The Death Penalty

THE DEATH PENALTY The Death Penalty James A. Fort DeVry University ENG135 THE DEATH PENALTY The Death Penalty Many countries throughout history have used the death penalty as deterrence to major crimes. Some crimes that are considered to be major are rape, murder, manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter. The death penalty applies to the major crimes that are committed violently or murders that are done with forethought. The way to prevent some of these major crimes is to use the death penalty. There have been arguments from some organizations that feel that the death penalty is cruel, unjust and immoral means of punishment.

I feel the opposite. I think the death penalty is a great deterrence for people that commit major crimes. I will discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses surrounding the death penalty. In the state of Georgia the following crimes are punishable by death; murder, kidnapping with bodily injury or ransom where the victim dies, aircraft hijacking, and treason. The lethal injection is the means that is used when someone is sentenced to death. There is no real age specified to how old somebody can be before they are sentenced to death. As of 2011 there was 101 people on death row, 100 men and 1 woman.

There are two phases in sentencing a person to death, the trial and the sentencing or penalty phase. The trail phase is where the defense team tries to prove that the defendant did not commit the crime or case some reasonable doubt in the mind of just one juror. If the defendant is found guilty then comes the penalty phase. In the penalty phase the jury hands down the death sentence not the judge. It is during this phase that the defense team tries to convince the jurors not to sentence the defendant to death. The actual sentence is weighed out using two different factors.

They are mitigating and aggravating factors. Mitigating factors include is the defendant suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or under some type of extreme duress while committing the crime. Aggravating factors include the defendant being on parole, probation, or an escapee at the time of the crime and did the defendant commit any other felonies while committing this crime. If the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors in the eyes of the jury, then the defendant can be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

The state of Georgia has used the following methods to carry out the death sentence. Hanging which was used in Colonial times to 1925, the electric chair, which was used from 1925 to 2001, and finally lethal injection, which was implemented on October 25, 2001. The lethal injection is a combination of drugs (a barbiturate, paralytic, and potassium solution), which causes immediate death of the subject. It kills the subject by first by putting the person to sleep, then stopping the breathing, and then heart in that order.

There was talk to adopt the gas chamber instead of using lethal injection but it did not get past the Georgia House of Representatives. The lethal injection is actually administered in two different places for males and female prisoners. At one time both males and females were executed in the electric chair in Georgia State Prison, which is located outside of Reidsville, Ga. There is a museum on the upper floors of the main building that house the remains of an electric chair that was used to execute prisoners. There are also ledgers with the last words of prisoners there as well.

Now the men are executed in Jackson, Ga. and the women are executed in Atlanta, Ga. A June 2010 Rasmussen telephone poll found that 62% adults favor the death penalty. The same poll also found that 45% of people polled felt that capital punishment deters people from committing murders. On the other hand 43% said no. Some of the strengths of the death penalty are that it does not allow violent murders back onto the streets, it deters crimes from would be murders, and it gives comfort to families of murdered victims.

By using the death penalty as a means of punishment on violent murders it prevents them from reentering society and having a chance to commit more acts of violence. There are also arguments against the death penalty. Some of these arguments are appeals, mentally handicap, and that some people who commit murder are too young. When filing for an appeal there is a lengthy process that can take years for the accused case to be heard tying up court and district attorney time and resources. There are also higher costs because of court fees and paying investigators and experts.

While waiting on a new trail for the appeal process to be completed the prisoner will be sitting on death row awaiting the outcome. Meanwhile taxpayers will be footing the bill for the public defender and court appointed experts bill. When dealing with a mentally handicap person you need to know if that person was aware of the violent crime that they committed. In the state of Georgia if an adult has an IQ of a child commits a major crime then, in the eyes of the judicial system that person is mentally incapable of standing trial and helping in his or her own defense.

The court uses professionals and doctors to make the determination of the defendant mental capability. In most cases the defense team will hire their own group of professionals and doctors to test the defendant mental capability. There are some organizations that feel minors (18 years or younger) should not be sentenced to death. Although I personally think that a person that 17 years old is and not mentally handicapped is old enough to know that if he or she violently committed a crime then they should have to pay for his or her own actions.

There have been many arguments for the death penalty. In Dec 2009 Kenneth C. Land, Raymond H. C. Teske Jr. , and Hui Zheng wrote that evidence exists of modest, short-term reductions in homicides in Texas in the first and four months that follow an execution – about 2. 5 fewer homicides total. Another model suggests, however, that in addition to homicide reductions, some displacement of homicides may be possible from one month to another in the months after an execution, which reduces the total reduction in homicides after an execution to about . 5 during a 12-month period.

Also Charles N. W. Keckler wrote that for some offenders, the death penalty should induce greater caution in their use of lethal violence, and the deterrent effect seen statistically is possibly derived from the change in the behavior of these individuals. There is also a sense of closure for the families of the victims. Although their grieving can’t be understood by anyone who has not suffered through this ordeal they can get some relief knowing that the convicted defendant who committed this violent crime will not be able to commit it again and has paid for their crime.

I believe that the death penalty is a great deterrence for capital crime. If you give a prisoner a lesser sentence of life without the possibility of parole what is to stop him from murdering another inmate or even a guard just trying to do his job? You hear proponents of the death penalty say that the prisoner will spend the rest of their lives thinking about the crime they committed. What if they feel no remorse at all for the crime they committed? Then would life in prison without the possibility of parole be a fair and just sentence? References

Rein, Mei Ling Capital Punishment Cruel and Unusual? 2202 Edition 2002 Gale Group Inc Formington Hills, Michigan 48331-3535 http://www. deathpenaltyinfo. org/national-polls-and-studies#rasjune Criminology THE SHORT-TERM EFFECTS OF EXECUTIONS ON HOMICIDES: DETERRENCE, DISPLACEMENT, OR BOTH? http://onlinelibrary. wiley. com/doi/10. 1111/j. 1745-9125. 2009. 00168. x/abstract Charles N. W. Keckler? Life v. Death: Who Should Capital Punishment Marginally Deter? ?Journal of Law, Economics and Policy, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 101-161 (2006) ? http://www. cjlf. org/deathpenalty/KecklerLifeVDeath. pdf