Evaluating the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment on Crime
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Throughout time, the death penalty has been a high form of punishment that seeks to end crime. It essentially deters crime by ending the life of offenders whose actions are unable to be reversed. The death penalty has been used over the course of many centuries in America and its start of implementation has been conceptualized to have occurred in the 1600s, after a man in the colony of Jamestown was tried for espionage. The American legal system has viewed the death penalty as a viable repercussion when it comes to heinous crimes.
People must understand that crime always has some form of punishment. They must also realize that for every action there is an equal or just reaction. In the case of the death penalty, people know that heinous crimes deserve an irreversible punishment and that they can avoid the death penalty by averting themselves from situations in which death can become an outcome. However, there are several reasons as to why the death penalty must exist, and for each specific reason there is an outcome that matches its severity.
Three major causes for the use of the death penalty are: the commission of capital offenses, an increase in appalling homicides, and a need for deterrence among capital offenders. One major cause for the implementation of the death penalty is the completion of a capital offense. Some examples of capital offenses are: genocide, large-scale trafficking, terrorism, treason, espionage, child molestation or rape, first-degree murder, kidnapping (resulting in death), and assassinations. These crimes are irreversible acts to which imprisonment is an ineffective reinforcement.
According to researchers who work in accordance with the British Broadcasting Corporation, “the measure of punishment in a given case must depend upon the atrocity of the crime, the conduct of the criminal and the defenseless and unprotected state of the victim”. In the current criminal justice system when a person commits a crime the punishment is rehabilitation. The goal of rehabilitation is to deter the repeated offenses of criminals. However, this only applies to crimes of minor significance and the offender is deemed redeemable.
Another major cause for the death penalty is an increase in appalling homicides. A homicide is the unlawful killing of a person by another person. There is rarely a justification for a homicide being committed (however, self-defense has been a just reason for murder). This means that a homicide is a capital offense. As of 2017, over twenty-thousand deaths were results of a homicidal action. Homicide is an irreparable act due an inability to bring the victim back to life. As stated before, the measure of punishment depends on the severity of your crime.
This means that in the eye for an eye law of retaliation, the punishment of a murderer must be similar a murder. A third cause that begets the need for punishment is a need for deterrence among defenders. Deterrence is the discouragement of an action through a reinforcement (usually a negative reinforcement). It is believed that deterrence is usually effective in most, when the person being rehabilitated is willing to comply with the punishment. The British Broadcasting Corporation suggests that “some of those executed may not have been capable of being deterred because of mental illness or defect”.
This means that prison may keep a person away from society, but it cannot control what that person does when out of the jail cell. There must be several methods of deterring bad behavior for a decline in the number of offenses committed in the United States to be seen. An effect of committing capital offenses is a life sentence of the usage of the death penalty. A life sentence gives the convicted a chance to rehabilitate themselves and about their atrocity. However, capital punishment ensures that offenders have no chance to commit capital offenses.
For example, in the state of North Carolina crime rates reduced after lengthy sentences were given and the death penalty was not implemented. States such as: Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, and New Jersey have abolished the usage of the death penalty. This means that certain people can be rehabilitated without the option of death. However, what works in one state for certain people is not a viable resolution to crime in all states. Over sixty percent of states view crimes such as first-degree kidnapping and first-degree murder as crimes that only the death penalty can fix.
Though the crime is not reversed itself, the person who conducted the crime is punished. An effect of an increase of in the number of appalling homicides that occur is the usage of capital punishment. If a person is removed from society, they no longer have the chance to kill innocents. The National Center for Policy analysis conducted a research study that concluded that “after suspending the death penalty, 91 percent of states faced an increase in homicides… and in 67 percent of states, the rate was decrease after reinstatement of capital punishment”.
This means that capital punishment can lead to a decrease in the numbers of murders seen on a national scale. Professors at Pepperdine University analyzed several capital cases in the state of California and their research concluded that the death penalty is a very effective deterrent. The men found out that “In the early 80’s… the return of the death penalty resulted in a drop in murders. This study was conducted over a period of twenty-four years and the closing statement is “the decline in executions has resulted in more murders”. This means this remedy to an appalling crime is in fact beneficial.
An effect of creating a form of deterrence for offenders is a decrease in the number of offenses committed by people. Deterrence provides a punishment, so that the likeliness of a specific action is reduced. There are several forms of deterrence, but for capital offenders the death penalty is deemed the sanest in the eyes of the American government. We should educate people on the death penalty as well as why people receive the death penalty. This may lessen the amount of capital offenders we see as well as the number of crimes seen on average. A solution to capital offenses should be a direct sentencing of death.
If capital punishment was given to anyone who has committed a capital offense, future offenders may become cautious and avoid committing heinous actions. Rehabilitation was once seen as a remedy for capital offenders, however, the court system has ruled that the death penalty is effective in reducing the annual rate of capital offenses. The solution to stopping an increase in the number of appalling murders is to inform people of the consequences that given as a result of homicide. However, if the person chooses to ignore the warning they were given, they risk receiving the death penalty.
The death penalty would ensure that an offender could not kill again and that the accused are removed from society. In an instance in which the suspect has a mental illness, rehabilitation should be used unless the criminal is deemed severely unstable. The panacea to making sure deterrence is provided to capital offenders, is a harsh punishment. Some examples of harsh punishments are the death penalty and life time imprisonments (which is somewhat sane). With implementation of these methods of ending crime, several people are stopped from committing atrocities within society.
As long as effective deterrents exists, we should continue to see a decline in the rate of crimes and sentences within the legal system. The causes for the death penalty raise tension in the legal system. Capital offenses disable the idea of freedom and peace in America. Appalling homicides can tear apart families due to the loss of a loved one. There is no retribution for the victim of a murder, but the convict will receive a reinforcement. Deterrence offers a solution to the number of offenders in the court system, but it cannot assure that more people will not become offenders.
The death penalty is an effective way to see changes in these problems. Though rehabilitation is a tool used to end crime, it does not ensure that convicts will not offend in the future. Informing people can also raise awareness for specific crimes, but it is up to the discretion of the people to choose the advice they will listen to. However, the death penalty ensures that key suspects in capital crimes are removed from society. Though it may seem harsh and unconstitutional, capital punishment is an effective tool that was formed out of several problems.