Friday, December 14, 2012

The Death Penalty - Pro

Our previous post details the focus of our Pilot Program students in the Loyola Intensive English Program on the death penalty during the Fall 2012 semester. Our reading, film viewing, discussing, and writing about the death penalty culminated in an assignment that asked each Pilot student to argue persuasively for his or her opinion, for or against the death penalty.

Xiang James Zhang of China
This post features an excellent essay in favor of the death penalty by Xiang "James" Zhang of China. James is a business management major at Loyola University New Orleans. He is eager to complete his business studies and to gain experience working for a large corporation.

James believes that the death penalty protects society and gives first-degree murderers the punishment they deserve. He articulates his opinion admirably in his essay, below.

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I’m in Favor of the Death Penalty
By Xiang James Zhang

If one person commits the crime of taking another person’s life, I believe the government should take the murderer’s life because all the innocent people in the world have the right to live without being afraid that someone could kill them and not be punished. Why should innocent people be afraid of death while criminals aren’t?

First, if the murderer is allowed to live, he might be able to escape or hurt other inmates and prison guards. In the book Dead Man Walking, written by Sister Helen Prejean to argue against the death penalty, the character of Robert Willie was charged with many violent offenses; he later escaped from St. Tammany Parish jail, and went on to kill and rape innocent people. Willie was able to escape and commit more crimes, and he wasn’t even a murderer then. Imagine if someone already convicted of murder were to escape. This kind of murderer would not be afraid of laws or the death penalty, and would go on to commit more crimes. Also, murderers may hurt other prisoners and the prison guards if they need something from them. First-degree murderers tend to spend much of their time together, making it easier for them to hurt other people.

Also, if one person takes another person’s life and the murderer doesn’t receive the death penalty, more and more people will commit crimes because they know they will not receive the death penalty. The fear of execution prevents a lot of people from committing crimes. When a person commits a crime, he will think about the possibility that he could receive the death penalty. If the death penalty is in use in a country, people may not commit crimes because they don’t want to die. On the other hand, if a person wants to commit a crime and knows that the death penalty doesn’t exist, maybe he will commit the crime because he can still live his life in prison.

Additionally, life in prison always causes the victim’s family deep pain and they can’t forgive the murderer. If the murderer is executed, the victim’s family will feel better. If an innocent family member were killed, the family would miss him throughout their life. During his birthday and Tomb-Sweeping Day, a day in my country, China, where living people visit and sweep their loved ones’ tombs, the family would miss him; I believe that the family would always be in deep pain over his death. The family would constantly think about the murderer. If the murderer were still alive in prison, it would make the victim’s family feel deep pain. The murdered love one died even though he was innocent, while the murderer would still be alive in the world. On the other hand, the victim would have no life to live, making his family sad.

Finally, life in prison isn’t enough to punish the violent murderers. The environment in prisons is very good now. Prisoners can make phone calls and visit with their family members. They can earn money for themselves and are able to buy what they want to eat and drink. Although there is a limit to the food they can buy, they still have many options. Also, when the prisoners’ family members come to visit, they can give extra money to the prisoners. The prisoners can use this extra money to spend on anything in the prison commissary. Another point is that the environment of prisons has improved greatly in recent years. The prisoners can get good health care. The standard of living has also improved. The prisoners don’t need to worry about the daily concerns of life in the world like taxes, transportation, food, or electricity. They just go to their prison job and then have all their life needs provided. Sometimes, they can go out to exercise. If we compare how murderers live to how homeless people live, the murderers are better off. At least they don’t need to worry about food or where to live. Meanwhile, it’s normal to drive around and see some homeless people sleeping at bus stations during the middle of winter. I believe that these murderers have better lives than the homeless people.

Additionally, the government should be fair to citizens, and the government also has the right and duty to protect and punish citizens. All the citizens in the United States are part of the government, and also the government protects this country very well. Every citizen has equal worth to live in his or her community. If one person takes another person’s life and the murderer doesn’t receive the death penalty that means the murderer’s life has more worth than the victim’s life.

Overall, I am in favor of the death penalty because I believe it is effective in getting justice for murder victims. The death penalty is also good at preventing people from committing murder for fear that they will be executed.  It works well in my country, China, and I believe it also works in the United States and other countries. The death penalty can improve a prison system by keeping the regular prisoners away from the prisoners that have committed murder. Many people might not like the death penalty, but it is needed to keep order and bring justice to victims.

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Our thanks to James Zhang for this excellent essay in favor of the death penalty. Our next post will feature an essay by Jessica Osteicoechea of Venezuela, expressing the opposite view.

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