The Debate Over The Merits Of Capital Punishment Has Endured
for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive andcomplicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to theMarshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the Dahmersand Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous barbaricacts of these individuals and other killers, by taking away theirlives to function and perform in our society. At the same time, wemust insure that innocent people such as Marshall and Millgard arenever convicted or sentenced to death for a crime that they did notcommit.
Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form ofdeterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per-capita basis in countries or states that do have it, then thosethat do not. In order for capital punishment to work as adeterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal’s mindprior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware thatothers have been punished in the past for the offence that he orshe is planning, and that what happened to another individual whocommitted this offence, can also happen to me.
But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging fromauto theft to 1st-Degree Murder, never take into account theconsequences of their actions. Deterrence to crime, is rooted inthe individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set ofconduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far theywill and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made orbe broken by friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. Anindividual who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child,will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do,until they have learned it themselves. Therefore, capitalpunishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of humannature to ignore practised advice and to self learn.
There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itselfa form of vengeance on the killer. But isn’t locking up a humanbeing behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself? And is it”humane” that an individual who took the life of another, shouldreceive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3 meals a day, while ahomeless person who has harmed no one receives nothing? Adversariesof capital punishment claim that it is far more humane then havingthe state take away the life of the individual.
In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender,was scheduled to hang. But just days before his execution, the thenLiberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted McCorkell to life inprison.
Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, andconvicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenesseeboy. He was sentanced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leavingCanada, he was sought by Metro Police in the attempted murder of an11-year old boy.
What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in1963, two boys would never have had to have gone through the horrorof being sexually abused. These individuals may themselves becomesex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused aschildren.
McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in thepast, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do thisonce, he killed two boys, and assaulted two others, leaving one fordead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this manhave to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children, what will hedo in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a life wouldthe state have been taking away in this case? An innocent life? Aforgiving life? No, a life that was beyond the realm of reform, anddid not care to be.
We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, evenwhen suspicion may cause considerable doubt, send an innocentperson to be executed. It could have happened to David Millgard, itcould have happened to Donald Marshall. It probably has evenoccured numerous times in the history of the earth. But with properpolice investigations, and where the evidence shows that theindividual is a threat to the peace of society as long as he or sheis alive, capital punishment must be used.