I am definitely for the use of the death penalty as a form of criminal punishment despite having mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, all people deserve a second chance to rehabilitate and change. On the other hand, however, some crimes are so ruthless and cause extensive pain to family members of victims that it is simply unethical to keep the culprits in jail at the expense of taxes paid by victims’ relatives. Also, I believe life imprisonment without a chance for parole for eventual release to be meaningless. A natural question to ask would be about the goals of the government when keeping a convict in prison for the rest of their lives because innocent citizens have to pay for sustaining those jails. In case the court decides that a convict should serve a life sentence, I believe the death penalty is a suitable form of punishment.
Many people oppose the use of the death penalty and are advocating for the abolishment of this type of punishment on a constitutional level. The primary argument these people are using is that murder rates have been falling for the last several decades, and they will continue to fall even without the death penalty (Garrett 8). I cannot find any reason, however, why the death penalty cannot be used in cases when a convict is sentenced to life imprisonment without a chance for release. A life sentence may be considered as a form of torture – convicts stay in prison, knowing that they will never leave this place. Therefore, the use of the death penalty is justified and should continue to be part of the current justice system.
Explanation and Application
An increase in violent crime causes increased public support for capital punishment. Advocates of the abolishment of the death penalty consider the efficacy of capital punishment as a crime deterrent – they believe it is ineffective. If it is true, then supporters of capital punishment are only seeking retribution and do not care about the correlation between the death penalty and crime rates. Another critical issue in the political debate regarding capital punishment is racial discrimination. While the Blacks comprise only 12% of the total population of the United States, more than 40% of the death penalties involve a black person (“Race and the Death Penalty”). In other words, there is a racial disparity in the proportion of people executed. The color of a defendant, unfortunately, is often a decisive point in a court’s decision.
This statistical data and the content of the movie about Todd Willingham suggest that, although the death penalty may be a suitable form of punishment for certain types of crime, the American system is not ready for it yet. Too many decisions are not objective and are instead based on biases that judges may have. Furthermore, investigators may deliberately or accidentally make mistakes when interpreting evidence, which may result in the wrong person being executed. I continue to believe that the death penalty should exist, but with the current state of the justice system, it is not possible. Therefore, the death penalty should be applied only in cases when there is irrefutable evidence that a defendant is guilty, and the investigation process has been conducted without any room for errors. Developing a methodology for checking these conditions is a challenging endeavor.
Garrett, Brandon. End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice. Harvard University Press, 2017.
“Race and the Death Penalty.” American Civil Liberties Union, 2020. Web.