Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,

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Is the Death Penalty a Viable Form Punishment?

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The country lost twenty individuals due to the death penalty over the past year. The death penalty is administered to someone legally convicted of a capital crime. The penalty can be carried out in five different ways: lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, firing squad, or hanging. Thirty-two states use the death penalty for heinous crimes. The penalty has been debated throughout history. The debate consists of whether or not it deters crime, provides justice, and abides to the constitution. Should criminals be given equal punishment for what they have done? Is the death penalty a viable, socially acceptable way of punishment?

Why do people agree with the death penalty and believe it is a necessary form of punishment? People explain that life happens to be sacred and should be treasured. On the other hand, the counter argument people make is against the death penalty is the belief that the life of the murderer is sacred too. They think the killer shouldn’t have to die, but people who are for the penalty argue that if the murderer is allowed to live, it will only cheapen the life of the victim. Families of victims indignantly mourn if their loved one died and the killer got to remain alive. Donald Trump, President of the United States says, “I have always been a big believer, and continue to be, of the death penalty for horrendous crime.” The death penalty serves many functions of which people both agree and disagree.

Kent Scheidegger, Legal Director of Criminal Justice, lists the functions that the death penalty serves when in action. It serves to provide justice, assurance that the killer will never kill again, and deterrence. Emory University did a study in 2003 to show that each execution deters an average of 18 murders. Yet, some people disagree with all these functions saying they happen to be inhumane, unconstitutional, and offensive.

Why is the death penalty not necessary? Pope Francis, current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, thinks the penalty happens to be “unacceptable” and an “offense” to life and dignity of people. The Pope thinks it goes against God’s plan for that person. Taking someone’s life as a punishment is an insult and an offense to his life. Pope Francis also talks about the commandment thou shalt not kill. “The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty.” The death penalty takes away lives, innocent or not, and people point that out as an issue in the controversial debate. Former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley said, “The longer we continue to support this expensive and failed policy, the more we fall short of our values as a people.” This statement leads to another issue the death penalty causes: the cost.

In the debate over the death penalty, people argue over the cost of execution and life without parole. Chris Clem said, “Executions do not have to cost that much. We could hang them and re-use the rope. No cost.” Yet, death penalty cases show to be more expensive. Jack D’Aurora said in his Columbus Dispatch, “Death penalty cases cost more than ordinary cases because all the lawyers, judges, and other personnel will put more hours into preparing and reviewing issues, given that a life is at stake.” Although using a rope to hang a criminal seems like the logical, cost efficient way to get the job done, lots of trials and work go into a case. Therefore, more money goes to spend on lawyers and judges. Adding on to the personnel cost, the Death Penalty Information Center adds that “an average inmate spends 13 years on death row, with some spending 30 or more years.”

It makes more sense to just sentence people to life without parole so that not much time  and money go into the case. The only drawback is the draining of government resources. According to the OADP, cases cost at an estimate of 1.5 million dollars in 1995. We would save 2.3 million dollars if the penalty goes to be eliminated.  So the question stands, is dealing with the cost more important, or is dealing with the killers more important?

The ongoing debate between whether the death penalty serves as a necessary punishment may never be ended. People constantly take their own opinions and they stick with it instead of looking at the other side and coming to a compromise. People say an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, but we still have one eye left. A lot of things can be said about whether it shows to be necessary. Yet, the questions remain. Does the death penalty provide justice, deterrence, and the opportunity use self defense skills? Does the death penalty kill innocent people, go against the constitution, and cost more? Is it a viable way of punishment?

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Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,
Is the Death Penalty a Viable Form Punishment?