Revisiting Capital Punishment for Criminals

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Why is it that we believe that only by taking away a life we can pay for another life? Executing lawbreakers to simply dissuade others from mirroring their behaviour is just a cruel application of this utilitarian logic. The same logic can be thought of to justify killing one healthy person and harvesting their organs to save five sick people. Although it may maximise wellbeing in general but still is an abuse of human rights. The fundamental right of an individual not to be harmed must be kept in mind while trying to maintain a balance in society.

Why is capital punishment wrong at its very core? Every constitution states that every being has the right to live and, in particular, should not be killed by another entity including the government. No one can encroach this right, regardless of the individual’s deeds. Not to forget that such a type of penalty also inherently has the risk of executing innocents. Since the year 1973, approximately 165 people who have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in the United States have been exonerated. Basically for every nine condemned men or women executed, one condemned person has been found innocent and released.

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The question arises does capital punishment even act as a deterrent for criminals? Reports released by Death Penalty Information Center based in the U.S claims consistent with previous years, the 2016 FBI Uniform Crime Report showed that the South had the highest murder rate. The South accounts for over 80% of all executions. The Northeast was found to have the lowest murder rate which has been recorded to have less than 1% of all executions. The report also states that according to a survey of the former and present presidents of the country’s top academic criminological societies, about 88% of these experts dismissed the presumption that the death penalty can act as a deterrent to murder.

There have also been cases where instead of being a deterrent, Capital punishment has caused murder. In a medical paper, Dr. Louis West speaks about what he calls 'attempting suicide by homicide.' In a few cases a person actually kills in order to court death by execution. Here is one of them: Recently an Oklahoma truck driver had parked to have lunch in a Texas roadside cafe. An complete stranger- a rancher from close by - strolled through the entryway and blew him in half using a shotgun. When the police at last disarmed this man and inquired as to why he had done it, he answered, 'I was simply tired of living.'

Others have also documented examples of killing to invite execution; for example, Clinton Duffy, the former warden of San Quentin prison, describes several cases in his 1963 book 88 Men and 2 Women. In these instances the death penalty was a cause of homicide rather than a preventive. Scotty Morrow, a black man from Georgia, indisputably committed a brutal murder in 1994. A fight with his ex-girlfriend, Barbara Ann Young, lead him to shoot her in the head while her five year old son watched.

Morrow also shot dead another woman in the house, Tonya Woods, and has shot a third woman, LaToya Horne, in the face. Horne was able to stagger down the road before collapsing. She suffered permanent injuries. Not surprisingly, Morrow was sentenced to die — but let me throw in a bit of complexity.

Morrow grew up in a violent home where he was raped and beaten as a child, and he never received mental health support to deal with his trauma; that justifies nothing but may help explain something. He desperately wanted to reconcile with Young, and when told that she had been exploiting him for money while she waited for her “real man” to return from prison, he “just snapped,” as he put it. After the murders, he prepared to commit suicide but was arrested; he then prayed daily for 25 years for the families of the women he had killed.

If executions protected innocent lives through deterrence, that would weigh in the balance against capital punishment's heavy social costs. But despite years of trying, this benefit has not been shown to exist; the only proven effects of capital punishment are its liabilities. The expansion of the death penalty in New Hampshire would be a practical and a moral step backwards.

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Revisiting Capital Punishment for Criminals. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
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