Capital Punishment | Teen Ink

Capital Punishment

January 15, 2010
By Karma_Chameleon SILVER, English, Indiana
Karma_Chameleon SILVER, English, Indiana
8 articles 0 photos 236 comments

Favorite Quote:
To be able to say "I love you" one must first be able to say "I" - Ayn Rand

POV Contest Entry

Since her founding, America’s citizens have always debated with a fiery yet unyielding air. This mindset has led our fine country through the direst of experiences; from declaring our independence from England’s tyranny, to battling with today’s heinous hordes of terrorists that fight to see us fall, the firm stance we take has always held. This state of mind stretches farther than the battlefield of course. Philosophers, lawyers, writers, and soccer moms alike, the people of America use their strong wills to further their stance in all areas. The topic of capital punishment, however, receives criticism and praise alike, without ever obtaining a definite consensus. The state sanctioned execution of murderers has always been a controversial subject, as some individuals are no longer able to see the obvious decision that must be made. Some have taken America’s persistent manner to such extents that they become blind to the logic and reason that must be seen. Unfortunately, there are those who are merely veiled beneath a screen of false morality, self indulgence, and misinterpreted religion; although some people value the life of a murder victim, others prefer to give their resources and energies towards the protection of the murderer.

When attempting to justify an opposition to capital punishment, many question the morality of killing a murderer; notice, though, that this is inquired while no words are spoken about the morality of the murderer’s actions. What distorted form of logic is this? If executing a murderer is immoral, why are the murderer’s violent acts not considered astronomically worse? If the victim’s life is to be honored and valued to any degree, then the murderer must receive in full that which they were eager to dispense. Sentencing anything less is an absolute insult to the victim and his survivors, and reveals just how highly a person values human life.

Despite illogical protests about the morality of capital punishment, there are those who bring the legitimate concern of its possible contradictions to religious teachings. Contrary to popular believe, none of the three major religious philosophies instruct against executing murderers. In fact, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all instruct their followers to enact capital punishment. Certainly, one of the Ten Commandments reads, “though shall not kill”; however, this verse is not opposing the death penalty. The Ten Commandments is a guideline by which Christians are to live, and this particular commandment reprimands those that would take an innocent life. On the issue of executed murderers, however, the Bible is quite clear. Exodus 20: 12 of the Holy Bible states, “Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.” This exact verse is included in the Jewish Talmud as well. In the Koran, the Muslim is instructed, “O you who believe, equivalence is the law decreed for you when dealing with murder – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female” (Koran 2:178). Those who assert that religions speak against capital punishment should probably spend a few days researching the subject first.

Another legitimate worry brought up when dealing with the capital punishment is the cost. Fearful that executing criminals may lighten their wallets – a genuine worry with today’s unstable economy – many favor life without parole in an effort to save their hard-earned resources. Admittedly, the annual costs of a death penalty case are larger than those of a life without parole case, $26,000 larger in fact. Unfortunately, most of the attacks on expenses of capital punishment stem from this fact alone, and a crucial point is missed. The thirty four thousand dollar cost of a life without parole case is taken from citizens every year until the inmate’s death; with the average convict living for fifty years, America’s people would pay 1,710,000 dollars per inmate, and this doesn’t even include state tax or trial and appeal costs. Logic applied to the most basic of mathematics clearly concludes that those whose concerns are primarily economic ought to favor capital punishment over life without parole.

Not only cost effective, capital punishment is also a prime deterrent to future crimes; however, relatively few people belief this to be true. With a seemingly endless list of assault, murder, and other violent crimes streaming out of the morning news stations, why would they? Yet looking at true criminal statistics reveals that capital punishment is in fact a great murder deterrent, especially when shown next to crimes not punishable by death, such as forcible rape. Between the years 1960 and 1965, the average number of state sanctioned executions was thirty-one, with the average number of annual murders staying at 8890; large numbers to be sure, but when weighed against the next fifteen years, things are put into perspective. During years 1966 to 1980, executions in the United States went into a lull, with a total of six during these fifteen years. Simultaneously, as the number of executions dropped, the average murder rate per year soared to twenty one thousand, two hundred and sixty three murders per year. Once capital punishment became used more frequently again, the murder rate slowly began to drop.
Overall, support of capital punishment is unquestionably the means in which murderers should be dealt justice. Aside from its cost efficiency, religious support, and use as a crime deterrent, capital punishment is the most ethical form of justice American applies. In order to adequately show our appreciation for human life itself, we can only give to the murderer an equivalence of what he gave to his victim. Consider this: you are the victim’s brother, his sister, his coworker, his friend. How do you respond to the loss of someone so close to you? Would you let their murderer live on? What if the victim was you?

Works Consulted
"Capital Statistics." Bureua of Justice Statistics. Bureau of Justice, 23 Jan. 2009. Web. 29 Nov.

2009. <>.
"Cost." Death Penalty Information Center. DPIC, 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2009.

Death Penalty Information Center. Death Penalty Information Center. N.p., 2009. Web. 19 Nov. 2009.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Crime Rate vs Capital Punishment." Federal Bureau of

Investigation. United States Government, 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2009.

Justice for All. "THE COST OF LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE VS THE DEATH PENALTY." The Death Penalty. Justice

for All, 2009. Web. 2 Dec. 2009. <>.
NCSC. "Capital Punishment / The Death Penalty." National Center for State Courts. National Center

for State Courts, 13 Jan. 2009. Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <

Teaching New Testiment Ministries. Holy Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1992. Print.

The author's comments:
This same article is listed under the opinion category, this is merely the version without the in-text citations.

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This article has 6 comments.

on Jun. 7 2010 at 2:43 pm
Karma_Chameleon SILVER, English, Indiana
8 articles 0 photos 236 comments

Favorite Quote:
To be able to say "I love you" one must first be able to say "I" - Ayn Rand

Thank you for your comment, SilentRaven, I always appreciate receiving critique and praise alike.  I also appreciate the fact that you actually added insight unto the writting, and not just how I was wrong (as others have done), so thank you for that as well.
I can't, however, debate the actual topic anymore, though, because I wouldn't want this article to become like some others that are flooded with comments debating the subject.
Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read, comment, and critique, I definitely appreciate it!

on Jun. 6 2010 at 5:48 pm
Karma_Chameleon SILVER, English, Indiana
8 articles 0 photos 236 comments

Favorite Quote:
To be able to say "I love you" one must first be able to say "I" - Ayn Rand

Thank you Gaga-fan, that definitely means a lot, and I appreciate it! I looked at some of your own work, and you yourself are a very talented author, and certainly someone whose critique I can take seriously.
As for the reversibility of the punishment, you make an extremely valid point: once implemented, capital punishment is permanent.  I probably should have mentioned this in the article, but the importance of confirming the guilt of a murderer (or rapists too, if I had my way) is one reason why capital punishment cases are initially so expensive – it’s definitely costly to conduct multiple trials as well as holding the inmate until the verdict is cleared.  However, I do agree that more needs to happen to ensure the correct suspect receives the justice.
That attorney’s trial is unique, though, because generally a victim’s position on capital punishment is not well known prior to convictions. 
Again, thank you for your comment, and do not worry about essay like responses, they’re my favorites! :-)

gaga-fan28 said...
on Jun. 3 2010 at 7:35 pm

crawfordkid, I think that you are an AMAZINGLY talented writer and it's refreshing to see such a well-written, organized article on this site. For a long time, I haven't had any opinion on capital punishment. However, it's been filling the news here in Utah as a prisoner prepares to be executed by firing squad in two weeks for the 1989 murder of an attourney. It's been revealed that the attourney was firmly against capital punishment. It has also come to light in the case that the family of the deceased would not want the prisoner to be executed. With those facts in consideration, is it fair to the victim to execute the perpetrator in this case? I don't believe it is. Justice for the victim sounds nice, but it isn't always justice, like in this case. Also, so many executions are for crimes committed years and sometimes decades ago. Is it fair to the families of the victims to have to go through the ordeal of dealing with it all years and years later, having the death of their son, daughter, husband or wife dug up once again?

One thing that you failed to mention is quite possibly the biggest, most rational anti-capital punishment argument out there: The chance that there has been a wrong conviction and it's too late. Life in prison is "reversible", death is certainly not. There are too many cases of people being wrongly executed only to later find that they were, in fact, innocent. That's not just. As new technology dealing with DNA and other crime scene aspects advances, more people are being exonerated. If we had executed them, then what?

Your argument about the perpetrator having to get what they dished out really made me think, though. I guess that I focus on the technicalities of it because I really haven't come to any sort of standpoint when it comes to the moral/immoral aspect of it. But your article was, once again, very well-written and I can tell that you put time, effort and research into presenting your case. Keep on writing, and sorry for the essay-like comment. :)

on Jun. 3 2010 at 6:45 pm
Thesilentraven PLATINUM, Mableton, Georgia
40 articles 2 photos 1632 comments

Favorite Quote:
"il piu nell' uno," (according to Emerson, an Italian expression for beauty)

"Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality" ~Emily Dickinson

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain"
~Kahlil Gibran

This brought up many valid points and was written with great skill. However, I could not agree less with your opinion. The criminal's deeds are terrible, to say in the least. But it only adds to the wrongdoing to kill the original wrongdoer. It is no justification.

You say that it is cost effective? These are people's lives that are being lost to keep more money! Also, I am a Christian, but I don't condone capital punishment. You say that it is a deterrent? This is true, but perhaps a more efficient way to avoid crime is to improve education.

Although I disagree with it, your article was very insightful. I suggest you watch The Green Mile.

on May. 9 2010 at 9:12 pm
Karma_Chameleon SILVER, English, Indiana
8 articles 0 photos 236 comments

Favorite Quote:
To be able to say "I love you" one must first be able to say "I" - Ayn Rand

I know, but what can we do? Haha. Thanks for reading! Definitely appreciated!

saimne SILVER said...
on May. 1 2010 at 12:07 pm
saimne SILVER, Cerritos, California
5 articles 0 photos 60 comments

Favorite Quote:
I see humans, but no humanity.

wonderful, just wonderful! people fail to take into consideration how much it costs to keep these idiots alive!