Capital Punishment

Auburn Drive High School
Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia

By Brad T. (Grade 12)

Capital punishment is the only penalty that is fit for murder. It has been used for thousands of years and is currently supported by 80 per cent of Americans. Allowing a convicted murderer to carry on with their life but with no freedom, is unacceptable.

Murderers pose a serious threat to society and should be dealt with accordingly. I share this view with United States President Bill Clinton who has let it be known he will nominate no one to the Federal bench who is opposed to capital punishment under all circumstances. Clearly, the death penalty is used only in the most extreme and horrible cases of murder. During the time of the first US colonists, a criminal could be sentenced to death for 150 different crimes including robbery, counterfeiting, witchcraft, arson, slave rebellion, and even some forms of lying. Today's society no longer accepts these crimes as capital offenses, and rightly so. Murder is now the only crime recognized as a capital offense. Murderers are criminally aberrant individuals and should be punished by death.

Supporters suggest death is a fitting punishment for murder, and executions maximize public safety through incapacitation and deterrence. Opponents believe there is no evidence that the murder rate fluctuates according to the frequency with which the death penalty is used. They also argue that lex talionis ("a life for a life") is not a sound principle of criminal justice - that society cannot allow the brutalities of criminal violence to set the limits of appropriate punishments. Another popular argument against capital punishment is that the innocent may be executed. However, Scott Newark, spokesman for the Canadian Police Association, says, "I was a prosecutor for twelve years and I tell you, you have to do a fair amount to be convicted of first-degree murder. There must be some kind of punishment available to deal with individuals who have committed horrible crimes against society and are beyond rehabilitation. These individuals have exploited their rights and destroyed the lives of their victims and their families who are left to grieve and try to come to terms with why a human being could do so to another."

Capital punishment serves multiple purposes, - the first being justice. It helps bring peace of mind to the victim's family and also to society, which no longer has to worry about that particular individual. Also, the convicted criminal is severely punished for the terrible crime they have committed. The hours leading up to their execution should be a dreadful experience. Hopefully, it would cause them as much pain and suffering as their victim(s) experienced.

There is an overwhelming support amongst Canadians for the reinstatement of capital punishment. Jean Chretien and his friends in Ottawa should seriously consider legislating the death penalty, as most Canadians are in favour of it. If we had it, a certain Paul Bernardo would be sitting on death row right now.

Think about what he did. Now think of capital punishment.

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