SKOUSEN     |     home
Assignments   |   Cemetery Visit   |   Mortuary Visit   |   Special Project   |   Tool Kit   |   Group Activities   |   Youth and Suicide   |   Obituary   |   Eulogy   |   Unfinished Business   |   Unresolved Grief   |   Hospital Ethics   |   Book of Remembrance   |   Death Penalty - pros & cons

Death Penalty - pros & cons
Death Penalty Pros and Cons

J. Davis Mannino: A long time ago, when I was a volunteer in the United States Peace Corps, I had a debate about the death penalty with another Peace Corp volunteer. I was against and he was for. Later that month I invited him to view a public hanging in the Islamic Southeast Asian country where we both served. A drug smuggler was hung. The spectacle of the hanging had a profound effect on my friend. He no longer supported the death penalty after that. This is what often happens when you get involved in an issue. You really learn something, then you really change. And this is good. In 1996, one of the major films was Dead Man Walking, a film about a young man on death row. The film examines, in many ways, the pros and cons of the death penalty. We must make our own decisions and be honest to ourselves. Many of the issues of our time go unattended because some people simply will not discuss them, let alone take a stand on them. Abortion, welfare, crime, child abuse, foreign aid, and immigration are but a few of the perennial issues that many people have opinions on, but few real facts to justify those opinions. People are very quick sometimes to offer up an opinion on the death penalty until they actually get into a discussion. Then they are not so sure about their position any longer. Both life and death require taking a stand and having a position. After all, life and death are very big issues.

Capital punishment is very controversial. The debate rages in the media, in the courts, in the legislative bodies, and in the agony expressed by both of those for and against. The United States is one of the last remaining Western nations not to abolish the death penalty. Public sentiment seems to be high in favor of capital punishment.
Proponents argue that the death penalty provides (1) retribution for “high capital” crimes, (2) a deterrent to others, and (3) a method of removing the criminal's continued danger to society.
Opponents argue that (1) there is no conclusive evidence supporting the need for retribution by our society, (2) there is no proof the death penalty provides general deterrence, and (3) there is no proof capital punishment provides prevention and protection. Opponents cite the low recidivism rate for murder parolees.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe that there are certain crimes that deserve the death penalty or don't deserve the death penalty?  

Where do you stand regarding the following crimes and the death penalty?

Murder of a person
Major arson
Armed robbery
An act of terrorism
A drunk driver who kills with his car
Murder for hire and profit
Murderer with a radical ideology
Murder of a minor by a minor
Murderer obeying the voice of God to kill
Domestic violence deaths
Kidnapping or kidnapping resulting in death
Major graft and corruption as a corporate    officer or elected political official
Major environmental pollution
Murder in the “heat of passion”

Divide into two groups. Group A should make a list of statements favoring capital punishment and Group B should make a list of statements opposing capital punishment. Responses should be as rational as possible.