Life Or Death

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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Life or Death? Throughout American history, punishment has always been the consequence for disobeying the law; it has been believed that the proper punishment can prevent reoccurrence of the crime. But does taking away one's life prevent the reoccurrence of crime? The answer is obviously "yes," if the offender is no longer in existence, the crime cannot be repeated by him or her but how does taking away the offender's life help society? This is one of the most frequently asked questions when discussing the issue of capital punishment or better known as the death penalty. People have many different opinions over the controversial issue of the death penalty.

Due to the fact that the issue of death penalty is so debatable, there are many arguments for and against the use of the death penalty in America. The number one argument for the death penalty is deterrence. As a justification for the death penalty, deterrence is used to suggest that executing murderers will decrease the homicide rate by causing other potential murderers not to commit murder for fear of being executed themselves.

However, opponents of the death penalty say that it is not necessary and that deterrence can only work if the threat of punishment is combined with a conviction asserting that the forbidden acts are not only illegal but immoral as well (Bedau, 92). It has been argued that without the conviction of morality, the easily frightened will not break the laws, but the fearless, irrational and all others will (Bedau, 94). Isaac Ehrlich conducted a notable study on the deterrent effect of capital punishment in America. The study spanned twenty-five years, 1957-1982, and showed that in the first year when the study was conducted, there were 8,060 murders and 65 executions. However, in the last year of...



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