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Supporting the death penalty

See this argument’s counterpoint here.

With so many tragic shootings and horrifying crimes against humanity coming right after another in our country, seemingly without end, Austin and I decided to talk about the death penalty this week. Our country seems to be in a grip of insanity, with one nut-job after another shooting up a school, a place of business, a government office, a movie theater, ect. It’s time to take drastic action to stop this madness, and I think that one of the concrete steps our country can take in response is the death penalty. No longer should truly evil men and women who carelessly and maliciously destroy human lives get a jail cell, health care, three square meals a day, exercise, and other amenities for the rest of their lives on the public dollar. No longer should they be able to hide in psychiatric wards as case studies and experiments. There should be real consequences for these actions of mass murder. Simply put, they should be put to death.

To be clear, I believe that the death penalty should only be considered as an option in response to first degree murder or mass murder, as these are incredibly evil acts deserving of an incredibly firm and drastic response. I believe that those who so carelessly and maliciously kill fellow human beings deserve to face death themselves. The shootings at Aurora and Newtown are good examples of individuals deserving of the death penalty in response to their heinous crimes.

This is an extremely divisive issue, and those on the other side have some very good arguments in opposition to using the death penalty. They say that we must respect human life at all times, and that the death penalty is an archaic punishment that does not put an end to crime. I respect my opponents’ arguments and take them seriously: human life is a sacred thing, and should not be ended carelessly.

Despite this, however, I must respectfully disagree with my opponents. I believe that the death penalty actually saves lives through the deterrence of crime, just like nuclear weapons can deter conflict between states through the threat of retaliation. David Muhlhausen, a senior policy analyst in the Center of Policy Analysis at the Heritage Foundation, testified before Congress in June of 2007 arguing that the death penalty actually deters crime and saves lives. Citing extensive studies done by academics and professors (which you can read in the link I provide at the end of this piece), Mulhausen says that the evidence clearly points to the reduction of murder in response to the threat of the death penalty. Instead of destroying human life, the death penalty actually saves them.

Alongside this academic argument in favor of the death penalty, another reason for using it in response to heinous murder and mass murder is that the American people overwhelming support its use in that context. Gallup polling has shown consistent support of over 60% of the American people over this past decade who favor the death penalty in response to murder. This is a tool that should be used in response to Aurora, Newtown, Navy Yard, Boston Marathon, and similar cases.

Despite our disagreement on this issue, I think that we can all agree that our justice system in this respect is broken. A common argument against the death penalty is that it costs too much, with endless appeals by the murderer clogging up our justice system and resulting in decades of waiting between conviction and the carrying out of the sentence. I would advance a reform of the current system: enshrining into law a maximum of two appeals for the convicted murder. This would allow for more than enough judicial review and second guessing to ensure that no mistakes were made, while also not leading to endless delays and re-trials.

This is an extremely tough issue. None of us wants to see a fellow person die, and nobody likes the stark idea of death. Life is precious, a sacred gift from God Himself. This makes the purposeful taking of that life, however, a crime against humanity, deserving of capital punishment. Mass murders should not live out their days at our expense, confined either to the prison or the psyche ward. As difficult as it is to condemn another human being, in this case, it is justified. In such cases of such blatant and horrifying atrocity, the death penalty is needed.


Heritage Foundation

Gallup Polls


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