The Death Penalty

By; Zane Reavley

Claim 1

Common sense, lately bolstered by statistics, tells us that the death penalty will deter murder... People fear nothing more than death. Therefore, nothing will deter a criminal more than the fear of death... life in prison is less feared. Murderers clearly prefer it to execution -- otherwise, they would not try to be sentenced to life in prison instead of death... Therefore, a life sentence must be less deterrent than a death sentence. And we must execute murderers as long as it is merely possible that their execution protects citizens from future murder.

Counter claim

Society has always used punishment to discourage would-be criminals from unlawful action. Since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder, and that is the death penalty. If murderers are sentenced to death and executed, potential murderers will think twice before killing for fear of losing their own life.

Claim 2

Common sense, lately bolstered by statistics, tells us that the death penalty will deter murder... People fear nothing more than death. Therefore, nothing will deter a criminal more than the fear of death... life in prison is less feared. Murderers clearly prefer it to execution -- otherwise, they would not try to be sentenced to life in prison instead of death... Therefore, a life sentence must be less deterrent than a death sentence. And we must execute murderers as long as it is merely possible that their execution protects citizens from future murder.

Counter Claim

Moreover, even if some studies regarding deterrence are inconclusive, that is only because the death penalty is rarely used and takes years before an execution is actually carried out. Punishments which are swift and sure are the best deterrent. The fact that some states or countries which do not use the death penalty have lower murder rates than jurisdictions which do is not evidence of the failure of deterrence. States with high murder rates would have even higher rates if they did not use the death penalty

Claim 3

Most people might not think how expensive inmates on death row are but we don't realise how expensive they are we the people of the united states are having to pay for the inmates on death row to stay at the jail and live by providing food water and a cell you may not think that would be expensive for all of us to pay for them On a daily basis but jails hold more than 735,000 inmates, more than triple the number locked up in 1983. Expenses associated with that rise in incarceration have likewise surged, with the U.S. Department of Justice estimating the cost to local communities in 2011 at more than $22 billion.

Counter Claim

There is no conclusive proof that the death penalty acts as a better deterrent than the threat of life imprisonment. A survey of the former and present presidents of the country's top academic criminological societies found that 84% of these experts rejected the notion that research had demonstrated any deterrent effect from the death penalty

Claim 4

The fact that blacks and Hispanics are charged with capital crimes out of proportion to their numbers in the general population may simply mean that blacks and Hispanics commit capital crimes out of proportion to their numbers. Capital criminals don’t look like America... No one is surprised to find more men than women in this class. Nor is it a shock to find that this group contains more twenty-year-olds than septuagenarians. And if — as the left tirelessly maintains — poverty breeds crime, and if — as it tiresomely maintains — the poor are disproportionately minority, then it must follow — as the left entirely denies — that minorities will be 'overrepresented' among criminals.

Rebuttals

Public opinion. The authors provide their own rebuttal ("somewhat unstable") to this argument, but of course in the not-too-distant past, there was widespread public support for the ownership of other humans, for the suppression of a woman's right to vote and for the treatment of mental illnesses by involuntary incarceration. These practices were never morally right, regardless of public support, so this is a nonsensical argument.


The death penalty must be available for the "most unspeakable crimes." The obvious question is who determines if a crime is "most unspeakable?" The authors suggest that killing 100 children is unspeakable (I'd use a stronger adjective), but are they suggesting that killing five children is somehow less unspeakable? Is there an unspeakable threshold, something like any combination of X children and Y adults (all "innocent," of course), that once crossed leads to the death penalty? May I suggest that all murders are unspeakable and that this is not a productive argument?


Law enforcement shootings. No argument is presented by Messrs. Shellenberger and Vatz as to why police officers should be treated differently than, for example, fire fighters, teachers or nurses. A murder is the death of a fellow citizen, and while some deaths invoke more public emotion than others, rule by law requires that we set emotion aside, to the best of our imperfect abilities, when judging and punishing.

Citations

"Top 10 Pros and Cons - Death Penalty - ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.


List of 10 Biggest Death Penalty Pros and Cons." Green Garage. 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.


"A Death Penalty Rebuttal, Point by Point." Baltimoresun.com. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.