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The Death Penalty In America Essay

2208 words - 9 pages

According to Amnesty International, there were at least 778 people executed via the death penalty across the world in 2013, not including those who were executed in China. The United States executed 39 people in 2013, the most of any first-world country that still has the death penalty (Amnesty International). Now, there are many reasons for our lawmakers to support the use of the death penalty, despite any disadvantages it may have. There also is a long list of reasons for the discrepancy between countries and even states regarding their application of the death penalty. Finally I will give my own opinion on the death penalty and I intend to back that opinion up based on facts and statistics from recent years.
Being from Michigan, a state that literally was the first english-speaking government to abolish the death penalty in 1846 (Catlin 420), the fervor for defending the death penalty in other parts of the country is somewhat unsettling to me. However, I can understand that there are many reasons why a modern lawmaker would continue to support the death penalty in the modern day. The Supreme Court, for example, said that “there are two legitimate social purposes that may be served by the death penalty: deterrence and retribution” (Cochran 179). So politicians who are looking to deter crime or help families affected by crime by providing retribution against people who have murdered their loved ones. Furthermore, many politicians today do not want to give the appearance of being “light on crime,” in fact, being “tough on crime” is often considered to be a political virtue in many political circles of the United States today. In addition to that, particularly heinous cases such as Gregg vs. Georgia as well as the case regarding the cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer may have people calling for revenge due to the nature of the crimes, and perhaps rightfully so (Cochran 179). Another reason that many politicians in the United States support the death penalty is due to the fact that our system for executing people has gotten more and more humane over time. When you consider the differences between a lethal injection and a guillotine or even some crueler more medieval methods for execution, for example. In fact, the lethal injection may even be seen as more humane than leaving prisoners to rot in jail for the rest of their lives with no chance of ever getting out because that could harm them psychologically. Furthermore, because there is a “Weak deterrent effect of capital punishment ... caused in large part by the improbability of it being assigned for any given homicide” (Cochran 183). It could be argued that if we applied the death penalty more consistently and for a higher percentage of the capital crimes, the death penalty might be an even better deterrent for violent crimes. I would conclude by saying that politicians who support the death penalty do not do so out of spite or hatred for prisoners, but because they believe that the death penalty is the...

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