Capital Punishment Essay: Should Execution Of Inmates Be Televised?

1587 words - 6 pages

Should the Execution of Death Row Inmates be Televised?

     On discussing the appeal of the highly-rated CBS television show, "Survivor," host Jeff Probst said the "appeal of the show lies in the idea that it is truly a human experience" (Mason par. 3).  Now imagine a show in which American television viewers are permitted to watch the live execution of a Death Row inmate.  Would broadcasting a live execution have the same "appeal" as "Survivor"?  Or would televising an inmate's execution have horrific and harmful consequences on the American public, putting the issue of capital punishment, as well as their ethical standards, in jeopardy?


            Televisions are present in 98-99% of American households, (comma splice) basically they are present in every American house.  American viewers watch televisions frequently and for a long duration of time, regarding what is seen on television as the most "credible, complete, intelligent, and unbiased source of news" (Leighton par. 10).  Therefore, because of this fact, proponents of televising executions believe that in doing so, the public creates a deterrent, allowing the whole process of the United States criminal justice system to play out in front of the American public via the most popular medium for doing so, the television ("Debate Lives On" par. 3).  A deterrent is a notion that the pain of punishment, (in this case, the pain of execution), will prevent human beings from committing crimes.  Therefore, if the American public could bear witness to the execution of a convicted man or woman, the image would be so shocking to that viewers mind that the ability or desire of that person to commit a "death penalty" crime would decrease.  In essence, proponents of televised executions are relying on an emotional response to what they are viewing as a means of prohibiting the American public from committing a violent crime.  Violence has a tendency to attract people's attentions and produce a strong emotional reaction (Getting par. 4). 


Yet, the violence of a televised execution and the "strong emotional reaction" the American public may have to watching one will most likely have a backfire effect on those partaking in the showing.  Rather than watching a televised execution with the purpose of learning a lesson, the American public may label Death Row inmates with "hero complexes," turning criminals into celebrities.     Some viewers may identify with the inmate, possibly feeling the wrongfulness of having to comply with a "barbaric" American justice system, while others may detest the inmate, believing in the "eye-for-an-eye" approach and pro-actively seeking that person's death.  One such example of the American society becoming emotionally influenced and persuaded by the Death penalty fate of a Death Row inmate comes from convicted and executed murderer, Karla Faye Tucker, the first women to be executed in the United States.  Tucker drew enormous sympathy from the...

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