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Capital Punishment History

In the past, people have invariably felt that if they had
been wronged in some way, it was his or her right to take
vengeance on the person that had wronged them. This mentality
still exists, even today, but in a lesser form because the law
has now outlined a person’s rights and developed punishments that
conform to those rights, yet allow for the retribution for their
crime. However, some feel that those laws and punishments are
too lax and criminals of today take advantage of them, ie.
organized crime, knowing very well that the punishments for their
crime, whether it be murder, theft, or any other number of
criminal activities, will be so negligible that it may be well
worth their risk.
Although in the past, the number of crimes that were
subjected to capital punishment, defined simply as the death
penalty for a crime, were outrageous. Amendments were made to
reflect the changes in the society’s views on the morality of
capital punishment. That resulted in the narrowing down of the
list of one hundred crimes to twelve, punishable by the death
penalty in 1833, and in 1869 it was cut down yet again to just
three: treason, rape, and murder because of violent nature of
these crimes. These crimes, even today, are still viewed as
violent and should be punished with the highest degree of
discipline available to achieve justice.
After much public pressure, capital punishment was suspended
on a trial run in 1967. This proved to be ineffective, because
even though the law stipulated that crimes such as treason or the
murder of law enforcement agents, were still to be subjected to
the death penalty, the federal cabinet continued to commute those
criminals from death to life sentences, hence the law was not
being followed and justice was not being served. This soon was
followed with capital punishment’s abolishment in 1976, as a
formal declaration of what was already happening or rather what
was not happening. It is felt that because of this and the fact
that there has not been an execution since 1967, that today’s
current form of punishments are no longer a sufficient deterrent
for such serious crimes and have contributed to a ever rising
crime rate.
So, this is where the real issue of whether or not capital
punishment should exist begins and such a controversial issue
could be best understood if we looked at capital punishment in a
perspective of how it fulfils or does not fulfil society’s ideas
of punishment:
Is not one of the four fundamental objectives behind
punishment retribution? The sentencing objective based on
the principle of “an-eye-for-an-eye”, which means that what
one person has done to another should also be done to that
person in return. Is that not justified, especially in
cases of premeditated murder of another human begin, another
Does capital punishment not act as a deterrent? Does
it not threaten with an imposition of a penalty for the
commission of an act considered wrong by society?
What about segregation? Does capital punishment remove
criminals from society so that they cannot repeat their
offence or commit other offences against society?
Doesn’t capital punishment follow the above three
objectives well?? Most people would say it does. But then,
of course, people who support the abolishment of capital
punishment would ask about rehabilitation, the re-training
of prisoners with an employable skill for use when they are
released. Not only is it expensive to re-train and house
criminals, but with some, it is just not possible, because
they are hardened criminals and will not change. For those
people, it is just not worth the effort and the taxpayers’
money to even attempt to reform them.
Also, another point to consider is that today prison
terms are not enough. Many people are allowed out early on
parole and/or remission resulting in criminals just serving
one third of their prison terms and being released back into
society. This type of quick release cannot adequately
retribute someone’s death nor deter others strongly enough
from repeating the same offence that the criminals already
As you can see, capital punishment fulfils our society’s
“checklist” of what a punishment should do, especially the
objective of retribution.
Many people who want capital punishment restored, have also
clearly stated that without a suitable punishments for crimes,
justice will never truly be served to those that have suffered
damages or losses. People will think less and less of the law
and start resorting to “private law and order”. This would not
only create chaos but raise the crime rate further with people
running around on private vendettas.
Even with these facts and arguments, the federal government
refuses to restore the death penalty. So all we can do now is
protest to the government, wait, and hope that it will not take a
high crime rate and the loss of many innocent lives before they
realize what a mistake they made in 1976 by totally abolishing
capital punishment.


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