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America Needs Capital Punishment Essay

2300 words - 9 pages

The case of William Horton offers a fitting introduction to the subject of America's need for capital punishment. Horton was a violent habitual criminal, sentenced in 1988 to a Massachusetts prison "to life with no possibility of parole" for savagely slaying an innocent teenage boy. After only ten years in prison he was transferred to a minimum-security facility. There he became eligible for daily work release, as well as unescorted weekend furloughs from prison. Following the example of other hardended inmates over the years, Horton decided not to return from work. Instead, months later, he viciously tortured and raped a Maryland couple for twelve hours (Bidinotto 5). As this case illustrates, capital punishment is essential to maintain social order in the United States. It is necessary to keep society safe, deter crime, preserve ethical values, uphold the Constitution, and ease the taxpayer's burden.

A country and culture as advanced as the United States keeps sentencing repeat violent crime offenders to "life imprisonment without parole," when it would be so much more efficient and better for society if the criminals were executed. The "life imprisonment without parole" conviction is frequently sentenced, but rarely enforced. This is caused by the extensive list of backlogs in the United States' penal system. These backlogs create a dangerous situation for society, becau se the convicts often slip through the judicial system after a very short prison term. Newsweek reports that in the United States there are over 1,000 correctional facilities housing over 75,000 death-row inmates. Of theese inmates, more than hal f have lived past their given execution date (Anger 25). This is the result of the numerous appeals that death-row inmates are permitted to submit. For every inmate that dies, there are five new ones to replace him or her. Cleaning up the hopelessly lo ng backlogs, the government would have to execute a convict everyday through the year 2021. Florida's triple killer, Gary Alvord, is celebrating his 22nd year on deathrow, still hoping, and still appealing. Until May 10, 1995, Montana's Duncan McKenzie had avoided the lethal needle for twenty years. Surprisingly, he fell just one vote short from freedom (Anger 25). In the instance of Terell Watkins, he was given twelve appeals, which kept him alive an extra 17 years. Watkins' execution date was set f or May 8, 1970, but wasn't executed until November 21, 1987. During this time he filed 12 appeals and even got two parole hearings. Had the Parole Committee felt differently about his stay in prison and granted him parole, a convicted murderer of four c hildren and three women would have been set free. If only half as many appeals had been allowed, he would have been executed in 1976 and would have had no opportunity for parole (Thompson 58-60).

In the United Staes, over 69% of all murderers are single case casualties; of these, the death...

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