Thesis statement: Capital punishment is a good thing as it exists to eliminate these people and to make society safer for everyone.
Against human rights.
For the continued development of civilization.
Capital punishment as reducing murders.
The human element – 1995 bombing.
Capital punishment as a modern controversy
Ethical and moral implications
1990 – increased checks on potential innocence
Apportioning blame to the individual
People unable to manage themselves
The state as managing behaviour
In the modern world, there exists a small minority of people are progressively violent and inappropriate within society. Capital punishment is a good thing as it exists to eliminate these people and to make society safer for everyone. It also acts as a strong deterrent to individuals who may commit such a crime. Many argue that the death sentence is against human rights and that nobody can ever truly know whether the individual is guilty or not however, in the right instance, the death sentence is vitally important to the continued development of society – to remove those individuals who dampen the progress of civilization.
There is some empirical evidence that capital punishment does deter others from committing murder: “each execution results, on average, in 18 fewer murders” (Mandery, 2011, p36). This shows that capital punishment must be maintained as a viable sanction as it clearly holds a strong sway over the decisions that people make. Of course, this data can only ever be an inference and as such, it is unfair to base the entire argument for the death penalty on this one statistic. It is important to look at the human side of these events too: the lives that have been taken in cruel, twisted ways and the many other lives (the partners, the children, the parents) that are shattered as a consequence. It is for these people that true repentance must be sought – an eye for an eye, a life for a life. In 1995, a bomb blew up the Alfred Murrah Federal Building, killing 164 people including Claude Medearis, Bob Westberry, Linda Florence, and Erin Langer who left behind children, partners and various other people (Sarat, 2002, p3-4). These people deserve redemption for the loss that they have experienced and clearly, the death penalty can provide that.
Of course, capital punishment remains one of the most vibrant modern controversies because of the ethical and moral implications that it brings to the table. The main argument against capital punishment is that it is impossible to ever truly decide whether a person is guilty or not and that, as such, it is unfair to make such a definite, finite decision that can end a person’s life. However, since 1990, there has been a greater focus placed on the development of discovering innocent people in death row (Zimring, 2004, p141); the process behind this means that those who are eventually executed are guilty and deserve their fate. These processes are done at county level and “extends our degrees of freedom, thus broadening the scope of our empirical investigation.” (Mandery, 2011, p37). It is, of course, important that we establish the individual’s true guilt in these matters.
Another good effect of capital punishment is the idea that it means society becomes more focused on “apportioning blame” and “fixing individual responsibility” (Sarat, 2002, p14). In doing this, capital punishment issues the blame on one individual instead of examining societal issues, which many would prefer to do. However, this is liberal nonsense as the bottom line is that it comes down to the individual’s choice to kill someone else. This does give the individual over to the “coercive power of the state” (Zimring, 2004, p124) and whilst some may think of this as a bad thing, it is actually a good thing as some individuals cannot be trusted to conform to social expectations on their own and so the state must take control.
Capital punishment is and must always be an important part of the American justice system. The state’s control of matters must be implemented so as to actively deter future criminality as well as to manage those who cannot control their own behaviour in society. It will, undoubtedly, remain one of the more controversial issues that face modern culture but it is important for the continued development of a happy, healthy civilization.
Mandery, E. (2011). Capital Punishment in America: a balanced examination. London:
Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Sarat, A. (2001). When the state kills: capital punishment and the American condition.
New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Zimring, F. E. (2004). The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.