The Death Penalty should be legal
Debate Rounds (4)
The death penalty, while it may seem barbaric, actually gives a lot of benefits for society. I would like to assert that capital punishment should be legal for several moral and societal reasons. To make this argument more readily accessible, I've gone ahead and broken everything up into categories for easier reading.
The Death Penalty Deters Crime
My first point asserts that the death penalty acts as a deterrent for would-be criminals. This is something that has been well-documented for a number of years, but the most useful journal to solidify this claim comes from Michael Summers, a Professor of Management Science at Pepperdine University, in a piece published in the Wall Street Journal titled Capital Punishment Works.
"...Our recent research shows that each execution carried out is correlated with about 74 fewer murders the following year... The study examined the relationship between the number of executions and the number of murders in the U.S. for the 26-year period from 1979 to 2004, using data from publicly available FBI sources... There seems to be an obvious negative correlation in that when executions increase, murders decrease, and when executions decrease, murders increase... (1)"
My first thought was that this might all be a coincidence. After all, correlation never implies causation, but it seemed they had an answer for that as well. In that same journal, they wrote about discovering this coincidence and took steps to prove that there legitimately was an interaction with death penalties and the deterrence of violent crime.
"It is possible that this correlated relationship could be mere coincidence, so we did a regression analysis on the 26-year relationship. The association was significant at the .00005 level, which meant the odds against the pattern being simply a random happening are about 18,000 to one. Further analysis revealed that each execution seems to be associated with 71 fewer murders in the year the execution took place... "
While I am only citing one journal entry, there is a plethora of resources that are publicly available to show that capital punishment acts as a disincentive. Personally, I believe that even if the number was substantially lower, even one would-be felon turned away from crime due to the death penalty is enough positive to keep capital punishment in place. That, along with other benefits shown below.
Simply, Some People Deserve It.
To be eligible for the death penalty, you'll most likely have aspects called aggravating factors when you commit a crime. These aggravating factors are anything that increases the cruelty of the crime you've committed. These factors take into account how much bodily harm you've done to the victim, how much remorse you had during the act, and how many times you've relapsed back into crime. These aggravating factors are sometimes heinous, disgusting, and morally atrocious.
You need not look farther than some of the most popular serial killers of our time. They have tortured, raped, and brutalized thousands of people and continue to plague our society with their crime. To put it plainly, these people have exhausted their use for our society. Some of these individuals are far too mentally unhinged that no amount of psychology could ever turn them from their felonies - and for those reasons, these choice individuals deserve to pass away.
If we did not have a death penalty, we would throw these criminals into our prisons. Now, put yourself in the shoes of a criminal that has serial murdered, raped, and abused. If you're thrown inside of an institution with other criminals, it would be open season for you. You could maim, abuse, and kill anyone that you'd want because there's nothing deterring you from that in prison. There's nothing that will indefinitely stop you from committing murder - so, couldn't you just continue to kill in prison?
Now put yourself into the shoes of his victims - the family on the outside that lost a family member due to a criminal act. Closure is a huge benefit of capital punishment. It shows the grieving family members that no more harm could possibly be done to them. The criminal has passed away - easy as that, done.
Putting them in prison is a different story, however. If you lock the criminal up life-without-parole, you're condemning the victims to a life of torment. What if the criminal escapes and comes after them as revenge? What if the criminal has contacts that he can influence into hurting the family more? If the criminal is nothing more than cattle herded into a prison until they die of natural causes, then why wouldn't you simply expedite their death and give closure to the victims that truly deserve it?
These are two huge benefits of capital punishment.
It can act as a deterrent for other would-be criminals and can give closure to the families that deserve it. I don't believe that there is any use to keep a convicted felon in prison if their stay is indefinite without parole. If someone has exhausted their use in our society and has proven that their intentions are evil, they should no longer deserve the stay in this existence. They will do nothing but inhibit humanity and capital punishment expedites their death so that we can cease their hindrance.
1. Community Safety:
This is the whole purpose of the criminal justice system, to make society safer.
Rehabilitation of prisoners who will be released is long-term community safety planning. But, if a prisoner, no matter the sentence or crime, can rehabilitate, they deserve a more fulfilling life, even if it is in prison.
This is the lowest goal because it is better to have 100 people come into the system every year and become rehabilitated than to have 20 a year that are released without remorse. Deterrence to future crime is the end goal of the criminal justice system.
If there is merit to the statistics provided by Bhiargo in Capital Punishment Works by Michael Summers, then there is an obvious correlation between the two proposed sets. It shall be assumed that there was no significant bias to the study and that all calculations were done without flaw. The crux of Summers"s argument however, depends on that, which he disregards, an unknown third cause behind the two sets which remains unaccounted for. Summers dismisses this idea by incorrectly applying Occam"s razor which suggests the simplest solution is probably the actual solution. While this is a good guideline to follow when formulating a hypothesis, this offers no proof of causation as a deductive fact. One particular third variable which could cause this correlation is the media coverage of the high-profile trials. Especially as live news broadcasting came about in the mid to late eighties, the high-profile trials could have had more effect of the "potential murderer" who is swayed away from such actions by the fear mongering instead of the actual verdict. Another possible third variable could be the rise in serial killings or mass shootings, those more likely to fall under the death penalty, and the reduction in single-person homicides. While there is a definite correlation between the two data sets, the author implies causation while never proving or justifying such a case over other proposed common causes. To say that the death penalty is the primary, or even a major, deterrent to the more ruthless of crimes disregards any other possible cause which could be exploited to deter crime without the use of the death penalty.
To say that some people simply deserve death is a vague statement. The criterion provided seems, even for the forum, quite vague. I would hope to discuss such criterion and its value and role at a later date. For now we will stick with a more general outline; those who would be determined deserving of the death penalty, under current standards, would have committed a crime that is far beyond moral bounds and without significant personal remorse. Now to these people, I will refer to them as sociopaths, who are asserted to be "beyond help," such a claim is very significant and would require proof which is also significant. To say that none of these people could ever be convinced of the severity of their crime requires that they believe they are absolutely right or that they are truly are absolutely right. If the man were correct, at least by the public"s eyes, they would not be imprisoned in the first place, and a man who believes he is correct in his thinking could not articulate this personal truth well enough to convince a trained psychologist, especially one which specializes in such a field, that the thinking is airtight. Now in the second paragraph of your second premise, I must assume that when you mention serial killers, you are referring to the collective mayhem of this type of person as no one person has had thousands of victims and still been classified as a serial killer. As they "continue to plague our society with their crime," this most certainly refers to the constant struggle of the criminal justice system, good against evil. These individuals are coined to be beyond help, rationalizing their choices no matter the outside influence. Why would this individual be deterred from their crime by the media coverage of death penalty cases? If these people are beyond help then they will not respond to public execution; if these people respond to public execution then they are able to receive help and rehabilitation.
The proposed mindset put forth in the third paragraph of the second premise is one more often associated with terrorists than with sociopaths. Serial killers often have some common trend to their killings: this could be a physical trait, a personality trait, a relationship, or something else: it could be the avoidance of capture or the continual lying that provides the desired affects. Prison, especially high-security prison for criminals of this caliber, does not have this sort of environment. Further, my opponent warrants that these high-security institutions are a sort of blind spot to the criminal justice system. More recently than ever before, there has been a push for humane treatment of prisoners. This criminal justice reform has put great pressure on the quality of care and especially inmate safety. The prison guards would stop them from committing murder. It is not the wonderland of killing fields put forth nor would the other inmates or prison guards allow such a mindset to acquire a foothold.
The penalization of the perpetrator of a crime does not offer closure but only relieves worries. If the sociopath is kept alive then a victim or a victim"s family would have nightmares about what happened and would frequent the prison to remind them that the sociopath is still incarcerated; these people lack closure. If the sociopath were executed, these people would still have nightmares and visit the grave site to remind them that they are safe; these people also lack closure. In both cases, the people did not need to worry because neither version of the sociopath would be allowed to hurt them. They lacked closure because they needed to come to terms with the horrendous things which befell them. And the answer to your what-ifs is the same as to mine. I would say to you, "What if the wrong person was persecuted or what if the acts were undeserving of death." The answer is that we must have faith in the system and continue to improve upon it. We must trust that a just verdict will be reached as we must trust that the criminal cannot escape, all the time working to make each more perfect.
The death penalty does not fulfill the goals of the criminal justice system. The death penalty does not make the community safer as in either case the sociopath is off the streets. The death penalty removes the ability for a perpetrator to understand their mistakes or to live a life with purpose and improvement, even if that life is behind bars and walls. The death penalty is not a clear, major deterrent to crime. Because the death penalty dos not affect the first and third prong of the goals of criminal justice, and because it negatively affects the major goal of rehabilitation, it stands that the state should not use the death penalty in the criminal justice system.
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