The Death Penalty is an Acceptable Form of Punishment
On March 29, 1971, a thirty-seven-year-old male was convicted of killing seven people and suspected in killing another thirty-five. His methods of killing included gunshots, stabbing with forks, knives, or swords, dissecting, and battering with clubs. He showed no remorse for what he had done, but instead created a media circus in which he had a starring role (Blundell 124-30).
If anyone deserved to be executed for a murder sentence, it was Charles Manson. His rampage, Helter Skelter as Manson himself called it, was one of the most brutal serial murders in United States history. The public was outraged and demanded a just and fair punishment.
Yet Manson still sits in a California prison to this day. His jury handed him a death sentence, but it was revoked when the state of California removed the death penalty from its court system in 1972. California has since then reinstated the death penalty, but Manson will never be executed for the death sentence he received twenty-nine years ago (Blundell 124-30).
As the case of Charles Manson proves, a death penalty case is never simple. There are many factors and legal technicalities to consider. When a jury looks at a death penalty case, they must consider the burden of proof, the laws of the particular state, the presentations of the prosecution and defense, the testimony of the witnesses, and the motive of the accused. From the States side, the prosecutor mainly considers the atrocity of the crime and the mental state of the accused when deciding whether to seek the death penalty. The defense usually tries to get the jury to believe that the death penalty is inhumane and is not a deterrent to crime, as it was originally intended to be.
Despite this, most Americans favor the death penalty. In poll after poll, more than seventy percent say they support the death penalty, a figure that has remained consistent for at least the past decade (Brownlee; Foster). While the percentages have not changed much, the nature of the discussion has. Not long ago, it was framed in terms of practicality: Was the death penalty effective in deterring crime? Was permanently incapacitating an offender the best way to protect society? Was capital punishment fairly and evenly administered (Foster)?
Increasingly, another argument for the death penalty is being voiced, one far more elemental. It centers on the right of a victimise loved ones to gain peace of mind through the death[of the killer]. In other words, [this is] the right to a form of therapeutic vengeance (Landauer).
Why do Americans hold these feelings of anger toward convicted murderers? Why do they feel that it is acceptable to serve the death sentence on inmates, even though it does not deter crime? And why do Americans, with a sense of vengeance, support the death penalty as a form of retribution instead of punishment? Perhaps the answer...