Pro Death Penalty
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Putting to death people judged to have committed certain extremely heinous crimes has been in practice for millennia, but in the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century, it has become a very controversial issue. Changing views on this difficult issue and many legal challenges to capital punishment working their way through the courts resulted in a halt to executions in the United States in 1967. Eventually, the Supreme Court placed a moratorium on capital punishment in 1972 but later upheld it in 1977, with certain conditions. Our group fully supports the death penalty, we consider this to be a good thing for our state and its citizens. Restoring capital punishment is the will of the people, yet many voices are raised against it.
Heated public debate centers on questions of deterrence, public safety, sentencing equity, and the execution of innocents, among others. We have researched and discussed data and opinions on this issue and here is what we found. Lets begin with an understanding of the definition of capital punishment. Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that someone be punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual enforcement is an execution. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offenses.
Every argument against the death penalty cites the 8th or 5th Amendment. The 8th bars “cruel and unusual punishments,” and the 5th guarantees “due process of law” before a person can be “deprived of life, liberty or property.” However there is no serious constitutional argument against the death penalty. The 5th Amendment itself recognizes the existence of “capital” crimes, and executions were common before and after the Constitution’s framing. The 5th amendment states No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Since 5th and 8th amendments were passed at the same time it seems that: The Constitution allows the death penalty.
The Constitution, does not consider the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment. SLIDE CHANGE
The common reading of the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause renders a punishment cruel and unusual if it is severe and at least one of Degrading. (Rotting in a jail cell for the rest of your life in shame is degrading) Inflicted arbitrarily. (Being sentenced to death for taking another persons life not arbitrary) Clearly rejected by society. (The majority of americans support capital punishment) Patently unnecessary. (The need to remove killers from the face of the earth is plenty necessary) SLIDE CHANGE
The case of Gregg vs. Georgia
A jury found Gregg guilty of armed robbery and murder and sentenced him to death. On appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the death sentence except as to its imposition for the robbery conviction. Gregg challenged his remaining death sentence for murder, claiming that his capital sentence was a “cruel and unusual” punishment that violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court held that a punishment of death did not violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments under all circumstances. In extreme criminal cases, such as when a defendant has been convicted of deliberately killing another, the careful and judicious use of the death penalty may be appropriate if carefully employed. Georgia’s death penalty statute assures the judicious and careful use of the death penalty by requiring a bifurcated proceeding where the trial and sentencing are conducted separately, specific jury findings as to the severity of the crime and the nature of the defendant, and a comparison of each capital sentence’s circumstances with other similar cases. SLIDE CHANGE
Anything not addressed by the Constitution is left to the democratic process and, in the main, to the states. As in Europe and Canada, a solid majority of American citizens supports the death penalty, believing it to serve both as a deterrent and an appropriate societal response to particularly heinous crimes. Unlike in Europe and Canada, however, U.S. courts and political leaders have not overridden public opinion to end the practice.
The result has been to narrow the death penalty’s availability while enormously extending the burden of imposing the sentence. Appeals and post-conviction reviews regularly take a decade or more and can cost millions in legal expenses. States seek the death penalty more rarely than in the past, and the number of executions is also in decline. SLIDE CHANGE
The term “due process” does not even begin to describe the path to execution. There is a long process that can take decades to sort out. First there is a trial, with a separate “penalty phase” after conviction. Then there are appeals in state courts, and perhaps a request that the Supreme Court take the case. Then state post-conviction proceedings, followed by appeals, followed by habeas review in a federal court, appeals, then another request to the Supreme Court. In all, the average case is likely to be reviewed by various courts 10 times — and that’s not even counting the inevitable last-minute habeas filings that keep judges up late at night or requests for executive clemency.
So the constitution does allow capital punishment through indirect references such as these. Former Justice Marshall McComb of the California Supreme Court wrote in 1972: It is my opinion that the death penalty is constitutional, as determined…in innumerable cases. therefore, since it is the duty of the Legislature of the electorate, and not the judiciary, to decide whether it is sound public policy to empower the imposing of the death penalty, it is my opinion that if a change is to be made, it should be effected through the legislative process of by the people through the initiative process.
In Trop v. Dulles, Chief Justice Earl Warren, said:
“Whatever the arguments may be against capital punishment, both on moral grounds and on grounds and in terms of accomplishing the purposes of punishment…. the death penalty has been employed throughout our history,
and in a day when it is still widely accepted, it cannot be said to violate the conceptional concept of cruelty”.
In Furman vs. Georgia, the court said:
“The punishment of death is not cruel, within the meaning of that word as used in the Constitution. It implies there is something more inhuman and barbarous, than the mere extinguishment of life.”
The most plausible candidate for the original meaning of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause is this: Do not inflict a punishment that is either intrinsically barbaric or significantly harsher than necessary to serve the legitimate aims of punishment, as evidenced by the fact that the punishment is not commonly used. If we assume, at least for the sake of discussion, that capital punishment is not intrinsically barbaric, the question whether capital punishment is “cruel and unusual” within the meaning-the original meaning-of the Eighth Amendment is the question whether capital punishment is significantly harsher than necessary to serve the legitimate aims of punishment, as evidenced by the fact that the punishment is not commonly used. SLIDE CHANGE
Whats more humane?
Is the death penalty less humane than life imprisonment?
The prisoner suffers by rotting in prison for the rest of his life, while the death penalty is instantaneous by comparison (8 yrs. vs. 30-40 yrs.) Prison is more torturous and degrading than execution, as your freedom is taken and you are essentially locked-up in a cage like an animal. Physical torment, constant threat of violence at any time.
Options for Execution
Murderers who are executed are given an option of how they’d like to be executed (options vary by state), a luxury that wasn’t afforded by their victims. CHOICES MAY INCLUDE:
Lethal injection (81% since 1976)
Electrocution (16%)-9 states
Lethal Gas (1.1%)-Only available in Arizona, California, Missouri & Wyoming Hanging (0.3%)-Only available in Delaware, New Hampshire, & Washington Firing Squad (0.2%)-Only available in Idaho & Oklahoma
Capital Punishment as a Deterrent
Some authorities believe that increasing the number of executions will also increase the deterrence rate.
“Legal academics, such as Professors Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, both of the University of Chicago, find the new deterrence evidence “powerful” and “impressive.” They couple it with “many decades of reliable data about [capital punishment’s deterrent effects” as the “foundation” of their argument, which holds that since “capital punishment powerfully deters killings,” there is a moral imperative to aggressively prosecute capital crimes.” Most of the studies fail to account for incarceration rates or life sentences, factors that may drive down crime rates via deterrence or incapacitation; one study that does so finds no effects of execution and a significant effect of prison conditions on crime rates. Another report shows incarceration effects that dwarf the deterrent effects of execution.
Many also argue that these studies fail to show the influence of drug usage and drug epidemics have on the rates of crimes. These social factors have shown to be reliable indicators in crime rate fluctuations.
As this information shows, the variables involved in gauging how much deterrence comes from the death penalty are many. In a given area variables can include crime and drug rates, age and race demographics, region and surrounding regional influences. All of these influences can exacerbate or mitigate the true value of anyone influence factor.
An argument against the evidence that shows states with the death penalty have higher crime rates is that those states have, because of the social stats of their states’ population, a higher crime rate due to urbanization or demographics and therefor have the death penalty to combat it; not the other way around. With the amount of variables in determining crime rate and prevalence of it, much misconstrued bits of info can be wrongly tied to certain facts or arguments. When looking at info and seeing that states with death penalty have higher crime rate it can seem that one is directly related to the other. However, looking at it this info with this simplicity is not proper or logical. It can also be logical to think that –
– the death penalty is in place BECAUSE of the predominance of crime. Using it to combat the rates of crime and drug usage and influence can be a good deterrent.
“During the temporary suspension on capital punishment from 1972-1976, researchers gathered murder statistics across the country. In 1960, there were 56 executions in the USA and 9,140 murders. By 1964, when there were only 15 executions, the number of murders had risen to 9,250. In 1969, there were no executions and 14,590 murders, and 1975, after six more years without executions, 20,510 murders occurred rising to 23,040 in 1980 after only two executions since 1976. In summary, between 1965 and 1980, the number of annual murders in the United States skyrocketed from 9,960 to 23,040, a 131 percent increase. The murder rate — homicides per 100,000 persons — doubled from 5.1 to 10.2. So the number of murders grew as the number of executions shrank.”
While this research may be considered “outdated” to some degree, and great deal of applicable knowledge can be gained from it. Without the death penalty in place, homicides increased tremendously.
Researcher Karl Spence of Texas A&M University said:
“While some [death penalty] abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment and still argue to the contrary, the…[data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed…In six months, more Americans are murdered than have killed by execution in this entire century…Until we begin to fight crime in earnest [by using the
death penalty], every person who dies at a criminal’s hands is a victim of our inaction.”
Life without parole has its flaws, and when the verdict does not stick disaster can happen: In 1993, a Houston jury ordered him executed for the kidnap-slaying of 22-year-old Melissa Northrup, a Waco mother of two. In 1994, a Seguin jury assessed him the death penalty for the abduction-rape-murder of 28-year-old Colleen Reed, an Austin accountant. Pamplin’s son Larry, the current sheriff of Falls County, appeared at McDuff’s Houston trial for the 1992 abduction and murder of Melissa Northrup. “Kenneth McDuff is absolutely the most vicious and savage individual I know,” he told reporters. “He has absolutely no conscience, and I think he enjoys killing.”If McDuff had been executed as scheduled, he said, “no telling how many lives would have been saved.’ At least nine, probably more, Texas authorities suspect.
While cases like this may be considered “extreme” and “unlikely”, if one were to ask any family who had lost a loved one, they would state that ANY murder is considered extreme and is a once in a lifetime experience for those involved. Looking at it from this perspective and seeing how many lives could have been saved from this single example and then adding up those from other paroled murderers who CONTINUED their crime spree it can be shown how valuable the death penalty can be.
For instance, in Article 3 it states:Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Strangely, from this, abolitionists interpret that the death penalty is a human rights violation since it deprives a person’s right to life. But if we were to follow that reasoning, we would have to abolish prisons as a human rights violation as well since they deprive people of liberty. We would also have to abolish charging taxes and fines since they violate one’s “security of person.” Indeed, it is clear that the drafters of the Declaration of Human Rights had the moral coherence to recognize the distinction between crime and punishment which abolitionists try so desperately to erase. So the interpretation that abolitionists derive from Article 3 of the Declaration is illogical and contradictory.
And in Article 5, it states: No one shall be subjected to cruel or degrading punishment. From this, abolitionists insist that capital punishment is ruled out because it is “the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.” But that is their opinion, only! Indeed, what is stated in Article 5 is highly subjective and open to interpretation and could just as easily be applied to prisons as well. And at the time it was implemented, most nations who signed it had the had the death penalty and continued to use it long after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved by them. So obviously, the signers back then had the moral coherence to appreciate the distinction between murders and executions.
What the DP is, is a punishment for a human rights violation, not a human rights violation itself.
It is often said that the US has a higher murder rate then major Western European Nations. According to Interpol and the FBI this is not necessarily the case. If one excludes murders committed by inner city blacks from the statistics the United States actually has a lower murder rate then Germany and France. Homicide Victim Rate/100,000 by Race in US (2000):
3.3 – White
20.5 – Black
2.7 – Other
Another cliched argument is the question: “Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong?” That two wrongs do not make a right, therefore, executions are equivalent to murder. First of all, the term murder is specifically defined in any dictionary as the unlawful killing of a person with malice and aforethought. So logically, the word murder cannot be used to describe executions since the death penalty is the law
The use of the death penalty is not murder in and of itself. It is a punishment, plain and simple. For those who make the choice of willingly and unlawfully taking another being’s life they must face the same retribution
that they have caused.
“In the early 1980s, the return of the death penalty was associated with a drop in the number of murders. In the mid-to-late 1980s, when the number of executions stabilized at about 20 per year, the number of murders increased. Throughout the 1990s, our society increased the number of executions, and the number of murders plummeted. Since 2001, there has been a decline in executions and an increase in murders.”
“It is possible that this correlated relationship could be mere coincidence, so we did a regression analysis on the 26-year relationship. The association was significant at the .00005 level, which meant the odds against the pattern being simply a random happening are about 18,000 to one. Further analysis revealed that each execution seems to be associated with 71 fewer murders in the year the execution took place…”
Capital punishment is often defended on the grounds that society has a moral obligation to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens. Murderers threaten this safety and welfare. Only by putting murderers to death can society ensure that convicted killers do not kill again. If the threat of death has, in fact, stayed the hand of many a would be murderer, and we abolish the death penalty, we will sacrifice the lives of many innocent victims whose murders could have been deterred. But if, in fact, the death penalty does not deter, and we continue to impose it, we have only sacrificed the lives of convicted murderers. Surely it’s better for society to take a gamble that the death penalty deters in order to protect the lives of innocent people than to take a gamble that it doesn’t deter and thereby protect the lives of murderers, while risking the lives of innocents. If grave risks are to be run, it’s better that they be run by the guilty, not the innocent. Finally, defenders of capital punishment argue that justice demands that those convicted of heinous crimes of murder be sentenced to death.
Justice is essentially a matter of ensuring that everyone is treated equally. It is unjust when a criminal deliberately and wrongly inflicts greater losses on others than he or she has to bear. If the losses society imposes on criminals are less than those the criminals imposed on their innocent victims, society would be favoring criminals, allowing them to get away with bearing fewer costs than their victims had to bear. Justice requires that society impose on criminals losses equal to those they imposed on innocent persons. By inflicting death on those who deliberately inflict death on others, the death penalty ensures justice for all. The case against capital punishment is often made on the basis that society has a moral obligation to protect human life, not take it. The taking of human life is permissible only if it is a necessary condition to achieving the greatest balance of good over evil for everyone involved. Given the value we place on life and our obligation to minimize suffering and pain whenever possible, if a less severe alternative to the death penalty exists which would accomplish the same goal, we are duty-bound to reject the death penalty in favor of the less severe alternative.
If a society chooses through established and legitimate means to impose the death penalty for an identifiable set of particularly heinous criminal behaviors, there is no principled basis on which to object other than the speciality of the punishment due to its finality insofar as the ending of a human life is concerned. Certainly ending the life of a person who has committed what society has determined to be as a specially horrible offense does not lower society to the level of a murderer for one obvious reason: society, not the individual, has the ultimate legitimate power to determine what behaviors are unacceptable and what punishments may flow from violations thereof. Individuals have no legitimate power to determine what is criminal or to impose punishments. Therefore, in no principled way may the taking of a life by an individual be equated with capital punishment, nor can capital punishment be equated with murder. To conclude otherwise would require equating arrest with kidnapping and taxation with theft. The State, when acting lawfully, may use force legitimacy where individuals may not.
Thus, by the commission of specific criminal acts for which the death penalty has been previously established as a possible punishment, individuals may constitutionally be lawfully deprived of their life. The power of American governments to impose such a penalty is unassailable under the Constitution as it is presently written (activist lawmaking Supreme Court Justices and lower court judges notwithstanding). Insofar as practical consequences are concerned, thoughtful proponents of the death penalty do not justify their belief on any notions of general deterrence. This is an unproven assertion and is basically irrelevant to the central rationale. It may be concluded, however, that the individual executed will be prevented (i.e. deterred) from committing any further homicidal acts or other antisocial acts for that matter.
It can be argued, of course, that life imprisonment would accomplish the same thing. This argument, however, not only ignores the fundamental assertion that the individual deserves to die, but also brushes aside the distinct possibility that while in prison further homicidal or other criminal acts by this individual may occur. The absence of a death penalty does indeed free these persons incarcerated “for life” from any meaningful behavior restraints thereby further endangering the lives of other prisoners and guards. E.G.:
A Florida inmate has been executed for fatally stabbing a prison guard with a soon while on death row for abducting and killing a Miami couple. Askari Abdullah Muhammad, previously known as Thomas Knight, was pronounced dead at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday after a lethal injection at Florida State Prison, the governor’s office said. The 62-year-old inmate was initially condemned to die for the 1974 abduction and killings of Sydney and Lillian Gans of Miami. Tuesday’s execution was specifically for his conviction for the 1980 killing of corrections officer Richard Burke. The execution was delayed because of numerous appeals and rulings, including a 1987 federal appeals court tossing out his original death sentence because he was stopped from putting on character and background witnesses in the penalty phase. Article from: Jan. 7, 2014
Upholding a death sentence provides closure for the families of victims, and at the very least leaves them with a sense of justice being served. This is one story from one family member.
By the time Vicki Haack arrived at the “Death Chamber” viewing room last Tuesday, the man who had murdered her sister Lisa was already hooked up to the intravenous tubes. In 1986, Kenneth B. Harris, a crack cocaine addict, had entered her sister’s apartment, raped and choked her, and then spent an hour drowning her in her bathtub. Now, he lay strapped to a gurney in a small, powder-blue room in the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, his feet lashed together and his muscular arms extended as if on a crucifix. Haack stood against the viewing window, only 4 feet from Lisa’s killer. As she watched Harris, she thought about her sister’s death, and about Harris’s family, who stood on the other side of a wall that divided the viewing room in half. Harris showed no fear. He turned his head to the side to smile and nod at his audience. With the warden at his head and the prison chaplain at his feet, Harris apologized to both families for the pain he had caused them. Then he told the warden he was ready to die. After the execution, Vicki Haack said that her family had forgiven Harris. “We have no hate or bitterness in our hearts,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean he does not pay for his crime.” “It’s justice,” Vicki said. “It’s not revenge.”
Her husband, Jeff , agreed, then elaborated.
“Revenge would be going out and killing one of [the murderer’s] family members, the death penalty isn’t revenge. It’s the law.”
The methods for our death penalty has become more humane throughout the years of this traditional method of punishment. Lethal injection is considered the most humane, hygienic method of punishing convicted murderers. Though people may argue that the methods of the death penalty is barbaric and appalling, they are more so impacted by the concept that it is killing a conscious life, rather than the actual methods taken.
There has yet to be any case in which an executed inmate is proven to be innocent posthumously. In fact, there have been convicted criminals released due to DNA evidence proving their innocence. The capital justice system examines each case thoroughly to ensure the guilt of potential death penalty sentenced convicts. There have been many released due to political or technicality reasons, as well.
There have been a number of instances of convicted murderers who have been sentenced to prison instead of the death penalty, who have been released from prison and committed more murders. This is one of the most important reasons for supporting capital punishment. Clearly these individuals have a proven history of murder, how can we as a society support releasing a convicted murderer back on to our streets?
Daniel Joe Hittle –
In 1973, Hittle was convicted in Minnesota of killing his adoptive parents. He stabbed them to death because their dog scratched his truck. He served eleven years in prison before winning parole in 1984. In November 1989, Hittle was involved in a feud with Mary Goss, his drug dealer. One day, after an argument with his wife, he drove away from his home carrying a 20-gauge shotgun in his pickup truck. When Garland police officer Gerald Walker, 48, stopped Hittle for speeding, Hittle shot him in the chest at close range. He then proceded to Goss’s home, kicked in the door, and opened fire, killing Goss, 39, Richard Cook Jr., 36, and Raymond Gregg, 19. After reloading, he shot Goss’s 4-year-old daughter, Christy Condon, then he drove back home. Christy died in a hospital two days later. He was described by witnesses as a man who gleefully killed or tortured animals and who routinely beat women and children. Peter Bryan
Beat a 20 year old girl to death with a hammer in 1993. Sentenced in 1993. Released in 2002 to a mental hospital.
Escaped in 2004 and murdered his friend, cooked and ate his brains, dismembered the body. Was returned to mental hospital and 10 days later killed another patient.
Originally convicted of manslaughter in 1984 for beating a man to death with a hammer and leaving him in a closet. Sentenced to 10 years. Released in 1992. In 1992 stabbed a gay man to death. Sentenced to 25 years for murder. Released October 2013. On the very day of his release he murdered a 66 year old man attempting to stop him from stabbing and robbing his neighbor. Committed murder on two different occasions after being convicted and sentenced for his first murder.
Capital punishment was a significant feature in the justice system of Old Testament Israel. Execution was called for in response to extreme civil crimes like murder and rape, as well as for offenses against God’s holiness, like false prophecy and witchcraft. There were mechanisms in place to avert the death penalty in some situations, and God sometimes spared the lives of people whose actions, legally speaking, would have otherwise meant the death penalty. The establishment of capital punishment in ancient Israel can be used as a justification for the practice today and it seems reasonable to conclude that since God incorporated it into Israelite society, capital punishment is not antithetical to His nature. The death penalty was never employed arbitrarily or frivolously. In fact, observing the use of capital punishment in the Old Testament actually shows us how precious human life is to God. Because human beings are image-bearers of God, murder was such a serious affront to both God and man that it had to be answered with the blood of the murderer. Genesis 9:6 suggests that this sense of justice is woven into the moral fabric of Creation: Whoever sheds man’s blood,
his blood will be shed by man,
for God made man
in His image. – Genesis 9:6 (HCSB)
Christians are well aware of the atoning power of blood, believing that Christ’s blood—shed at his execution on the cross—spares us from the spiritual “death penalty” that our sins would otherwise merit. The New Testament adds important context to the point. The apostle Paul acknowledges that wielding “the sword” is a legitimate exercise of government authority—he is referring to its duty to punish criminals, with violence if necessary. “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath
to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” –Romans 13:3 Exodus 21:12
“Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death.” Exodus 21:14
“If anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.” Quran
[6.151]…”do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except for the requirements of justice; this He has enjoined you with that you may understand.” John Locke
He argues a person forfeits his rights when committing even minor crimes His support for Capital Punishment is based on 2 views:
1. Retributive: Criminal deserves punishment as retribution for his act 2. Utilitarian: Punishment is needed to protect our society by deterring the crime through example Philosophical Considerations
Utilitarianism-the right action is the one that produces the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. 1. Prohibits the criminal from offending again.
2. Deterrence for would-be offenders.
By both preventing another crime from being committed, and deterring others from doing the same thing benefits the greatest amount of people. Morally Just
The death penalty is morally just. When a person commits murder, the only appropriate way for a criminal justice system to respond is to demonstrate the outrage of society. The sacredness of human life must be reinforced. If outrage for each murder is not conveyed, the value of life is cheapened. Therefore, the sanction for murder should be proportionate justice: if one takes a life, one must die too. Hammurabi’s Code: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
The Death Penalty Incapacitates The Offender. Capital punishment eliminates the threat of convicted murderers killing again. An example of this possibility is provided by James W. Marquart and Jonathan R. Sorenson, sociologists at Sam Houston State University. They examined the histories of all those re-sentenced after the Supreme Court emptied state death rows with its Furman decision. Seven of those released prisoners committed another murder after leaving prison. The recidivism rate for capital punishment is zero. No executed murderer has ever killed again. Ever.