|Point-Counterpoint: the Death Penalty
10/25/2012, 8:15am CDT
By Mr. Point & Mr. Counterpoint
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Is the Death Penalty Wrong or Right?
Point: the Death Penalty is Wrong
One controversial issue in the news nowadays is the death penalty. Should we abolish the death penalty or keep it? Many states (33) have the death penalty and the murder rate per 100,000 people in those states is 4.63% compared to 2.86% in states that don’t have the death penalty (deathpenaltyinfo.org). The death penalty is wrong, they say, it doesn’t work, and it costs too much.
The death penalty is morally wrong. We have made it a law against killing someone, yet the punishment is to kill them. Taking a human life is wrong; the 6thcommandment is “thou shall not kill.” If regular people aren’t allowed to kill someone, why does the government get to kill someone?
The death penalty does not do its job. It was originally created to deter criminals. The death penalty does not deter anyone from killing someone. An analogy would be students cheating on a test. Even though schools have strict consequences against cheating, students still cheat. Also, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Neither Great Britain nor Australia has the death penalty, and crime rates are lower there than in the U.S. This shows that the death penalty does not deter criminals from murdering people. The death penalty should be abolished because innocent people can be killed. Since 1976 (death penalty was reinstated), 82 inmates have been freed from death row--which means at least 82 people have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death.
Also, the death penalty is expensive. Consider this: an average trial with the death penalty is $2 million compared to $500,000 life in prison. Also the federal government, using taxpayer money, has to build a maximum security wing--death row--and also pay for guards for 24 hours a day. Since trials are very expensive, many defendants have an inexperienced court paid lawyer.
The death penalty is not useful anymore. Innocent people could be/could have been killed. The death penalty is wrong, it doesn’t work, and it is expensive. Instead of having the death penalty, we should institute life in prison without parole. Then, the convicted will not be able to commit any more crimes in the community.
Counter-point: Death Penalty
Death. Many have different ideas on what happens when one dies. Whether the other side holds judgment, another life, or absolutely nothing; man has an unshakeable fear of dying. Since the early Babylonian Empire with King Hammurabi, murder has been answered by murder: The Death Penalty. What punishment could deter someone so engulfed in rage, someone intensely focused on the lust of the kill? Why, what is the main primal fear that drives even those stranded in the wilderness not to just lay down and give up? Death: the fear of death.
Before modern times, murder has had a standard punishment throughout civilized nations; that being, you guessed it, death. It has been a worldwide trend in this current age that capital punishment is somehow “immoral” and “barbaric”. They quote Gandhi, stating, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Like Mr. Point over there, some say that killing is not a valid response to a killing.
Being Mr. Counterpoint, I obviously do not agree with this thought. When violent, deliberate, hateful murder occurs, there is no doubt the intent of the action. One person wanted another person dead. They wanted to take a life that did not belong to them, and the fact that they actually acted upon this thought should clearly show they’re a danger to society. There is no doubt in most sane minds that these murdering men and women are guilty of their crimes, and they deserve a punishment that keeps them from murdering again.
It is not my point to say in what circumstances I believe murder should result in capital punishment; merely to say that the Death Penalty is a viable punishment for those charged with it. Thirty-one out of our fifty United States continue to use capital punishment, showing however “barbaric” some may find the penalty, state officials and constituents still believe in this basic, fundamental law of man. This punishment is not a passing trend like many on Mr. Point’s side would have you believe.
As to the effectiveness of the penalty: statistics can be deceiving. Mr. Point would have you believe that murder rate statistics clearly show that states with the Death Penalty have no more noticeable drop in murders than those that do not have it, but this is misleading. The fact is, murder rates fluctuate so much according to region and population demographic that each state’s murder rate is unique and cannot be compared with others to show the effectiveness of legal measures (such as capital punishment).
That might sound like just a bunch of fancy words, but here are some statistics from the 2010 census (gathered by deathpenaltyinfo.org). Louisiana holds the highest murder rate by far, with 11.2 murders per every 100,000 people. New Hampshire has the lowest rate, with only 1 murder per every 100,000 people. Both states have the Death Penalty. Opposition to the penalty often state that murder rate statistics show states without capital punishment have lower average rates than those with it, but this is clearly not true. States just vary in murder rates; it has little to do with the Death Penalty being in one state compared to another.
States without the penalty tend to not have had much of a murder problem in the first place. New Jersey abolished the penalty in 2007, and there has been no real pattern of change since, for the state’s murder rate only averaged about 4.2 per every 100,000 people for the past fifteen years, and legislation doesn’t really change that. It’s the states thatactually have murder problems that show true change with and without the law. New Mexico abolished its Death Penalty in 2009, and that year alone, murder rates climbed to 9.9; smashing the previous year’s rate of 7.2. Think of Louisiana’s murder rate if they decided to abolish the main deterrent from killing another person! Would their rate of 11.2 per every 100,000 people climb 38% like New Mexico’s? The stats show it very well could.
The Death Penalty is ancient punishment for an ancient crime. It has been effective throughout the millenniums and isn’t dying out now. A true look at statistics will show you its worth, and an honest observation of mankind will show you why. Man fears death; so if death is the punishment for murder, man won’t murder. Only the criminally insane murder fully knowing the consequences: and they are dangerous for society anyways, making death an appropriate means of deterring them from murdering again.