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Death Penalty Arguments

Should The Death Penalty Be Abolished?

The purpose of this paper is to review the arguments for the death penalty to show that they persuasively argue and prove that it provides a viable and rational deterrent to violent crime. Human life deserves special protection, and capital punishment, while extreme, is the strongest statement possible that our society believes that the ultimate payment must be exacted for the ultimate crime. Murderers themselves share this understanding, and murder rates drop when capital punishment is aggressively applied. Ed Koch points out that ôLife is indeed precious, and I believe the death penalty helps to affirm this factö (ôDeath and Justiceö 429).

There are three justifications for punishing criminals: deterrence, retribution, and incapacitation. Deterrence prevents further murders, retribution exacts justice for wrongs done, and incapacitation renders them incapable of murdering again. In practice, a prison sentence is frequently commuted or shortened û since rehabilitation rates are low and the term ôrepeat offenderö had to be coined because punishment is typically punitive and has limited reformatory possibilities. Our prison system, which puts criminals with criminals and tends to propagate rather than eliminate anti-social behavior, provides virtually no prospects that financially costly and socially draining incarceration will result in a better person.

Jacoby (2002) pointed out that, between 1965 and 1980, when capital punishment was in disfavor, the murder rate doubled. It is his opinion that this was not a ôflukeö, but a direct result of the fact that potential killers were aware that a prison sentence was the worst punishment they could receive. Within Texas, the county having the most death penalty prosecutions has seen the annual number of murders drop from 701 to 241. Jacoby quotes Dudley Sharp of the victimsÆ rights group Justice for All as saying, ôFrom 1995 to 2000 ...

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