The Threat Of Death Essay Research Paper

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The Threat Of Death Essay, Research Paper The Threat of Death As the war on crime continues, two truths hold steady: eliminating all crime is impossible, and controlling it is a must. The main weapon used to control crime in this war is deterrence. The government’s deterrent for committing murder is the death penalty. The fear of death will not deter every person who contemplates murder from doing it. Whether it is for religious reasons and the hope of salvation or something else, stopping some people is not possible (Cohen 48). The intent is not to stop those people, but instead every other would-be killer. Capital Punishment has been in the national spotlight for many years and the center of the debate still remains whether it actually deters would be offenders. Does this

age-old penalty for the ultimate sin achieve its goal? There are many lofty and rational arguments on both sides of this issue. Advocates of the death penalty claim that the primary reason for this harsh punishment is that the fear of death discourages people from committing murder. The main ways in which they support this theory are: the severity of the punishment, various polls of citizens and prisoners, and two in particular studies. The most obvious deterring justification is the severity of punishment (Calebresi 19). This means, put simply, to punish for a crime in a way that the punishment outweighs the crime. If the punishment for robbing a bank is to spend one day in jail, then bank robbing would become a daily occurance. On the same note, if there is a reward for a lost

item of jewelry and the reward is less than the selling price for that jewelry, the finder has no reason to bring it back. On the other hand, if the reward exceeds the value of the jewelry, the new owner will bring it back very promptly. In the case of capital punishment, if a person wants someone dead badly enough, and the punishment for murder is a short stay in prison, what will possibly keep that person from doing the unthinkable (Van Den Haag 68). If a person is afraid for their life, then the stakes for their actions are much higher, probably even too high for most people. Many psychologists believe that these “stakes” do not even have to be in conscious thought for them to work. The theory is that a person’s conscience weighs out many factors in all instances. While

a would-be offender might be contemplating the deed, the death penalty imbeds itself into that person’s subconscience as a possible consequence of their actions, and thus the conscience of that person begins to tilt to one side (Guernsey 70). Another argument for the side that says capital punishment deters is the majority opinion. New York, until recently, had been one of the few states left that had yet to employ a death penalty for murder. In a recent opinion-poll, fifty-seven percent of the respondents say that they believe that the death penalty deters other criminals from killing (Kuntz 3). As it turns out, the citizens of society are not the only ones that think the death penalty deters. The death-roll inmates also feel this way. Through voicing their opinions on how

they feel and their actions (i.e., appeals, more appeals, etc.), they make it clear that losing their life scares them badly. There are two main studies that the proponents of the death penalty refer to as proof of capital punishment’s deterring qualities. The first such study is by New York University professor Isaac Ehrlich. Through Professor Ehrlich’s research and studies of statistics that span sixty-six years, he concludes that each execution prevents around seven or eight people from committing murder (Worsnop 402). In 1985, an economist from the University of North Carolina by the name of Stephen K. Layson publishes a report that shows that every execution of a murderer deters eighteen would be murderers (Guernsey 68). While the numbers from these studies might seem