Punishments are as important as praise to regulate human behavior. Human beings do not have instincts like animals on how to behave in a surrounding when they are born. A process called socialization teaches a baby from child hood how to act; what is the culture, the pattern of behavior basically the overall lifestyle which would be accepted in the society they are born. During socialization a child learns which actions are acceptable and would be praised and he even learns to avoid actions which would lead him to punishment. Then there are two types of socialization formal informal and formal socialization. In informal socialization a child is punished informally by parents for example if a child lies to his parents, the parents scold the child and sometimes even give them small punishments like standing in the corner. While in formal socialization which starts from educational institutes, offices, environment and even friends an unacceptable act have severe punishment, for example if you steal in a class u might even get suspended. Thus punishments have an important role in the integration and smooth running of our society.
Because of the increase in crime rate even America has deduced certain policies in order to control crime rate amongst which the capital punishment is most argued about. Capital punishment is the death penalty sentenced to people who have committed crimes like murder. The first death penalty in United States took place in James town in 1608. Internationally United States is known as one of the leader in the use of death penalty. United state is one of the four nations which together account for 86 percent of all executions these statistics are recorded by Amnesty international.
“In 1999, 98 the death penalty was used in 37 states and the federal prison system, but just two states accounted for half of the executions that took place — Texas (35) and Virginia (14).” (Almanac of Policy Issues, n.p.)
Most of the executions performed in between 99 and 98 were from lethal injection. Death penalty existed in United States from colonial times, but the use of death penalty has been different in every state depending on the state policy. Only in 1967 a temporary ban was imposed on death penalty, while the Supreme Court reviewed its constitutionality. After a lot of controversies, arguments and disputes the death penalty was restored after ten years of its ban in 1976. After which the first execution took place by a firing squad in Utah of Gary Gilmore was executed by a firing squad in Utah.
Their have been many variations in the tolerance level for death penalty The US Capital Punishment policy in 2006 has been amended but the capital punishment still exists for crime such as murder or conspiracy of murder. Execution has even been given for crimes such as kidnapping, rape, robbery to name a few in 2005 but such cases are rare and such punishments are given only in extreme cases.
Factors Influencing Judgment
It has been observed that many factors other then crime can affect or influence the judgment received by a person. There are many factors which effect as independent variable while receiving severity of punishment these independent variables include sex of the criminal, built of the criminal, personality of the criminal, appearance of the criminal gestures and postures basically every minute detail of a criminal proves to play a part when receiving judgment.
An example of it can be smile, “If this is the case, a smiling offender could be judged more leniently because perceivers believe him to be more penitent. The previous studies that have looked at the effect of smiling on judgment have always studied a minor transgression such as academic misconduct. However, on seeing a photograph of a smiling murderer in the newspaper, it seems reasonable to ask oneself why he is smiling, and perhaps consider that he is not remorseful. This study aimed to investigate whether the severity of the crime affects the’ smile leniency’ effect. It was predicted that for a minor crime, smiling would serve to make subjects more lenient, whereas for a serious crime it would do the opposite.” (The Effect of Smiling on Judicial Decisions, n.p.)
Thus, it can be evaluated that independent variables can be evaluated by the judge and the court and based on those evaluations and the reality of crime committing judgment is passes.
Then there are dependent variables, these variables include atmosphere or living conditions which lead a person to commit a crime. The most obvious dependent variables include poverty, revenge and unemployment a person can commit a murder because he was not getting the deserve amount of pay. An example of it can be taken by “fuel supply to the highlands of Madagascar was severely curtailed in early 2002, resulting in a massive increase in poverty and transport costs. We find that crop theft increases with poverty.” (January 2004, n.p.) Consequently, we can assume that the increase in crime rates reflect indirectly the increase in poverty, unemployment or a similar issue.
Like every issue capital punishment has two views, one that is in favor of capital punishment while the other opposes death penalty. People who support death penalty believe that the concept of an “eye for an eye” is based on the religious values of majority of people. They believe that without severe punishments the fear of crime would reduce thus crime rate would increase and so world the danger of lives of innocent people. While those who are against death penalty argue that innocent people can get executed due to error in criminal justice system. Opponents argue that most people who are punished have committed similar crime to other people but they receive death penalty because they lack resources, have poor legal representation or because of racial discrimination.
I personally believe that death penalty should exist in society because severe punishments help in controlling the behavior of human beings. If serious crimes like murder had lenient punishments the people in society would not be afraid of it society would be in a state of chaos, people would kill each other for a matter of small things. An example of this can be if a man does not get promoted to a position he expected because of a colleague, the man would kill his colleague just to get revenge and the position. There would be robberies and kidnappings going all around the country and it would be impossible to manage the situation. Corruption, stealing, rapes would not be considered as crimes it is a possibility that if there would have been no rules and regulations in other words punishments such acts might even be praised.
To better explain the situation we can consider praise or rewards. if our parents or society don’t admire us when we perform a good act what will our reaction be; we would feel disappointed and after getting ignored few times we would either stop committing good act or the differentiation between good an bad would eventually disappear. In the same way is punishment if no body stops us or punishes eventually with time we won’t be able to differentiate between good or bad.
To support my hypothesis I would state few examples which would suggest that many problems can occur if a society does not establish or maintain the law. By maintaining I mean that as important as punishments are, in the same way cruelty of punishments can be very dangerous for a society.
It has been observed that crime rate has decreased after abolishing the ban of 1967, it has been viewed that an increase in expected punishment decreases the overall occurrence of crime. To support the argument we can compare the crime rate with the increase in expectation of punishments in United States. “The murder rate has dropped 34 percent, as the probability of going to prison for murder has risen 54 percent. Rape has decreased 17 percent, as the probability of prison has increased 20 percent. Robbery has decreased 35 percent, as the probability of prison has increased 24 percent. Aggravated assault has decreased 18 percent, as the probability of prison has increased 26 percent. Burglary has decreased 22 percent, as the probability of prison has increased 21 percent.” (Crime and Punishment in America: 1999, n.p.)
Hence, it can be assumed that the hypothesis, more severe and certain the punishment for crimes such as murder, the lower the crime rate has strong evidence to support it.
Another example to sustain the hypothesis can be the comparison of statistics in between the years a ban was imposed on capital punishments. During the time was the ban was imposed researchers gathered murder statistics across the country. “In 1960, there were 56 executions in the USA and 9,140 murders. By 1964, when there were only 15 executions, the number of murders had risen to 9,250. In 1969, there were no executions and 14,590 murders, and 1975, after six more years without executions, 20,510 murders occurred rising to 23,040 in 1980 after only two executions since 1976. In summary, between 1965 and 1980, the number of annual murders in the United States skyrocketed from 9,960 to 23,040, a 131 percent increase. The murder rate — homicides per 100,000 persons — doubled from 5.1 to 10.2. So the number of murders grew as the number of executions shrank.” (PRO DEATH PENALTY, n.p.)
These statistics even suggest that death penalty is very essential to maintain safety level in a society. We can even imagine that death penalty if executes ones it saves life of at least one innocent if not more now its up to us what in our eyes is better death of the guilty or death of the innocent
Comparison of States in US
To evaluate the matter a little further that whether death penalty is effective or not we can compare statistics of different states with and without death penalty. This comparison of crime rate especially murder would help us in determining if our hypothesis is correct or not and if we are right it would strengthen our research.
Many states of the US have abolished capital punishments including northern Alaska, Michigan and Columbia to further strengthen the hypothesis we would compare the crime rates in thee states to the crime rates of states still practicing capital punishment. Alaska is one of the three states with highest crime rate he reason being leniency in punishment. “Alaska ranks #7 among US states, for violent crime rate and #21 for murder and manslaughter.” (Alaska and Russia, n.p.)
Then there is Michigan which was the first state to abolish capital punishments. The crime rate in Michigan in the year 1960 when its “population was around 7,823,194. At that time the crime rate in violence was 2.17, property was 2,441.5, murder 4.5, rape was 14.5, robbery was 93.7, assault was 105.0, burglary was 725.1 and theft was 179.5,” which when compared to the statistics of 2005 show a different story. Statistics of 2005 show that of crime has increased to “violence was 552.1, property was 3,091.1, murder 6.1, rape was 51.3, robbery was 131.8, assault was 362.9, burglary was 696.8 and theft was 476.5.” (Michigan Crime Rates 1960 – 2005, n.p.)
It is true that the population in 2995 has also increased to 10,120,860 but the crime rate has increased at a pace unimaginable the comparison of these statistics suggest that punishments is essential for a society
Now let’s compare statistics of state which have strict punishment policies and who still practice death penalty amongst which is the New York City. “New York State’s prison population grew from 61736 to 70026, while its violent crime rate fell by 38.6%,” these statistics support the argument that punishments are important and every crime is to be associated with a definite and severe punishment. Without punishments the crime rates would touch the sky they will go beyond control and every ones life would be in grave danger. (Nonviolent prisoners, n.p.)
After doing a thorough research and looking at the positive and negative impact of punishments, especially capital punishment, it can be concluded that the hypothesis I made in the beginning is proved. Nothing is ultimate or complete in the same way severe punishments have reduced crime rate but in few cases the result is opposite.
A research is based on the overall structure of society there are always exceptions but during research we have to neglect exceptional cases. Thus after thorough evaluation I am still determined to say that punishments are as essential in the smooth running of the society as food and water is necessary for the proper functioning of our body.
The question is not how to punish criminals it is more important to finish crime from its roots and to do that we need to improve social structure as Henry Thomas Buckle quotes “Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it.” (Think exist, n.p.)
Almanac of Policy Issues
http://www.policyalmanac.org/crime/death_penalty.shtml Accessed: May 4, 2007
Alaska and Russia Michigan Crime Rates 1960 – 2005
www.physicsforums.com Accessed: May 4, 2007
Crime and Punishment in America: 1999
Accessed: May 4, 2007
http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/conferences/2004-GPRaHDiA/papers/3r-fafchampsMinten-CSAE2004.pdf Accessed: May 4, 2007
www.cjcj.org/pubs/one_million/onemillion.html Accessed: May 4, 2007
Pro Death Penalty
http://www.wesleylowe.com/cp.html#deter Accessed: May 4, 2007
www.cjcj.org/pubs/one_million/onemillion.html Accessed: May 4, 2007
The Effect of Smiling on Judicial Decisions
Accessed: May 4, 2007
Accessed: May 4, 2007