An Essay on Capital Punishment and the Right Penalty for a Crime

Categories: Capital PunishmentLaw

It is true that the punishment of the crimes committed everyday should fit the crime, but to what extent? This is a question that has been talked about and debated over since the beginning of time and has recently became the most controversial punishing practice in the world. When discussing this issue, there are many different viewpoints to consider as well as two very strong sides to the argument.

The constantly changing views on this difficult issue led Supreme Court to abolish Capital Punishment in 1972.

However it was later upheld in 1977 under certain conditions. Those who are for the death penalty argue that it deters, or works against, crime by giving criminals somewhat of a fear factor to think about and hopefully will effect their decisions in someway. If criminals know that there is no tolerance for their actions and they realize the consequences, whether it be death penalty or life with out parole, they will think twice before taking the risk of being in that position.

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The pro side also claims that if these criminals are not put to death, there is a chance of them being paroled due to good behavior, allowing for an opportunity to kill again. No executed murderer has ever killed again. You cant say that about those sentenced to life in prison, even if you are an abolitionist. You can also look at it as there is no future hope for people who commit these violent crimes. It has been said that Convicted cons are not curable and are a fungus to society.

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Also a point to consider is what you would be feeling if you were in a victims familys shoes and someone killed or raped someone that was very close to you. It is a very hard situation to imagine but thousands of people are in a similar situation each year, and the thought that if they get life in prison there is a possibility of them being released and them doing what they did all over again, that must be such an disturbing thought.

A FBI study showed that states that have abolished the death penalty had averaged lower murder rates than states that havent. Another factor is that the low amount of innocents put to death is not as high as the opposing side makes it seem. Law enforcement and punishment is to crime as water is to fire.

Those who oppose the death penalty feel very strongly about their opinions. The main five reasons they use to support their opinions are as follows: racist, punishes the poor, condemns innocent to die, not a deterrent to violent crime, and cruel and unusual punishment. In some aspects, Capital Punishment goes against the eight amendment which forbids cruel and unusual punishment. Where does the Supreme Court stand on the cruel and unusual claim? However in several cases the justices of the Supreme Court have held the death penalty not cruel and/or unusual, but a constitutionally acceptable remedy for criminal acts.

Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong? When really, executions are equivalent to murder. The term you cant fight fire with fire is a good example in this situation. We arent 100% positive that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime, so if its not then why do we continue this horrendous act if its not helping out the source of the problem. There are many more cons to this issue, which will be brought up later on in this paper.

Those who feel it is right to kill juveniles by the death penalty agree that murder is a serious offense at any age. Excusing an offender simply because they are under 18 sends a message to other young offenders that they can commit serious crimes and get away with it also. This would probably increase the crime rates amongst juveniles. Minors, who commit severe crimes because they do not understand the value of life, should be subjected to the same punishment that adults are.

Most of todays society says that if a man or woman commits a murder, he or she should be punished. They should not get any type of pity or lenience, even if he is under the age of eighteen. If he had a bad childhood, abusive parents, or no parents at all, he has still committed a murder and still should be punished. Murder is a very serious offense and it deserves more than a warning and a time out. The only way to get a fair adult punishment is to be tried in court as an adult. Recent declines in homicide rates among minors indicate the threat of execution makes potential offenders think twice.

There is one simple reason why juveniles should not be tried as adults, they are not adults. What is the point of having a juvenile court if kids are just going to be tried as adults? A person under the age of eighteen does not have any adult privileges. So who is to say if a juvenile is old enough to go to court as an adult and be executed.

This opposing side of the debate argues that young offenses dont always begin with the kid. They often come from unstable households and rough childhoods. Some are victims of abuse, and the only survival skills they have to grow up on are those they learn on the streets. Also juveniles on death row might be unable to fully understand the consequences of their actions.

Society must take these factors into consideration when dealing with violence among young people. Execution clearly does not address the source of the problem. The US is almost alone in the world, which overwhelmingly oppose executions of minors. The only other countries around the world that execute kids under eighteen, are Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria. Since 1985, the US has executed more juveniles than all other countries combined. 160 juveniles have been executed in the year 2001.

One of the things that have gotten in the way of carrying out death sentences is the fear that they might be handed out in racially unfair ways. Some people believe that physical aspects are not an issue, however it is debatable. Murder has no color, class, gender or IQ. A murderer is a murderer. When a loved one is killed, I doubt anyone could take comfort in the fact that the killer had a low IQ, was black instead of white, or was poor instead of rich.

More than 75% of those on Federal death row are non-white. 90% or more sentenced to death are indigent and cannot afford to hire experienced lawyers so they receive court appointed ones. Most Capital trials last less than a week, which is hardly enough, time to present a good defense. If you can afford a good lawyer, you have a better chance of not ending up on death row. 1 in 7 on death row have been freed after being fully exonerated. Between 1900 – 1992, 416 cases of innocent persons have been convicted and given death sentence. 23 of those cases the person has been executed.


In Washington State the current death penalty was enacted in 1975. When a person is charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which is considered a capital offense, the prosecutor has 30 days to decide whether or not he wants to seek a death sentence in that case. If decided yes, there is a two-part trial, the guilt phase and the penalty phase. If the jury find the defendant guilty, there is a second part of deciding the penalty. During that time, the defense can present any mitigating evidence such as age or mental retardation. Then the jury decides on a final verdict, either life without parole, or the death penalty. Whatever the decision may be it is final.

Life without parole varies in all states but in Washington it means you are sentenced to life in prison and cannot be released as a result of a good time, or be paroled. The presumed method of execution in Washington is lethal injection, however hanging is offered as an option. The minimum age to be executed is eighteen. Washington forbids executions of mentally retarded. The location for the mens execution center is in Walla Walla, Washington. Currently there are 15 people on death row as of 1/1/01 here in our state.

Before I began researching this topic, I found myself to be an abolitionist, or against the death penalty. However after a thorough researching process I have changed my opinions around and I am now for the death penalty. I have learned in depths about the pros and the cons and the pro side has been most persuading. Capital Punishment is a very important part in todays society.

Clearly, the real question here is: Is the death penalty effective, fair, and morally right? The morality of this issue is often argued, but there are no real conclusions. Some people feel that the punishment should fit the crime, and a murder should be punished with death. On the other hand, two wrongs dont make a right, or do they? Either way, right or wrong, until the Supreme Court decides otherwise, the death penalty stands as a very important part of the Federal law enforcement and punishment throughout the country.



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  3. Campaign To End Death Penalty. 6 May 2001.
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  6. Guernsey, JoAnn Bren. Should We Have Capital Punishment? Minneaolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1994.
  7. Human Rights. Death Penalty. 14 May 2001.
  8. Landau, Elaine. The Right To Die. New York: An Impact Book, 1993.
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An Essay on Capital Punishment and the Right Penalty for a Crime. (2021, Oct 10). Retrieved from

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