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Capital Punishment DRAFT - Capital Punishment SOCIETYS SELF...

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Capital Punishment SOCIETY’S SELF DEFENSE Brandy Wowk |Rhetoric 351 | March 15 2017
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Capital Punishment; Society’s Self Defense The legal definition of Capital Punishment is, “punishment by death” (“Definition of CAPITAL PUNISHMENT” 2017). I am discussing capital punishment as it relates to premeditated murder. Murder is defined, by Merriam-Webster, as “t he crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice” (“Definition of CAPITAL PUNISHMENT” 2017). This explains the circumstances under which it is suggested that capital punishment would be acceptable. However, even in circumstances of serious crimes such as murder there are those who condemn capital punishment as a form of punishment. The death penalty is an issue that has the United States quite divided. While there are many supporters of it, there is also a large amount of opposition. Currently, there are thirty-three states in which the death penalty is legal and seventeen states that have abolished it (Death Penalty Information Center). Capital punishment is an effective form of deterrent, it provides closure for families and friends, and upholds the morals and values of this country. Opposing arguments that state that it is unconstitutional, irrevocable mistakes are made, or driven by racial and economic bias, are easily refuted. The use of capital punishment greatly deters citizens from committing crimes such as murder. Many people’s greatest fear is death; therefore if they know that death is a possible consequence for their actions, they are less likely to perform such actions. Ernest van den Haag, a professor at Fordham University, wrote about the issue of deterrence: “…capital punishment is likely to deter more than other punishments because people fear death more than anything else. They fear most death deliberately inflicted by law and scheduled by the courts….Hence, the threat of the death penalty may deter some murderers who otherwise might not have been deterred. And surely the death penalty is the only penalty that could deter prisoners already serving a life sentence and tempted to kill a guard, or offenders about to be arrested and facing a life sentence.” (Death Penalty Curricula for High School) Van Den Haag brings forth the argument that capital punishment is the strongest deterrent society has against murder, which has been proven in many studies. “Since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to deter murder…” (Death Penalty Curricula for High School). In a study conducted by Isaac Ehrlich in 1973, it was found that for each execution of a criminal seven potential victim’s lives were saved (Death Penalty Curricula for High School). This was due to other possible murderers being deterred from committing murder after PAGE 1
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Capital Punishment; Society’s Self Defense realizing thatother criminals are executed for their crimes. Ehrlich’s argument was also backed up by studies following his that had similar results. Capital
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