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"Love, He Needs to be Executed"

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A few days ago, when I was shopping for furniture at IKEA, my mother called sobbing in resentment at the news she had just heard. I can hear the unimaginable pain in her voice as she told me that one of our dear family friends was raped, killed, and left to rot at an abandoned tourist mall. Who would do this? Why would they do this? How do we get justice for my mother’s dead friend?

Capital punishment, in its dictionary definition, is punishment by death for a crime; also known as the death penalty. Criminals found to be guilty of first- or second-degree murder should face the ultimate punishment of execution. Why?

Let’s begin by defining the degrees of murder. According to the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School, first-degree murder is a premeditated, intentional killing. Second-degree murder is unpremeditated, intentional murder, both of which are a result of malice. On the other hand, third-degree murder, also known as involuntary manslaughter or felony murder, is a killing resulting from recklessness or negligence. In this type of killing, the killer did not premeditate or intentionally kill the victim.

It is more than apparent as to why capital punishment should be implemented for those guilty of murder to the first or second degree. These criminals are a fatal threat to the community. They have either thought about killing a person and executed it, or just decided to take a life at will— both of which are astonishingly unacceptable. According to the statistical branch of the Justice Department, a prisoner with one prior arrest is 40.6 percent likely to commit another crime leading to an arrest, and the rate increases based on the number of prior arrests. “The main thing this report shows is that our experiment with building more prisons as a deterrent to crime has not worked,” reported Professor Joan Petersilia, an expert on parole and a professor of criminology at the University of California at Irvine. This report shows that criminals are most likely to repeat the same crime, which in the case of murderers can lead to deaths among prisoners and officers.

Aside from criminals committing the same crimes, the death penalty should be implemented to serve justice for the victim. The reason we have a government and a judicial system is to put order in communities and prevent chaos. The judicial system decides on how severe a punishment should be for any offender of the law. They try to deliver the most sound and logical punishment for every crime. For example, the average prison sentence for a property felony crime would be three and a half years. This is what they have decided was most just for the offenders and their victims. To revert back to capital punishment, how can a murder victim get his or her justice? The answer is in cold-hearted, premeditated murder, the only equivalent to one’s life is another. Simply an eye for an eye. People may argue that life imprisonment is better than taking away the criminal’s life and that people deserve second chances. That is true, and is also true for their victims. Their victims weren’t offered a second chance. They are dead. Why should we go easy on murderers by giving them an option of life imprisonment? What kind of image are we trying to give to the community—a judicial system that is merciful, or a system that is just? Without capital punishment, we give off an image that people can get away with murder.

Why take the risk of exposing the criminal to another victim? They did not think twice about killing their victims, so why should we think twice about giving them their just punishment? It all comes down to how this world will function. This world needs justice. Without it, there will be chaos.

One may argue that the cost of lethal injections used in execution is costing tax payers too much for a criminal who is undeserving for their valuable tax money. According to a research study done by UC Berkeley School of Public Policy, the average cost of the death penalty versus life imprisonment is equivalent to a ratio of 1.9 million to $630,000 (“Costs of Death Penalty”). People often question the worth behind the cost into putting away these criminals. Those who question this system should ask themselves this: Is the cost of executing these criminals worth it to serve as justice for the victim? What society needs to realize is that cost is NOT for the criminal; it is for the safety of the community and the ultimate justice for the victim who is dead and defenseless. Regardless of whether or not capital punishment costs more than life imprisonment, justice is not up for sale to the lowest bidder.

Another valid argument from the opposing would be that the innocent may be wrongfully executed. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1976 there have been 139 death row exonerations and 39 wrongfully executed (“Wrongful Executions”). Also, death row criminals are often represented by inexperienced, low-income lawyers—which contradicts a fair trial. Yes, there have been unfortunate errors in the past regarding executing the innocent, dating all the way back to the Salem Witch Trials; however, this does not rid the justice of the death penalty system. We now have DNA testing to further prevent future wrongful executions. With the use of DNA tests, 273 people, including 17 death row inmates, have been exonerated as of September, 2011, as reported by the American Civil Liberties Union (“DNA Testing and the Death Penalty”). As much as there is a solution to obtaining justice for the victims, there is also a solution to wrongful execution.

Anti-capital punishment believers strongly emphasize that “statistics” show that capital punishment does not deter increasing crime rates. Many researchers conducted their educated studies and found that some statistics have been proven to be flawed. Dr. Jefferey Fagan of Columbia University, for instance, exposes that there have been several cases where there have been serious miscalculations on deterrence studies. These studies lacked data and variables that are essential to deliver a legitimate overall view of the criminal justice system. He also stated that these studies conducted “improper statistical analysis.” Fagan claims, “There is no reliable, scientifically sound evidence that [shows the execution] can exert a deterrent effect … These flaws and omissions in a body of scientific evidence render it unreliable as a basis for law or policy that generates life-and-death decisions. To accept it uncritically invites errors that have the most severe human cost.” Other well-educated practitioners formed the same conclusion, stating that all studies claiming capital punishment does not deter future crimes are either flawed or missing crucial information. To read more about the false claims of the deterrence of capital punishment, read the article Discussion of Recent Deterrent Studies by the Death Penalty Organization.

With all the clear and credible evidence rebutting opposing arguments, it is apparent to conclude that capital punishment serves as justice to society and to its victims of murder to the first and second degree. We must fight for the safety of our community, and the vengeance of the victim. My mother is the most religious and soft-hearted person I have ever met in my life. When I asked her if she thought that the suspect should be executed I heard a silence and a soft whisper, “No …” A common mistake of the soft-hearted; she thought about the criminal. I then reminded her to think about the victim. I brought to her attention that her friend’s body was found dead in an abandoned building with a cracked Budweiser bottle inserted in her reproductive organ and that the criminal mercilessly took her life away from her friends, family, and children. The silence was deafening. She was crying. A woman so fragile and kind, too kind for her own good, then said to me, “Love, he needs to be executed.”

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