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Death Penalty; for or Opposed

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Death Penalty; For or Opposed

Capital punishment is the execution of a perpetrator for committing a heinous crime (homicide), and it is a hotly debated topic in our society. It has always been a belief for some that if another person wrongs them, they should have the right to take revenge against that person. In the present day, this view still remains, but has been toned down by laws that state the rights of the accused and have developed punishments for offenders. Many, me included, still believe that those punishments are not harsh enough and allow criminals to take advantage of them, knowing that if caught, the punishment is not near enough to make it wise to simply avoid the risk. I believe that capital punishment is an effective way of dealing with people who have committed heinous crimes. For example, there is a middle-aged man. This man rapes and kills a little girl and is given life in prison. Unfortunately, after a mere 30 years in prison he is up for parole and receives it. After being back on the streets he commits and is convicted of another murder. Did that second person really need to die? Could it have been prevented? Absolutely. That second victim would still be enjoying holidays with their family and vacations with their friends. That's why we have the death penalty.

The Death Penalty is nothing new to our society. It has been in effect throughout the world for ages. As far back as the Eighteenth Century, B.C., a king of Babylon codified 25 crimes that were punishable by the death penalty. {In the Draconian code of Athens, it was the only punishment for all crimes.} This debate is especially strong within the Christian religion, due to the fact that Jesus himself was sentenced to the death penalty.

Skipping ahead to more modern times, the death penalty in America was influenced more by Great Britain than any other country. The first record of execution in America is that of Captain George Kendall in Jamestown, Virginia. He was accused of espionage for Spain. A few years later, Virginia governor Sir Thomas Dale enacted the Divine, Moral and Marital Laws that provided for the death penalty in even the most minor offenses.

Along with the enactment of capital punishment came the abolitionist movement, which still exists today. One of the major activists was Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the Pennsylvania Prison Society. Rush challenged the belief that the death penalty was a deterrence to crime. He convinced Benjamin Franklin and Philadelphia Attorney General William Bradford of this view. Bradford later became the US Attorney General and he led PA to become the first state to consider degrees of murder based on culpability. PA repealed the death sentence for all crimes except first degree murder.

The abolitionist movement gained momentum in the early nineteenth century. The most major development during this time was Pennsylvania's replacing public executions with closed session executions in its correctional facilities. Michigan became the first state to totally abolish capital punishment. This led to abolition all over the world.

During the Civil War the opposition waned, as focus was given to anti-slavery. The next time major consideration was given to the death penalty was the Supreme Court battles of the 1960's. This climaxed with the 1972 case of Furman vs. Georgia where the court declared that 40 death penalty statutes were unconstitutional and void. This commuted 629 death sentences and caused an all together suspension of capital punishment until 1976, when new guidelines were drawn up and declared constitutional.

In the 1970s, the National Association of Evangelicals representing 47 denominations, and other Christian groups began supporting the death penalty. They backed up their claims with mostly Old Testament readings. However a shift has been seen. Today the Roman Catholic Church as well as most Protestant denominations is against the death penalty. (Death Penalty)

As our world increasingly grows irate with killing I am for the death penalty. Hamurabi believed an eye for an eye and it showed people didn't commit crimes like they do now. However there are a lot of pro's and con's to this subject. This can provide closure for families of victims. It also frees up space in our penal institution. Another factor is that death is what was decided by a jury. Those are just a few of the pros. Here are the cons, killing people doesn't make it right for the higher powers that be. Taking a human life waste to much tax payer time and money. (Death Penalty). Another avenue is the death penalty vs. life without parole.

Abolitionists claim that there are alternatives to the death penalty. They say that life in prison without parole serves just as well. Certainly, if you ignore all the murders criminals commit within prison when they kill prison guards and other inmates, and also when they kill decent citizens upon escape, like Dawud Mu'Min who was serving a 48-year sentence for the 1973 murder of a cab driver when he escaped a road work gang and stabbed to death a storekeeper named Gadys Nopwasky in a 1988 robbery that netted $4.00. Fortunately, there is now no chance of Mu'Min committing

murder again. He was executed by the state of Virginia on November 14, 1997. Another flaw is that life imprisonment tends to deteriorate with the passing of time. Take the Moore case in New York State for example. In 1962, James Moore raped and strangled 14-year-old Pamela Moss. Her parents decided to spare Moore the death penalty on the condition that he is sentenced to life in prison without parole. Later on, thanks to a change in sentencing laws in 1982, James Moore is eligible for parole every two years!

If Pamela's parents knew that they couldn't trust the state, Moore could have been executed long ago and they could have put the whole horrible incident behind them forever. Instead they have a nightmare to deal with biannually. I'll bet not a day goes by that they don't kick themselves for being foolish enough to trust the liberal sham that is life imprisonment and rehabilitation. (According to the US Department of Justice, the average prison sentence served for murder is five years and eleven months.) Putting a murderer away for life just isn't good enough. Laws change, so do parole boards, and people forget the past. Those are things that cause life imprisonment to weather away. As long as the murderer lives, there is always a chance, no matter how small, that he will strike again. And there are people who run the criminal justice system who are naive enough to allow him to repeat his crime. Kenneth McDuff, for instance,



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