Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment ?The?Capital punishment is the infliction of the death penalty on persons convicted of a crime.? This has been a topic of debate for many years. People who are for: People who are against: ?Why do we kill people to prove killing people is wrong?? Unconstitutional The 1st argument I have against capital punishment is that it?s unconstitutional. Every person has an equal right to ?life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.? This is a quote from American Civil Liberty Union National Office, ?Capital punishment is a barbaric remnant of an uncivilized society. It is immoral in principle, and unfair and discriminatory in practice.? Does the government have the right to kill? Maybe in self defense, like a policeman firing on a armed and dangerous criminal. Suppose we apply the same standards to the government that we have for civilians. A civilian has the right to shoot at an intruder as he is entering his home but if the civilian catches the intruder and has him under his control, the shooting him would be considered murder.

That?s what capital punishment is..simple murder. Against: I agree that capital punishment is a relic of barbarism but as murder itself is barbaric, death is a fitting punishment for it. It goes along with the ?eye for an eye? principle. For example, someone steals $10 from you and then the person who stole your money has the same thing happen to them? Doesn?t that satisfy you? Many feel the same about murders who are sentence to die. The criminal has brought the punishment upon himself, they deserve what they get. Cruel and unusual The 8th amendment of the us constitution, condemn gruel and unusual punishment is used to protest capital punishment.

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For:: When the constitution was drafted, capital punishment was practiced widely in this country, yet it was not specified as wrong or as cruel and unusual. John Locke went as far to say that murder is not intrinsically wrong. How can the constitution be brought into this argument, since it makes no mention of capital punishment? The methods by which executions are carried out can involve physical torture. ?Electrocution has on occasion caused extensive burns and needed more than one application of electric current to kill the condemned. It often takes 10 minutes or more to die in the electric chair.

It is also torture to keep someone locked up when they know they are waiting to be killed. Officials often defend this and say it?s not cruel and unusual, but how can they defend this opinion in the case of John Evans who was executed by electrocution in 1983? According to witnesses at the scene Mr. Evans was given three charges of electrocution over a period of fourteen minutes. After the first and second charges Mr. Evans was still conscious and smoke was coming from oall over his body as a result of his flesh burning.

An official there even tried to stop the execution on account of it being cruel and unusual punishment, but was unsuccessful. Witnesses later called th whole incident a ?barbaric ritual.? NEXT ARGUMENT The death penalty costs more than life in prison. It costs 5 to 6 times more than lifetime imprisonment, according to studies in a number of states. Most costs occur at trial level. Indiana, with smaller death row than Virginia?s estimates it could save $5 million per year by abolishing capital punishment. NEXT ARGUMENT Murder rates are lower in states that have abolished the death penalty.

The Supreme court, United Nations, and numerous independent studies have concluded that the death penalty has no effect on the crime rate, on average the murder rate in U. S. which execute is almost double the rate in states without the death penalty. NEXT ARGUMENT possible death of innocent ?In case of a mistake, the executed prisoner cannot be given another chance. Justice can miscarry.

In the last hundred years there have been more than 75 documented cases of wrongful conviction of criminal homicide. The death sentence was carried out in eight of these cases? Undoubtedly many other cases of mistaken conviction and execution occurred and remain undocumented. A prisoner discovered to be blameless can be freed; but neither releases nor compensation is possible for a corpse. NEXT ARGUMENT DOESN?T DETER CRIME Contrary to popular belief, the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to crime. ?Expert after expert and study after study have emphasized and emphasized the lack of correction between the threat of the death penalty and the occurrence of violent crime? Ehrlich?s study on the deterrent effect of capital punishment in America reveals this.

It spans twenty-five years, and show that in the first year the study was conducted there were 8,060 murders in 1957 and 65 executions. However in the last year of the study, there were 22,520 murders committed and 1 execution performed. The absence of deterrence is clearly shown. NEXT ARGUMENT MURDER What is the difference between the state killing and an individual killing? The end result is the same..one more dead body, one more set of grieving parents, one more cemetery slot. Every time we execute someone, we are sending the most profound message of the value of human life. Every time we execute someone, we as a society sink to the same level as the common killer. The American people have blood on their hands, and it will stay there until we finally remove this barbaric practice from our nation.

Next argument Why do we kill people to prove that killing people is wrong? It is easy to argue the practical points of opposition to the death penalty. It is obviously not problem to be a deterrent unless my understanding of the word is completely false. It costs more to prosecute capital crimes and ultimately life in prison is more cast effective. The death penalty prolong the cycle of violence and extends the pain of violence to the executed person?s family. The punishment is irreversible, and one error in the realm of punishment is unthinkable. The death penalty blatantly is an issue of elitism in society.

It is logical that those who can afford the best lawyers will fare the best in court while those who simply cannot afford the best legal advice ride the winds of chance. Capital punishment degrades society. . . Why do we kill people to prove that killing people is wrong? Legal Issues.

Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment Capital Punishment: An Eye For An Eye? In the United States, the use of the death penalty continues to be a controversial issue. Every election year, politicians, wishing to appeal to the moral sentiments of voters, routinely compete with each other as to who will be toughest in extending the death penalty to those persons who have been convicted of first-degree murder. Both proponents and opponents of capital punishment present compelling arguments to support their claims. Often their arguments are made on different interpretations of what is moral in a just society. In this essay, I intend to present major arguments of those who support the death penalty and those who are opposed to state sanctioned executions. I do not pretend to be neutral on the issue; the application of the death penalty is the ultimate and irreversible sanction. However, I do intend to fairly and accurately represent both sides of the argument.

Proponents of capital punishment persuasively argue that a “central principle of a just society is that every person has an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Cauthen, p 1). Within this principle, the deliberate (premeditated) murder of an individual is viewed as a heinous act, which prevents the person from realizing his or her right to pursue happiness. They strongly feel that persons convicted of first-degree murder must, themselves, pay the ultimate price. They claim that the death penalty must be imposed in order to maintain the moral standards of the community. Proponents of capital punishment are aware that many people who oppose the death penalty are fearful that innocent people may be wrongfully executed.

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They insist, however, that numerous “safeguards” are built into the criminal justice system which insures the protection of those facing capital punishment. Among the safeguards are: 1. Capital punishment may be imposed only for a crime for which the death penalty is prescribe by law at the time of its commission. 2. Persons below eighteen years of age, pregnant women, new mothers or persons who have become insane shall not be sentenced to death.

3. Capital punishment may be imposed only when guilt is determined by clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts. 4. Capital punishment may be carried out only after a final judgment rendered by a competent court allowing all possible safeguards to the defendant, including adequate legal assistance. 5.

Anyone sentenced to death shall receive the right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction. 6. Capital punishment shall not be carried out pending any appeal, recourse procedure or proceeding relating to pardon or commutation of the sentenced. (www. 1) In view of these safeguards, proponents of capital punishment believe that state executions are justified sentences for those convicted of willful first-degree murder.

They do not think sentencing murderers to prison is a harsh enough sentence, especially if there is the possibility of parole for the perpetrator. A final argument posed by proponents of the death penalty is that execution is an effective deterrence. They are convinced that potential murderers will likely think twice before they commit murder. Despite the rhetoric of politicians for the increased use of the death penalty, a number of prominent individuals and organizations have emerged to express their opposition to capital punishment. Along with families of death row prisoners, the International Court of The Hague, the United Nations, Amnesty International, the Texas Conference of Churches, Pope John Paul II, Nobel Peace recipient, Bishop Tutu, numerous judges and former prosecutors, former Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, actors, and writers are waging a determined struggle against the death penalty.

They invariably argue that capital punishment is wrong and inhumane. Religious folk generally evoke the nature of an “ideal spiritual community” (Cauthen, 1). Within this perspective, a moral and ethical community does not insist on a life for a life. While a community must act to protect law- abiding citizens, an ethical response would be to imprison persons who have demonstrated a flagrant disrespect for life, without the possibility of parole, if necessary. Cauthen states, “An ideal community would show mercy even to those who had shown no mercy” (Capital Punishment 2). Most opponents of the death penalty find fault with the supposed safeguards offered by those in favor of state executions.

Specifically, they charge that more innocent people have been executed by the criminal court system than the two wrongful deaths that proponents admit to. Two dramatic events illustrate that fact. In 1998, a conference, “Wrongful Conviction and the Death Penalty” received much media coverage. The conference brought together twenty-eight women and men who had been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for murders they had not committed. Only through the efforts of volunteers, activists, family members, and independent research, were the prisoners freed (Guiterrez 8).

Another example occurred in February, 1999. In this case, students from a journalist class at Northwestern University, along with their professor, provided the necessary evidence to prove the innocence of a man who had been on death row for sixteen years in an Illinois prison. His execution date was just days away. Opponents of capital punishment discount the argument that the extensive use of the death penalty acts as a deterrence. According to Amnesty International (1994) and a United Nations document (1988), there is no “scientific evidence” to show that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other forms of punishment.

Additionally, the United Nations study showed that countries, which had abolished the death penalty, did not experience an increased number of homicides. In fact, the Canadian homicide rate declined in the twenty-year span after the death penalty had been abolished. A compelling argument against the death penalty is that the United States is out of sync with most other countries. Of the approximately 180 countries in the world, more than half of them no longer execute its citizens. And in countries which have retained the death penalty, the number of people executed is still far less than in the United States.

Interestingly, the United States is the only Western industrialized nation to practice capital punishment. Another aspect of the United States being out of sync with other countries is in the death penalty for juveniles. Contrary to the alleged safeguards, Amnesty International notes that the United States has executed more juveniles (persons less than eighteen years of age at the time homicides were committed). The only other countries guilty of juvenile executions were Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Is this really a list we want to be on? Finally, and perhaps, most importantly, the use of the death penalty has been shown to be racist and class-biased in its application.

Many researchers confirm that minority populations, particularly Black and Latino defendants, are substantially more likely to receive the death penalty than White defendants charged under similar circumstances. More damning, researchers have found evidence of “double discrimination”. That is, the race of the victim and the offender affects just who will be given the death penalty. In Florida, for instance, African Americans who are convicted of killing Whites are “forty times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill Blacks” (Weinglass ). In terms of the class nature of capital punishment, consider this: Currently, there is not a single rich person on death row. In fact; 90% of those on death row could not afford good, legal representation, leading observers to conclude that the decision as to who dies and who lives has more to do with poor representation and the personal wealth of an individual.

Finally, opponents of the death penalty note the shift in public opinion regarding state-sanctioned executions. Recent poll findings consistently show that support for the death penalty is waning in the thirty-seven states with the death penalty, including Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Kentucky. Typically, pollsters are finding that increasing numbers of the public prefer alternatives to the death penalty, especially when convicted murderers had no possibility of parole. For instance, 54.8 percent of Virginians, when assured there would not be the possibility of parole for a minimum of twenty-five years, coupled with restitution for the victim’s family, agreed to alternatives (Recent Poll Findings www). The most dramatic event to date has been a moratorium on executions issued by Illinois Governor George Ryan on January 31, 2000.

The governor, an avid proponent of the death penalty, now says he can no longer support the system after a thirteenth death row prisoner was exonerated during the 1990’s. A panel has been convened to investigate all facets of the court system, including the racism of the police, the district attorneys’ prosecutorial misconduct, the all too often incompetence of underpaid public defenders, and the politicians who cut funding for attorneys and pass laws which limit the appeals available to prisoners (Butterfield, Death Penalty Turmoil 7) . In light of these many considerations, opponents of capital punishment ask: Does the state have the right to take another person’s life? How can the death penalty continue to be justified in the face of over-whelming evidence which shows that innocent people have been wrongfully executed, that people are not deterred from committing murder, and that, in practice, the death penalty is racially biased and reserved for the poor. In a New York Times Op-Ed piece (July 14, 1995), writer, E.L. Doctorow, speaking in behalf of an inmate on death row wrote, “If the death penalty must exist in this country, it is the burden of the public servants charged with applying it to do so only from the most unanswerable and awesome judicial imperatives–or state-administered death becomes morally indistinguishable from any other murder.” Bibliography Butterfield, Greg.

Repression Spurs Resistance. Workers World. 2/24/00 pg. 7 Cauthen, Kenneth. Capital Punishment: Maximum public safety (11/18/00) Online.available: Doctorow,E.L.

and Weinglass, Leonard. Race for Justice. Monroe, Maine 1995 Guiterrez, Tony. Crime in America NewYork 1997 Rubac, Gloria. Illinois moratorium accelerates anti-death – penalty across U.S. Workers World.

2/17/00. pg. 5 Legal Issues Essays.

Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment
What does capital punishment do for our society? Does it really do anything to better our society, or is it just a way for our government to deal with the irregularities that accompany any ill-perfect society? Presented here are facts about the death penalty that will let you decide whether or not capital punishment is needed.


There is a possibility of error when the death penalty is used upon a convicted criminal. Many times, a person who is accused of a crime, and put to death because of this crime has been later proved to be innocent due to additional evidence. But since the person accused of the crime has had his life taken from them, there is no chance to tell them that the government made a mistake and to let that person go and live out the rest of their life. The government must continue on knowing that they have killed an innocent person and the person they wished to kill, was still free. There is no fail-safe solution to prevent innocent people from being executed. Our judicial system is made up of human beings, and we human beings are prone to mistakes. Some of these mistakes are irreversible.

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There is also a racial bias when the death penalty is carried out. “Since the resumption of executions in the early 1980’s, 40 percent of those executed have been black.” And more often than not blacks were more often executed than were whites without having their conviction reviewed by any higher court.
The cost of carrying out the death penalty cost more than two million of dollars, several times more than the eight hundred thousand dollars average cost of incarcerating an offender for life. Instead of wasting the extra money is costs to lawfully kill a person, the money should be spent developing programs to solve violence and offer more assistance to victim’s families.
Capital punishment also violates the 8th amendment, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment. What is more cruel and unusual than death? The death penalty also violates the 14th amendment, which ensures Americans equality for all. In some example cases, “it took 24 minutes to kill an individual, after the tube attached to the needle in his arm leaked and sprayed noxious chemicals toward witnesses. Another, in 1989, caused Stephen McCoy to choke and heave for several minutes before dying because the dosage of lethal drugs was too weak.” Eyewitnesses of these executions state that the victims are in intense pain and the process is degrading.
Prison is supposed to be a place where those who commit crimes are to go to be rehabilitated and sent back out to become a productive member of society. If a person is put to death because of a crime, then there is no hope for reform. There is no chance to make this person that committed this crime, change his ways and let him live. Our government believes that if that person is no longer in our society, that they will never be able to commit a crime again. But they will also never be able to do any good for our society either.
Our government is supposed to be a teacher to its citizens. What they do to its citizens reflects how the citizens will act in the same situation. If they are shown that the punishment for a crime is murder, then they will feel that they should deal with crimes in their own hands with murder. Could it be that they are teaching us the wrong ideas when it comes to dealing with the punishment of criminals? Probably so.


Works Cited
“Race and the Death Penalty” n.d.
http://sun.soci.niu.edu/critcrim/dp/dppapers/dpfact.txt.


“Capital Punishment” 1997.
http://www.frontiernet.com/kenc/cappun.htm
“American Civil Liberties Union Briefing Paper Number 8, Death Penalty” n.d. http://sun.soci.niu.edu/critcrim/dp/dppapers/aclu.brief
“American Justice in America” April 94.
http://sun.soci.niu.edu/critcrim/dp/faq/costs1

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