Category: Divided

The Government Shutdown–Impending doom, or nothing to worry about?

On the day that this article was written–January 11th, 2019–the US government had been inoperative due to a shutdown for 21 days. All across the country, there have been innumerable cases of government workers doing their jobs unpaid, being penalized for something that they had no part in. President Trump gave the inciting action for the shutdown, after conflict regarding the building of the border wall with Mexico. Democrats have been almost uniformly opposed to the building of the wall, citing reasons why it wouldn’t work, along with funding issues. Republicans, on the other hand, have been divided by both Trump and his border wall, and the party is facing a major split in ideals.

 

More than politics, however, the government shutdown has majorly affected government workers. With no pay, there is no doubt that all types of government workers are struggling to survive. This is the real problem, even more important than divisive politics, because it affects the standard citizens rather than the elected officials. There is no doubt that many people in our families, as well as some of our friends, work for places like the TSA, National Parks, or for the general bureaucracy; this can ruin the lives of these people, as many people, almost 78% of full-time workers, work paycheck to paycheck. Something needs to be done, because these are real people with real lives, with families to feed and house. As the shutdown continues to persist day after day, tensions are rising in working class Americans–forcing them to ask themselves questions such as “Can we pay for this month’s rent?” or “Can we pay for food for the month?”

 

These are questions that cannot be answered until something is done about the border wall.

 

Until then, we can only sit like ducks waiting for the gun to fire.

 

By: Jaron Bullington

Death Penalty Divided: For

The death penalty is reserved for capital punishments. These crimes include: murder, treason, and more. The “Worst of the worst.” However, despite the wide belief of it being too inhumane or costly to even be considered, there is a large portion of the public that supports it. While there are many reasons to disapprove of this punishment, there are too many positive effects to justify disbanding it completely. Instead, play it scenario by scenario. The things that should be taken into consideration while arguing for the death penalty are simple and few: closure for the victim’s family, and disapproval for the crime, and (surprisingly) a humane sentence.

While it is true that everyone processes grief with varying degrees of difference, it reassures many to know the perpetrator will be unable to repeat the crime. Kermit Alexander, a victim of multiple family member massacre, testified for this. Not only did Tiqueon Cox (the murderer) massacre his mother, sister, and two nephews, but he also attempted to escape prison as violently as possible. Escaping with as much bloodshed as possible. This easily shows how immoral and unstoppable killers can truly be. Of course, others may find that letting a man-slaughterer live is worth the risk of innocent family members. The simple thought that they might prevent the same pain weighing down another person brings the victim’s family much relief. That agony should never be felt.

Additionally, while some families may believe such a punishment brings them down lower, they are ultimately the ones most affected. The death penalty also gives more impact to the crime itself. As stated previously, a form of capital crime is rape with bodily harm. While vague, this should be punished more severely. In today’s society, many women and men are being raped daily. Many victims sustain physical damage as well as emotional. Many rapists, despite the horrendous crime, often go under-punished, if disciplined at all. By enforcing the death penalty for this crime, rape would plummet. This kind of punishment deters even the thought of such a repulsive act.

Treason is another capital crime that results in the Death Penalty, albeit a more deadly one.When someone sells or gives secret information to others it can have severe consequences. Enemy countries (such as North Korea) and terrorist organizations (for example, Isis) would do about anything to get their hands on this information, putting American citizens into harm’s way. Getting rid of the death sentence would create less of a threat for those who may wish harm against America.

Many reasons against the punishment are often from those that are uninformed or contain information from studies that are out of date. These oppositions range greatly, from morality to racial bias. Though most (if not all) of these claims can easily be counteracted.

In the case of racism, the case simply needs to be more understood. There are more cases in which the murderer of a white victim is more likely to be put on Death warrant. However, more white males are also the ones more likely to be put to death. If one does enough research they’ll find that murders will target another person of the same race over one with a different race. Of course such a statement is generalized and not applicable to every situation. Because people tend to kill their own race, both killers of white males (typically white male offenders) are the ones more often penalized.

Humanity and morality is also a widely protested subject as well. Some say “They don’t have morals, why should we?” Others protest “Killing killers won’t bring back victims”. Though, once put into life in prison without parole, what happens behind the bars? According to Kenneth E. Hartman, a prisoner serving life in prison without parole, it was “the quieter, less troublesome death penalty,” She explains that many people go crazy, as most prisons carry the sentence out in maximum security cells. According to her experiences, they don’t get programs the other criminals get. There was no point in wasting extra money on, as written, a “dead men walking.”  So, is it any more humane to subject a prisoner to a meaningless, hopeless life? Kenneth even says himself, “I have often wondered if that 15 or 20 minutes of terror found to be cruel and unusual wouldn’t be a better option.” He himself is now fighting to rid the punishment he was sentenced with altogether. If one was worried about being humane, this is not an alternative to the death sentence.

Overall, there is no reason why the death penalty should be overlooked and overruled completely. Instead, modify it. Change it. Alter it. Use the penalty to properly and effectively punish (as it was intended). Use it to discipline the ‘worst of the worst.’ Those that kill and betray, those that seem to have no morals or care for the life of others. There is no reason for America to destroy something that can be used to benefit the country. The death penalty does not just kill killers; it kills the risk of another victim being harmed by the same hands. It makes America just a little safer. In the end, that is what this country needs. For this generation, and the next.

By: Mylena Ferman

To view the opposing article, click here.

Sources below:

“Capital Offense | Nolo’s Free Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions.” Nolo.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017. <http://www.nolo.com/dictionary/capital-offense-term.html>.  

“Crimes Punishable By Death.” Crime Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017. <http://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/crimes-punishable-by-death/>.

“Is Life in Prison without Parole a Better Option Than the Death Penalty? – Death Penalty – ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001017>.

“Top 10 Pros and Cons – Death Penalty – ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002000>.

Urbina, Ian. “New Execution Method Is Used in Ohio.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 08 Dec. 2009. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/us/09ohio.html>.

Death Penalty Divided: Against

The death penalty has always been a contentious topic in America. The matter pertains to the ending of a life in order to punish the taking of a life. This debate has reached a particularly pressing crossroad. According to a 2016 Pew Research survey, support for the death penalty has fallen out of majority favor. Despite there still being more support than opposition, this new revelation impugns the fate of capital punishment in America. It brings into question the extent of the role the penalty should have, if any. The proper role of the penalty, however, is clear: zero role.  

In order to understand the current opposition to the penalty, former opposition must be studied first. The support for the death penalty—49 percent—is at the lowest in forty years, meaning that forty years ago support for the penalty lapsed. Both the practice and popularity of the penalty subsided in the years leading up to 1972, the year the Supreme Court decided the landmark case Furman v. Georgia. The case was dealing with a black man, Furman, who believed that his sentencing was racially biased. The Court agreed and struck all capital statutes across all nations, but did not outlaw the penalty itself. States revised their statutes and they were validated in the case Gregg v. Georgia in 1976. Because of the ostensibly infallible aura now encompassing the penalty after the racial bias issue was “solved,” the states were swift in use and the public passionate in support. Support dramatically rose in the 80’s and 90’s, peaking in the 1995, and the penalty cemented itself in the political realm. It was vigorously supported by both sides of the aisle, uniting George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in the otherwise divisive 1992 election. However, the more recent elections have seen less adamance for the penalty. While 20 years ago it was that politicians either supported the penalty and were tough on crime or did not and were practically criminals themselves, tentativeness and outright rejection regarding the penalty is more acceptable today. The penalty is no longer a litmus test; it is no longer the manifestation of America’s resilience to crime. So, what has caused this sudden falling out between the public and the penalty? Well, it stems from the realization that the position held by advocates of the penalty has grown entirely indefensible.

A primary argument by penalty proponents is that the penalty effectively deters crime and incapacitates criminals. This, however, is not the case. Studies compiled and analyzed by Michael Radelet and Marian Borg, two sociological professors, show that at a certain point criminals do not feel more threatened by greater severity of a punishment. In essence, life imprisonment without parole—the alternative to the penalty—is just as deterring as a death sentence. Furthermore, the Death Penalty Information Center offers the opinions of criminologists, 88 percent of whom concur that the penalty does not affect homicide rates. In fact, the DPIC found that in the past thirty years, non-penalty states have had lower murder rates than death penalty states. As for incapacitation, while death does ultimately incapacitate a person’s ability to commit crimes, life imprisonment provides substantial incapacitation given that there is no legal means of reentering society. The illegal means, breaking out, is incredibly rare. To accommodate such a concern, these inmates would be placed under high supervision at maximum-security prisons.

Gregg v. Georgia was the supposed confirmation of the rectification of arbitrary sentencing in capital cases. But when America’s entire criminal justice system is being rebuked for injustice along racial lines, the argument cannot be made that its highest punishment is exempt. For executions of those convicted of interracial murders since 1976, 20 had black victims. For white victims, the number is 282. This whopping discrepancy illustrates the irrefutable presence of racial bias in capital sentencing. If our nation cannot ensure with invariable accuracy that bias and discrimination do not exist in its courts, those courts should not have the power to end the life of an American.

These findings, these refutations to conventional arguments put forth by death penalty supporters, shed light and provide clarity for the dramatic decline in popular and political support and clamor. But to supplement these findings, to undeniably demonstrate the necessity of ending the penalty, capital punishment’s complete lack of economic sensibility must be looked at. The long trial process—added to the extensive appeals process—and cost of lethal injection have made the capital punishment unjustifiably costly across the country (millions are being spent per execution). The money used to execute could be put back into the community or put toward more effective law enforcement. In addition, the long process of sentencing and appeals found uniquely in capital punishment counters the conviction that the penalty provides closure to victim’s families. Continual exposure to a person guilty of committing an atrocity on a loved one does not so much provide closure as it does reopened wounds. Furthermore, lethal injection and the electric chair are imperfect methods of administering painless death. When veins are missed, the arm’s muscles are literally corroded. When the volts miscalculated, a man burned to death. These incidents surely contradict the Eighth Amendment of no cruel and unusual punishment.

Based on the absolute impractical, unrighteous, unconstitutional, unjust, and biased nature of the death penalty, the only reasonable role it should play in America is none. More and more Americans are beginning to see it. All civilized nations have seen it. The final entity deserving of capital punishment is the death penalty itself.

By Ryan Hill

To view the opposing article, click here.

Sources Below:

Pew Research Center. (2016, September 26). Support for Death Penalty Continues to Fall. Retrieved from pewresearch.org: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/29/support-for-death-penalty-lowest-in-more-than-four-decades/ft_16-09-28_deathpenalty/

 

Death Penalty Information Center. (2016, November 9). Facts about the Death Penalty. Retrieved fromdeathpenaltyinfo.org: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactSheet.pdf

Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Death Penalty. Retrieved from law.cornell.edu:https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/death_penalty

Radelet, M. L., & Borg, M. J. (2000). The Changing Nature of Death Penalty Debates. Annual Reviews of Sociology, 26, 43-61. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/223436

Dieter, R. C. (1994, Fall). Millions Misspent: What Politicians Don’t Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty. Retrieved from deathpenaltyinfo.org: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/millions-misspent

Virginia’s lethal injection costs set to skyrocket to $16.5k. (2016, September 30). Retrieved from seattletimes.com: http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/virginias-lethal-injection-costs-set-to-skyrocket-to-16-5k/

Shafdar, K. (2012). Legally Killing People Has Gotten A Lot More Expensive. Retrieved from huffingtonpost.com: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/30/lethal-injection_n_1391408.html