engage in unlawful actions warranting a similar capital punishment (Hashem & Joanna, 2003).

In 2011, a survey was conducted across United States to find out how people favored the death penalty punishment. More than two thousand adults provided their opinions. More than sixty-two percent favored the death penalty. They asserted persons convicted for committing murder should be punished by applying the death penalty. This affirmed polls conducted in 1990s providing a statistics of seventy eight percent of people favoring the death penalty. Although some asserted the death penalty is immoral and wrong as it involves killing an individual, persons favoring it affirmed the justice system should execute them or punish them in a similar manner they committed the capital crime. Thus, they claimed punishing a criminal or offender by applying a punishment fitting the crime committed could encourage people to reform and avoid offensive activities. More so, they claimed that hosting criminals who have committed capital crimes could be costly for the State (Eric, Alan, & Janet, 2004).

In 1991, a young mother was left helpless and in pain after a killer ensured she watched the execution of her baby. The killer then mutilated her body before killing her as well. Providing the killer with a lesser form of punishment for the heinous crime does not motivate other murderers to avoid committing a similar crime. This is because incarcerating such killers in prison provides them with a second chance in life. Foremost, they are able to access three meals a day, rest on clean sheets and comfortable beds, and watch cable TV. More so, their family members are allowed to visit the killer while making endless appeals for the release. In order for justice to prevail, such killers ought to die through the death penalty. They should not be provided with lesser punishment in comparison to the pain they inflicted on their victims. More so, the mother and her child can no longer access life pleasures they are able to enjoy while in prison. Thus, the death penalty should be applied in order to deny such killers an opportunity to enjoy life just as they denied their innocent victims lying in graves. Thus, the Eighth Amendment should not be applied to abolish the death punishment. Instead, it should be applied to seek justice for victims and their families who have undergone pain and suffering due to unethical and immoral persons inflicting and violating their stable lives (DPIC, 2012).

Arguments in Support of Death Penalty

Through the High School Curriculum and Michigan University, criminologists claimed petty offenders are repetitive, as the form of punishment does not motivate them to stop engaging in crime. For example, it was observed in 1973 by Isaac Ehrlich that, more lives were spared by utilizing the death penalty. Based on the United States Constitution, punishments are provided legally to offer justice, teach criminals ethical lessons, and motivate them to avoid committing crime. Thus, death penalty was established to inflict law deliberately through scheduled court proceedings as a threat to deter criminals and the illegal, uncivil, and unethical activities they engage in. This is because the death penalty is a form of punishment incapacitating and preventing criminals from engaging in future similar activities (DPIC). (2000).

Criminals are threatened with punishments as an attempt to deter them from committing various forms of crime. Persons tasked in implementing legal laws therefore impose them to threaten criminals and also reattribute or seek justice for any crimes that were not deterred. Retribution refers to independent moral justification especially when punishing a criminal. The moral justification should be applied in punishing criminals who have committed repulsive, inappropriate, unwise, and punishable crimes. Thus, threats and punishments are essential in deterring crime. More so, deterrence is a satisfactory practical justification for punishing criminals and offenders. Thus, death penalty should neither be abolished nor diminished. This is because it guarantees the country is safe with morally upright and conscious citizens neither willing nor attempting to commit crime (Andrew, Carroll, Michael, & Gregory, 2012).

There are however pitiable crimes committed by persons mainly inflicted by the legal justice system. The legal punishment awarded to such guilty persons cannot be unjust. This is because the persons commit a crime hence, volunteering to presume the risk of receiving a legal punishment. All citizens should therefore acknowledge that, criminals cannot avoid legal punishments. They were formulated and implemented to address, punish, and reform criminals before integrating them back to the community. However, if the form of crime is regarded as severe, then a capital punishment should also be applied to address and punish the criminal. The punishment suffered should also be voluntary to the pain inflicted on innocent victims of the criminal activities. This is because criminals can avoid committing the crime. However, they choose to voluntarily risk suffering legal punishment by committing crime knowingly. Thus, it would be more than unjust for a rapist or murderer who knowingly and voluntarily committed the crime to receive a legal punishment that does not equate to the crime they have committed. Thus, the death penalty is a just form of punishment as it ensures guilty criminals receive legal punishment in order to deliver justice to the victims (David, 2012).

Some persons however do not premeditate before committing a crime including murder as well as other crimes of personal violence. This is because most criminals always plan and ordinarily concentrate on finding an escape route from detection, arrest, and conviction. However, criminals who fail to premeditate cannot be discouraged or deterred by the threat of even the severest punishment. More so, they fail to plan how they will prevent or escape arrest and conviction, as they are ready to receive any form of severe punishment. Police officers and prosecutors assert that, most capital crimes including rape and homicides are committed in the heat of the moment. This is because the criminals commit them at the moment of great emotional strain. Others are usually under the influence of marijuana, drugs, alcohol, and other illegal substances hindering the criminal from engaging in logical thinking. During such incidences, the criminals inflict severe pain on the innocent victims without relying on their humanity to either stop or prevent such incidence from happening in the future. Criminals oblivious of the consequences therefore inflict the severe form of violence and pain committed. Ensuring other criminals are aware they can receive a death penalty as the punishment should therefore encourage them to deter from crime. This is because even a long-term imprisonment period, which is often considered as severe, cannot be enough to deter rational criminals waiting and willing to commit more violent and painful crimes after they are released (James & John, 2007).

According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), when a life is taken, the balance of justice is disturbed. The legal justice system should therefore ensure the balance is restored to avoid the society from succumbing to the rule of violence in attempts to seek revenge. Thus, taking the life of a murderer who has also committed multiple homicides restores the balance of justice. More so, it allows societies to show convincingly that murders, homicides, and rape are intolerable forms of crime that should be punishable in kind. Although retribution has its basis in religious and cultural principles, ethics, and values that have been historically maintained, it is appropriate to take away a life from a person who has also taken away another individual’s life. Through the death penalty, the victims’ families are provided with closure despite the inability to bring back the victim and restore the status of his/her life in the society. More so, the death penalty guarantees the criminal will not inflict more pain and take away other several innocent lives (DPIC, 2000).

Thus, Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) believes persons who commit the most cruel and heinous crimes should receive a death penalty. This is because as offenders they deserve the worst and severe form of punishment under the legal system of law. More so, applying any lesser form of punishment while dealing with such persons is undermining the values guiding and ensuring the society is capable of protecting lives (Andrew, Carroll, Michael, & Gregory, 2012).

The death penalty has deterred various crimes. Some anecdotal evidence indicates some homicides across United States were deterred by the death penalty. For example, the Los Angeles Police Department reported that, a half number of members belonging in a group of suspected criminals decided to avoid use of weapons during robbery to avoid killing their victims. This was reported in 1971 when the suspects were arrested for committing a crime allied to robbery. They claimed that, they engaged in criminal acts of robbery without relying on weapons to intimidate and threaten their victims. This is because they were assured they could not be attempted or forced to use the weapon hence, risking killing an innocent victim. This therefore affirms the death penalty has motivated and encouraged criminals to avoid committing petty and capital crimes (UNHR, 2012).

Conclusion

The death penalty is a fitting punishment for capital offences. It guarantees persons convicted for capital crimes such as murder and rape receive an equal punishment inflicting similar pain and anguish the victims underwent. Although some people claim it is unbiblical, the legal justice system is developed to pass judgment here on earth based on the sins committed inflicting pain and anguish on innocent citizens. The courts should therefore be awarded legal power to apply any form of punishment fitting the crime or offense committed. For example, robbers should be incarcerated in prison to deny them simple pleasures of life. Consequently, murderers should not be accepted either in prison or in the society. This is because the law courts should not provide them with an opportunity to live, breathe, and eat while their victims lie in graves. More so, it is painful for the victims’ family members and friends to acknowledge the individual who violently took away the life of an innocent soul has a chance of ever being released from prison due to good conduct. Instead, they should also be denied to live in order to punish them in an equal measure they inflicted pain and anguish on their victims.

 

 

References

Andrew, K., Carroll, D., Michael, D., & Gregory, S. (2012). More Concern among Opponents about Wrongful Conviction:  Continued Majority Support for Death Penalty. Pew Research Center Report.

David, G. (2012). Why Does the U.S Have Capital Punishment? Bureau of International Information Programs. Embassy of the United States of America.

Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). (2000). The Death Penalty: Arguments for and Against the Death Penalty. High School Curriculum, Michigan State University and Death Penalty Information Center.

Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). (2012). Death Sentences Near Record Low; Executions Equal 2011 Total, With Fewer States Carrying Them Out: Connecticut Is 5th State in 5 Years to Abolish Death Penalty. A Report by the Death Penalty Information Center.

Eric, G. L., Alan, C., & Janet, L. (2004). Reasons for Supporting and Opposing Capital Punishment in the USA: A Preliminary Study. Internet Journal of Criminology.

Hashem, D., & Joanna, M. S. (2003). The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a “Judicial Experiment”. Department of Economics, Emory University.

James, M. G., & John, F. G. (2007). Criminology: A “Commonsense” Theory of Deterrence and the “Ideology” of Science: the New York State Death Penalty Debate. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.

Phillip, G. K. (2011). Is the Death Penalty Just?  Omaha, Biblical Blueprints.

Richard, C. D. (2002). The Death Penalty and Human Rights: U.S. Death Penalty and International Law. Death Penalty Information Center.

United Nations Human Rights (UNHR). (2012). Moving Away from the Death Penalty: Lessons from National Experiences.