The Death Penalty 2 — страница 5

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implies there is something more inhuman and barbarous, than the mere extinguishment of life.” There are those who insist that the Constitution does not support the death penalty. This is simply not true. The fifth amendment states: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for

public use, without just compensation. Note: “…a capital, or otherwise infamous crime… …be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb… …nor be deprived of life…without due process of law…” So the constitution does allow capital punishment through indirect references such as these. US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia confirmed this analysis in 1997 when he said: “No fewer than three of the Justices with whom I have served (Justices Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun) have maintained that the death penalty is unconstitutional, even though its use is explicitly contemplated in the Constitution. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments says that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law; and the Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth

Amendment says that no person shall be held to answer for a capital crime without grand-jury indictment.” I would imagine that the Founding Fathers could not have conceived of a world or nation without capital punishment. Indeed, in those days, there was absolutely no question of the value of public safety and personal responsibility. Had they foreseen the rise in violent crime we have had in the 70s, 80s, and into the 90s, they might have declared the death penalty in the preamble! The Risk of Wrongful Execution of Innocents: As for the penal system accidentally executing an innocent person, I must point out that in this imperfect world, citizens are required to take certain risks in exchange for relative safety. After all, far, far more innocent lives have been taken by

convicted murderers than the supposedly 23 innocents mistakenly executed this century. For instance, over 600 repeat offenses occur within prison walls each year in this country. Not only that, but over 13,000 American citizens are murdered each year by released and paroled criminals. These are the serious flaws in life sentences that abolitionists prefer to trivialize to nonexistence. Also, the death penalty isn’t the only instance which requires us to accept risks in exchange for social benefits. We, in fact, mindlessly use far more dangerous things that take the lives of innocents by the hundreds every day, like the three or four tons of lethal metal we call automobiles for example. How can we accept the average 45,000 person-a-year death toll in this nation due to car

wrecks for our personal conveniences when we can’t accept the few risks of wrongful executions for the sake of defending public safety? The following may be the most insensitive quote I found out of all my research, but I find it best describes my feelings on this subject (of the chance of a wrongful death). Columnist Charley Reese stated: I favor a fair trial, one quick appeal and prompt execution. I don’t think murderers ought to live much beyond 12 months from the day their victim is buried…[and] As for not being able to correct a mistake, so what? Virtually all accidental deaths are deaths by mistake. Why impose a standard of perfection only on the criminal justice system? There are no perfect human institutions. Our system is, more than any other, designed to protect

the rights of the defendant. The chance of a truly innocent person being executed is exceedingly slim. But if it happens, it happens just as things happen to people every day. The Morality of Capital Punishment: On a final note, how can murder be taken seriously if the penalty isn’t equally as serious? A crime, after all, is only as severe as the punishment that follows it. Award-winning Chicago journalist Mike Royko stated: “When I think of the thousands of inhabitants of Death Rows in the hundreds of prisons in this country…My reaction is: What’s taking us so long? Let’s get that electrical current flowing. Drop those pellets [of poison gas] now! Whenever I argue this with friends who have opposite views, they say that I don’t have enough regard for the most