The fifteenth person on Texas death row is sentenced to die July 20th 2010. As many of us are eating dinner and preparing for the next day a man, a convicted killer will be sentenced to death. His crime is grisly. Can it be proved? And are there any alternatives that can be pursued? These questions still linger on and have for a long time generated debate on the pros and cons of capital punishment. In this Texas case, Derrick Jackson, is convicted of murdering two Houston opera singers about 22 years ago. Closely connected to this type of killing is euthanasia or mercy killing where life of a patient is ended to relieve him/her of sufferings.
The nature of a human being is to live and die at some point. Going by this, many people are still reluctant in accepting and giving the much needed attention that death deserves. Focus on this has now shifted to living life fully with most people concentrated on gaining material wealth regarding it as a means to long life and happiness. The distractions in life have increased dramatically to the point that when death strikes, no one is prepared for the eventual outcome. As a society it is important to live knowing that we should also prepare to die and that there is life after death (Vynke, 2006).
Purpose of the Paper
In a nutshell, this paper will give a stand (for or against) and a summary of important points that were mentioned in the cause of the study by firmly analyzing the arguments for and against death penalty from two different angles as well as the issue of euthanasia. There are many individuals as well as group of people in the society who can air their views on the subjects. The paper will address a few of the views and in order to determine a stand concerning these burning issues. Discussing this death penalty from judicial point of view and reasons as to why the penalty should be abolished will clearly establish a stand on the death penalty. It will however give reasons as to why most people are wrongly fully sent to the deaths.
The death penalty has been a commonplace in western civilization for more than two thousand years and in many other nations. Despite the long term use of capital punishment, its use and abuse has come into dispute in countries such as Italy, France and England. This has subsequently led to the increasing number of debate whether capital punishment is ethical and justifiable in various parts of the world. It is important to note that, changes in the arguments for and against capital punishment prove that tremendous developments regarding the taking of human and saving life by the government have taken place in many parts of the world.
What is Euthanasia?
According to Kappel (2001), euthanasia is the process where by a patient that is terminally ill, in a state of coma or completely paralyzed is removed from lifesaving machines or injected with life ending drugs in kill him / her and ends the “suffering” that the person is undergoing. There are however three ways to explain how this process is viewed and understood in different quarters (Kappel, 2001). The first one is referred to as the extreme view and it explains that euthanasia is morally wrong and is should never be allowed no matter the situation. The extreme view also explains that life is given and taken by God and no human being has the right to decide when and how to end the life of another person.
The second view is the moderate view. The moderate view of euthanasia is that it is morally acceptable to end the suffering of a person if by so doing you will make the person’s soul have a better eternal life. The reason for this that people in such situation are physically “dead” but the souls are alive. Moderate view however explains that this depends on whether it is passive or active euthanasia. The third and final view on euthanasia is the liberal view. Under the liberal view, both passive and active euthanasia are legal as long certain medical and legal conditions are met to proof that the process of euthanasia should go ahead (VHEMT, 2010). In considering the three views mentioned above, one can either decide to literally take life of another person away depending on their views; however most religious groups are strongly against this practice which they consider unethical.
Christian Objection against Euthanasia
Religious leaders and the community at large (both Christian and non-Christian) are strongly opposed to euthanasia and anything associated with it. According to Pankratz & Welsh (2001), euthanasia is equal to murder and murder is a sin, therefore they argue that the human life should not be terminated by a fellow human (doctor) since this is against the will of God. In addition to that, they quote Genesis 9: 6 which states that
“Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God has He made man.”
This argument is a sure indication that the end of human life is determined by God and no one else. Another argument by the Christian and the religious society in general as to why euthanasia should not be legalized is that it gives doctors and medical practitioners a chance to kill the less capable members of society (Pavone, 2010). To argue out his point, he gives an example of a lady who was in coma for eight (p. 8) years, her conditions never changed and she never died, however the court ruled that she be denied the supply of food and water. The lady died 12 days later and autopsy report indicated that the cause of the dead was starvation. This is a clear case of someone who was robbed of her life simply because she could not defend herself.
Having looked at one of the medical conditions that lead to termination of human life without their permission, it is clear that euthanasia is not justified as it ends the life of individuals without their consent. In the case of death penalty, the situation is a bit different. According to Jost (2001), there are some people who because of the mental conditions cannot defend themselves in the court of law or file an appeal and as a result they are sentenced to death. The case is given of a person who despite the fact that he had a less IQ capacity and was mentally challenged his sentence could not be reduced from death penalty to life imprisonment. This is a clear case that manifests the ineffectiveness of many judicial systems and also an example of discriminative administration of justice.
Apart from the above mentioned case, there are other scenarios where people are wrongfully sent to the “chair” without fair trial as a result of investigation. Due mistaken identify, it can occur that an individual is taken to court for trial simply because he/she resembles the person who committed the crime (Jost, 2001). In such situations, the blame is squarely placed at the doorstep of the police and the investigation unit for failing to exhaustively investigate the case. As an investigating body, the police forces should take all measures to ensure that the person being tried is the person rightfully linked to the crime rather than using the basis of resemblance.
To avoid these scenarios, the investigators and forensic experts should use DNA samples of the suspects to determine if he/she is the person who committed the crime. Ballistic experts can also use ballistic technologies in order to correctly resolve cases involving weapons. In the recent past, there has been a rapid growth and development in the internet communication and technology sectors, the judicial system should therefore employ tools and in order to minimize chances of it wrongfully pass sentence on people and send them to their deaths while they are not guilty of the crimes committed.
In many undemocratic and underdeveloped nations around the world especially in Africa, the power of “mob justice” and a tool of administering justice to offenders cannot be overlooked. Here, individuals caught committing crimes are beaten to death without them being given a chance to be tried in the court of law. For many people, the judicial process is slow and fair trial is not usually given a place and thus taking action against criminals seems to be ‘justice’. The ineffectiveness of the judicial systems in many cases results from high level of corruption and for justice to be ‘done’, one just needs to have money in order to buy ‘freedom’.
The nature of human being is to live and die naturally at some point in life; however no one is allowed to terminate the life of another person despite ones state of health or nature of crime committed. Having looked at two different situations that people are unwilling and unfairly sentenced to “death” , without being given a chance defend themselves or give consent, it is therefore crucial that death penalty and mercy killing be abolished as both interferes with one’s basic rights in the society; the right of life. In addition to this, killing is against the teachings and practices of most religions and more specifically Christianity. This will however necessitate more debate and amendments in the American constitution since practices such as the death penalty in place in America since the colonial times. A part from amending the constitution of various nations around the world in to abolish the death penalty, religious leaders and institutions should take the responsibility of teaching people on the importance of respecting life and what the sanctity of life as spell in different constitutions of nations.
Corruption has been pinpointed as one of the main problem that affects the performance of the judiciary of many developing nations and as a result there is unfairness when it comes to administration of justice. Developed nations should therefore call for the end of this vice and ensure that corruption wiped out from the corridors of justice of corrupt nations; it is only by so doing that most convict will be fairly tried and they won’t be sent to “the chair” without being given a chance to defend themselves. Furthermore, this will save nations of incurring more costs, as executions cost more than imprisonment as nations spend about two million per person versus five hundred thousand. Research suggest that free counsel for defense, for appeals, maximum security on a separate death row wing prove that is cheaper to allow life versus death.
Since the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, it use does not reduce the number of crimes. Additionally, the practice of death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights. Many Americans struggle with dealing with the issue of capital punishment and the issue of death mercy killing The paper has given two scenarios that people are unfairly sent to their death without being given a chance to defend themselves; the paper has first looked at a medical condition known as euthanasia and the different views of the same. Thereafter, it has discussed the death penalty that is given out after a fair or unfair trial. It has looked at situations that lead to people being sent to death without being given a chance to defend themselves; the case of mistaken identity.
By the time this paper has been read, Derrick Jackson will have been executed for the crime he committed or did not commit and as Desmond Tutu once said, “To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, not justice." Does anyone really win?