The Death Penalty: a Necessary Evil


Life is the most wonderful gift that God gives us. He also gives us the
power to do what we wish with that life. We can keep it and guard it, or we can
take it away. It follows that murder is the worst crime anyone could ever
commit. It is a crime that no one can ever make right because once you take a
life away you can never give it back. Penalties exacted from criminals are made
to fit the crimes committed. The worst crime possible should therefore receive
the worst penalty possible. That penalty is the death penalty.
Take, for example, the case of a man who is caught shoplifting. He does
not deserve the same punishment as someone who is convicted of assault and
battery. Most people would have no problem agreeing with this. Yet many of
these same people believe that a cold blooded killer deserves the same life
sentence as a convicted kidnapper who did not kill his prisoner. Granted these
are both serious offenses, but our system of law works be degrees of seriousness.
The mental damage done to that prisoner can be turned around, but the life
taken away by the murderer can never be given back. They should therefore be
given a harsher punishment than life in prison. In terms of justice, we should
all get what we deserve.
One argument against the death penalty is that the bible tells us not to
murder. If this includes all people it should include the government. However,
the death penalty is not quite the same as murder. It is an exacting of justice.
Consequently, the Bible also says, Ran eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.S
It could also say a life for a life as well. The government also has rights
that we as citizens do not have. As Mayor Ed Koch says in his essay on the
death penalty, Rthe execution of a lawfully condemned killer is no more an act
of murder than is legal imprisonment an act of kidnapping.S(Koch, p.318)
People who are convicted of murder more often than not have more crimes
than just that one murder under their belt. Their mental state allows them to
commit horrible acts and not feel guilty about them. There is not much proof
than anyone can change this mind set. Say, for instance, that one of these said
murderers is charged with life in prison.
In jail they make the effort to have a good behavior. Within twelve years they
are out on the streets only to kill again. Or maybe even worse, someone has
been charged with multiple life sentences and there is no possible way to get
out of prison. Because this is the worse punishment they can have they are in
effect given a license to kill whomever they can get their hands on in prison.
The death penalty needs to be around as an option for those cases in which the
criminally is likely to kill again if ever given the chance.
The death penalty also has the potential to become a very powerful
deterrent against acts of murder. Life in prison is almost better than some of
the lives that these criminals lead. At least they are fed and kept out of the
rain. Death, however, is a real punishment no matter how you look at it. And
even if someone wanted to die, there are easier ways of doing that than being
put on death row. The problem is that not enough of these executions occur to
be of any real use as a deterrent. In fact, there was one year in which more
people were executed in Florida than in any other state and there homicide rate
went up while in the rest of America it went down (Bruck, p.319). Obviously
with the numbers of executions actually taking place (in Florida it was eight
people), they can not do much to stop people from killing. The chance of them
getting the death penalty is far too unlikely.
There is finally the problem of innocent people getting executed. No
one will say that this does not happen because it does. It does not occur very
often, but even one innocent person who is executed is a terrible tragedy.
However, there are most likely people serving a life sentence who are innocent
as well. It is true that these people have more time to prove themselves
innocent, but this does