Capital Punishment - the Eternal Conflict
The question of necessity and the moral issues surrounding capital punishment have been debated considerably since the beginning of time. This emotional debate has grown into an eternal conflict consuming and affecting the entire flock of society. In the same note, Nicholas Jenkins' writing “Dirty Needle”, is no different in that it presents his opposing opinion against the act of capital punishment including the moral issues which follow in its wake. However, I find his supporting information to be unsubstantiated and weak in comparisons. Moreover, I do not agree with his opinions because there is no black and white to this issue, but several areas of grey surrounding the controversy of capital punishment.
In the beginning of his writing, Jenkins' jumps headlong into the mire by writing that “...capital punishment is a mirage...a dream solution to a nightmare of social despair”(779). Just what does he mean by claiming that it is just a mirage? He is erroneously insinuating that capital punishment is not a solution for any crime, no matter what the facts consist of. Unfortunately, if it was up to him, these violent criminals would probably be walking the street right now, so thank God for small favors! In addition, Jenkins' states that capital punishment is only “fantasy...the wish to kill without making a show of it...”(779). As I feel my teeth grind in anger at this statement, I feel almost pity in reading of his thoughts. His opinion of society is that we are all killers and that we are no better than the criminals who commit these heinous crimes. Let us take a moment and reflect on the reality that he fails to provide in his statement. The reality is that criminals commit unspeakable crimes by preying, like wolves, on innocent people (the sheep). In many cases, these wolves are also repeat offenders. Does it make since to capture a wolf that continues to kill your flock, keep it in a pen safe from harm, and then maybe let it go at a later date? No! It is better to kill the wolf that has tasted the blood of your flock, thereby protecting those that trust and rely on you while even protecting yourself. And those that kill the criminals are merely the herdsmen protecting their flocks and caring for the innocent so that the wolves will not prey on them again. I see no justifiable comparison between the guilty criminals and the innocent who punish them for their crimes. It is almost laughable to say that they are one in the same.
Additionally, Jenkins' also has a problem with the methods of punishment and the pain inflicted upon the criminals who are sentenced to death. He emphasizes that there are drawbacks for any execution. For instance, he writes of an electrocution and illustrates the complications following it where “...burning flesh... convulsing...and purple foam”(780) is witnessed. However, I am sure that this criminal has received better treatment than his innocent victim who has perhaps been taken away permanently from a loving family. And why should we worry so much for the criminal who does not give a damn when he commits a crime? He does not care what the outcome of his actions is. He does not care that he hurts someone's family. He only cares about himself and instant gratification. In fact, I would not be surprised if most criminals are laughing at the justice system, and all of it appeals, because justice serves the guilty and leaves the innocent out in the cold.
One particular case of justice serving the guilty, for example, is of a young woman named Susan Smith who murdered her children by driving her car into a lake and drowning them. She stood on the shore and watched their innocent faces as they realized what their mommy was doing to them. They could not escape because they were too young. They trusted and relied on their mother innocently as children should, yet she betrayed them in the most horrendous way she could...she took their lives. This case scenario is one in which the criminal deserves the death sentence. Just think...if Susan Smith can commit that horrific crime on her own children, what crime is she capable of committing against children that she does not know. However, she is not on death row awaiting the death penalty, but is serving life in prison. Justice is not served. My personal opinion is that she should be put to death in the same manner in which she has killed her children. What a perfectly justifiable end to this “wolf in sheep's clothing” who has reinvented this unwanted horror story by annihilating her own flock, so to speak.
I am most positive that Jenkins appreciates that Susan Smith does not have the death penalty because he feels that it is “repugnant, obsolete, and barbarous”(780). And it is sad that there are those who are so lenient on capital punishment that they revere the guilty over the innocent. History has proven to us time and time again that this punishment is a necessity to keep society from being overrun with murderers, rapists, etc. How many times do we let criminals out who can once again commit unspeakable crimes? The losses are insurmountable. And as for the moral issues...are the rights of the criminals more important than their victims rights? Do we allow the guilty to conquer the justice system and overrun society? Or do we protect our innocent flock from the wolves and nurture our victims? If we allow those opposed to capital punishment to sway us to their thinking then we may as well place a sign around our necks that reads “Please Eat Me”, and invite the wolves into our homes for dinner. It is beyond my comprehension that this issue still thrives. You cannot eradicate the predator instinct from a wolf because eventually...it will kill again.
Jenkins, Nicholas. “Dirty Needle.” The Blair Reader.
2nd Ed. Eds. Laurie G. Krisner and Stephen R. Mandell.
Upper Sandlewood River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996. Pp 779-782