I remember at the beginning of the year, we read some stories that dealt with capital punishment and we read an opinion article written by HL Mencken. The only reason I remember this is because my research topic for our big essay that we wrote last year revolved around the idea that capital punishment should not exist as a punishment. And I cannot say that my opinion has changed one bit.
Remember the word catharsis from the Scarlet Letter? Well, that word pretty much explains the main reason why capital punishment still exists in many countries, including our own. For some reason, humans receive comfort and vindication knowing that their loved one’s murderer is dead and gone. Apparently for some people, putting their loved one’s murderer behind bars until the end of eternity does not provide the same feelings of comfort and vindication. Excluding an extremely unlikely scenario where executing a murderer would serve a great good, the use of the death penalty is simply unnecessary.
However, some people do bring up a valid point: just by having the death penalty as an option, some people will think twice out of fear before committing a heinous crime. This theory has been practiced since the beginning of civilization when some rulers would publically punish and humiliate a lawbreaker. Thus by making an example out of a lawbreaker, citizens would think again before partaking in a crime. I believe that this theory does not justify capital punishment, because there is no way to know for sure that by executing some felonies will prevent future murderers.
Another problem I have with the death penalty is the fact that the punishment itself is cruel and inhumane which are two qualities our constitution prohibits. Try to remember the gruesomely vivid scenes in the stories we read at the beginning of the year. It is almost unimaginable how painful death by an electrocution chair is, and not to mention that death by lethal injection has an analgesic that will occasionally wear off thus leaving the person being executed in overwhelming intense pain. And then there are even worse scenarios where death by electrocution has failed thus a human on death row may be forced to endure the experience multiple times, while unsure whether or not the next execution will finish him off.
But there is not just a physically cruel aspect of the death penalty, because sometimes the emotional side of capital punishment may be even more torturous. I for one cannot even bear to think about the unimaginable wait that humans on death row must endure. Just try to imagine the powerful anxiety that one must feel every day as they lie in their prison cell, knowing that death is only weeks away. It is almost impossible to live every moment of their day before the thought of death enters the mind.
So in the end the capital punishment relieves a victim’s friends and family by allowing them to undergo catharsis, but is it really worth it to unjustly torture the murderer?