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Capital Punishment; the Economical Solution

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Reading and Writing Across the Corriculum

Paper #2

Christine Cusick and Jenny Bangsund

9/28/2000



                         Capital Punishment; the Economical Solution



           Most of those who have been condemned to spend the rest of their lives in prisons

do not use their time constructively to benefit society. Because of this, perhaps one

should consider whether or not American taxpayers are wasting their money by

supporting them there. Capital punishment may be the most proper and economically

efficient method of reducing what taxpayers pay by ridding prisons of those so hateful, so

corrupt, and so evil that they were sentenced to spend the remainder of their lives

confined and away from any further harming others. If those imprisoned can no longer

contribute to the good of society, then perhaps the money is not being spent

appropriately.

           Despite what the criminal has done, most of those who oppose the death penalty

genuinely feel that it is an unethical solution; to do harm in return for harm done. After

all, does any human being have the right to take the life of another? Many believe that

the death penalty is simply violating the very sanctity of the miracle of life by brutally

destroying it. But on the other hand, it should also be considered that the criminal did not

have the right to take the life of another. Perhaps, because the criminal has had no

respect for life, they deserve the same treatment that they inflicted upon their victim by

being denied of what they disrespect. Because of this, many feel that an eye for an eye

approach is necessary to avenge the harms and deaths such prisoners have inflicted upon
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society. Also, if one attempts to sympathize with the suffering loved ones, they will soon

realize that the sufferers are being dishonored when the killer of the one they loved is

allowed to live as a reminder of their most horrible pains?

       A common argument opposing the death penalty is that it does not serve as an

effective deterrent to crime. Their view is that most criminals are not considering the

consequences of their actions as they are actually committing the crime, and even those

that are conscious of them, would still continue anyway out of rage, determination,

revenge, or apathy towards their own life. This is an excellent point, and because of this,

the death penalty probably should not be implement merely as a deterrent to crime, but

instead as a solution to desperate overpopulated prisons and the angry taxpayers who

realize they are paying for a murderer’s food. The only effective methods of deterring

crime are probably those rightfully forbidden by the 8th Amendment of the United States

Constitution, which protects those who have potentially been wrongfully convicted

criminals from being subjected to cruel and unusual forms of punishment, such as public

humiliation and torture. And so, deterring crime through the death penalty is not a

primary reason for its use.

       Another opposition to capital punishment is that the money spent to execute

someone is far more than that paid to sustain their life in prison. This, however, is highly

debatable. When a person is sentenced to life in prison, the legal fees used to make this

verdict are added to the costs that support the criminal’s life in prison. These, at first,

appear to include food, water, clothes, soap, toothbrushes, medicines and many other

obvious necessities. However, the truly expensive costs are the salaries of the cooks who

cook their food, the truck drivers who supply the food, clothes, soap, toothbrushes and
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medicines, the 24-hour guards who must guard their cell, the doctors who diagnose their

diseases, the surgeons who remove their appendixes, the dentists who fix their cavities,

and the maintenance engineers who repair their broken utilities. And then there are also

the heaping amounts of money needed to keep each prison functioning; property taxes,

electric bills, water bills, trash collection bills, insurance bills, and the list goes on and on.

The money required to do this is obviously a substantial sum.

        The costs involved in an execution are significantly lower than that which sustains

one’s remaining life in prison. It is basically the cost of the legal fees (which order the

execution verdict) plus that of the execution itself. These costs include the supplies that

kill the criminal, the renting out of the property used to execute the person, and the labor

of the individuals who organize and act out the execution itself. When someone is

ordered to be put to death, it appears logical that much more legal processing would take

place to make such an important verdict because of so many appeals, and this means

much more money would be required in legal fees. However, the extra money distributed

here is to law-obeying people who are supporting themselves and perhaps a family by

acting out our legal system, instead of being put toward the prisoner’s needs, as the case

would be if the sentence were life in prison. If in fact the legal fees somehow outweigh

sustaining one’s life in prison, they are helping law-obeying people instead of the

criminals.

        If someone has committed a crime so evil that they cannot again be released back

into society, then most admit that very harsh actions should be taken, but some even

suggest that there is a better solution than the death penalty can offer; a more ethical,

efficient, and constructive method of handling such prisoners. It would appear to be
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advantageous if the government could condemn them to a life of slave labor as an

alternative to the death penalty. The 13th Amendment of the Constitution of the United

States confirms our ability to do this as it states that neither slavery nor involuntary

servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly

convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

This amendment confirms the government’s authority to force prisoners to do manual

simple tasks that few others wish to do. However, this may not be a brilliant idea

because the un-rewarded prisoners would persistently refuse to work even if expensive

guards and taskmasters were employed to maintain minimal production. Another reason

why this should not be used as an alternative to capital punishment is because it still

dishonors those who have suffered from the prisoner’s crime.

       If everyone who opposed the death penalty were to be asked; if it was their eight-

year-old daughter who was kidnapped on their way to the bus stop and then taken to a

basement where they were brutally tortured to death, which form of punishment would be

most appropriate for the murderer, their honest response would be probably be murderer

should be put to death. Although this scenario is quite rare, similar situations to the one

previously mentioned have occurred before and will again. Therefore, in addition to

being the most economically efficient method, it is also the one most capable of dealing

with criminals that deserve to be in a prison for the rest of their lives. To take any other

action appears to far too lenient and costly.

				
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