Death Penalty in the American Society- A Means for Rehabilitation or Retribution
The death penalty has always been a burning debate issue in American society. Although capital punishment does not account for a significant amount of deaths among Americans, the controversy surrounded, the subject remains heated. In 2013, we witnessed a steady decline in the death penalty by almost every measure; however, the execution Dennis of McGuire in January who was convicted for raping a pregnant woman in 1989 gave rise to more controversial arguments.
The continued presence on the death penalty in American society gives rise to many underlying questions. Debtors are basing their arguments on practical and theoretical considerations. Is the death penalty a means for rehabilitation or is it based on society’s craving for retribution? Here we will establish a neutral ground and scrutinize both sides of the discussion based on the legality and ethics of the death penalty in order to arrive at a practical conclusion.
Arguments for the Death Penalty
Many people who are in support of capital punishment are arguing that the death penalty is an effective weapon that scares people from engaging in capital crime such as murder. Most death penalties in the United States are as a result of homicide; the last execution that occurred as a result of robbery was in 1964. If the death penalty is indeed a significantly powerful deterrent when compared to life in prison, supports could base the arguments on the fact that the death penalty may help to spare the lives of more innocent Americans who may become victims of brutal crimes.
A deviation of this argument is that, despite how powerful the death penalty may be at deterring capital crime, it is tremendously effective in preventing executed murderers from claiming the lives of more innocent Americans.
If there are practical reasons to think that an individual convicted of murder will take another life if given the chance, the alternative sentence would have to be life imprisonment in order to protect citizens. Securing these convicts from the general public requires costly investments and prison guards will have to work on a daily basis in close proximity to these dangerous individuals. In fact, many supporters of capital punishment believe that by sentencing these murders, we are also by extension sentencing these able body security guards who may be a valuable asset to our society, rather than wasting away in these onerous positions.
In embryonic societies that fail to severely punish these individuals, it is possible that the family members and others loved ones of the victims may try to avenge the murder of their loved one. This could give rise to undesirable unending murders. An essential function of the American criminal justice system is to prevent these hazards. In many cases, family members of the victim will see the death penalty as the only true punishment for the crime that has been committed. Therefore, capital punishment may be the only solution to quench the thirst for vengeance in these individuals.
Arguments against the Death Penalty
Dissenters of the death penalty are stating that the deliberate killing of someone by government officials is setting a bad example for the public. It establishes an exemption to, and, therefore, weakens the law that prohibits people from killing. Theoretical arguments aside, the prevalence of the death penalty in the American society is a bad image. In spite of frequent attempts for improvement, it is obvious that the legal system encounters many difficulties in arbitrating capital cases, which may lead to incorrect verdicts.
In addition, in many states there is strong resistance among judges and prosecutors to admit that many errors are often made in these cases. In most cases, successful verdicts are grounded on DNA evidence which undoubtedly supports the individual’s innocence. Many factors such as recanting witnesses and tampered evidence have contributed to erroneous verdicts in these cases. Individuals from lower ranks in society are often defended by court appointed attorneys that may not provide the best defense. Wealthy people, on the other hand, will have the option of hiring top notch attorneys. Although social status bias is no longer as prevalent as it was years ago, it is sadly still a part of the legal system in America. African Americans in particular are often victims on bias in American courtrooms; a sickening, but very factual statement.
In addition, dissenters of the death penalty are arguing that prison workers who are subjected to participate in these brutal acts have to endure unpleasant experiences.
The Bottom Line
The war among dissenters and supporters of the death penalty in the American society will not end anytime soon. It all boils down to whether or not we are willing to kill people in an attempt to reduce crime. So, is the death penalty a means for rehabilitation or is it based on society’s craving for retribution? There is no set answer to this question; we all have different values and morals; hence, it depends on whom you are preaching to. What’s your answer?
So who opposes the death penalty? The people who oppose the death penalty are Republicans and Democrats, Baptists and Jews, poor and rich, black and white. Although we may not agree with each other on the morality of the death penalty, we cannot ignore the realities of the death penalty:
If Arkansas is going to put people to death -- and that means if WE are going to put people to death, because WE are Arkansas -- shouldn't the system be as good as it can possibly be?
Capital punishment is an ineffective deterrent to murder, it’s too costly, and has insufficient protections against wrongful executions. If we eliminate the death penalty for capital murder, then the judge will have to impose a sentence of life without parole upon conviction. Though we share different perspectives on the death penalty, every one of us agrees that Arkansas’ capital punishment system doesn’t work, and that Arkansas is better off without it.
ACTION NEEDED TODAY!!
Although Arkansas hasn't executed anyone in over five years, that could change at any moment. Please contact Governor Mike Beebe and ask that he officially stop any future executions in Arkansas until a thorough review has been done of the Arkansas criminal justice system.
To contact the Governor, please write to Governor Mike Beebe, State Capitol, Room 250, Little Rock, AR 72201 or click here to send him an email.