Capital Punishment: Solving Murder with Murder

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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In the year of 2018, 2,738 people were killed by the death penalty marked by July 1st. Majority of the executions since 1976 have been primarily white defendants with a number of 55.7% amongst another race. In our country the death penalty was set in motion by 30 states by October 11th, 2018; having Texas leading with a total of 560 executions by 2019. In a world where we completely ban murder from even happening in the first place, we set laws to prevent events like bloodshed from occurring.

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What happens when we break these laws? The defendant goes to court and gets that chance to up hold his rights and fight or a chance to bail, but with murder it is a different story. It is common that those who commit murder end up either going to jail for a long period of time or receive capital punishment. Capital punishment is a death penalty taking away the right of an individual’s life, however it is an inhumane sentence. In other words, we are solving murder with murder. In the short Harrison Bergeron takes us through how the government has an unfair justice system for our guilty killers. It is immoral to take away one’s life under the righteousness of god and our Bill of Rights.

In the story “Harrison Bergeron” the author Kurt Vonnegut illustrates how society believes in a system where those who commit murder should be killed as well. The audience in the story represent the states that support capital punishment, and the Handicap General (Diana Moon Glampers) is the murder weapon ending the defendant’s life. Harrison Bergeron and the empress models as society’s killers on death row waiting to be killed by the state. “She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor” (“Making Literature Matter” 1391). As the state they are responsible for protecting the rights of the citizens no matter what crime has been attempted. Killing those who have committed such horrific crimes make us just as guilty as them; murder is murder and that should be final.

Here in the United States our country has these set of laws that help and prevent people’s rights getting stripped away from them. These are known as our Bill of Rights. In our Bill of Rights, we have twenty-seven amendments that help balance out America’s conflicts within itself. In “The First Ten Amendments-The Bill of Rights” it quotes from the bill, “nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted” (16). In this amendment we are prohibited to undertake any cruel acts to not only protect ourselves but also our offenders. When does it make it right for the state to rule over the Bill and call it justice? “He tried to think a little about the ballerinas [The Offender]. They weren’t really very good-no better than anybody else [The State] would’ve been,” (“Making Literature Matter” 1387). If we find those guilty of committing a capital offense, the state is just as guilty enforcing this death penalty. We cannot call murder justice; the state is in the wrong for violating the Bill to end a human life. The Bill of Rights is set to protect not only citizens of the United States but also our law breakers.

In our country, we have laws known as capital offenses that are considered horrific acts such as murder that will normally result in a lifetime sentence. Examples of capital offenses are genocide, rape, treason, terrorist acts, any type of murder, etc. In various states there are different types of ways to end the life of a criminal. There is the firing squad, where multiple people will end a person’s life by firing live rounds into the offender. Second would have to be lethal gas, where one is forced to breath in toxic air. The third would be the electrocution chair, where one would be fried to death. Finally, the last would have to be lethal injection, a shot is inserted into the criminal and killed. The lethal gas, firing squad, and electrocution chair is all forms of torture. Torture is universally defined as, the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment. “Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms…reflected in our criminal law, for example, 18 U.S.C. §§2340-2340A [Murder involving Torture]; international agreements, exemplified by the United Nations Convention Against Torture,” (Crook). The state would not only be taking away the offender’s rights, they would also be breaking the law in order to accomplish their goal. Torture falls on the line of a capital offense and the state should not be able to ignore the law for the death penalty. “Even as I stand here… crippled, hobbled, sickened-[all signs of torture]” (“Making Literature Matter” 1390). We enforce these laws to ensure that the state will not carry out these ruthless acts.

In a review that presented the pros and cons a question was asked “Should capital punishment be abolished in the United States?” In the recent reviews the cons that were demonstrated based itself primarily around vengeance and it being expensive to keep the criminal alive. Kent Scheidegger states “…capital cases have nothing to do with questions of actual guilt or innocence. It is the choice of sentence for a clearly guilty murderer,” (“CQ Researcher”). Scheidegger claims that all murder should be punishable by the act and not their reasons. There is zero justification that murder should be punished, the matter is that, “The death penalty divides the community by distinguishing between “worthy” and “unworthy” (“CQ Researcher). The state would rather “throw away” a criminal rather than investing time to forge them into a better person. Treating criminals like animals and not understanding their reasons makes the state look like they are in the wrong for not justifying life.

In a study called “God’s Justice and Ours” it acknowledges that the majority of our states will rather go against God’s will in order to keep a balanced-out community. The United States upholds a lot of rights to maintain harmony through God and themselves to carry out the constitution. “In God we trust” on our coins, “one nation, under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance, the opening of sessions of our legislatures with a prayer…” (Paragraph 18). The United States is making their own system of “Eye for an Eye” where one should receive the same equal punishment. However, we are not putting all our trust into god if this is the case. The state is ignoring all of God’s will and reinforcing it for their own interest. The death penalty is an unfair treatment where it results in only mankind’s leisure occupation.

In 1946, a young man by the name of Willie Francis suffered injuries do to a malfunction in the electrocution chair on the day of his execution. Justice Hugo L. Black stated, “…he argued for incorporation of the Fifth Amendment’s double-jeopardy and Eighth Amendment’s cruel-and-unusual-punishment provisions by the Fourteenth Amendment, condemning “a mystic natural law which is above and beyond the Constitution,” (qtd. in Black 56). Hugo explains that in the fifth amendment no one shall ever go through a life threatening moment twice. The punishment also enacted another problem in which it can viewed as torture breaking the 5th amendment. Willie Francis was back at court which took a year long to resolve the punishment. After failing his case to the supreme court, he was once again sentenced to death a year later on May 9th, 1947 by the modified electric chair.

A story known as “The Man In The Well” by Ira Sher, a man is left in the well by a group a kids until the day it rained, assuming he drowned or swam out. In the story it says “… watching us run as his calling grew louder and wilder, until finally she ran, too, and then we were all far away” (Sher). The state are the children in the story, where the well is the representation of execution; leaving “The Man” as the offender. The state “ran away” from the issue rather than figuring out a better solution to the problem. By running away from the issue the state is killing off the offenders and not helping them out of the well.

In a Ted Talk discussion David R. Dow explains the number of executions in that last 15 years stayed high versus the decline in death sentences. In the last 25 years in sentencing of all death row inmates, lawyers have started to realize that if you start early in the process of a death penalty case, you have more chances to save the client. Why is that it took 25 years for people in the united states to realize if you don’t act on a case early the chances of execution remain high? Dow states that “…people on death row did not have a right to a lawyer” (Dow). It wasn’t until the 1980’s where one could acquire a lawyer later in their case increasing their chances in survival. The justice system made it unfair for those committing crimes to resolve their issue; forcing them into a hole. According to David, he believed there is four stages of a trail of death sentencing. The first stage would be known to where the murder takes place, a trial and sentencing is held, and a direct appeal is proposed. The second is where legal processing occurs, and state habeas is set. Third, federal habeas is set and more legal proceeding. Finally, the fourth stage no matter what happens weather they have a lawyer or not; it will always result in an execution.

As far as it goes, we have an average of 24 people on death row towards the end of 2019. The state is guilty of their own convictions and laws that they have set up for themselves. If everyone is created equal and no one has higher power than the other, we should not be able to end a man’s life. Solving murder with murder will never resolve the problem of vengeance.

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Capital Punishment: Solving Murder with Murder. (2021, Apr 21). Retrieved from