"Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime, as charity is wrong as a cure for poverty." ~ Henry Ford
The question, whether death penalty is justified or not, has been under debate for ages. The practice of criminals being brutally punished to death has been traced in ancient history, as well. Speaking of the scenario today, death penalty pros and cons are evident in the laws of the United States, where 13 states (Iowa, Alaska, District of Columbia, Maine, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) in the country, do not support death penalty!
Every coin has two sides, the only thing that matters, is which side according to us is more apt. Before I start vouching in favor of capital punishment, let us have a look at some real life cases wherein the life of one criminal led to the death of many innocent victims.
Death Penalty Cases with a Second Chance
Mentioned below are a few real-life cases of crime, wherein the law showed mercy on the accused; however, the accused, in turn, did not show any mercy on the victims.
Katy Davis noticed three strangers outside her apartment in Austin, Texas. Troubled, she went away from there only to come after the strangers had left; however, when she came back, she was attacked by Charles Rector, who committed a murder previously and was on parole. Katy was forced to open the door, and after ransacking her apartment, she was abducted by the men to a lake where she was beaten mercilessly, gang-raped, shot in the head, and continuously forced underwater until she finally drowned and died.
Mildred Weiss, a mother of two, was murdered by Robert Massie in 1965 in San Gabriel, Calif. Massie testified against his accomplice just hours before his execution; and therefore, his punishment was commuted to life imprisonment. However, he somehow got a second chance and was paroled only to rob and murder a business person named Boris Naumoff in San Francisco eight months after he was paroled. So much for a second chance!
Jeffrey Barney, raped, sodomized, and strangled Ruby Longsworth to death in Pasadena, Texas. The reason being that Ruby called Barney "a bum". Interestingly, Ruby had met Barney through a prison ministry, and had helped him get paroled, as he was involved in an auto theft sentence. That is how the kindness was returned ... by strangling and raping her to death.
The list of such stories can go on and on! All these murders shouldn't have been committed, if these murderers were sentenced to capital punishment in the first place! On that note, many people consider capital punishment to be a perfect example of the saying, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind!" However, in reference to the cases mentioned above, I do not think that this statement stands true!
On the contrary it reminds me of the saying, "If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out!" Although, this quote wasn't written in this context, it somehow just entered my mind. Coming back to the point, there are cases where a criminal can change, but, it makes no sense to me, to put thousand lives at stake to save the life of the one criminal that "can change."
Why Favor Death Penalty?
Many people argue against death penalty, saying that there are various cons associated with taking the life of the accused. Here are some cons: Firstly, it is barbaric to actually kill a person under the authority of the state. What difference would it make between the criminals and the body of justice? Secondly, killing the accused, ceases his or her chances of improvement as a person. This is important because many times, people involved in murders do so under the influence of rage; while many of them being falsely accused! The Bible doesn't support killing, then why should we?
Though I agree to the cons, I don't agree that they are substantial enough to risk the lives of many innocent people who pray everyday for their safety and wellbeing! You see, there are two types of criminals that exist - the ones who commit a crime due to unfortunate circumstances, and the ones who kill because they don't believe it to be "a big deal".
If they have killed once, it would not be difficult for them to kill again; the sense of guilt is absent in most of the criminals, especially those who have killed more than once. Which is why, I support capital punishment, as it is important for such criminals to realize that they are not the master of life and death! Mentioned below are some points that will help you take a stand for capital punishment.
The Fear of Death
Though death is inevitable, we all still fear it. Imposing death punishment for brutal crimes like rapes and murders will definitely make the criminal think twice before committing a crime! People argue that most murders are done in the heat of anger or passion! But, there are also murderers who kill professionally; many serial killers do so as a hobby.
I remember a quote said by the famous serial killer Zodiac, "[killing] gives me the most thrilling experience, it is even better than getting your rocks off with a girl." Looking at both sides of the coin, I feel that death penalty will surely deter a person from committing a crime. Criminals will know that by murdering someone else, they are preparing their own grave!
It is easier for a person to escape imprisonment in the long run, but no one can escape death! We have seen in the real-life scenarios mentioned above, wherein criminals managed to come out of the prison, (by an illegal escape or through a parole) only to commit more crimes and making the innocent suffer! That I think, is more than enough to support this statement. I mean, why should we let the criminal live and the innocent die?
It's Retribution, Not Killing!
Most people who are against death penalty, say that it is just taking revenge or killing under the name of law! Well, I believe that life is precious and sacred. Which is why, I think that a person who has taken it away, must realize that by committing this crime, he has also taken away the right to have his own life.
When I think about the victims and their loved ones, I believe that letting the criminal face 'inconvenience for some time in prison', would be unfair to them. It's not the law that is killing the criminal, he chose it with his own actions! Capital punishment, in this case, would give the family of the victims, a closure.
Saving the Innocent
"If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call." ~ John McAdams - Marquette University/Department of Political Science, on deterrence.
Law Should Provide Justice
I think death penalty issued by law, is fair in every way. Think about it, even the victims asked for mercy, pleaded for their lives; however, if the criminals showed no mercy, why should the law be merciful to the criminal? I think that death penalty too, is lenient when it comes to justice. At least the guilty criminals get time to say their last words, make a will, mentally prepare themselves for death. Did the innocent victims get a chance to do so? If you knew that you would be killed immediately, a second after committing a murder, would you kill?
Before I end this article, I would also like to comment on one of the main argument that is included in the debate of whether or not to support capital punishment. Most people who favor life imprisonment over death penalty, say that at times, even the innocent have to be a victim of capital punishment! Well, I wouldn't deny this to be one of the bitter facts; however, I would like to quote the following in answer to this statement.
"As for the penal system, accidentally executing an innocent person, I must point out that in this imperfect world, citizens are required to take certain risks in exchange for safety." ~ Wesley Lowe
In addition to the statement above, I believe that the technology today is capable enough to detect, and rightfully punish the real criminal; therefore, the chances of accusing the wrong person, is almost negligible. If the only reason to not favor death penalty is to fear the execution of the innocent; well, isn't it a risk to drive a car -- you could meet with an accident; or, to take a flight -- there could be a plane crash!
It is sad to have had a few such cases where the innocent were punished, but these cases are minute when compared to the cases where the lack of death penalty, has been the cause behind the killing of thousands of innocent people. Should death penalty be abolished? You choose!