Capital Punishment in the United States


According to NBC News, the most recent person to receive the death penalty was former Navy Crewman, Travis Hittson for killing a fellow sailor. Hittson was convicted in April 1992 for first degree murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and theft by taking. He spent twenty two years in a state prison in Houston Texas until he received the death penalty on February 17. 2016. First degree murder isn’t the only crime that the death penalty is assigned to. Felony murder takes place during the commission of another felony and someone dies in the process. The point of the death penalty is to protect people from any further harm that that particular person may cause. However, there are crimes like sexual assault, oppression/persecution, or kidnapping that do not receive the death penalty. For all three of those crimes, the penalty is less than twenty five years in prison. If the penalty was extended to the death penalty, maybe crimes like those won’t happen.

The general penalty for sexual assault is approximately nine to ten years in a federal prison. Of course, the most common defenses are “someone else did it” or the insanity plea, however the insanity plea is not a defense in Idaho. Approximately 20.48 million people in the US have been rape victims. According to Kevin Caruso, author of Rape Victims Prone to Suicide, thirteen percent of those rape victims commit suicide and thirty three percent consider suicide. So, why should a victim die or consider death when the perpetrator continues to walk after only nine to ten years in prison? Something is definitely wrong with that.

When one types in the words ‘rate of torture…’, just below the Google search bar, one thing pops up, that being, ‘success rate of torture’. How many people have been tortured in order for someone to be able to decide a success rate of torture? The penalty for torture is a maximum of twenty years in prison. Other than the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp torture incidents where detainees were interrogated for prosecution of war crimes, there haven’t been any recent cases of torture where someone has gone to prison.

In 2005, three girls in Cleveland were kidnapped by a man named Ariel Castro and held captive for ten years. According to NBC News, by then end of his trial, he had one hundred seventy seven counts of rape, one hundred thirty nine counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools, yet he was still offered a plea deal to escape the death penalty. Those girls were taken from their home for ten years, but their perpetrator was still offered an opportunity to live.  How is that fair?

If the government expects people to follow the laws that have been established, there need to be more extensive consequences like extending the boundaries of the death penalty. The goal is to protect society from harm and live in a safe environment, but with people walking around thinking that ten years in prison for rape isn’t that long, then replace ten years with the death penalty. Crimes like sexual assault, torture, and kidnapping will be a rare occurrence if there is a bigger penalty.


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