20 April 2013
The Death Penalty is Fair and Effective
It is a complicated determination, that of a death sentence. The topic of the death penalty in the United States is based primarily on ethics and ultimately whether the death penalty is considered to be acceptable (or even effective) is a decision that begins as a moral quandary. One must ponder one’s faith before considering statistics in support of the laws defined individually by the states that have implemented the death penalty. The Roman Catholic Church believes and teaches its ministers that “If non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.” (Recinella 1). It continues to say that instances of execution should be more than rare, they should virtually not ever be necessary due to the amount of resource available in the individual judicial systems across America to ensure that an offender is powerless to commit further harm to others. And we should remove the one who has committed an offense from doing harm, without absolutely taking away the chance that the person might amendment him/herself. Although these beliefs are consistent among the American Baptist Church, Assembly of God, Episcopal Church, and Presbyterian, the fact remains that even in Catholicism there is room for punishment through execution. This drives subsequent questioning of our principles such as how does one accept the death penalty at any level yet find abortion to be unacceptable, exposing the profound moral and ethical dilemmas with this countries death penalty. This is compounded with the changes and inconsistencies that develop as case-by-case the offenses are different and more difficult. As time has gone by the Church has changed its view on this topic (even if it is slightly) in order to take into consideration the actualities of today, albeit resulting in criticism. Further teachings of the Church are that “Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” (Recinella 1). The courts in this country are responsible for determining whether these facts have indeed been determined. So does the court system in this country have the ability to make these determinations, and can it do so effectively. I would argue that yes it does and can. And the court, including jurors can do so with a clear moral conscience.
Another reasonable question regarding the death penalty would be weather it is carried out fairly. After all, there are several states with their own unique law around implementing a death sentence. One example is that of the time that is allowed for the accused to present further evidence once he or she has been sentenced to death. In the state of Virginia a person that has been sentenced has two years to bring forth further argument, Texas allows eighteen months and Virginia only ninety days. This comes from the legal notion called procedural bar, in which it is believed that an execution should be complete within five years of sentencing therefore no further argument is allowed by the accused. It is based on an effort to prevent bogus delays. How can the public be confident that there is any consistency at all for the accused? And the statistics do not completely support this practice as being fair. According to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., back in 2004 the average time for people who ultimately were able to overturn a death sentence was nine years after the sentence was initially handed down. The law that restricted the allowance of federal courts to consider post-trial evidence is...
Cited: Bailey, William C. “Deterrence and the Celerity of the Death Penalty: A Neglected Question in Deterrence Research.” Social Forces (University of North Carolina Press). Jun08, Vol. 58 Issue 4, p1309.
Cockburn, Alexander. Nation. 4/20/2009, Vol. 288 Issue 15, p10-10. 1p.
Radelet, Michael L. “Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? : The Views of Leading Criminologists.” Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, Spring2009, Vol. 99, Issue 2.
Recinella, Dale S. “No to the Death Penalty.” America, 11/1/2004, Vol. 191, Issue 13.
Thomas, Andrew Peyton, “Penalty Box.” National Review, 5/4/1998, Vol. 50, Issue 8.
“State needs effective death penalty: Attempt to abolish capital punishment deserves a quick veto.” New Haven Register (CT), May 31, 2009
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