Death Penalty

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Death Penalty

Submitted: May 22, 2011

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Submitted: May 22, 2011

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People need to be held accountable for their actions. If a child doesn’t eat his vegetables, he doesn’t get any dessert; if a student cheats on his math test, he gets a zero; if a driver runs a red light, he gets a ticket; if a person intentionally kills another person, they receive the death penalty. Instead of the grey area that capital punishment is today, it should be black and white: if a man intentionally kills takes another man’s life, he should be put to death. Well over half of the American population agrees (Ballaro par.1).Therefore, the death penalty is a necessary punishment for criminals who kill victims and take their ultimate possession: their life.
Murder is defined as the deliberate, malicious killing of another person (Bowman par. 1). It has been around since the beginning of time, and will continue until something drastic is done to stop it. In tribal societies, murder of another tribesman resulted in the death of the murderer (Bowman par. 3). These tribes did not take life for granted and realized the importance of human life. The Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi, written in 1760 B.C. was the first documented rule against murder in an organized society. It stated “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth (Bowman par. 4). This made it clear that in the city-state of Mesopotamia, murder would not be tolerated. If a man intentionally killed another man, his punishment would be his own life. Hammurabi also put the states in charge of responsibility for revenge by the victim’s relatives. This made sure that citizens did not act like savages and kill whomever they were angry at. Murdering at will is not a practical way to run society. If people blatantly murdered others because they have wronged them, civilization would have reached its downfall. It is not up to the citizens to decide who should be punished, and who should be set free.
The death penalty incorporates this main idea, “the ultimate crime deserves the ultimate punishment” (Bowden par. 16). Killing another human being should not be tolerated by any means, and the state should enforce the death penalty to punish those who take the lives of others into their own hands. Killers take the lives of innocent people while methodically planning out their moves to make their victims suffer (Bowden par. 15). Murderers believe that they can kill those who they feel are guilty. No one is above the law and no one reserves the right to kill because they deem it necessary. The legal system is the ultimate judge on the interpretations of the law which is the “codified morality of society” (Bowden par. 16). Those who kill should not be put to death because of revenge or vengeance, but because of justice. The law says that murder is wrong, so those who murder need to be held accountable for their actions. 
One argument to the death penalty is that it is inhumane and has led to the death of people who did not commit the crimes for which they were put to death for. This argument states that the death penalty is used primarily against minorities, and does not use the same criteria for people of all races (Ballaro par. 1). Statistics show that people who kill whites have a higher chance of receiving the death penalty then those who kill minorities. Black people who kill whites are at the top of the list of prisoners on death row. There are over 3,350 people on death row as of the year 2007, and of those 3,350 people, over 40% are African American (Ballaro par. 4). This argument also states that some of these people on death row are wrongly incarcerated. In 1992, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufield created The Innocence Project to help prisoners who were innocent through the use of post-conviction DNA testing. They found that 201 criminals served a total of 2,500 years of wrongful incarceration; 15 of the 201 served time on death row. People that oppose the death penalty fear that there is too much risk at stake to take the life of a murderer because they can never be 100% certain that the person they are putting to death is guilty. They feel that the death penalty is “a sentence that cannot be corrected or undone after the fact if a mistake is made” (Ballaro par. 5). The opposition also claims that the lethal injection method used by most states is “cruel and inflicts unnecessary pain.” Lethal injection uses a 3-part cocktail to numb the victim before the cocktail shuts down the body causing the victim to die. With an insufficient amount of numbing agent, the prisoner could struggle and suffocate while being in extreme pain before his death. These factors provided by the opposition to the death penalty try to prove that it is an unnecessary punishment.
Although the opposition provides evidence that the death penalty is inhumane and racially profiled, it is still a necessary punishment for sick, deranged killers. Just because there are more African Americans on death row does not mean that they are being racially profiled. It is estimated that 28% of black males will enter prison throughout their lifetime, compared to a 4% chance of white males (“Comparisons” 1). African Americans are not being racially profiled and wrongfully sentenced to the death penalty; they just commit more crimes that need to be punished by the death penalty.  It has never been proven that an innocent man has been killed on death row. The opposition simply states that “the death penalty is prone to errors that have likely led to the execution of some wrongly convicted people” (Ballaro par.5). A Prosecutor has never came out and said that they had killed an innocent man by way of the death penalty. Could an innocent man or two have been wrongfully put to death? Possibly; but the number of those put to death that were guilty far outweigh those who may have been innocent.  The lethal injection cocktail that the opposition claims is inhumane, held up in a Supreme Court ruling. They stated that the “Drug cocktail used in executions did not cause sufficient probability of pain to be unconstitutional” (Ballaro par. 9). If the Supreme Court says it is good enough, it is good enough. They are the highest interpreters of the law, and their interpretations should be held with the highest regard. 
The death penalty has done far more for good for this country then it has done wrong. It has put a stop to countless killings of innocent people, and has deterred the killings of countless more. The American population is in favor of the death penalty, and the Supreme Court has ruled that it is not inhumane. Criminals need to be punished for their actions, and the death penalty is the only way to do it. The only punishment fitting for taking another person’s life is the taking of their own. 
 


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