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Capital Punishment

Should the state reinstate the death penalty?
Argumentative Essay by: Marlina Fockler

“We the jury find you guilty of first-degree murder.” Now imagine how you would feel when you hear these words going through your head. The argument for this paper is should the punishment fit the crime. I believe that the death penalty should be reinstated in the state of West Virginia because is has a lower cost per capita than a life sentence behind bars and it is the only adequate punishment for certain crimes. I also feel that if executions were made public it would serve as an excellent deterrent. According to Wendy Lesser, Founding Editor of The Threepenny Review, in her 1993 book titled Pictures at an Execution: An Inquiry into the Subject of Murder: “The most persuasive reason I can think of not to televise executions, like the most persuasive reason not to have executions, has to do with the effect on us…….I’m thinking of what it would mean about us, the audience, if we allowed someone’s actual murder to become our Theater of Cruelty. The danger of a TV execution is that we would not take it personally…it is possible that instead of making the killing more real to us, the sight of a condemned person dying on TV might only acclimate us further to such violent images.” The arguments for the death penalty are just as numerous as the the arguments against. According to polls by the Gallup organization (which has studied this topic over 50 years) findings the American public is in approval of approximately 66% of the death penalty, but this number flucuates through time as with public opinion. State polls in the state have shown that approximately 73% of the population favored the return of the death penalty while 18% were opposed, and finally 9% who had no opinion. (Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley, WV House of Representatives)

The argument that it is cheaper to place a prisoner behind bars for the rest of their lives is cheaper than executing them is the next part. After researching the costs of keeping a prisoner it costs approximately $87 a day to feed and house said offender. If you look at it this way, you need to look at the fact that these prisoners are not going to be in there for just a few days or months, they are in there for years or decades. It adds up and quickly. Taxpayers are the ones paying for this, the victim’s families are paying for their upkeep. I find this to be an outrage. They are not contributing members of society! If you look at the statistics the prisoners are overcrowded. I am telling you that there is a simpler way to deal with the situation. If you are accused of a heinous crime, you will be punished for it. The ancient code of Hammurabi which dates back to the year 1790 BC states what the punishment is to be for certain crimes and they were even tough than the laws we have today. The Bible even tells the punishment that someone who has been found guilty of a crime what their punishment is to be. Under the Mosaic Law, there are specific punishments were to be dealt to the perpetrators of the crimes. If we look at these examples we should see where our founding fathers were getting their information when they wrote the Constitution which to this day we use when laws are written. We use these rights when we take a muderer, rapist, or other criminals who have been charged with a crime. Oppenents argue the fact that an execution is a cruel and unusual punishment to take their life away. What about the fact that they have taken a life more violently than we are planning to do to them. A murder is a violent taking of life, but what about rape? Rape may not be a physical death but it kills the psyche or spirit of the person. Should that not be punished with the same as a muderer? West Virginia was a death penalty state until 1965, but lets look at what happened prior to this and did it make a difference in the statistics. We had the death penalty under the law of Virginia before we became a state and continued to have a low number of executions and since

we became a state we have yet to execute a woman. Odd when you look at other states…they have plenty of women that are on death row. We had no prisoners on the list for federal execution list until 2007 and then there were only 2. The last public execution happened in the state of West Virginia in 1897. John F. Morgan was found guilty of murdering 3 people in cold blood. He was given the right to a speedy trial that within three days he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die. This proves my point that public executions should be used as a deterrent to crime and we will see lower crime numbers when you take the prisoners who have been found guilty without a reasonable doubt and do away with the problem.