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Capital punishment deters murder

Capital Punishment Deters Murder, and Is Just Retribution

Capital punishment, is the execution of criminals by the state, for

committing crimes, regarded so heinous, that this is the only acceptable

punishment. Capital punishment does not only lower the murder rate, but it's

value as retribution alone is a good reason for handing out death sentences.

Support for the death penalty in the U.S. has risen to an average of 80%

according to an article written by Richard Worsnop, entitled "Death penalty

debate centres on Retribution", this figure is slightly lower in Canada where

support for the death penalty is at 72% of the population over 18 years of age,

as stated in article by Kirk Makir, in the March 26, 1987 edition of the Globe

and Mail, titled "B.C. MPs split on Death Penalty".

The death penalty deters murder by putting the fear of death into would

be killers. A person is less likely to do something, if he or she thinks that

harm will come to him. Another way the death penalty deters murder, is the fact

that if the killer is dead, he will not be able to kill again.

Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should be

punished for their crimes, and that it does not matter whether it will deter the

crime rate. Supporters of the death penalty are in favour of making examples

out of offenders, and that the threat of death will be enough to deter the crime

rate, but the crime rate is irrelevant.

According to Isaac Ehrlich's study, published on April 16, 1976, eight

murders are deterred for each execution that is carried out in the U.S.A. He

goes on to say, "If one execution of a guilty capital murderer deters the murder

of one innocent life, the execution is justified." To most supporters of the

death penalty, like Ehrlich, if even 1 life is saved, for countless executions

of the guilty, it is a good reason for the death penalty. The theory that

society engages in murder when executing the guilty, is considered invalid by

most supporters, including Ehrlich. He feels that execution of convicted

offenders expresses the great value society places on innocent life.

Isaac Ehrlich goes on to state that racism is also a point used by death

penalty advocates. We will use the U.S. as examples, since we can not look at

the inmates on death row in Canada, because their are laws in Canada that state

that crime statistics can not be based on race, also the fact that there are no

inmates on death row in Canada. In the U.S. 16 out of 1000 whites arrested for

murder are sentenced to death, while 12 of 1000 blacks arrested for murder were

sentenced to death. 1.1% of black inmates on death row were executed, while

1.7% of white inmates will die.

Another cry for racism, as according to Ehrlich, that is raised by

advocates of the death penalty is based on the colour of the victim, for example

"if the victim is white, it is more likely that the offender will get the death

penalty than if the victim had been black". This is true, if you look at the

actual number of people who are murder. More people kill whites and get the

death penalty, then people who kill blacks and get the death penalty. The

reason for this is that more whites are killed, and the murders captured. Now

if we look at the number of blacks killed it is a lot less, but you have to look

at these numbers proportionately. Percent wise it is almost the same number for

any race, so this is not the issue.

In a 1986 study done by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the University of

North Carolina, the conclusions made by Ehrilich were updated, and showed to be

a little on the low side as far as the deterrence factor of capital punishment.

Professor Layson found that 18 murders were deterred by each execution is the

U.S. He also found that executions increases in probability of arrest,

conviction, and other executions of heinous offenders.

According to a statement issued by George C. Smith, Director of

Litigation, Washington Legal Foundation, titled "In Support of the Death

Penalty", support for the death penalty has grown in the U.S., as the crime rate

increased. In 1966, 42% of Americans were in favour of capital punishment while

47% were opposed to it. Since the crime rate United states has increased,

support for the capital punishment has followed suit. In 1986, support for

capital punishment was 80% for and only 17% against with 3% undecided, but most

of the undecided votes said they were leaning toward a pro capital punishment

stance, if they had to vote on it immediately.

Let us now focus on Canada. The last two people to be executed, in

Canada were Arthur Lucas and Ron Turpin. They were executed on December 11,

1962. The executions in Canada were carried out by hanging. 1

The death penalty was abolished in Canada in the latter part of 1976,

after a debate that lasted 98 hours. The death penalty was only beaten by 6

votes. If we look back to 1976, the year the death penalty was abolished in

Canada, threats of death, were being made to Members of Parliament and their

immediate families from pro death penalty advocates. Most members of parliament,

voted on their own personal feelings, as opposed to the views of their voters.2

The same was the case in British Colombia, where accepting of the death

penalty, if it was reinstated 1987 , by the federal government was discussed.

The M.P.s were split, 17 out of 29 were for the death penalty. This showed,

that even the majority of the M.P.s were in favour of the death penalty in B.C.

Support for the death penalty in British Columbia at the time was almost 70%,

but the M.P.s felt that it was up to them to vote how they felt was right, and

not to vote on which vote would give them the best chance for a second term.3

In 1987, the Progressive Conservative government wanted to hold a free

vote on the reinstatement of Capital punishment, but Justice minister Ray

Hnatyshyn, who was opposed to it, pressured the M.P.s, into voted against the

bill. Ray Hnatyshyn, was the deciding factor, if not for him, it was widely

believed that the reinstatement of capital punishment would have gone through,

and the death penalty would be a reality today.4

Capital punishment is such a volatile issue, and both sides are so deeply

rooted in their views that they are willing to do almost anything to sway all of

the people they can to their side.

We personally feel, and our views are backed up by proof, in the form of

studies by the likes of Isaac Ehrlich's 1975 and Prof. Stephen K. Layson's, that

was published in 1986, and polls that have been taken both in Canada and the

United States over the past few years. All of these studies and surveys show

that capital punishment is a valid deterrent to crime, and obviously the public,

and society as a whole are in favour of it. The death penalty makes would be

capital offenders think about weather committing a crime is really worth their

lives. Even if capital punishment did not deter crime, the simple fact that it

will allow society to "get even" with murders. Capital punishment also insures

peace of mind because it insures that murders will never kill again.


1 From: Take Notice, (Copp Clarke Pitman Ltd., 1979) page 163

2 From: Article written by David Vienneau published in the March 24, 1987

edition of the "Toronto Star", titled, Debate Agonizing for MPs.

3 From: Article written by Kirk Makir, published in March 26, 1987 edition of

the "Globe and Mail", titled, BC MPs Split on Death Penalty Debate.

4 From: Article written by Hugh Winsor, published in April 29, 1987 edition of

the "Globe and Mail", titled, Debate on Death Penalty placed on hold.

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