Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life Essay
Many people think they know everything, and many people think their opinion is right. However, there are still many controversial issues, such as abortion and safety of genetically engineered foods. Capital Punishment is, still, one of the controversial issues. Capital punishment, in essence, is the execution of criminals who commit major crimes, such as first degree murder and terrorism. While there are many countries which still implement the capital punishment, which sometimes referred to as 'death penalty,' there is a growing number of countries which start campaigning for the abolishment of the capital punishment from their justice system. The opponents of the capital punishment believe that the right of living for all people, even convicts and killers, is the basic human right that should be respected and so the capital punishment should be replaced by other forms of punishments, such as life imprisonment. On the other hand, the proponents of the capital punishment believe that it is important because it serves as a tool for deterring would-be criminals and murderers. For example, Edward I. Koch, in his article which is entitled “Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life,” raises a strong and valid argument in favor of the death penalty. On the contrary, In “The Death Penalty,” David Bruck attempts to argue that the capital punishment does more harm than good and so, it should be abolished.
This controversial issue will never be defined which sides are right or wrong. There might be trend which one seems right. This trend has changed according to the times. During an ancient time, people tended to take death penalty for granted if a person killed somebody else: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. However, as time goes by, quite many people think death penalty should be abolished, especially religious groups who think people’s life only depends on the God. Actually, I was against the death penalty when I was young because I was, and still am, a Christian. However, as I grow up, my thought was changed. When I was young, I was too pure to believe that the world is full of nice people and just few bad people. However, these days, all I could find and hear in news are crimes. I know there are still nice and warm people out there, but it is really difficult to find. Anyway, based on current situation, we cannot abolish the capital punishment. Capital punishment is necessary evil for several reasons.
First of all, murderers’ and victims’ rights are equally important. Usually, people who claim that capital punishment should be abolished think murderers’ right should be protected. Especially, as I mentioned above, religious groups think like that. I thought like them, too. That is because I was taught that anybody cannot take somebody’s life for whatever reasons, but only the god decides to take somebody’s life. However, as I experience and get to know the world, my thought was changed. I still believe in the God, but I support the capital punishment. I know that my opinion is against my religion, but I have my own belief. Murderer and victim both are equally human. That means both have their own fundamental rights. The fundamental rights should be protected on the assumption that they did not infringe somebody’s fundamental rights. According to the website, “Global Compact Principle One”:
Respect for human rights is part of principle 1 of the United Nations Global Compact. In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the UN Protect, Respect, Remedy Framework, the second pillar of which is that business everywhere has the responsibility to respect human rights. To respect rights essentially means not to infringe on the rights of others – put in other words – to refrain from having a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights.
As you could see the right above citation, the human rights should not be infringed.
Moreover, one of the most convincing reasons why the death penalty should be used is because it “affirms life.” That is, executing the life of the criminal would preserve the rights of hundreds or even thousands of people because would-be criminals, murderers or terrorists would be deterred if they know that they may be punished via a death penalty. On the contrary, abolishing the capital punishment may encourage criminals to commit any number of murders as they know that they will not be killed if they are caught. Thus, Koch argues that the capital punishment preserves the and elevates the lives of human beings, while failing to 'kill' a murderer or a terrorist is in fact a humiliation of the victim. Koch puts his main argument clearly at the very end of his article, when he declares that when the justice system shrinks back “from justly punishing the murderer, the victim dies twice.” Therefore, Koch succeeds in making a strong and well-presented argument in favor of the death penalty.
Therefore, the paradox here is that the same act of death penalty, which involves killing, implies a preservation of life. By executing a convict, the lives of hundreds and thousands of people would be saved, as possible murders would be deterred and refrain from committing violent crimes. Rather, the number of possible victims of murder may be increased if convicts know that they will still remain alive even if they kill a great number of people. As declared by David Anderson, “the Capital punishment is the only punishment for violent criminals and murderers if justice will be administered” (Anderson). Therefore, it is a weak logic to argue that the capital punishment should be abolished.
Moreover, every year, each country spends a lot of money on maintaining prisons or keeping prisoners alive. Do you know how much government spends on one prisoner keep alive? According to the website, “Prison Facts,” the United States spends $22,000 on each person. Also, if the criminal gets a life sentence, the cost of a life term averages would be $1.5 million. As you could see this information, criminals who committed minor or serious crime have a place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear. However, there are many people who are innocent and did not something bad do not have any place to sleep, any food to eat, and any clothe to wear. Also, this website shows, “States are spending more money on prisons than education. Over the course of the last 20 years, the amount of money spent on prisons was increased by 570% while that spent on elementary and secondary education was increased by only 33%.” How irony these are.
Finally, Opponents of the death penalty argue that in many cases innocent people accused of false crimes are sentenced with the death penalty and are not found to be truly innocent until after the sentence is carried out. However, the invalidity of this claim can be proved by referring to an authentic study of the seven thousand executions that occurred in the United States during the period from 1892 to 1971. This study concluded that there was not any single mistake of executing an innocent people. Hence, the reference to statistics and facts refutes the claim that capital punishment may lead to the execution of innocent people. Similarly, Koch refers to various statistics which show a sharp increase in the murder rates in the states, which do not have a death penalty. These statistics give strong support to the argument that the abolishment of the capital punishment may harm the society by increasing the probability of violent crimes due to the absence of deterrence for would-be criminals. As such, it can be realized that there are reliable data, evidence, and statistics that support the argument in favor of the death punishment.
To sum it up, I support the idea that death penalty is necessary evil. However, that does not mean that every criminal should get a death penalty. I mean some serious criminals such as serial killers or high recurrence rate criminals such as rapists should get a death penalty. Some people think murderers’ rights are important, but that means they overlook victims’ rights because victims have also human rights just like murderers. By keep maintaining death penalty, we could save some lives and reduce potential criminals. Also, cost of keeping them alive is a lot while the average salary of entry prison guard is $22,010; shocking statistics. We could improve our society or do something nice such as volunteer work by this money which is quite large. And people keep trying to reduce wrongful convictions through modern technology like DNA testing. Based on these rational reasons, I urge you reconsider about capital punishment. Finally, I would say that the debate over capital punishment is so complicated that it is not an easy mission to develop a well-constructed argument in support of it. At the end, it should be stressed that the negative impacts of the abolishment of the capital punishment are too great to ignore, making it more feasible to execute one killer to save the lives of hundreds and thousands of possible future victims.
Parks, Peggy J. “Current Issues: The Death Penalty.” Current Issues: The Death Penalty. 2012: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 07 Mar 2012.
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“Global Compact Principle One.” Principle 1. United Nations Global Compact, 10 Jan. 2010. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. .
“Prison Facts.” Change.net. Hearts & Minds, 26 Sept. 2006. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. .
Golway, Terry. “Wrongly convicted.” America 13 Nov. 2006: 8. Criminal Justice Collection. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.
Anderson, David. “The Capital punishment – a Defense.” 15 Jan. 2008.
Bruck, David. “The Death Penalty.”
Koch, Edward I. “Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life.”