Thousands of people will attack the death penalty. They will give emotional speeches about the one innocent man or woman who might accidentally get an execution sentence. However, all of these people are forgetting one crucial element. They are forgetting the thousands of victims who die every year by the hands of heartless murderers. There are more murderers out there than people who are wrongly convicted, and that is what we must remember.
I, as well as many others, have total confidence in the death penalty. It is a very beneficial component of our justice system. The death penalty saves lives. It saves lives because it stops those who murder from ever murdering again. It also deters potential murderers from ever committing the crime. Unfortunately, the death penalty is currently used so rarely that it isnt nearly as effective as it could be. In order for it to work, we must put it into practice more often.
In recent years, crime in America has been on the rise, in particular, violent crime. This has led not only to an overcrowding of prisons in our country, but also to an increase in the number of death sentences handed down by the courts. Despite the fact that the number of inmates on death row is climbing, the number of death sentences actually carried out in any given year lags far behind. People simply arent fearful of the death penalty when it isnt used the way it should be (Stewart 50).
If the death penalty has been declared legal, then the federal and state governments must employ it to its fullest as a means of stopping previous murderers from recommitting their crimes. Since most of the prisoners on death row are there for murder, executing them would ensure that they would never kill again. Obsessive murderers, who know no alternative to killing, need to be executed to protect both prison guards and society. This view is perhaps best illustrated through the words of Judge Alfred J. Talley of New York who explained If I as an individual have the right to kill in self defense, why has not the state, which is nothing more than an aggregation of individuals, the same right to defend itself against unjust aggression and unjust attack? (Kaplan 28)
About two and a half years ago, my dear cousin, Jaime, became the first victim of a serial killer named Brian Duffy. Jaime, a beautiful twenty-year-old college student at SUNY Binghamton, had been walking back to her dorm after class when she was abducted by Duffy at gunpoint. Wearing a black ski mask and gloves, Jaimes friends were unable to identify him. Having no idea who this man was, they watched in horror as Jaime was grabbed, threatened, and taken away.
Jaime was thrown into the front seat of a red Nissan Sentra with no license plates. Later that day, the police located the vehicle, which had been reported stolen, but Jaime and her abductor where nowhere to be found. There was not a single trace of evidence except for the fact that the car was stolen from Jaimes hometown community.
Weeks went by and there were still no answers until the day two women, from Syracuse University, were abducted at gunpoint, the same way that Jaime was. The police soon realized that the three kidnappings had significant connections linking them together. These three women had all gone to high school together. Not only did they go to the same high school, they had all dated the same man at one point in time- Brian Duffy. It wasnt long before police tracked him down for questioning.
Brian Duffy was arrested in April of 1997 for the rape and murder of my cousin Jaime and the two other young women. They were found buried in his backyard, severely decomposed, beaten, and raped. Each of them had a bullet lodged in their brain. Duffy was sentenced to death two months later. He never stated a motive for what he did, nor did he show remorse.
It is now more than two years later and Brian Duffy is still alive and breathing. I am physically sickened when I think about how this killer gets three meals a day and a bed to sleep in, while someone I loved dearly lies dead in a coffin because of his actions. Brian Duffy, or any other convicted murderer, should not have the right to lengthy appeals and court proceedings to delay execution. Its so difficult to understand why these criminals have their lives preserved for extended periods of time, while the families of the victims have to wait patiently for justice. It is simply unfair.
If the United States demonstrates that it is serious about using the death penalty through an increased number of executions, then potential murderers will know their fate before killing. They will know that if caught and convicted, they will face a sure death. In order to promote and maintain a sense of justice and moral order, the death penalty must be used more frequently and quickly. Because death is reserved as punishment for only the worst criminals, it is only fitting that they receive a punishment accordingly. The judicial system should not be afraid to retain the confidence of the public (Stewart 53).
In looking back to previous societies that relied upon the death penalty, such as ancient Athens and the Roman Empire, one realizes the effectiveness of this sentence and its usefulness as a tool for deterring crime (Pro Death Penalty 3). Although there is no punishment that can entirely eliminate violent crime, a more stringent use of the death penalty would significantly help. The United States must allow history to repeat itself and through more severe use of the death penalty, curtail violent crimes within society.
Kaplan, David. Anger and Ambivalence. Newsweek, 7 August 1995. 24-29
Pro Death Penalty. http://members.tripod.com/prodeath/pdp.html. 1998
Stewart, David. Dealing With the Death Penalty. ABA Journal 80. 1994: 50-53.