Capital Punishment

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 1996

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Execution prevents eighteen murders per year."(Hirsch, 122)

Opponents argue that capital punishment is immoral. But if you follow the Old Testament, it is moral. In one passage from Genesis, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed." Another from Exodus, "Eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe" (Samaha, 440). It was not very moral of the prisoner to commit a murder in the first place. Why should it be immoral to execute a prisoner, but moral to kill an innocent person. "It is as morally right to punish criminals for their wicked deeds as it is to praise heroes for their heroic deeds. If it is noble for soldiers to give their lives for their country in wartime, then it is morally right to claim the lives of murderers for killing innocent people in peaceable society(Samaha, 441)."

According to Professor Ernest van den Haag: "The life of each man should be sacred to each other man... it is not enough to proclaim the sacredness and inviolability of human life. It must be secured as well, by threatening with the loss of their own life those who violate what has been proclaimed as inviolable-the right of innocents to live" (Haag, 67).

Other opponents argue that there is the chance of executing an innocent prisoner. Hugo Adam Bedu and Michael L. Radelet collected evidence of every capital punishment case after the 1930's. They concluded that 23 innocent people, out of several thousand cases in the twentieth century, were convicted and executed, but all of these mistakes were made because there was a "forced confession, suppression of evidence, and perjury" (Samaha 442). That means not one of these persons was actually innocent...