When New York States governor George Pataki took office in 1995, crime dropped in total of 45%, and the murder rate dropped by 1/3. As of September 1st 1995, the death penalty was reinstated in the state of New York, assuring safer communities and fewer victims, and an over all drop in crime rate. People have used a number of arguments to support their views regarding the death penalty. Among the arguments used include deterrence, incapacitation, religious viewpoint, rehabilitation and cost. Yet it is suggested that the true judgement of a persons position on capital punishment is determined by emotional and moral beliefs.
The primary questions raised by the death penalty are whether it is an effective deterrent to violent crime, and whether it is more effective than the long-term incapacitation. Defenders of the death penalty believe that by taking an offenders life is a more severe punishment than any prison term, it must be the better deterrent. A life term is commonly a short vacation at State expense with nothing to do but eat the fruit of others industry. (Opposing, p43.) The term deterrence is used to suggest that with the execution of murderers, there will be a direct decrease in homicide rate, due to the idea that potential murderers will fear for their own lives. Under New Yorks death penalty law offenders involving: murder of a police officer; a probation, parole, court, or corrections officer; a judge; or a witness or members of witnesss family. Also those who murder while already serving life in prison, escaping from prison, or committing other serious felonies, as well contract killers, serial murderers, those who torture their victims, and those who have murdered before.It is criminals and crimes like these that impose fear in our communities.
Due to change in sentencing laws, and other weaknesses in the system, society is not protected from acts of crime. In 1962, James Moore raped and murdered a 14 year old girl. He was not sentenced to death, but instead life imprisonment. Twenty years later, due to a change in our system, Moore is eligible for parole every two years. It is criminals like Moore, who do not deserve the right to live, certainly not amongst innocent communities. In 1868, in a debate before Englands Parliament one man stated It is better that the murderer should parish than that innocent men and women should have their throats cut. (Opposing, p57.) It are those individuals who commit a crime so grave, that they relinquish their right to life.
On a religious and moral standpoint, it is said that the death penalty is a fitting punishment. Written in the bible by Luke:
a certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at
vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might gave him some of the fruit of the vineyard.
But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him
also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him
and cast him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, what shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably
they will respect him when they see him.. But when the vinefressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves,
saying, This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the
vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy
those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.-Luke 20:9-16. (Pro-capital, p15.)
It is said that in this passage Jesus states that the probable punishment for murder is death. Christians who morally support the death penalty may do so for two reasons; they believe in an eye for an eye, meaning that with those whose crimes are to grave, they deserve to die. They also believe if the criminal is repentant of the crime they committed, they are regretful for doing so, then by their execution they are justified to the Lord.
Next there is the issue of rehabilitation. Abolitionists who support the concept of rehabilitation for murderers believe that imprisonment is effective in preventing murders from happening again. Murderers have the lowest rates of effective rehabilitation. Those who murder generally show no remorse, or guilt, and have the ability to kill again. In fact, murderers who serve time in prison are more likely to commit more murders, whether in prison, or upon their release.
Civilization must have rules to follow otherwise there will be utter chaos. With 3/4ths of Americans in favor of the death penalty, and murder rates in New York State down by nearly 1/3, one must question the downside of capital punishment. An effective punishment not only forfeits the rights of the criminal, it deters crime, increases public safety and helps provide restitution to victims. All these components are found in the newly reinstated death penalty law. Death has a property that life in prison does not: finality. (Does, p34.)
1. Hagg, Ernest Van Den & Conrad, John. The Death Penalty; A Debate Pro/Con. Plenum PublishingCorporation, New York. 1983.
2. Bender, L. David & Leone, Bruno. The Death Penalty; Opposing Viewpoints. Greenhaven Press, Inc., San Diego. 1998.
3. Barbour, Scott & Schonebaum, Stephen. Does Capital Punishment Deter Crime? Greenhaven Press, Inc., Sand Diego. 1998.
1.Pro Capital Punishment. Http://www.m.edu/ww12461/cp.num.