Monday, April 12, 2010

Article 10: The bleeding hearts of Nebraska

Source Citation:
Obermeyer, Neal. "The bleeding hearts of Nebraska." Cartoon. N.p., 20 Jan. 2008. Web. 12 Apr. 2010.

Though this political cartoon wasn't centered on the issue of the death penalty, it still showed me something. It showed me that there are many issues that we consider to be important, but if the government doesn't care much about it then what can we do? Now, if rehabilitation is to replace the death penalty, the people have to care too. The people need to let the government know that they care. If the government can't make it happen, then realistically, who can? The final step to the solution to this problem is pushing it through to the government. All this research can be used to support the position. Our federal government needs to know that the people, the true people in command of this nation, believe in rehabilitating criminals rather than killing them. Punishment and rehabilitation can work together, but killing is not the right way to punish.

Article 9: Sentencing for Life: Americans Embrace Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Source Citation:
Dieter, Richard C. "Sentencing for Life: Americans Embrace Alternatives to the Death Penalty." Death Penalty Information Center. N.p., 2010. Web. 12 April 2010.

Because this article was rather lengthy, I focused more on the parts that had to do with my topic and put more thought into those while reading. When I looked at the alternatives to the death penalty section, rehabilitation was one of the options mentioned. "Governments, of course, cannot fund every program that presents itself...If the death penalty were eliminated, there would be an immediate savings of millions of dollars for counties and states which could be transferred to other programs with proven records for reducing crime" (Dieter). While it is true that these programs cost a fair amount of money, they don't really hold a candle to the death penalty. With all the trials and everything that gets put into the process of sentencing a criminal to life and actually killing them, some might argue that the death penalty is like paying to have a criminal killed. State-sanctioned, premeditated killing is not the right thing to do. The list of reasons why rehabilitation is a better alternative, from my research, is as follows: it's a better crime deterrent, it is more cost effective, it has a lasting effect, it doesn't involve taking of another human life, it's not hypocritical, the victims in the case would be minimized, and it gives America a better image.

Article 8: Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Source Citation:
Millett, Fred. "Alternatives to the Death Penalty." End the Death Penalty NOW! Michigan State University, n.d. Web. 12 April 2010.

If I had to choose the perfect article that fits my research exactly how I imagined it, this would be the one. This article reviews a few alternatives to the death penalty, rehabilitation being one of them. When it mentioned that it would be a good alternative for juveniles on the death row, I was pretty shocked. There are young people being sentenced to death without a chance at turning their life around? That was an interesting little tidbit of information I got.

Something else is that "although not all criminals can be reformed, the vast majority of them can, proven by the fact that most parolees never commit a violent crime again when re-entering society" (Millett). That right there will probably be the driving force behind my research. If most criminals can be reformed, then why don't they? Unfortunately, rehabilitation is the most unpopular alternative to the death penalty because people don't want to take the risk of trying to reform a incorrigible criminal. It's just too bad that we'd rather be executing people to be safe rather than sorry that we tried to reform them. I say that people should attempt to rehabilitate criminals, but if it doesn't work then they could be punished. Or they could be punished first and then rehabilitated. Either way, they both seem like more favorable options than just simply killing the person outright.

Article 7: Should the death penalty be banned as a form of punishment?

Source Citation:
Messerli, Joe. "Should the death penalty be banned as a form of punishment?" N.p., 21 Nov. 2009. Web. 1 Apr. 2010.

This website isn't necessarily an article and it doesn't
necessarily talk about rehabilitation either, but if the
death penalty can be banned as a form of punishment
that would be a good solution to the problem that my
question is posing as well.

I was pretty happy to see that the list of reasons in the "Yes"
column is bigger than the "No" column. Some points that really
stood out to me in the "Yes" column were that life in prison is a
better deterrent and a worse punishment, mentally ill patients
may be put to death, and that it's useless in that it won't bring
the victim back.

Life in prison is worse because "death may be too
good for [the criminals]" (Messerli). This point appeals
to victims and their families more because they most
likely would rathersee the criminal suffer than just
be put to death quickly.

Probably one of the things that bothers me the most
about capital punishment is that mentally ill people may
be put to death. It's already bad enough that they are
discriminated against by some; is it not enough? Do
they have to be put to death for something that they
didn't know they were doing wrong? Is that what
America is about? It just frustrates me that the legal
system doesn't always look closely into cases that
involve people's lives - especially if the life in question
is one of a mentally retarded person.

Finally, it's completely USELESS in that it doesn't bring
the victim back to life. Not only is the victim dead, but the
offender now too? Doubling the death toll just doesn't seem
right because it doesn't follow the natural right to life. Sure,
maybe the victim's right was violated when they were
murdered - but "forgiveness is the only way to start the
healing process, and this won't happen in a revenge-focused
individual" (Messerli). This may be the most valid point I have
come across that somewhat alludes to rehabilitation as
being a better option.

Now, let's take a look at the "No" column.

Justice is better served? Hmm. Are there statistics
to prove that? I don't think so.

It creates another form of crime deterrent? Hmm.
I don't believe statistics out there say that either.
Ironically, I found statistics that show the death
penalty does NOT have a deterrent effect.
Looking at that graph, murder rates were down by
30 million in the Northeast because the number of
executions was so much lower. Crime deterrent?
I think not.

Taking a look at this website really opened my eyes
to be even stronger for rehabilitation. The death
penalty is a cruel and unusual form of punishment
at times, and though rehabilitation may seem like a
preposterous suggestion for an alternative, it can
happen. And be effective.

Article 6: The Mystery of the Falling Crime Rate

Source Citation:
Anderson, David C. "The Mystery of the Falling Crime Rate." American Prospect May/June 1997: 49-55. SIRS Researcher. Web. 11 April 2010

This article took a little different approach to the subject of crime and punishment. One, it explores causes behind falling crime rate. Anderson takes what the liberals and conservatives have to say and talks a lot about cost-effective crime prevention and street smart intervention. One of street smart intervention is investing more in lower courts, probation departments, and early alternatives. Why? "There is a broad agreement that much crime might be averted if courts were able to intervene with offenders more meaningfully after the first or second minor offense, rather than waiting for them to commit more serious crimes" (Anderson). That's just one example of one of Anderson's ideas. In addition, under the cost effective crime prevention section, the argument that incarceration and rehabilitation work together right now to prevent crime is debunked. Criminals are locked up, but they get out eventually. "And given the lack of rehabilitation resoundingly documented by recidivism studies over the years, most of those coming out can be expected to commit new crimes at similar rates" (Anderson). That right there shows a need for rehabilitation. Because of the lack of it, crimes are still occuring because there's the possibility that the criminal didn't receive help. More than ever, we need the punishment AND rehabilitation option. But never the death penalty. That won't solve anything.

Article 5: Capital Punishment: Cruel and Unusual?

Source Citation:
Evans, Kim Masters. Capital Punishment: Cruel and Unusual? Detroit: Gale,
Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.

I checked out this book from the library the other day when I was doing research for this project. I found it was really interesting because it took a look at a lot of cases where many people were sentenced to death and why they were given the sentence. When I was reading up on the background of some of these sentences, I was kind of horrified at how...terrible, for lack of better word, some of them sounded. It almost made me think death was what the criminal deserved, but I put some more thought into this while letting the information soak in. I reached the conclusion that these were just cold, hard facts. There was nothing on whether the criminal felt remorse or not. Besides the section about adequate legal counsel, there wasn't much on whether the criminals were represented fairly. What if they had been too poor to afford a good lawyer? What if they were mentally retarded and couldn't properly answer questions they were asked? There are just so many twists that could be possible in every case that it's hard to tell whether the information was the whole truth. For example, under the heading "Legal Repesentation: Questions About Quality" there is a part that states that "some lawyers who have defended capital cases were inexperienced, ill trained, or incompetent" (Evans 83). Digressing a little bit, it boggles my mind that they would entrust a lawyer that could have no experience with someone's life - even if the client is a criminal. If there was a chance that the criminal could go through rehabilitation and become useful to society, why not take the chance instead of sending them to court on question of whether they should be executed or not?

Article 4: A Healing Approach To Crime

Source Citation:
Evers, Tag. "A Healing Approach to Crime." Progressive Sept. 1998: 30-33. SIRS Researcher. Web. 11 April 2010.

What drew me to this article was mainly the title. I looked at the title and decided that it was a good way to put rehabilitation simply; rehabilitation is, essentially, a healing approach to crime. Though not all crimes constitute capital punishment, criminals are human too. Humans can be rehabilitated. A statement that particularly stood out was that "in restorative justice theory, crime is defined as a violation of human relationships...making things right, rather than simply punishing the offenders, is the goal" (Evers). This all ties back with the punishment and rehabilitation working hand in hand. Another good point I found was that in one specific case of a robbery, the victim, like many others, felt left out of the criminal justice process. Because the victim got to meet with the offenders, he felt that it helped his family recover. "The offender is not the enemy...but they are also people who need help. We cannot turn our backs on these people if we ever hope to actually reduce the amount of crime occuring in our communities" (Evers). This is also true. Rehabilitation may be starting to have effect on smaller crimes now, but if reinforced and supported by the whole nation, who knows what wonders could happen?