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The Death Penalty

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This essay is on the issue of life and death, essentially, the death penalty. The topic will get quite graphic, so if you can't handle the reality of death, don't read any further.

Let me say at the outset of this essay that I don't really know where I stand on this issue. To put such an issue of life and death in such a black or white base is pointless in my opinion. What may be true in some cases is not the case in others.

The death penalty has been abused in the United States when it has been documented in the past decade some released from death row were indeed innocent. Had it not been for modern day technologies such as DNA tests, many of these innocent people would have been killed by the hands of the State.

Others on death row are there because they could not afford a "dream team" type of defense which could get a wealthier defendant off with a lighter sentence. What of the uneven handed way this punishment is applied? If a wealthy person and a poor person were both on drugs and robbed a bank and killed people in the process, they committed the same exact crime. Chances are the punishment would be different due to the legal defense team. A wealthy client can find a lawyer who can find the loopholes and experts to get them off death row. A poor client has to rely on a poorly paid attorney with too many caseloads to find the best defense to keep them off death row.

And what of the same situation in different states? Even if two people were on the same socio-economic level who committed a drug-induced bank robbery that ended in murder, but they were in different states, one could end up on death row and the other could get life in prison for the same, exact crime. Even the racial background of two different defendants could change the outcome of the verdict.

Then you have those who have a long record of violent crimes on death row who happen to be innocent of the crime that put them on death row. Due to circumstantial evidence and the fact the person is prone to violence, they can be wrongfully convicted of the crime which will cost them their life when in fact they did not do it.

The death penalty has also been used correctly more often than abused. The guilty have been punished according to the laws of the State. There are just too many factors involved in these cases to side one way or another. Most people want to be strongly on one side or another and this is naive.

Those who want to end all death penalties do not offer reasonable workable suggestions of punishment or rehabilitation not to mention do not address the rights of the victims at all. Simply locking a person away for life is the same on a humanitarian level as killing them. If they have to live everyday for the rest of their lives locked behind bars, never to have the dream of being free, they are not of any use to the rest of society and cannot themselves have a meaningful life. They are merely caged animals. And what if they should escape? What kind of danger is society dealing with if a violent criminal gets out after being caged for so long?

Those who are strongly pro-death penalty seem not to think about the fact that there are innocent ones who can slip through the cracks and get killed. They also don't think about the inhumane methods of death reasoning that if they did such horrible crimes to end up on death row, they deserve whatever they get.

The hypocrisy of this issue is the fact that people who speak of the absolute wrongness or rightness of the death penalty have nothing at stake. In other words, they are not victims of the criminals, the criminals, or family of the criminals. Many take it so personally when they are not so personally affected by this issue. The fact is your chances of being executed on death row while innocent is very remote in comparison to the other ways you will probably die. Even out of those who commit murder, most will never get a death sentence.

Unless you have a loved one or a family member murdered, you cannot say for certain if you will insist the criminal pays for it with the death penalty or life in prison. If someone you really love is taken away from you, you may want that person off the face of the earth. It won't bring your loved one back, but you may feel justice was served. Or perhaps you won't have the heart to put that person's family in the same kind of pain you have and insist they live the rest of their lives to think about the crime.

What if you are the family of the criminal? Perhaps your son or daughter murdered someone and is on death row. You might not really see your child as a murderer, but as the person you raised and loved. It would be hard on you if they were executed. You did nothing wrong, but someone you love is going to be taken away from you. You might even be so ashamed of what they did that you want them dead so they cannot tarnish your family name.

The point is, unless you are personally touched by the issue directly, it is hard to make this kind of judgment for someone else. Much like abortion which is a personal decision, it is hard to give a clear cut and fair decision unless each case is looked at on its own merits. It is even a harder issue since unlike abortion, this death decision is given by the state which does not always take into account those actually touched by the crime.

A sad fact is innocent people can fall through the cracks and get executed even though the numbers are small. Sadder still is the fact of innocent people murdered where justice is not served at all. With the aid of a good lawyer, a guilty person can be painted "legally" innocent and walk away free while others may get a life sentence, many will spend between 10-25 years in prison, free to live the rest of their life in society.

It would be easy to say where you stand on this issue until it happens to you. Perhaps some crazed junkie killed your child for mere pleasure or a retarded man was put up into killing your parent. Unless it happens to you, how would you really know how to react to that particular crime. Is it right for our society to tell the victims to just get over it and forgive and forget about it? Or suppose you feel sorry for the guilty and want them spared, would it be fair to force them to their deaths when you may want to spare their family from a death?

Or suppose you are accused of killing someone. If you did it, you may want to look for cracks in the system to save your life. If you are innocent, you may literally be fighting for your life in a media which will want to paint you guilty. While there are some who are innocent on death row, some who are guilty are let off of death row due to crafty lawyers who can get around the law. Sometimes the innocent can't afford such crafty lawyers, even when in fact they are innocent.

Suppose you are the victim of the criminal who attempted to murder you. You could get to know the accused on a more personal basis and forgive them if they show they have changed, perhaps you may want them to live. Or if you are the family of the victim and you see the murderer living for 10-15 years causing you distress as they keep appealing the case forcing you to relive the pain? You did nothing wrong, but have to deal with an immoral person who doesn't care about anyone or anything expect themselves and saving their own lives.

Or what if you are the warden who has to see these people for 10-15 years? You may see on a daily basis there is a dark soul that should never have the chance to get to the outside again that you hope will die soon or people who you have grown to care about who have changed. Either way it will be on your conscience the rest of your life that your job was to murder people.

You could be the governor of a State who must make the decision whether to enforce the death penalty. Your next election year could be cost by whatever you decide. You may even be called upon to stop an execution which may have some reasonable doubts in your mind, but doing so could cause an unpopular backlash. Or if you do stop an execution, victim's rights organizations would accuse you of being insensitive to the victim.

Sure, it is very easy to say to put a person to death if they are guilty, that is if you are pro-death penalty. But what if you had to actually carry out the execution? Would you say otherwise? Could you do it? Someone has to live with that and they might be killing an innocent person. If public executions were allowed, you would have to live with that image of death the rest of your life.

METHODS OF DEATH

This is somewhat graphic, so skip over this section if you can't stomach it.

What separates man from animals? Animals kill for food and to defend themselves. They do it without moral judgment or debate. They kill swiftly, although some enjoy the bloodbath after. Rarely do they kill their own species unless there is a danger in that makes it hard for its own survival (euthanasia.)

Men also kill animals for the same reason, but when it comes to killing another man it gets complicated. Humans kill for revenge, justice, jealousy, greed, survival... the reasons are endless. Some men want to believe they are so enlightened that they are above killing another man, yet have never been in such a situation to prove it. Others are so callous about calling on the death of another human that they want such people to suffer, not just die. Some even say they would love to watch.

In past times, death penalties were carried out in extremely gruesome methods and was a public festival. From the most ancient times, laws were written to protect the living from an early death given to them undeservedly. Murder has always been taboo.

In times past, there were other issues that could have gotten you death that seem petty by today's standards. Stealing, fornication, adultery, being of the wrong religion, being insane under the pretense of demonic possession, being unpopular, being poor, libel, satire, killing a cat, killing a cow, talking back to your parents, being a prostitute, giving a bad haircut, or even a thoughtless action on your part which results in a death of another. If we still held onto these as reason to put a person to death, it would be fair to say that most of us could have been tried and killed within days or even moments of the offense.

Most civilizations had some sort of trial before carrying out the sentence of death while in smaller communities, it was the family who killed to spare their own reputations. Even in places were there was a trial, sentence was passed and there was no going back. You could be dead within minutes or within days. If you were actually innocent and the guilty came forth, the guilty would also be executed, but that did not comfort those who had a loved one wrongly killed by the law.

People were executed in public forums as a deterrent to anyone who witnessed the crime. The theory was if people could see a humiliating death, they probably would not want to end their lives in such a way. The problem was it did not turn people away from committing the crimes. It was a spectacle. Families would attend these as a form of entertainment. Petty thieves would work the crowds to make some quick riches. The point was often missed as proven that the death penalties continued. Those who merited a death sentence, and most have seen it carried out, did not get deterred.

Stoning was one of the most ancient methods of executions and carried out in the Middle East, sometimes even today. The guilty was placed in the center of the crowd armed with stones and the direct victims were given the opportunity to throw the first stones. The guilty person was pelted with stones which was meant to inflict pain at first and not at the head which would result in an immediate death. Eventually being consumed within a pile of stones it would eventually render him or her unconscious, literally making it hard for the rib cage to pump air in and out of the lungs. The guilty would end up bloody, messed in their own bodily wastes, broken bones which some may be poking through the skin, blood rising from the mouth and a bluish body due to lack of oxygen.

Crucifixion was a method developed by the Phoenicians. It was also used as their method to sacrifice to their gods. This method became popular throughout the region before the time of Jesus Christ. When the Romans used it, this was reserved for slaves, peasants, and the most horrid criminals who were not Roman. The original penalty was just a vertical stake where the guilty was tied to and left to starve, dehydrate and become victim of the elements of nature. As the death penalty evolved, the crucifixion method came to the shape most people are familiar, the "T" shape. There was also a "Y" and an "X" as well as an "H" shape.

The events of a crucifixion under Roman law would have the victim whipped and small pieces of bone inserted in their skin then forced to carry the crucifix to the site where they would be stripped, nearly naked, and tied to the cross. Those who were convicted of more serious crimes were nailed to the cross. Those nailed to the cross were nailed through the wrist and not the hand. The hand would not be strong enough to support the weight of the body and cause the nail to rip through the hand. The wrist is more sturdy. The feet were nailed to a supporting stump to prevent the guilty from pulling free.

The guilty were usually kept alive as long as possible, but could linger on for two to three days unless someone gave them a merciful ending by breaking their limbs to cause instant suffocation, then the cross with the victim on it was burned. Sometimes the dead were simply left on the cross or pulled off and thrown into a field of dead people where the bodies would be eaten by animals. Some were put upside down on the cross to give the guilty a faster end which would render them unconscious a lot quicker than death could come.

By the Middle Ages, more methods of executions were developed, but instead of bringing death it was to make a statement. They prolonged the agony of life in order to extract a confession and a deathbed redemption according to the beliefs of the ruling Christians. They didn't only want to just punish the accused, but felt it was their duty to make an example of the accused, save their souls and to ferret out others who may be guilty. Usually, to find the remaining Jews and Muslims and pin something on them.

Pressing was one method of torture/execution. The victim was laid on their back and almost naked, tied to the ground, spread eagle. Heavy stones, and later weighted disks, were put on the chest of the condemned to make it hard to breath. Everyday, a new weight was put on top of the stacking pile of the other weights. The person was fed bread and water to keep them alive as long as possible. Eventually the victim would find it too hard to breathe and perish, usually dead in their own accumulated bodily wastes. It was hoped during the last moments father confessions would be made.

Being boiled alive was short lived and mostly given to women to spare them of indecent exposure. The guilty would be bound with their hands behind their backs and placed in a cauldron on top of a burning pile of logs and placed in the hot water where they would suffer excruciating pains. They suffer dehydration from the excessive sweating, third degree burns, and eventually perish when rendered unconscious and drown within the vat. This would be much the same as boiling a sausage. When critics deemed this too cruel, hanging was sentenced to men and for the same sake of decency, women were then burned at the stake.

Burning at the stake, much like the crucifixion, had the victim tied to a vertical pole only surrounded by a pile of ember. Although fully clothed at the start of the execution, the flames would burn the clothes off of them which completely rendered the merits to save decency untrue. The guilty would suffer the pains of the flame searing through the flesh and death occurs when overcome by smoke or from having too much exposure to the flames which literally cooks their skin and organs.

Hanging was basically done by looping a noose around the neck of the guilty, having one end placed on a high end and putting a victim on a platform to be shoved off, causing, ideally, the neck to break (a clean hanging). If the neck does not break (not a clean hanging) then the guilty could linger for a long time. He may be unconscious only to be brought back to try it again or may be left for awhile to left to strangle and suffocate for days. Men could ejaculate as they went out. Both men and women would also relieve themselves of bodily wastes. The body was usually left up as a warning to the public at large in earlier times, but in later times the victim was taken down and given proper burial rights. Hanging, although an ancient method of execution, is still on the legal books as an acceptable method of death.

Around the 1200s, drawing and quartering was a gruesome method of execution and a warning for treason. The earliest method would have the guilty's arms and legs tied to four horses and the executioner would call for the horses to be whipped to scatter, causing the guilty to have his arms and legs severed from the body or wrenched out of the sockets, then the victim was decapitated. Another method would have the guilty dragged to the site of the execution by being dragged on the ground by the horse and disemboweled, forced to watch his organs being tossed into the fire.

Beheading is also an ancient form of execution that used to be done by an ax or heavy, bladed object. It evolved to the guillotine which was a device that applied direct, even force and a clean cut over the end target where the accused would have their neck cradled to reduce movement and thus accidental and painful misses. Before the guillotine, it was crucial to have the executioner be swift and use a sharp blade so as to not protract the execution. A dull blade, sloppy or partial cut, or an inexperienced executioner could not only prolong the sentence as the guilty could linger on for a long time, but it could also cause a needless, bloody mess.

The ideal cut would have the head of swiftly and cleanly rendering the guilty immediately unconscious. With the head off the body, the brain cannot control the function of the bottom half of the body as the pain center is from the head. The head, specifically the brain, deprived of oxygen pumped in from the lungs will die within a few minutes, but all consciousness is blacked out at the moment of cutting off. Some will argue that although the victim may be unconscious, vital signs of life are still there, but as they are cut off from the vocal cords are unable to say if they are alive or not. Tres gruesome! At least it was a lot more kinder than other methods, even some still on the books today.

Today, the most common forms of execution on the books include the ancient methods of hanging. Some countries still allow stoning and setting the guilty on fire. There are some methods on the books used that are more modern (post 1600s) such as a firing squad, electric chair, gas chamber and lethal injections. Even though these are more humane by today's standards, who's to say that 100 years from now we will be looked at as barbaric for allowing these methods?

A firing squad basically allows the condemned to be shot by a round of gun fire. With skilled marksmen, the death should come within minutes, if not seconds, by targeting key areas causing immediate, irreversible damage and internal bleeding. Although it is not a guarantee. The condemned could linger in pain until death comes and may survive for days if not shot again on the spot.

Although not used for a long time, the gas chamber is still on the books as an accepted means of execution. The guilty is put in a sealed glass room and strapped to a chair. Poison chemicals are mixed to lethal doses and released in the air. The condemned is forced to breath in the noxious fumes, which will burn his lungs and cause a painful death that could last a few minutes. The acidic fumes could literally burn through the throat, lungs, and nose before actual death occurs from suffocation.

The electric chair is fraught with many issues. If the chair is maintained and working properly, the guilty is strapped to the chair and given an initial voltage of electric current to render him unconscious and paralyzed, including heart, lungs, and nerves causing milliseconds of pain. The second wave of current literally cooks the person's organs causing them to become useless and death guaranteed in seconds. The problem is some of the chairs have faulty wiring and have not be taken care of properly which results in botched executions that can have them set on fire, feeling multiple jolts of electric current which is not enough to kill, but painful to feel.

The lethal injection is looked upon as the kindest way to put the guilty to death. A concoction of drugs in injected through the veins to render the victim unconscious, paralyze and cause death. The first round of drugs puts the victim into a deep state of sleep, unaware of any surroundings. The second round will stop the nervous system so pain and movement is no longer an issue. Then the last round of drugs causes the heart to stop leaving the victim dead. The process takes only a few minutes and is much like the humane killing of an animal.

Pro and anti- death penalty activists tend to bend the statistics to favor the argument, but when you look at the whole picture, you can see the facts that were omitted which tends to weaken the argument for both sides.

WHAT ARE THE FACTS?

Over half the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty. In 2000, 88% of all documented executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US. In China, at least 1,000 people were executed, but the true figure was believed to be much higher. In Saudi Arabia, 123 executions were reported, but may have been higher. 85 people were executed in the US. At least 75 executions were carried out in Iran.

Amnesty International's latest information shows that:

FACTS ABOUT US DEATH PENALTY

Currently, the Federal Government passed a law forbidding execution of the mentally retarded. Before that, only 13 states forbade the practice.

85 prisoners were executed in the USA in 2000. 683 since the use of the death penalty was resumed in 1977.

Over 3,700 prisoners were under sentence of death as of 1 January 2001.

38 of the 50 US states provide for the death penalty in law.

Since 1973 more than 90 US prisoners have been released from death row after evidence emerged of their innocence of the crimes for which they were sentenced to death. Other US prisoners have gone to their deaths despite serious doubts over their guilt.

Main causes for the innocent being put on death row include prosecutorial or police misconduct; the use of unreliable witness testimony, physical evidence, or confessions; and inadequate defense representation.

Illinois is the first among a few states with the death penalty that has put a moratorium on it until a fair and humane system can be put in place.

Although non-whites are the lower percentage of the overall population in the United States, of the over 3,700 inmates on death row over half are people of color (53.8%) Almost half of the inmates executed in the US since 1976 are people of color (44.92%).

Based on current rates of first incarceration, an estimated 28% of black males will enter State or Federal prison during their lifetime, compared to 16% of Hispanic males and 4.4% of white males.

Temper those facts with the US Census Numbers: (2000)

* higher than 100% due to those who reported being of more than one race.

This means out of the entire US population, of the over 285 million population, only 3700 are sitting on death row (slightly more than .001% of all US population on death row and only 20% of those on death row have been executed or exonerated.) The bad news, of all those on death row 99% had a public defender, most were poor and came from broken or abused homes and some have drug addictions, AIDS, or are mentally retarded or insane. Tens of thousands of murders take place each year, but only a fraction of those will end up on death row and some may never get caught while the majority will get prison time, even with a public defender.

  1. Source: NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, "Death Row USA," July 1, 2000
  2. Source: Amnesty International
  3. Source: Bureau of Justice
  4. Source: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm

IS IT JUSTICE OR REVENGE?

Here is the dictionary definition of both terms:

Justice - 1. Moral or absolute rightness. 2. The upholding of what is just; fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law. 3. Something just or due. 4. Good reason or sound basis; validity. 5. The administration and procedure of law.

Revenge - To inflict punishment in return for (injury or insult); avenge.

The death penalty is usually prescribed for those who commit murder and in rare circumstances for spies who put the National security in jeopardy. In Biblical tradition, the punishment for death was death unless the murderer would accept to be booted out of the land to wander as one of the lost, forever looking over his shoulder should the victim's relatives seek justice in their own hands.

All ancient societies forbade murder, human sacrifice was okay as was killing in battle, but to kill for other reasons was taboo. It was reasoned that if you take away the life of another, there is nothing you can do to ever bring that life back. While other crimes could merit a death sentence, the only universal death penalty crime is that of murder.

The death penalty by definition is both justice and revenge. Sometimes the only justice can be had through revenge. By killing a murderer, it will never bring back the one who was killed. It will not make the victim feel less sad or victimized. All it will do is insure that the person executed will never kill again. It will assure those who were hurt by the criminal that for the crime committed, the criminal will suffer a just fate as they did kill an innocent victim.

What is moral or absolute right is determined by our society. Some societies dictate what is moral according to religious beliefs. It would be hard to find any society that approves of murder, but when it comes to punishment for the murderer, standards are not in universal agreement. While some want to forgive and rehabilitate the criminal and bring them back into society, others will want them to serve hard time in a literal life sentence and still others want death.

One could argue any punishment is revenge, but then again, it is just according to the laws of a society. We could get rid of the death penalty and have criminals locked up for life, but you would have advocates who would claim this is cruel and unusual punishment and revenge.

In the United States, we have a Constitution where the Eight Amendment forbids "cruel and unusual punishment." What exactly is cruel and unusual? Before the Constitution was written, punishment was often harsh and inconsistent, even in the colonies. One could be accused of practicing witchcraft without much proof, just on the word of others, and be burned or drowned. In Europe, many remembered horror stories such as the Spanish Inquisition (even though many think the actual Spanish Inquisition never happened as some claimed, but a smear campaign against Spain) and other quests used in getting rid of the "undesirables" (most often the Jews and the Muslims and the unpopular or mentally unbalanced.)

Wanting to make a clean break from the Old World, our forefathers wanted to make sure that justice would be fair and swift. If punishment was required, it would be done as fair as possible with the least amount of pain and discomfort, not torture just for dramatic purposes. Although the law of the land, execution was generally carried out according to the standards of each state.

When the population rush to the West occurred, a swift "Western" justice meant there was no time for questions, shoot first and ask questions later. It was a tough time to be alive without having to dilly dally around a courthouse debating fine points of the law. If someone saw someone shoot another person, that was good enough to merit a death penalty. Remember those posters "Wanted Dead or Alive" which really meant the law officials were planning on killing them anyway, so you could expedite justice and get money in return. However, the reality is this "Western" justice had been overplayed by movies and novels. There was actually far less killing and death penalties than the books and movies would have you think.

Only since the late 1900s has the issue come to the attention of the world that perhaps executing others is cruel and unusual punishment. Not just in the US, but half of the world seems squeamish about killing another person.

CAN TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT?

It is ironic that a society that says murder is wrong can say it is right to murder the murderer. As ironic as it may seem, sometimes it is the only way a victim's family can move on. There is no doubt that the legal system, when it comes to the death penalty, is a mess. However, that mess has let more guilty people off the hook than killing innocent people.

In the US, death is recommended for murderers and spies only. Spies are usually given life now instead of death. Murderers are still the only ones who could possible have a reason to fear.

The legal system is a mess due to laws designed to protect the rights of the criminals. An accused criminal has a right to defense. The problem is in the practice of the defense team to find some remote loophole to save the client and give them the least amount of punishment or time. Those who cannot afford the same defense have no hope, even if they are in fact innocent.

If we were to execute those who were truly guilty, it would never make up for the crime committed. If executed for killing someone, it will never bring that dead person back, but that person will never be allowed to do it again.

Others who are executed for putting national security at risk are a danger and a real threat to society which could lead to the death of many or being taken over by a foreign government. While it is wrong to put the lives of others in jeopardy, it may seem by some as too cruel to kill them if no one actually died. If they were to do it again, they may succeed next time and an execution guarantees that person will never jeopardize the country again.

ACTUALLY INNOCENT/ACTUALLY GUILTY VERSUS LEGALLY GUILTY/LEGALLY INNOCENT

This is how the death penalty issue has gotten completely out of control. There are four types of people on death row: ACTUALLY INNOCENT; ACTUALLY GUILTY; LEGALLY GUILTY; LEGALLY INNOCENT.

There are people on death row who are actually innocent. In other words, they did not have anything at all to do with the crime that put them on death row. They may not have the money or resources to get off of death row and will be murdered by the state for a crime they did not commit. Some of these people have never committed a crime in their lives. Others may have a lengthy police record, but never committed or had anything to do with the crime that got them on death row.

Those who are actually guilty, which are the majority on death row, did in fact commit the crime and it can be proven by the facts in the case or by confession.

Whether someone is actually guilty or actually innocent isn't the point on death row. It is whether they are legally declared guilty or innocent. That is how things are screwed up through a bunch of lawyers and laws which can blur the lines and get some people off and kill others unevenly.

A legally guilty person is one who had a case presented to a judge a jury and has been declared worthy of death. One who is legally guilty may in fact be actually guilty which is most often the case. But one cannot ignore the fact that some who are legally guilty are in fact actually innocent. An aggressive prosecuting attorney may railroad the person, manipulate facts and witnesses, and suppress information in order to win a case. Sometimes there is a factor of racism with the arresting officers or investigators who are in a rush to close a case may jump to the wrong conclusion and stick to what they have refusing to allow further investigation. These factors can kill an actually innocent person who is legally guilty.

A legally innocent person is one who was pronounced innocent by a judge and jury. They may have been declared innocent in an appeal after being on death row, but they could be either actually guilty or actually innocent. DNA and other scientific methods have proven that actually innocent people were wrongly convicted and have later been declared legally innocent. They never should have been on death row in the first place. However, there are actually guilty people who try to find whatever loopholes they can to keep them from being executed. Just because they find a loophole to get off death row does not mean they are innocent of the crime. This become unfair because others who could get a loophole cannot afford a lawyer to find it for them.

ARE THERE JUST SIMPLY BAD PEOPLE WHO NEED TO BE KILLED?

A good example can be seen in the Polly Klaas murder.

Richard Allen Davis, a career criminal, was finally brought to justice, sort of, after the trial which accused him of killing a 12 year old girl, Polly Klaas. Klaas was simply at a pajama party with her friends. He was stalking the girls and waiting for the right time to break in, tie up the girls, kidnap Polly to eventually torture, rape and kill her.

Back in 1967, evidence was there that Davis was heading in the wrong path when he was arrested for burglary and only a few months later arrested again for forging a $10 money order. He was put in a juvenile facility until his father tried to help him. Unable to help him, his father sent him back into a juvenile system.

After stealing a motorcycle, Davis joined the army to avoid serving time, but could not stand the discipline and was given a dishonorable discharge due to fighting, AWOL offenses, and drug use. From 1972-1976, his track record of arrests were relatively harmless ranging from burglary to drug use and possession as well as parole violations. In order to save himself some time, he snitched on fellow inmates.

By 1976, he became more violent when he abducted and sexually assaulted a secretary. By this time he knew the system and faked a suicide attempt to get transferred to a psychiatric hospital. Due to a mix up, he was not listed as a criminal patient, but a volunteer patient. He claimed there was nothing wrong with him and escaped his sentence.

During this time, he went on a crime spree which included abduction of other women, attempted sexual attacks, burglary and theft of weapons. In June of 1977, he plea bargained to get a lighter sentence and was sent to serve 25 years. He was paroled in March of 1982.

In 1984, he and a girlfriend kidnapped and pistol whipped the victim in order to get $6000. His crime spree began again with multiple armed robbery charges. He was arrested in 1985 and charged with the kidnapping of his first victim then plea bargained to be sent to prison for 16 years. He was let out in 8 years on June 27, 1993 and kidnapped Polly Klass on October 1, 1993 where he finally crossed the line and was sentenced to death.

This person has no conscience. He wants to commit crimes and get away with it. He thinks the system is perfect to get away with just about anything, including torturing the victim's family further at his sentence. Had he been forced to serve real time without being able to weasel around the system, perhaps he would have thought twice about committing murder. The system allowed this actually guilty person to ignore the more serious crimes by discounting them and accepting the lesser punishment.

There is no doubt he committed the crime. He has no remorse. He is a danger to society. If he were to escape or be released, his track record proves he will only do the same things again. Why is he still alive? If ever there was a perfect case for the death penalty, this is it. He will milk the system for all it is worth and take pot shots at the victim's family while playing at the hearts of liberals who want no death penalty. He wants to find a loophole so he will not have to suffer the way he made others suffer.

There are many more like him out there waiting for a moment to strike. Some people are psychopathic personalities that kill and harm others for the thrill of it. One may argue that these people are just insane and should be spared, but the danger lies in keeping them alive. If they escape, an innocent person will get killed.

On the mere chance that we may execute an innocent person, should we disallow the option of the death penalty for those such as Davis?

What Of Redemption And Change And Children?

A person can change over a period of time. That is especially true of children. A child can commit a serious crime and in our society can face adult consequences for that crime which can affect the rest of their lives. A child does not really think through the consequences of a crime, but then again, adult criminals rarely think through a crime before committing it. The difference is in a child's mind is the illusion of invincibility. A child cannot truly comprehend that death is forever and this is something you cannot take back. This is why many under 18 do things that put them in severe danger from underage drinking, drug use, and stunts no one should try. They think an idea is cool or they want to take away what they view as the source of their pain without thinking through what happens next.

A child who plans out a murder usually does so up to a point. They may get specific about how to carry it out, but the follow up is usually delusional to reality. Some have made grandiose plans to hijack a plane and move to another country, blow up big buildings, take over an army base or other plans which have no basis in reality that it could ever be pulled off. The fact is they get to the point of killing someone and distance themselves from the fact they did it and expect things to go back to normal as if a parent can make it go away.

A child could sit on death row for up to 20 years and in such time have reached a mental maturity that would have otherwise kept them from committing the crime in the first place. They may no longer be that person who committed the crime, but that doesn't change the fact they did it.

One could use that alone as the reason not to allow the death penalty for anyone committing a crime as a minor, but that would be too broad. While one minor might not have the maturity to think about the crime, another might know exactly what they are doing, but have sociopathic personalities which will never change. If we let all minors off death row, we also let some really dangerous ones out as well. This is one reason why each case involving a death penalty should only reflect what is going on in that case and not based on a broad law. What might serve justice with one group may indeed be cruel to another.

An adult who commits a crime and ends up on death row can stay there for up to 20 years. In a 2 decade period of time, most people change. Who you were 20 years ago may not reflect who you are today. The same can be said for those on death row. In contemplating their own demise for 20 years, some have found remorse for the crime they committed and are truly sorry for what they did. While on death row they may have reached out to others to help people and made a real difference. It does not change the fact they committed a crime. The victim also had a right to live those 20 years which was robbed from them. That victim could have also made a real difference to society.

Unfortunately, many on death row have a sociopathic disorder which prevents any chance of redemption. To these criminal types, they see themselves as the victims and have no remorse for the crime. Some may feign that they have changed or joined a religion to gain the sympathy of a group in hopes it may get them a lighter sentence. Just by acting as if they have changed, it may fool some people and others are able to see through the act as they have been subjected to it for many years.

Whether or not the person had changed, does that merit a change in sentence? While most children are not in the same frame of mind as an adult committing a crime, it could be safely argued that many could be rehabilitated and brought back into society. When it comes to everyone else, it is really hard to come with a blanket treatment for those who have "changed" whether real of faked.

Religion Versus State

It is a given that the State cannot impose a religion or a practice of a religion. Many anti-death penalty believe this way because of their religious beliefs. The pro-death penalty also base their belief from a religious conviction.

Much like the abortion issue, the State cannot impose a controversial law based solely on religious convictions. Religion must stay out of this decision of whether to execute or not. There could never be an agreement in this point of law if it came down to deciding which religious view gets to dictate what we as a society should enforce.

In Conclusion

After reading this essay, you may have looked at issues you never considered before or you may be even more grounded in what you believe. Chances are, you are probably in the majority who do not know exactly where they stand on this issue. Lives are at stake as well as issues of law and justice. We live in a violent society with people who are violent. Unless we find a way to deal with these people before they act out or find a reasonable alternative to the death penalty, we will continue to argue this issue.

If you are set against the death penalty, keep in mind that you could very well have a loved one taken away from you in a violent way. Don't judge someone else harshly for insisting on this kind of justice as you could be in the same spot.

If you are so pro-death penalty that you don't care if a few innocent people get caught up, keep that in mind if you have the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and are put on death row for a crime you did not commit and your chances are bad for an appeal.