I’m Marina Lee, and ideally speaking, you’re someone with an opinion. But I’m more of a realist than an idealist, so I’ll just go ahead and declare myself right about everything, and see if anyone cares to disagree.
So, today. August 9th. Nothing much happened, other than the Edwards affair story breaking. I really couldn’t care less about that. If he actually had a sound political idea to speak of, I wouldn’t mind the occasional liason. He doesn’t, and I *still* don’t mind the occasional liason. There are many reasons not to vote for John Edwards, the obvious one being that he’s a socialist, but what he does in his personal time is not one of them.
We’ve got a scary situation on our hands right now: people vote based on emotion. Wether it’s the emotion of hating a cheating spouse, or the emotion of searching for new hope, emotional decisions corrupt the entire point of democracy. Democracy relies on the concept that the majority of the people are good, and that the majority of people know best. Not to put to fine a point on it, they don’t.
There was a time when the majority thought the world was flat. They were wrong. There was a time when the majority thought that God created the world in 6,000 years. They were wrong. There was a time when people thought that Communism could make everyone rich. They too were wrong. And yet the modern day world refuses to accept that the majority can make mistakes. If the majority of people vote for a measure, it gets passed. Most states put abortion to the ballot every 4 years, and one of these days it’s going to pass. That doesn’t make it right.
The legitimate follow up question is, “What else can we do?” If the majority doesn’t know what’s right, who does? For the moment, even *I* the all knowing self declared God of Atheism, don’t know the answer. Do any of you, my nonexistent readers?
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I hate socialism. In fact, I’m a borderline Laissez-faire Capitalist. I’m also extremely liberal, socially speaking. People should be able to do more or less what they want. In what might seem like a coontradiction to that, I’m all for the death penalty. Here’s why:
When you hit bottom, you’re free. When there is simply nothing more that anyone can do to you, you no longer have to care, about anything. Nothing matters. A government only has control as long as it can hold something over you, but without the death penalty, the government can lose this control before you’re dead. That would be catastrophic. The government MUST have control. Without control, we are nothing.
Capital punishment is a just response for the most heinous crimes against humanity. Premeditated murder, aggravated rape, treason, and capital drug trafficking all demand capital punishment, for any age group. The death penalty is a moral obligation.
As death penalty is the status quo, it is the arguments against it that must be addressed. Those against capital punishment argue that it can not be preformed without causing pain, that it is wrongly arbitrarily applied, and that it is ineffective in preventing future crime. They also that it kills innocent people, and that life without parole is a cheaper, more humane way to stop criminals from killing again . Of course, they are wrong on the fact that it doesn’t prevent further crime, and this is simply all that matters. All the same, the opponents of capital punishment are wrong on every one of the aforementioned accounts.
In today’s day and age, the death penalty is not always painless. States currently use electrocution, lethal injection, firing squad, hanging, and the gas chamber to dispose of inmates. Lethal injection, the most common method of execution is only painful if, “a member of the execution team injects the drugs into a muscle instead of a vein, or if the needle becomes clogged,” (DPIC). Essentially, it is only painful if someone makes a mistake, meaning that the method is not flawed, but rather the implementation. As administering an injection is a fairly basic procedure, with more, better trained executioners, Americans would have an easy and painless method of execution. In much the same way, if firing squads were to have better aim, those deaths would be painful. If prisoners would breathe in deeply instead of causing themselves more pain, death by cyanide gas would be painless. Though electrocution and hanging have little possibility of comfort, these methods are not necessary, as there is no state that offers only these two methods. Other, possible methods of execution, which aren’t currently in use, are death by sleeping pill overdose, death by carbon monoxide poisoning, and death by guillotine. All of these are strictly painless, and consequently the first two were very popular for suicide until the supplies became hard to get. The pills that Dr. Philip Nitschke prescribes for euthanasia are also provide completely painless deaths. As easy and painless deaths are readily available, there is no reason that dying from capital punishment should be a painful experience. Of course, this would be irrelevant, if the penalty itself were to be given by a flawed system, but it is not.
While the entire US justice system is arbitrary, as punishments are established on a case by case basis, and not prescribed by each exact crime, it is not flawed. The simple fact of its slightly arbitrary nature does not mean that we should abolish the entire system, nor does it mean that every crime should have a spelled out punishment. A system that demonstrates this is the one of applying to college. Getting into college is arbitrary. Good grades and community service will further ones chances of being accepted, but at the top level, there are no set requirements that will guarantee admission. The process rests solely in the hands of the dean of admissions, thus making college even more arbitrary than the death penalty. There is nothing wrong with this. There is no good way to decide exactly who should get into college, or exactly who should get the death penalty, but it is obvious that some should, so the decision must be made. The simple fact that a person has become eligible for the death penalty, (by committing premeditated murder, aggravated rape, treason, or capital drug trafficking) means that he or she deserves the death penalty. It is thereby only good luck if the person does not receive it, not bad luck if the person does. Regardless, the possible ‘luck’ involved in receiving the death penalty is immaterial, as it is the fact that it exists that saves innocent lives.
The death penalty is a life saving deterrent, as shown by both common logic and statistics. Denmis Prager offers the following thought experiment, “Imagine a state that passed a law that all murders committed on Monday, Wednesday or Friday would be punished by imprisonment and all murders committed on the other days of the week would be punished by execution. Would murders take place on each day of the week at the same rate as they did prior to the law?” Another thing to consider is that murderers, as a general rule, are not suicidal. They spend years trying to appeal the death penalty, meaning that they do not want it. Knowing that an action is going to lead to an unpleasurable one makes a human being less likely to commit that action. This is basic human nature. If one learns that touching a hot stove hurts, one is unlikely to touch the stove again. More than being a smart choice, this is a survival instinct. Making murder punishable by death makes it equivalent with touching the hot stove. Statistics, both modern and historical, are also overwhelmingly in favor of the fact that the death penalty deters crime.
From 1972 to 1976, the Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty. Murders rates increased by nearly 100% (Bureau of Justice Statistics). Texas outlawed executions from 1981 to 1982, and since then Texas has had the most executions and the most murders, however, it has also seen the GREATEST REDUCTION in murders, a 63% drop since executions were outlawed (Sharp). In the tragic situation in Aids ridden Africa, child rape has risen 400% since 10 years ago, when it became common knowledge to the African men that most of the women had Aids, and that they could die from it (Meier). The men switched to raping children to avoid death, showing that death is a clear deterrent. Today, Japanhas the lowest crime rate of practically anywhere. This is because the police beat people into unconsciousness before even setting foot in a courtroom. Japanese people are not ‘nicer’ than Americans, they just respond to deterrents (Komiya). In a study conducted by PhD Joanna Sheperd, a teacher at Emory University, it was found that every execution deters 18 future murders (Sheperd). The statistics go on and on. The most important fact is that the general trend shows that when the death penalty is introduced for a particular crime, that crime rate falls, and when the death penalty is removed, the rate increases. This shows that it saves innocent lives, but does it also end them?
The death of innocents has always been highly exaggerated. Examples of people who were removed from death row at the last minute are said to have been innocent, when in reality they were mostly convicted guilty multiple times, and then got off on a technicality (Nevin). Of course, the system is not completely perfect, and on occasion, the innocent do die. However, the number is extremely small: less than 10% of all people executed in the last ten years were later found to be innocent. More innocent life was saved (10-18 lives for every execution) than was lost. The US has managed to save many, many more innocent lives than we have lost, and the number of innocent people on death row is decreasing every year, due to DNA testing and extensive repeals procedures. When you subtract the innocents killed from the innocents saved, the death penalty has a balance of positive innocent lives, showing that it does not really kill anyone, including taxpayers.
Though the issue of whether the death penalty or life without parole (LWOP) costs more is a tricky one to address, ultimately, the death penalty strains the USbudget less than LWOP. On the surface, the death penalty appears to cost more, because execution and appeals process included, the death penalty costs approximately 3 million dollars per case. If someone who got LWOP actually serves his full sentence, he will have been in jail for 50 years, on average. It costs around 35, 000 dollars per year, with about a 3% increase in costs, yearly, to sustain a prisoner. The prisoner also uses around 100,000 dollars for his trail and appeals. This puts the total well above 4 million dollars, making the Death Penalty cheaper. Also, if the LWOP prisoner so choose, he could appeal his case just as many times as death row inmates do, making his total just as high as death penalty cases, with the added cost of sustaining the prisoner for his whole life. This would be based on the idea that the prisoner actually serves his whole life, as the courts agree that he should. Unfortunately, one of the main problems of LWOP is that prisoners hardly actually ever serve the full, life time duration of their sentence.
Parole boards change, and LWOP or not, a prisoner’s name will come up for parole. Depending on the state, a prisoner’s name will come up for parole every 2-10 years. This means that every ten years, vicious murderers, who should have received the death penalty, have a chance to be free again. Contrary to popular belief, this chance is not always denied. In 1997, the expected punishment for murder was only 2.7 years, and 14% of death row inmates had previously received a LWOP sentence, for a different crime. That is to say that 14% of the prisoners who had already killed and been sentenced to LWOP, killed non-incarcerated innocents again. There is no way to ensure that a murderer will not kill again, without killing him. Even if the murderer actually stays in prison his whole life (at this point, very unlikely), he could kill in prison.
Prisoners on death row and prisoners who have been convicted for murder, are 250% more likely to kill in prison than other prisoners. They are also more likely to attempt an escape, as they have nothing to lose. Every year, there are more than three successful escapes per every hundred attempted, and in 2003, 450 prisoners were killed in prison. The number of murders in prison is rising, as the state has no control over those prisoners who have already received LWOP. If those sentenced to LWOP can not be controlled, a stronger punishment is clearly needed.
The only substitute for the death penalty is LWOP, and as many of these prisoners kill again, whether in or out of prison, this is obviously ineffective. This would leave no choice except for the death penalty, and Americans are fortunate enough to have their only alternative be a good one. The death penalty does not have to be a painful experience, nor is it wrongly arbitrarily applied. It saves innocent lives by reducing homicide rates, and by persuading potential criminals to choose a different path. It prevents criminals from ever walking free again, and from killing other prisoners. It is less expensive than life without parole, and also more effective. These attributes save lives. Saving lives has always been, and forever will be, a moral obligation. The death penalty saves lives, making it, too, a moral obligation.
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Komiya, N. “A Cultural Study of the Low Crime Rate in Japan.” British Journal of Criminology 39
(1999): 369-390. 21 May 2008 <http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/39/3/
Lowe, Wesley. “The Detterent Effect Of Capital Punishment.” Pro Death Penalty Webpage. 17 May 2008.
21 May 2008 <http://www.wesleylowe.com/cp.html#deter>.
Meier, Eileen, MPH, JD, MPH, RN. “Child Rape in South Africa.” Pediatric Nursing (Dec. 2002). Web
MD. 6 Dec. 2002. 21 May 2008 <http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/444213>.
Nevin, Michael. “Death Decisions.” American Daily 8 Apr. 2004. 21 May 2008
Prager, Dennis. “GEORGE WILL AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.” Townhall 4 Nov. 2003. 20 May 2008
Radelet, Michael L. In Spite of Innoncence. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992.
Roberts, Greg. “A practical guide to suicide.” Sydney Morning Herald. 2 Dec. 2002. 20 May 2008
Sharp, Dudley. “Death Penalty Paper.” Justice For All. 1 Oct. 1997. 21 May 2008
Shepherd, Joanna M, PhD. “Capital Punishment Does in Fact Deter Crime.” 2007. Opposing Viewpoints
Resource Center. Gale. Cherry Creek High School Lib., Greenwood Village, CO. 15 May 2008
Tucker, William. “Capital Punishment Reduces Murder Rates.” 31 Aug. 2001. Opposing Viewpoints
Resource Center. Gale. Cherry Creek High School Lib., Greenwood Village, CO. 15 May 2008
United States. Dept. of Justice. US Beareu of Justice Statistics: Homicide Trends. 21 May 2008
Every now and then you’ll get a rant like that. Anyway, that’s all for today, as I’ve got to run.
In the future, you can expect a transcript of some of my ongoing facebook debates.