Capital Punishment

Susan Carlisle

12/18/00

Hour G

Dead Man Walking

Throughout the years I have had great interest on the topic of capital
punishment. The question is whether or not there is justice in capital
punishment. I have spent the past few years of my life researching both sides of
this issue to determine whether justice presides. In the past years many lives
have been taken by the government, but it’s not just lives they take but the
rights of people. But why should I blame myself for the government’s wrong
doings. Because I’m not out there trying the persuade my peers that this typed
of control by the government is wrong and I must use my communication skills to
prove this.

When we think about capital punishment, we think of the criminal, but do we
take the time to think about the family of that criminal. Because one person
caused grief for a family we must turn around and cause grief for another. And
what about the money we spend to take these lives away. It cost lest to keep a
person in jail for life then to destroy the,. It also rids the suffering of a
family watching one of their members die. It is the power of the government
taking these lives and not the power of God. The only ones who will benefit are
those who feast on watching others die. It is not just the criminal who is the
victim, but all those who give in to the power of the government and agree with
capital punishment. One would say that this decision is for the common good,
then why can’t we all make this decision instead of

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a select few.

The pace of executions in this country has fluctuated in recent decades,

mostly in response to shifting rulings by the Supreme Court. During the
1950\'s, executions averaged about 50 a year, but they slowed in the late 1950\'s
and came to a stop so that no executions occurred between 1967 and 1977.
Executions resumed sporadically and since 1984 have averaged roughly 20 a year.
Thirty-six states now authorize the death penalty, typically for murder. The
framers of the Constitution clearly did not intend to outlaw the death penalty
on either the state or federal level. The Bill of Rights, which originally
applied only to the federal government until its provisions were erroneously
applied to the states in this century, explicitly validated that penalty in its
Fifth Amendment provisions that "no person shall be held to answer for a
capital or other infamous crime" except by action of a grand jury, and that
"no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law" (emphasis added). However, the prospect of expanded federal
capital crimes ought to give pause to those who generally favor the death
penalty. The Constitution gives the federal government no general criminal
jurisdiction. In recent decades, unfortunately, federal law has intruded into
large areas of state responsibility through expansive interpretations of
congressional power to regulate interstate commerce and to oversee the
activities of recipients of federal subsidies. Expansion of federal capital
crimes would compound this abuse. But does the death penalty deter other
would-be murderers? Significant statistical

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evidence would appear to support the firm conclusion of common sense and
experience that the death penalty probably deters at least some premeditated
homicides. Since it probably does deter, the death penalty probably saves the
innocent lives of potential future victims who would be killed but for the
deterrent effect of that penalty. Nor is it unjust to execute a murderer. Some
would bring up the point that when the would-be murderer comes at his victim,
the victim can rightfully kill him if necessary to save his own life since the
murderer by his aggression has forfeited his right to life. Having forfeited his
right to live for purposes of immediate self-defense, it is not unreasonable for
the murderer to be held to forfeit his life to save the lives of future victims
of other would-be murderers.

In the novel, Dead Man Walking, by Sister Helen Prejean, Sister Helen becomes
a spiritual advisor to death row inmate Patrick Sonnier, a convicted killer of
two teenagers. Throughout the story we learn about how terrifying it is for
someone to face death. We learn the views of both families; the family of the
criminal and of the victims. We are introduced to those who actually take part
in the death and how they feel about whether what they do is right. “Everybody
can argue that he or she is just doing a job . . .