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Austin Cowan
English 1010-90
Professor Peterson
29 Nov. 2015
Who Merits Punishment?
Capital punishment has been a widely discussed and diverse argument for years. This
subject is a very big topic among human rights activists on whether this decision is humane or
not. The question I would like to arise and research is, at what point if any does the death penalty
become inhumane? Diverse opinions and examples discuss this affair. This topic can affect
anyone as will be explained below. However, much care must be taken in sentencing one to such
an end. In fact there are many who believe that this punishment should be abolished completely
or be replaced by something more humane. There have been many who were wrongfully
convicted for crimes that they didnt commit. What is your stance? What would someone have to
do to deserve such a sentence? Is there a more humane way to execute punishment that has the
same or better deterrent effect on the public?
Robert Blecker, a professor at New York Law School, states in his article titled The
Death Penalty Needs to be an Option for Punishment that capital punishment should be an
option for punishment of criminals who deserve it. Blecker declares that those who oppose
capital punishment and the death penalty only do so by attempting to use false premises and
misperception to blind and persuade the society of the United States. His point is when it comes
to the worst of the worst killers and criminals; most of society agrees that capital punishment is a
valid choice of punishment. Perhaps his most persuasive approach is that those not sentenced to
death and instead are convicted to life in prison, they receive a high commodity life inside the

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prison walls. Those criminals are given things such as T.V., food, activities, and sometimes even
visits, all paid for by the U.S. Government.
There is an opposing view, which has a very compelling and convincing story and
motive. Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, an ex-marine veteran and an avid voice against the death
penalty shares his personal account in his article Of Course the Death Penalty is Cruel and
Unusual Punishment, which was published on the same site as Bleckers. Bloodsworth starts
out his article on the death penalty by naming examples of people sentenced to death who could
have been innocent. He states that it will always be possible to sentence an innocent man to
death. He gives a personal approach as he was wrongly convicted and put on death row for 2
years for a crime he was later proven innocent of. He believes that the system of the death
penalty is broken beyond repair, causing someone (usually a minority) to receive the short end of
the stick. Bloodsworth says that racial and economic disparities are reasons enough to end capital
punishment. According to Bloodsworth, Americans are not liking what they see when it comes to
the death penalty. In the past six years before this article six states have ended capital
punishment. If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone. This personal account from a
firsthand witness testifies to the possible flaws in the system behind capital punishment.
Two compelling views and opinions can draw some to conclude on which side they
would take. Bleckers article can influence the thinking on this topic by his in depth perspective
as a first hand witness to those who are on death row and also those who are in prison awaiting
their sentence, as he interviewed many of the inmates. His viewpoint may sound inhumane to
certain activists but his thoughts and insights are convincing to the average person living in
America. According to Blecker the capital punishment should be considered for the worst of the
worst criminals. On the other hand Bloodsworth convinces his audience of the danger of unjustly

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convicting a person and the consequences of such actions on that person. To avoid such drastic
penalties Bloodsworth stands ups against capital punishment and calls to abolish it. These two
articles can help the fence sitters and those who may not have had a viewpoint make a more
educated decision. However there are many more views and opinions on this topic.
Charles Putnam and James Reams have collaborated in creating their article, Making the
Case for the Deterrence Effect of Capital Punishment, which describes the deterrent effect that
capital punishment has on would be murderers or criminals. The deterrent effect simply is that
fear of a certain punishment deters or frightens a person or persons to not commit an offense.
Data collected from various authors studies show that capital punishment creates a very
significant deterrent effect. Since the legal change in 1977 permitting execution, homicide rates
have dropped. They use the data collected to show that states which allow the death penalty have
lower homicide rates than states that have abolished this type of punishment. The facts collected
show a convincing reason why capital punishment should be upheld. Putnam and Reams have a
valid and convincing argument that can go hand in hand with what Blecker has stated. A would
be criminal knowing full well that the consequences of his actions could lead to the injection
chamber may hesitate and reconsider his actions. Where if capital punishment is abolished that
criminal is faced merely with a comfortable life in prison being provided for by U.S. dollars and
tax payers. As Blecker argued, a criminal that is not sentences to death is sentenced to life
imprisonment in a high commodity life, with T.V., food, games, sports, exercise and other
necessities. Although surely life in prison is not a walk in the park, it may be worth it to some
criminals who have less on the outside. They now have nothing to lose.
These are solely three of the many perspectives that there are to examine when dealing
with the death penalty. There is a racial factor that can come into play, there have been hundreds

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of court cases that have dealt with those who argue that they have been mistreated due to race or
economic status, and there are those like Bloodsworth who have been wrongfully convicted for
certain heinous crimes. What is left to do is draw a conclusion. One must ask himself, what if
anything, would someone have to do to deserve such a grave sentence. Many argue that for
murderers and child molesters it would be just desserts. These are real human lives that are at
stake. There has been and will be much heartache due to the decisions that criminals make, not
only for themselves but for the victims of their crimes. The decisions that the public must make
can determine the future, or lack of future for these individuals and the victims of serious crime.

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Works Cited

Blecker, Robert. The Death Penalty Needs to be an Option for Punishment. The New York The New York Times, 6 Apr. 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

Bloodsworth, Kirk Noble. Of Course the Death Penalty is Cruel and Unusual. The New York The New York Times, 6 Apr. 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.

Putnam, Charles T and James M. Reams. Making the Case for the Deterrence Effect of Capital
Punishment. New Hampshire Bar Journal. Summer 2011:18-20.