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Ethics Of Punishment Essay On Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood". This Essay States What Punishment Dick And Perry Should Get. It Includes The Counter Arguement And Specific Detail In The Book.

1484 words - 6 pages

Not in Cold BloodIn the book, "In Cold Blood", by Truman Capote, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith commit a heinous crime by slaughtering the Clutter family. Should Dick and Perry die for their crimes by receiving the death penalty? Throughout the book there is clear evidence that supports both sides. Would this case adhere to the M'Naghten rule or were both defendants aware of what crime they were committing? After close analysis of both defendants I do not believe either one deserves capital punishment.Before looking into the case one must take a look at the two defendants. Along with Perry, Richard (Dick) Eugene Hickock was one of the two murderers of the Clutter family. Dick grew up in Kansas, was married twice, and was jailed for passing bad checks. He is a practical man who excludes confidence and cruelty, but in reality he is not a ruthless or as brave as he seems. Along with Dick, Perry Edward Smith was the other of the two murders of the Clutter family. His legs were badly injured in a motorcycle accident. He wants very much to be educated, and he considers himself quite intelligent and artistic. His childhood was lonely and disorganized. His criminal record seems to be an extension of the strange environment he grew up in.Perry and Dick do not deserve the death penalty. The defendants of this case adhere to the M'Naghten rule. This means "that if the accused knew the nature of his act, and knew it was wrong, then he is mentally competent and responsible for his actions" (Capote, 267). Perry as well as Dick were not mentally competent and responsible for their actions. First of all, Perry is mentally crazy and so his actions do not merit death. The only witness for the defense is the psychologist. According to Kansas' M'Naughten Rule all a psychologist can do is testify whether or not a defendant could tell right from wrong at the time of the crime. In regards to Perry, the psychologist says he is not sure, but the judge does not let him say anything further. Capote includes what the psychologist would have said, carefully diagnosing Perry as a potential schizophrenic, "Perry Smith shows definite signs of severe mental illness" (Capote 296). He writes disjointedly in his autobiography that he writes to the psychologist. At the end of the autobiography he wrote: "Went to Las Vegas and continued to Kansas where got into the situation. I'm in now. No time for more" (Capote, 276). He can't think clearly which shows in his writing. He also, writes like he thinks. He lacks order and coherence. While in jail, Perry thinks he is insane. He plans to escape with the help of a couple men, but when they don't show up outside his window he wonders if he made them up, "a notion that he 'might not be normal, maybe insane' had troubled him" (Capote, 265). He even realizes that he might be a schizophrenic. He was unable to distinguish reality from nonexistence. So how could he tell right from wrong? To him the killing was all just an illusion.While Perry had...

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