Capital Punishment


By Huy Luong

The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has endured
for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and
complicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the
Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the
Dahmers and Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous
barbaric acts of these individuals and other killers, by taking
away their lives to function and perform in our society. At the
same time, we must insure that innocent people such as Marshall
and Millgard are never convicted or sentenced to death for a
crime that they did not commit.
Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of
deterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per-
capita basis in countries or states that do have it, then those
that do not. In order for capital punishment to work as a
deterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal's mind
prior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware that
others have been punished in the past for the offence that he or
she is planning, and that what happened to another individual who
committed this offence, can also happen to me.
But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from
auto theft to 1st-Degree Murder, never take into account the
consequences of their actions. Deterrence to crime, is rooted in
the individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set of
conduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they
will and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made or
be broken by friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. An
individual who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child,
will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do,
until they have learned it themselves. Therefore, capital
punishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of human
nature to ignore practised advice and to self learn.
There are those who claim that capital punishment is in
itself a form of vengeance on the killer. But isn't locking up a
human being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself?
And is it "humane" that an individual who took the life of
another, should receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3
meals a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one
receives nothing? Adversaries of capital punishment claim that it
is far more humane then having the state take away the life of
the individual.
In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex
offender, was scheduled to hang. But just days before his
execution, the then Liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted
McCorkell to life in prison.
Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and
convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenessee
boy. He was sentanced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leaving
Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the attempted murder of
an 11-year old boy.
What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in
1963, two boys would never have had to have gone through the
horror of being sexually abused. These individuals may themselves
become sex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused
as children.
McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in the
past, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do this
once, he killed two boys, and assaulted two others, leaving one
for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this
man have to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children, what
will he do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a
life would the state have been taking away in this case? An
innocent life? A forgiving life? No, a life that was beyond the
realm of reform, and did not care to be.
We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, even
when suspicion may cause considerable doubt, send an innocent
person to be executed. It could have happened to David Millgard,
it could have happened to Donald Marshall. It probably has even
occured numerous times in the history of the earth.