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Is the Death Penalty for Today?

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Is The Death Penalty For Today?

The death penalty has been the subject matter of many debates over the years. Even though the debate continues to rage the death penalty has been in use since the beginning of time and is still in use today. The facts are plentiful and the arguments are wide and varied for and against the death penalty. Since the death penalty has been a highly politicized issue for many years many of these arguments have been worn thin. A known advocate of death penalty abolishment, Amnesty International provides information from late 2010 that 139 countries have abolished the death penalty to date and that 138 people since 1973 have been released from death row due to evidence of wrongful conviction. Facts can be used to support either side of the argument but the real questions revolve around whether the death penalty is an effective and reasonable deterrent and if so do we have the right to exercise it.

On its face there seems to be no question that the death penalty would provide some deterrence to committing a crime. Unless a person is suicidal it would seem when faced with being put to death for the commission of a particular crime would provide a significant deterrent.

Hood 1

Ernest Van Den Haag the late professor of Jurisprudence of Fordham University provided a straight forward evaluation of the death penalty by concluding that people just plain fear death. Criminals clearly prefer to be sentenced to life in prison or they would not regularly attempt to avoid the death penalty in exchange for a life sentence. Dr. Den Haag viewed the death penalty as a necessary protection of the general citizenry. Facts can be provided that show how many countries have abolished the death penalty but that does not address the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent. Sometimes we just miss a plain simple explanation of how a deterrent works. Dr. Den Haag's approach provides that simple explanation that can be readily accepted and hard to rebut.

If the only issue that needed to be addressed was whether the death penalty was a deterrent I doubt there would have raged the arguments over the years. The much more prevalent question today is whether the death penalty is effective in its application. This can raise any number of issues but the leading issue today revolves around the finality of the death penalty and the potential for a mistake. Today's literature is filled with arguments that support the abolition of the death penalty for this one reason. In fact, in the State of Illinois a moratorium on executions has occurred for the main reason that the Governor Patrick Quinn was unsure of whether the death penalty was an accurate and effective way to carry out justice. Steven D. Stewart, J.D., the Clark County, Indiana prosecutor addressed whether the death penalty should be abolished as a result of the inevitability of a mistake occurring. He stated, "The inevitability of a mistake should not serve as grounds to eliminate the death penalty any more than the risk of having a fatal wreck should make automobiles illegal."

Hood 2

All over the world the death penalty is used. China leads the world with the most executions every year. They average over a thousand executions a year. Before a person is put to death they go through a couple of trials. If the person is given the death penalty he or she is given two appeals. After the two appeals and the judgment is still the same the person is immediately put to death. China's process is much faster than America's system. America needs to acquire some parts of China's system of the death penalty. China saves money by executing the person much faster than America. I understand that China's government is corrupt but their death penalty system is fast and efficient. Many of their executions are probably wrong but if America adopts China's speedy trials it will save tax payers a good amount of money. China's two types of execution are lethal injection and firing squad. Most of the people who have been executed are usually associated with drugs or murder. China has given the death penalty for some strange offenses. Some of these offenses are: killing a panda, tax fraud, and stealing relics. China has sixty-eight offenses that are punishable by death.

The death penalty has been accused of being misused. During the early times, the death penalty was not as accurate as it is now. Some people were put to death with false accusations and not a good amount of hard evidence. Even today people who are against the death penalty say the accused might be innocent. Mr. Methvin states, "With the average time consumed by appeals between sentencing and execution now at about 10 years, and with the arrival DNA testing in the 1990's, the likelihood of wrongful executions is less than ever" (Methvin 153). Because of DNA and appeals the people who oppose the death penalty due to probability of innocence is obsolete. Technology has improved and people can be convicted with more

Hood 3

evidence. DNA can be used to prove someone's guilt or innocence. It has been used to convict

a plethora of people. No one has the same genetic material which means if there is a positive match it is only that person who has that exact DNA. If DNA is left at a crime scene and it is matched there is no doubt that the person was there. This new method should get rid of the argument of false accusations.

Many people believe the death penalty is in humane. Peter L. Berger states, "Inmates awaiting execution experience mental torment; furthermore, capital punishment morally corrupts those who enforce



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