CAPITAL PUNISHMENT : Benefits of Capital
Benefits of Capital Punishment
Capital Punishment deters murder, and is just Retribution. Capital punishment, is the
execution of criminals by the state, for committing crimes, regarded so heinous, that this
is the only acceptable punishment. Capital punishment does not only lower the murder rate,
but it's value as retribution alone is a good reason for handing out death sentences.
Support for the death penalty in the U.S. has risen to an average of 80% according to an
article written by Richard Worsnop, entitled "Death penalty debate centres on
Retribution", this figure is slightly lower in Canada where support for the death
penalty is at 72% of the population over 18 years of age, as stated in article by Kirk
Makir, in the March 26, 1987 edition of the Globe and Mail, titled "B.C. MPs split on
The death penalty deters murder by putting the fear of death into would be killers. A
person is less likely to do something, if he or she thinks that harm will come to him.
Another way the death penalty deters murder, is the fact that if the killer is dead, he
will not be able to kill again.
Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should be punished for their
crimes, and that it does not matter whether it will deter the crime rate. Supporters of
the death penalty are in favour of making examples out of offenders, and that the threat
of death will be enough to deter the crime rate, but the crime rate is irrelevant.
According to Isaac Ehrlich's study, published on April 16, 1976, eight murders are
deterred for each execution that is carried out in the U.S.A. He goes on to say, "If
one execution of a guilty capital murderer deters the murder of one innocent life, the
execution is justified." To most supporters of the death penalty, like Ehrlich, if
even 1 life is saved, for countless executions of the guilty, it is a good reason for the
death penalty. The theory that society engages in murder when executing the guilty, is
considered invalid by most supporters, including Ehrlich. He feels that execution of
convicted offenders expresses the great value society places on innocent life.
Isaac Ehrlich goes on to state that racism is also a point used by death penalty
advocates. We will use the U.S. as examples, since we can not look at the inmates on death
row in Canada, because their are laws in Canada that state that crime statistics can not
be based on race, also the fact that there are no inmates on death row in Canada. In the
U.S. 16 out of 1000 whites arrested for murder are sentenced to death, while 12 of 1000
blacks arrested for murder were sentenced to death. 1.1% of black inmates on death row
were executed, while 1.7% of white inmates will die.
Another cry for racism, as according to Ehrlich, that is raised by advocates of the
death penalty is based on the colour of the victim, for example "if the victim is
white, it is more likely that the offender will get the death penalty than if the victim
had been black". This is true, if you look at the actual number of people who are
murder. More people kill whites and get the death penalty, then people who kill blacks and
get the death penalty. The reason for this is that more whites are killed, and the murders
captured. Now if we look at the number of blacks killed it is a lot less, but you have to
look at these numbers proportionately. Percent wise it is almost the same number for any
race, so this is not the issue.
In a 1986 study done by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the University of North
Carolina, the conclusions made by Ehrilich were updated, and showed to be a little on the
low side as far as the deterrence factor of capital punishment. Professor Layson found
that 18 murders were deterred by each execution is the U.S. He also found that executions
increases in probability of arrest, conviction, and other executions of heinous offenders.
According to a statement issued by George C. Smith, Director of Litigation, Washington
Legal Foundation, titled "In Support of the Death Penalty", support for the
death penalty has grown in the U.S., as the crime rate increased. In 1966, 42% of
Americans were in favour of capital punishment while 47% were opposed to it. Since the
crime rate United states has increased, support for the capital punishment has followed
suit. In 1986, support for capital punishment was 80% for and only 17% against with 3%
undecided, but most of the undecided votes said they were leaning toward a pro capital
punishment stance, if they had to vote on it immediately.
Let us now focus on Canada. The last two people to be executed, in Canada were Arthur
Lucas and Ron Turpin. They were executed on December 11, 1962. The executions in Canada
were carried out by hanging. The death penalty was abolished in Canada in the latter part
of 1976, after a debate that lasted 98 hours. The death penalty was only beaten by 6
votes. If we look back to 1976, the year the death penalty was abolished in Canada,
threats of death, were being made to Members of Parliament and their immediate families
from pro death penalty advocates. Most members of parliament, voted on their own personal
feelings, as opposed to the views of their voters.2
The same was the case in British Colombia, where accepting of the death penalty, if it
was reinstated 1987 , by the federal government was discussed. The M.P.s were split, 17
out of 29 were for the death penalty. This showed, that even the majority of the M.P.s
were in favour of the death penalty in B.C. Support for the death penalty in British
Columbia at the time was almost 70%, but the M.P.s felt that it was up to them to vote how
they felt was right, and not to vote on which vote would give them the best chance for a
In 1987, the Progressive Conservative government wanted to hold a free vote on the
reinstatement of Capital punishment, but Justice minister Ray Hnatyshyn, who was opposed
to it, pressured the M.P.s, into voted against the bill. Ray Hnatyshyn, was the deciding
factor, if not for him, it was widely believed that the reinstatement of capital
punishment would have gone through, and the death penalty would be a reality today.4
Capital punishment is such a volatile issue, and both sides are so deeply rooted in
their views that they are willing to do almost anything to sway all of the people they can
to their side.
We personally feel, and our views are backed up by proof, in the form of studies by the
likes of Isaac Ehrlich's 1975 and Prof. Stephen K. Layson's, that was published in 1986,
and polls that have been taken both in Canada and the United States over the past few
years. All of these studies and surveys show that capital punishment is a valid deterrent
to crime, and obviously the public, and society as a whole are in favour of it. The death
penalty makes would be capital offenders think about weather committing a crime is really
worth their lives. Even if capital punishment did not deter crime, the simple fact that it
will allow society to "get even" with murders. Capital punishment also insures
peace of mind because it insures that murders will never kill again.