<Midterm Exam Blog>
My blog topic: Do people who commit heinous crimes deserve the death penalty?
A few days ago, I heard the news that one citizen petitioned on the Blue house for the viral ‘Gangseo PC room murder’ case.
“Dear Mr. president, we can’t stand anymore. When will this country stop reducing charges against criminals who commit murder to innocent people? There must be heavier punishment… please.. we should restore the death penalty to punish them.”
More than 1 million citizens signed the government petition for that. This is the highest amount of signatures of a goverment petition has ever received. As you know, South korea retains capital punishment as part of state-sanctioned practices for purnishing serious crimes. But it has not actually carried out a death sentence on prisoners on death row since 1997. But as heinous crimes continue occur, people get tired and want government to reconsider this law. As a citizen, I also felt strong anger and deep sadness by the news, especially because the victim was so young… However, nevertheless, I still can’t approve death penalty. I want to talk my opinion based on what I learned in my highschool sociology and ethic classes.
To access this issue, I had to think about these two fundamental questions first. Why do nations exist, and what is a really good nation? According to what we learned in sociology class in high school about Thomas Hobbes’s Social Contract Theory,
humans chose to live as social beings to avoid loneliness and anxiety though they could’ve lived in nature as individuals. Hence we cede some of our freedom and rights to this community called nation, which in return secures our life and safety. That is why nations exist. So I totally agree that nation must exist to protect their citizens’ lives. Then, what is a good nation? we have to think about it carefully.. Because I think this theory also speaks that a nation don’t have right to take off their citizens’ lives unless it is a very good way , I mean unless it is the ‘best way’ to protect citizens. And I oppose the death penalty because I do not think death penalty is the best way to protect citizens. There are three reasons why I think so.
The first reason is because I don’t think death penalty is really effective way to prevent crimes. According to death penalty information center statistics, in United States of America, the murder rate in non-death penalty states has remained consistently lower than the rate in states with the death penalty, and the gap has grown since 1990. Canada abolished death penalty in 1975 , since then that country’s homicide rate dropped to 44%.
UN also concluded two times in the past (1988, 2002) that death penalty doesn’t reduce crime.Almost every countries are now abolishing death penalty. Only 23 countries are now retain capital punishment and 103 countries have completely abolished it for all crimes. Because there is no sufficient evidences yet to prove that killing murders stops other people committing similar crimes. So,I think serving life improsonment should replace with death penalty.
The second reason is the most important reason why I can’t approve death penalty. Because in fact , I used to approve death penalty very strongly but I changed my opinion long times ago for this reason. I think death penalty just puts all the blames on the criminals rather than the society and environment that produce that criminals to commit murder. Have you ever heard of ‘Labeling theory’? It is a criminal psychology term but if you’re korean, you have to learn this in highschool. It is theory of how self-identity and
behaviors of individuals may be determined or influenced by the sociocultural’s evaluation and alienation. This theory shows that people behave in ways that reflect how others label them. Labeling and treating someone as a negative person can actually foster deviant
behavior. In other words, labeling someone as negative person can cause others to treat them more negatively and the response to being treated more negatively by the society, can make that person to act more negatively. One example for this is Shin chang won’s story. Shin chang won is a criminal in Korea who escaped from prisoned in 1997 and evaded police officers for more than 2years. He was captured in 1999. But I still can’t forget what he said when he was arrested. He said “I heard that police officers even mobilized army just to arrest me, but I will let you know how to prevent borning a person like
me, if just one teacher or one person in my life told be ‘you’re a pretty good person’ by stroking my hair, I wouldn’t be who I am today. my middle school teacher insulted me , threw my text book and said “If you don’t have money to pay for your tuiton fee, why are you here??!!!Get out of my face!! since then, an evil has started to grow in my heart.” This story shows that sometimes (not always) it is our society that creates criminals and monsters. I discovered this true long times ago. Their lives’ background proved that. I think almost every criminals were just not lucky to meet good teachers , parents or friends when they were young who could teach them what is right and wrong in life… because we all live our lives and respond to crisis the way we’ve learned and saw from our parents’ and teachers’ lives….I personally met very great and respectable teachers when I was in middle school and high school. I have never met such kind of teachers who threw me book and insult me just because I am poor. Most of us have met good teachers who always try to encourage and try to teach right things to their students. and what I learned from them still guide me everyday where I need to go when I meet challenge in lives.. So as I grew up, I realized that, in fact, we all had the potential to be criminals if we couldn’t meet good teachers, parents, friends who taught us right values in life. We have to know that sometimes the words that we say and behaviors to others can hurt someone’s souls and totally change their lives. I’m not trying to protect criminals , and I do not think criminals have humanrights. I’m just saying that if we really really want to prevent crimes and prevent criminals, then we need to try to understand more about the fundamental reasons why those criminals are continue to born and created than just focusing on whether we should retain capital punishment or not . Because death penalty can’t be a solution to this problem, it just make the angry public to ‘feel better’ for a while.
Finally, I oppose the death penalty because of the possibility of miscarriage of justice and the possibility of misuse and abuse of political power. In our country we already have a history of that. President Kim dae jung was sentenced to death because of Park Jung hee’s regime. He was fortuately rescued by the America, but if we had actually died……….. our country’s democracy couldn’t developed. ‘People’s Revolutionary Party incident’ is the most famous example of miscarriage of justice in our country. In 1965, our government accused 8 innocent people who were against the Yushin regime.
The Supreme Court sentenced eight of the acuused to death, and the sentence were carried out 18hours later!! Can you believe it? It was the worst judicial murder ever. 32 years later in 2007, the district Court of Central Seoul found the defendants not guilty. But it was too late , no one apologized and no one took responsibility for their lives. This incident showed that government can use their judicial power as the tool to kill rebel forces. And I’m sure… I’m absolutely sure that if we revive the death penalty, same thing can happen anytime in this country because…………………….. politics is a reality.
I know that people who support the death penalty may say “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” They always use ‘a principle of parity’ to support their opinion. But as I said at the start of this blog, the root reason why nation exist is to protect all of their citizens, not to revenge for someone or instead of someone . it means they don’t have right to take off their citizens’ lives unless it is a very good and effective way to protect the rest of the citizens. But I think they can at least have right to conduct life improsonment because it helps to keep the rest of the citizens safe. My point is, if we want to live in a really good and safe nation, we need to focus on stopping crimes, not lives.
Two blogs’ links on this subject.
Youtube or Ted Talk to link and support my argument.