Justice is elastic and stretched on many levels within the justice system. The controversy of capital punishment is a conundrum long debated by the judicial system. The argument of those against is that law cannot condone killing an individual by killing an individual. This philosophy seems fairly cut and dry until other concepts come into play.
The Christian belief, at least from a Biblical standpoint, is “An eye for an eye”. This opinion like many of the opinions within the topic exhibits hypocrisy and a sort of “depends on who it is, and who they did it to”, type of thought process. Victims family’s typically want the accused to not necessarily die for their crime, but pay for it; in that way, or suffer the consequences in the worst possible way.
In 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were shot to death in Louisiana by sheriff’s deputies. There was no trial by jury. Law enforcement took the robbers word for it, that they would never be taken alive, and took the necessary steps to ensure they were not taken alive (FBI, 2007).
In 1976, Leonard Peltier was convicted of the killing of 2 FBI agents in what is considered by many to be a siege upon the Native American people. Mr. Peltier, after ore than 27 years in prison, still proclaims his actions to have been in self defense (Free Peltier, 2007). Mr. Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in 1976.
In 2006, Mary Winkler was arrested and taken to jail following the shot gun slaying of her husband. The defense from the beginning was that her husband also a local preacher, was abusive. “Justice was definitely not served here,” Pirro told Vieira. “You had a preacher, who by all accounts was loved in his community, who was shot in the back while he slept. You have a woman who says she was abused with no history, no shred of evidence” (Celizic, 2007). Ms. Winkler spent 67 days of a 210 day sentence in jail, mostly in the mental health ward and was released in August 2007.
Should people pay for their crimes?
Should circumstances leading up to the crime be taken into consideration?
What makes one capital offense different from another in deciding life or death for the accused?
Why are almost all “cop killers” executed?
The belief in majority, theoretically speaking, is that all people convicted of a criminal act should be punished making my first question easy. Unfortunately, many other questions are not so easily answered. When looking into cases, such as the Winkler case where abuse was the excuse for murder, there are huge differences in opinion. Like many cases before, the OJ Simpson case, for example; opinion can be a dominating factor into what is proven, and what is believed to be the truth. Although OJ Simpson was not convicted in the court of law “he is still considered guilty by 88% of the country” (CNN.com, 2007).
These types of scenarios are played out daily across the country all with varying results. I can see the dilemma that leaves most of us sitting on the fence of indecision. Crime against children will have a different outcome from those involving adults. Whether a child is the victim or the accused the law deals with these crimes differently than when they concern adults. I think this sadly is the case in matters of race, the individual’s background, and stature within the social spectrum. There is a sure bet that a crime against a police officer is going to be treated differently in comparison to a crime against a homeless person.
These elements tend to show no easy solutions to the concerns of who does, and who does not deserve to die in the decision toward capital punishment. I believe war is unnecessary, and I think the same about capital punishment. Mainly, and foremost in my mind, because there are situations that make the action justified. There are situations where a child is involved which generates anger in most people and a need for very harsh retribution brought upon the offender.
There are situations where the accused unintentionally committed the act. Drunk driving and killing someone because of it constitutes death? Issues of bad judgment and mental capacity arise. There are issues of age and social situations, home environments, bullying at school, drunk or alcohol impairments, mental capacities, drunk driving,vigilantes, self defense.
The list goes on and on of contributors to murder or killing in one form or another. So many things can come into the limelight of evidence that
circumstances should have a role in the decision- making especially when it concerns someone’s life. I do not think stature within the community should decide a criminal’s fate. 10 years because he killed a homeless man, the electric chair because he killed a police officer.
These types of discrepancies are what create the hypocrisy within the system. The law should be universal. A crime committed in Florida should have the same sentencing result as a crime committed in the state of Indiana.
I do not agree with capital punishment because there are circumstances that would impact many things as time progressed that could come to light spawning realizations that executions were being carried out on the innocent. Some people were simply defending themselves.
Society as a whole typically does not want to pay to keep a murderer alive and well in a prison cell and as many things in life money talks. Secondly, most people that lose a member of their family, or a friend, want the person responsible to no longer exist. In those scenario’s most of us feel the same way. Still, in light of all these circumstances, I do not believe that killing for killing is not the answer.
I think all these examples show an application of critical thought but, lack accurate judgments being made due to a lack of critical thought. Many of these examples show that critical thought can be influenced by other factors that are transpired through personal belief, belief within the general public, and an unwillingness to be swayed from the personal belief and value system most were raised with in consciousness of “normal” social behavior.
Did OJ Simpson kill his wife? According to the public yes, according to the justice system and the jury the evidence was inconclusive as to whether he did in fact kill his wife.
In the Mary Winkler case the same principles apply with some believing the accusations of abuse while others did not sway in the final results within the trial which once again created many blurred lines as to what did or did not happen in the case.