Views on Murder and The Death Penalty

by Eleni Vamvakari
*Please note that, despite being born and brought up in America, and lacking Hellenic blood, I am
a Greek patriot and nationalist, and unless otherwise stated, my works are written from that
perspective. This work, for example, will discuss American practices, as, sadly, the death penalty
was abolished in Greece in 1975. Note also that for the most part, I have used one gender in my
examples. This is strictly to make things easier as having to write him/her, he/she and his/her all
the time ruins the flow.*
*
There are many differing views on the death penalty, but ultimately, there are those who support
it and those who oppose it. It should come as a surprise to no one who has read my previous
essays that I am in the former group. This is one thing that America does right, though their
concern over humane treatment greatly annoys me.
While I don't believe that human lives are more precious above all simply because they are
human, neither do I believe in harming the innocent. If you purposefully and knowingly kill an
innocent and healthy person, you should be put to death. Some may wonder why I emphasised
innocent and healthy. This is because there are differences between execution, euthanasia, and
murder. There are instances, for example, when someone is terminally ill and wishes to die, but
cannot properly commit suicide. In these cases, someone may help him. Those who do should
never be penalised, if it can be determined that the person was truly that ill. Problems can arise,
however, if someone kills a person who didn't wish to die, or who wasn't that ill, or if the methods
used in the euthanasia cause pain and suffering before death. This is why it is crucial that right to
die laws are available to everyone who truly need them, and who have undergone counselling to
ensure that they are making an informed decision.
Not all killing done by civilians is unjust. An example of this is cases in which someone kills a
person who has directly harmed a loved one. For example, a father might kill the rapist of his
daughter, or a mother might kill the killer of her baby. Provided that the guilt of the deceased can
be proven, these parents should not be charged with murder. That said, this can lead to various
issues, such as family feuds, in which a relative of the rapist kills that father, or the girlfriend of the
baby killer kills a relative of the mother, etc. None of this is acceptable, which is why it is
generally better to let the courts sort things out. Unfortunately, however, crimes like rape,
child/animal abuse, etc., are not considered capital, so those who commit them don't receive the
death penalty, but instead, are generally allowed to live in prisons, where money, time, and
resources are wasted on them. Still, far too many things could go wrong when people take the
law into their own hands, including the killing of an innocent person due to mistaken identity, etc.
and once taken, a life cannot be restored.
Now we turn to cases where the killing is completely beyond anyone's control. For example,
someone could be driving down the road in a snow storm, or even after one, slide on ice, and hit
another car. In this instance, a murder has not been committed, and the person should never be
charged with a crime. Rather, he should be given counselling. I cannot even imagine how
someone in that situation would feel, and to charge him with anything, even involuntary
manslaughter, would only make it that much worse, especially if he was a decent person in the
first place. He needs help, not prosecution!
Even as the law stands, not all cases which call for the death penalty involve murder. There is a
very special kind that must be discussed. This is of someone who tries to overthrow the current
government of the nation. As might be expected, this kind of crime would normally lead to
charges of treason and eventual execution, and rightfully so. But there exists a perfect example
of what happens if the government is, indeed, overthrown, and the results far outweigh the initially
illegality of the coupe. Of course, I'm referring to The Revolution of 21 April, 1967. Here, we
have a dilemma of epic proportions. According to the law, The Colonels should have been

executed, no questions asked. In fact, they did receive such a sentence, but were spared due to
the abolishment of the death penalty. But supposing that it were not and I was judge, I would
have to rule against the law in this case, though whether that would have been allowed under
Hellenic law I do not know. This is not merely because I love The Colonels. In fact, had they
been caught on 21 April, 1967, I might have executed them, since I would have no idea what they
would have done. Even had I asked them, I'm sure they couldn't explain it in detail, since it's truly
impossible for humans to look that far ahead. But in 1975, it was quite clear what they did and
that the good far outweighed the bad. So I would need to acquit them, or at the most, give them
some kind of community service/fines.
Now that we have examined the various cases in which the death penalty can be used, let us
discuss how it can be employed. There are many methods of execution, from a simple hanging
to an expensive lethal injection. I have always treated people as they treat me, and I would
definitely extend this to criminals. The more suffering you gave to your victims, the more, in turn,
you should suffer. This is why I am against being humane when administering the death penalty.
This is not euthanasia, in which the goal is a quick and painless death. Rather, it is a punishment
for a horrible and brutal crime. Therefore, I strongly believe in the return of hanging, the electric
chair, and the firing squad, as well as the introduction of the guillotine. Many would be concerned
for the families of the murderer, but this person deliberately killed an innocent human being or
animal. It's not as if he was taken from his family randomly. He was tried and convicted of
murder and sentenced to death. He wouldn't be in this situation had he not murdered someone.
My only concern is for the executioners and/or torturers (should that also be administered either
before or during the execution, since such a job is bound to take a psychological toll on them.
They should go through counselling and extensive training to insure that they don't abuse their
partners or anyone else at home. Having to execute the executioner is never pretty.
There are those who argue that prison is a good alternative to the death penalty. But they've
changed a lot over the years. It's fine for the petty criminals. They should not be treated in the
same way. But much of the harshness is gone that made people afraid of going to prison in the
first place. Sadly, there are even some poor people who commit small crimes just to get out of
the cold, have a roof over their heads, and something to eat. There needs to be an alternative for
them so that, if they want to work and better themselves or if they are unable to do so due to a
disability, they can seek help. As for the rest, if there were still chain gangs and if prisons for
serious criminals were still harsh, it might help deter people, or at least make them think before
committing crimes like murder, rape, and abuse. But they now have gyms, television with the
latest films, Internet, the chance for a free college education, and so on. That's hardly rough time.
Still, if murder or rape was not involved, and if there is a chance of rehabilitation, the victim or
family of the victim should decide what should be done. The problem, of course, is knowing
which people can be rehabilitated and which cannot. But if we must keep those who can't be
rehabilitated in prison, they should be used for trials of various products and procedures. This
would give scientists far better results than using animals. I know many will think that's cruel and
will inevitably say "but they're human too". But once you kill the innocent on purpose, particularly
if you harm a child, you've lost the right to be called human in my book. You deserve whatever is
done to you. Please keep in mind that I would never suggest this for anyone innocent, including
other criminals who did not commit capital or truly violent crimes.
But what, some may ask, about appeals? These should only be allowed when serious evidence
can be used to justify a new trial. If a new witness comes forth, or if new DNA evidence is
discovered, asking for another trial is perfectly reasonable. Unfortunately, too many abuse this
right just to remain alive. Others claim mental insanity, or talk about their accomplices in order to
have the sentence reduced. This should not be allowed. In cases where the person really is
judged to be criminally insane or so severely retarded that he cannot understand basic things and
is a danger to society and himself, it's best to euthanise him. There is no justification for spending
tax payer's money to keep someone alive who either a. can't be let out in society because he
might potentially kill again or b. who would be forced to live out a punishment for something that
he doesn't even understand. Then, there are cases in which the person really is innocent, as

described earlier. The problem here is that these appeals and trials could take years to unfold. Is
it right, then, for someone to be locked away for 10 or 20 years, and then to be let out? Can his
life truly be returned to him? These are questions that I cannot answer, but I will say this. Time
between appeals and verdicts, and the number of appeals that are allowed must be limited, and if
someone is sentenced to death at a given date, barring some extraordinary change in
circumstance, he should be executed on that date, and not ten years from then.
In conclusion, I feel that the death penalty is a perfectly just punishment when used
appropriately. Certainly, using it for minor offences is never justified. But when it's used against
murderers and other seriously violent criminals, it's economically as well as morally sound.
If you've enjoyed this essay, and would like to read my other works, they can be found here. As
always, please feel free to comment on and share any of them. A wide variety of topics are
discussed, so there's something for everyone.
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