Capital Punishment

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Capital Punishment


Putting to death people who have been judge to commit certain extremely heinous crimes is a practice of ancient standing. But in the United States, in the latter half of the twentieth century, it has become a very controversial issue. Changing views on this difficult issue led the Supreme Court to abolish capital punishment in 1972 but later turned to uphold it again in 1977, with certain conditions. Indeed, restoring capital punishment is the will of the people, yet many voices have been raised against it. Heated public debate has centered on questions of deterrence, public safety, sentencing equality, and the execution of innocents, among others. One argument states that the death penalty does not deter murder. Dismissing capital punishment on that basis would require us to eliminate all prisons as well because they do not seem to be any more effective in the deterrence of crime. Others say that states, which have the death penalty, have higher crime rates than those that do not. And that a more sever punishment only inspires more sever crimes. But every state in the union is different. These differences include population, the number of cities, and the crime rate. Urbanized states are more likely to have higher crime rates than states that are more rural. The states that have capital punishment have it because of their high crime rate, not the other way around. In 1985, a study was published by economist Stephen K. Layson, at the University of North Carolina, that showed that every execution of a murderer deters, on average of 18 murders. The study also showed that raising the number of death sentences by only one percent would prevent 105 murders. However, only 38 percent of all murder cases result in a death sentence, and of those, only 0.1 percent are actually executed. During the temporary suspension on capital punishment from 1972 - 1976, researchers gathered murder statistics across the country. Researcher Karl Spence of Texas A&M University came up with these statistics, in 1960, there were 56 executions in the United States and 9,140 murders. By 1964, when there were only 15 executions, the number of murders had risen to 9,250. In 1969, there were no executions and 14,590 murders, and 1975, after six years without executions, 20,510 murders occurred. So the number of murders grew as the number of executions shrank. Spence said: While some [death penalty] abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment and still argue to the contrary, the...[data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed...In six months, more Americans are murdered than have been killed by execution in this entire century...Until we begin to fight crime in earnest [by using the death penalty], every person who dies at a criminal's hands is a victim of our inaction. And in Texas, the highest murder rate in Houston (Harris County) occurred in 1981 with 701 murders. Since Texas reinstated the death penalty in 1982, Harris County has executed more murderers than any other city or state in the union and has seen the greatest reduction in murder from 701 in 1981 down to 261 in 1996 - a 63% reduction, representing a 270% differential. Also, in the 1920s and 30s, death penalty advocates were known to refer to England as a means of proving capital punishment's deterrent effect. Back then, at least 120 murderers were executed every year in the United States and sometimes the number reached 200. Even then, England used the death penalty far more consistently than we did and their overall murder rate was smaller than any one of our major cities at the time. Now, since England abolished capital punishment about released killers have murdered thirty years ago, the murder rate has subsequently doubled there and 75 English citizens. Abolitionists will claim that most studies show that the death penalty has no effect on the murder rate at all. But that's only because those studies have been focused on inconsistent executions. Capital punishment, like all other applications, must be used consistently in the United States for decades, so abolitionists have been able to establish the delusion that it does not deter at all to rationalize their fallacious

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