Capital Punishment: Deters murder, and is just Retribution


Capital punishment, is the execution of criminals by the state,
for committing crimes, regarded so heinous, that this is the only
acceptable punishment. Capital punishment does not only lower the
murder rate, but it's value as retribution alone is a good reason
for handing out death sentences. Support for the death penalty
in the U.S. has risen to an average of 80% according to
an article written by Richard Worsnop, entitled "Death penalty
debate centres on Retribution", this figure is slightly lower in
Canada where support for the death penalty is at 72% of the
population over 18 years of age, as stated in article by Kirk
Makir, in the March 26, 1987 edition of the Globe and Mail,
titled "B.C. MPs split on Death Penalty".

The death penalty deters murder by putting the fear of death into
would be killers. A person is less likely to do something, if he
or she thinks that harm will come to him. Another way the death
penalty deters murder, is the fact that if the killer is dead, he
will not be able to kill again.

Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should
be punished for their crimes, and that it does not matter whether
it will deter the crime rate. Supporters of the death penalty
are in favour of making examples out of offenders, and that the
threat of death will be enough to deter the crime rate, but the
crime rate is irrelevant.

According to Isaac Ehrlich's study, published on April 16, 1976,
eight murders are deterred for each execution that is carried out
in the U.S.A. He goes on to say, "If one execution of a guilty
capital murderer deters the murder of one innocent life, the
execution is justified." To most supporters of the death
penalty, like Ehrlich, if even 1 life is saved, for countless
executions of the guilty, it is a good reason for the death
penalty. The theory that society engages in murder when
executing the guilty, is considered invalid by most supporters,
including Ehrlich. He feels that execution ofconvicted offenders
expresses the great value society places on innocent life.

Isaac Ehrlich goes on to state that racism is also a point used
by death penalty advocates. We will use the U.S. as examples,
since we can not look at the inmates on death row in Canada,
because their are laws in Canada that state that crime statistics
can not be based on race, also the fact that there are no inmates
on death row in Canada. In the U.S. 16 out of 1000 whites
arrested for murder are sentenced to death, while 12 of 1000
blacks arrested for murder were sentenced to death. 1.1% of
black inmates on death row were executed, while 1.7% of white
inmates will die.

Another cry for racism, as according to Ehrlich, that is raised
by advocates of the death penalty is based on the colour of the
victim, for example "if the victim is white, it is more likely
that the offender will get the death penalty than if the victim
had been black". This is true, if you look at the actual number
of people who are murder. More people kill whites and get
the death penalty, then people who kill blacks and get the death
penalty. The reason for this is that more whites are killed, and
the murders captured. Now if we look at the number of blacks
killed it is a lot less, but you have to look at these numbers
proportionately. Percent wise it is almost the same number for
any race, so this is not the issue.

In a 1986 study done by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the
University of North Carolina, the conclusions made by Ehrilich
were updated, and showed to be a little on the low side as far as
the deterrence factor of capital punishment. Professor Layson
found that 18 murders were deterred by each execution is the U.S.
He also found that executions increases in probability of arrest,
conviction, and other executions of heinous offenders.

According to a statement issued by George C. Smith, Director of
Litigation, Washington Legal Foundation, titled "In Support of
the Death Penalty", support for the death penalty has grown in
the U.S., as the crime rate increased. In 1966, 42% of Americans
were in favour of capital punishment while 47% were opposed to
it. Since the crime rate United states has increased, support
for the capital punishment has followed suit. In 1986, support
for capital punishment was 80% for and only 17% against with 3%
undecided, but most of the