Northwest Missourian Opinion

In a world where murder, terrorism and acts of violence are commonplace on the local news, it is sometimes necessary to use capital punishment.

The idea of executing someone for their crimes is not new, and it has been used throughout history as a means of deterrence and punishing those who committed unspeakable acts of violence.

Ernest van den Haag, a Professor of Jurisprudence at Fordham University who studied the question of deterrence closely, wrote in support of the death penalty.

"Even though statistical demonstrations are not conclusive, and perhaps cannot be, capital punishment is likely to deter more than other punishments because people fear death more than anything else,” Haag said. “They fear most death deliberately inflicted by law and scheduled by the courts.”

Haag went on to further explain the fear factor of using the death penalty and how that fear is an effective deterrent. This fear is necessary and allows for Americans to know, to some extent, that potential perpetrators of violence are more than likely not going to act on those impulses.

While the death penalty is only used in 36 states, the idea of capital punishment has been around for centuries and has proved time and time again that it is an effective deterrent when it comes to crime.

The state of Nebraska had gotten rid of the death penalty in 2015, but it was recently brought back in the 2016 elections. This vote was accomplished with 61% majority of voters, this demonstrates that the people want the death penalty and want to see people pay for their crimes.

The death penalty has even been brought up in the Nebraska Supreme Court in 2019, and according to an article from the Omaha World Herald, was protected on the grounds that overturning the law would go against the will of the people in the state of Nebraska.

I am a firm believer if you take a life it is only fair for you to pay with your life. A person on death row willingly took the life of someone’s child, friend, loved one or coworker. While the perpetrator is a person too, they had a choice before they willingly killed someone, and this is the consequence of their actions.

An article from Death Penalty Curriculum identified a study conducted by Isaac Ehrlich that analyzed the use of the death penalty. The study showed that for each person executed under the death penalty, seven lives were spared because others were successfully deterred from killing someone or committing an act of violence.

Ehrlich’s research identified the primary use of the death penalty as a tool of deterrence and is effective, especially in states that have high murder rates.

While it does cost a lot of money to execute someone, it effectively removes that horrible person from the chessboard and prevents them from escaping or committing even more acts of violence against the public.

David Muhlhausen spoke of how Americans support the death penalty in a testimony given to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. Senate.

“While opponents of capital punishment have been very vocal in their opposition, Gallup opinion polls consistently demonstrate that the American public overwhelmingly supports capital punishment,” Muhlhausen said. “In Gallup's most recent poll, 67% of Americans favor the death penalty for those convicted of murder, while only 28% are opposed. From 2000 to the most recent poll in 2006, support for capital punishment consistently runs a 2:1 ratio in favor.”

While it is important to maintain a sense of morality, the safety of our loved ones and our communities is more important than the cost of executing one person who did horrible things. I like to see the good in people, but when someone willingly takes the life of another, the phrase an eye for an eye makes sense.

It does keep a system of revenge in place, the knowledge of knowing that someone who killed one of your loved ones is paying the ultimate price for their crimes allows them some peace of mind as they grieve the loss of their loved one.

The death penalty is necessary to the continuation of the American criminal justice system and provides a tool of deterrence to criminals and to those who would consider harming others.

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