A life for a life? Capital punishment A.K.A. the death penalty or execution is a political argument that still stirs up some talk..and rightfully so. Put it like this: If we as natural born citizens do not have the right to take someone else’s life, what separates the government from that same standard?
Further more, why do they get to decide who dies and who lives? In my opinion, that is too much power for an individual to hold…it is almost like playing God. This would arguably be the perspective of a critic.
Here are some facts: As of May 2016, recent statistics show that over 75% of the murder victims in cases resulting in an execution were white. Since 1973, over 150 people have been exonerated from death row due to their innocence through evidence. As of January 1, 2016 California was deemed the state with the highest amount of inmates on death row resulting in 743 out of a total number of 2, 943. 61% of voters would chose another form of punishment other than the death penalty. Lethal injection is the primary method used in death penalties. 88% of experts rejected the idea that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder.
Many wonder how the death penalty came in to existence as a form of punishment. The use of such a punishment dates back to the eighteenth century where the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon was created and then codified. This code is known to be the birth of death penalties which remained as a punishment for 25 different crimes excluding murder. [Ironically, in America, murder, specifically in the first degree is typically what warrants the death penalty.] According to the Code of King Hammurabi, crimes such as theft, selling stolen goods, adultery and misconduct of a wife warranted immediate death. In a way we can be thankful that the crimes punishable by death, at least in America, are not so “unreasonable”. Could you honestly imagine being killed for cheating on your husband or wife? Shit…..a lot of people would be dead if that was the case.
American history involving the use of the death penalty was solely influenced by the British more than any other country. That is no surprise when we think of how merciless the British were and the power and influence they had over the colonies prior to American independence. Fast forwarding to today’s death penalty and what it is used for is dependent upon state to state. It should be noted that every state does not offer the death penalty as a form punishment for capital offenses. Considerably, 31 states utilize the death penalty while states such as Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and New York (to name a few) do not.
As far as the pros and cons are concerned, I find myself on the side of the cons. Although it is an extremely touchy subject, let’s be real about this: First are foremost, the death penalty fails to rehabilitate the criminal. That means, there is no chance or hope that a person can change. Further, advocates claim that it acts as a deterrence which is false because there is no evidence to support that. So, if it does not stop crime then…what exactly do we use it for? I think that the death penalty is solely a reflection of retribution which stems from deep rooted emotions and feelings of anger that turn in to hate. Why else do we seek revenge? Above that, revenge is an irrational response to a situation that leads to no resolution. The whole eye for an eye bit does nothing but add to the lives lost without providing any real solution or resolve. What becomes the point? Let’s also not forget that carrying out a death penalty is irreversible and if a mistake has been made……then what?
Often times people only consider the victim when weighing the pros and cons of the death penalty. The idea is that if we kill a bad person, then we are protecting the greater community from harming other people. Hundreds and thousands of Americans die each year whether that is by Emma or John. So if killing Emma has no impact on crime and still leaves our community vulnerable because you still have John out there….what really becomes the point behind capital punishment? I guess the idea is one less killer can make a difference.
It is uncomfortable for us to take ourselves outside the box and consider all sides of the spectrum on issues as heavy like the death penalty. It is hard to have compassion for a murderer, but compassion is not for them it is for you (some food for thought).