Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment Capital Punishment Capital punishment is a very controversial topic because of all the different perspectives it could be viewed by. Over 4,000 prisoners in the United States have been executed between 1930 and 1989. It does not seem like the best way to detter violent crimes and the courts should decide on alternative methods of punishment for serious types of offences. Politically it may seem like the right thing to do for various reasons including overcrowding of the jails; the system in the US is steadily increasing in population and the number of people that go through it. So as an effective solution to this problem, capital punishment may seem fitting. Another reason may be as a show of great authority on the government’s behalf.

They try to show other potential murderers what will happen to them if they commit a similar crime. This is not the way to do it though. Murder is defined as the killing of an individual intentionally and unlawfully. With every murder there is a trigger that provoked an uncontrollable anger in the aggressor. Capital punishment therefore is also murder.

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The murder of the convict is allowed because what he did aggrevated society. On this standpoint it does not seem that justice is being served. From a moral standpoint, using a violent method of punishment to deter violent crimes doesn’t seem to fit properly. It is the same as reprimanding a child who hit someone by giving him/her a smack in the mouth. This teaches the child and the rest of the observers that hitting is ok when they are older.

They don’t see it as much as a punishment but as a display of power. This is a very dangerous thing to teach young children if used improperly. And there are times when parents sometimes punish the wrong child for something they did not even do. Capital punishment is also subject to error of this kind. It is almost impossible to find out the exact number of people who have been executed in the United States that were wrongfully convicted. There is also not a 100% guarantee that even 12 jururs will be able to accurately say that someone is guilty and deserving of the death penalty. Jesus tought us that killing in any way or in any form is unjustified. But not everone in the world is Catholic, or even Christian for that matter. This is why the bible should not be interpreted to fit peoples own beliefs on the issue of capital punishment.

Jesus also taught us to turn the other cheek, but how is that possible in certain situations in which a persons life is taken? For someone who commited a brutal murder what would turning the other cheek do in this case? The person cannot be let free so he can build up his anger and do the same thing again to someone else. So if we cannot interpret all of Jesus’ teaching then how can we only take certain parts of the bible and change then into our own beliefs as some people do. Thou shall not kill, some people in the world are bound to kill so what do we do to them? An Eye for an Eye, might mean that we should take this person and execute them, But if Jesus’ teachings say otherwise then what do we make of these? This is why religion should not be interpreted into the issue of capital punishment. Capital punishment can be a dangerous instrument to our society. There have been many cases where justice was not served. Since capital punishment is liable to be abused by faulty humans, it should not be considered a valid form of punishment. We should not look at it from a religious point of view or by what was done in the past but only by observing our present day, Modern, Civilized society and determine a more effective means of dealing with these crimes other than death because in our modern world we are no longer barbarian cavemen, we are considered civilized.

Capital Punishment

Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the hardest form of punishment enforced in the United States today. It is a controversial issue that continues to be debated by the American public. Most of the factors people do not agree on the issue of Capital punishment is immoral and for this reason should not be allowed in our society.
On the other hand, there are many reasons for the support of Capital punishment. Capital punishment protects the innocent of society against the violence of criminals. Capital punishment deters crime and helps create peaceful conditions for our society. Capital punishment also serves the purpose of justice for the victims of the crimes. Furthermore, people believe that death penalty reduces serious crimes. Although there are many effective reasons supporting the death penalty, many people still deem that Capital punishment should be abolished because it is cruel, inhumane and barbaric. Moreover, the possibility of innocent death is always there. In addition, some people believe that the most effective punishment to deter crimes is life sentence, not Capital punishment.

Firstly, Capital Punishment is cruel and unusual punishment. Once a jury has convicted a person, they go to the second part of the trial, the punishment phase. If the jury recommends the death penalty and the judge agrees, the criminal will face some form of execution and then a life is ended. The death penalty is cruel because it is the inhumane taking of a human life. The methods by which executions are carried out can involve physical torture. In other words, Capital Punishment is for legally killing people.

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Secondly, the possibility of innocent death is always there. There are many cases in the past where an innocent person was killed. The death penalty is irrevocable. In case of a mistake, the executed prisoner cannot be given another chance. Justice can miscarry. On the other hand, if the death penalty is not executed, the offender will have a chance to pay backsociety, like cleaning breaches, streets. There is no doubt that someone alive can do more than dead can. The offender has a chance to compensate the victim or the victims family with the offenders own income from employment or community service. By working, the criminal inadvertently pay back society and also the victim or the victims family. However, there is no reason for the criminal to receive any compensation for his work. In addition, the offenders also have opportunities to think back what they have done wrong.

Another argument for the death penalty is that it deters crimes. Many people think that the murderers in this world will not kill if they know there is Capital punishment. However, professional killers take measures to make sure they do not get caught. They skillfully create their plans to make sure they are not suspected of criminal activity. A person who gets caught for killing another individual is usually someone who did not plan to commit homicide. The actions of these individuals are unplanned and erupt as a result of a rage or anger. The death penalty, it would seem, would logically deter crime, but the problem is that most murderers are unplanned and are not a result of logic.

Finally, many people believe that life sentence is more frightful than Capital punishment and it really deters crimes. Life sentence means living in prison for life. The feeling of no freedom and dark are really more painful than death penalty, just like a bird in a cage which it can only fly within that little and limited area. With the death penalty, the offender will only feel pain for only a split second. However, for the life sentence, the offenders will feel pain and loneliness for their remaining life. They can go nowhere. They can see nothing but the walls.

Capital punishment is immoral in principle. It assures the execution of some innocent people. Moreover, there is no one in the world has the right to take someones life. Thats why Capital punishment should be abolished in our society.

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Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment Capital Punishment Capital punishment is a serious topic that has been debated lately. It has become a huge problem in our modern correctional system. More and more people are coming around to a new way of thinking. Retribution is a must for the crimes that people are committed for. Some people deserve death sentences while others deserve a milder, life imprisonment sentence. Capital punishment is a very reasonable and effective way of dealing with criminals.

People agree that punishments are necessary for certain crimes. There is an obvious necessity for murderers and other severe criminals to be dealt with besides imprisonment. Prison definitely seems to be a small price to pay for a life of another. Citizens support the death penalty in general, but frequently refuse to apply it when.. they are confronted with a face, a name, and human frailties..

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(Morganthau 19) This proves that people are almost to the point where they will realize these deaths must be issued to serve out the retribution fairly and also act as a deterrent to other offenders. Even if we don’t execute every offender who is on death row it is still alot better than locking these people up in cells for years. Death should also be given as a choice for any long-term convicted offender. The fewer numbers of people in jail we must pay for the better. In a recent case, prosecutor Tommy Pope urged a jury to, Take an eye for an eye(Morganthau p.19).

That just demonstrates even farther that people are sick of having mercy on wrongdoers. It seems that there are more people slipping through the cracks than are actually being given the full sentence or death. Texas, on the other hand, has been using its privilege to kill. Texas is responsible for approximately one-third of all the executions in America. However, Texas is the worst state to use as the poster state for the death penalty. Numerous death penalty convictions have been tainted by over-zealous prosecutions and the use of perjured testimony.

State-paid medical ‘experts’ make unreliable predictions.. while other doctors lie about tests they never performed.(Dieter p.35) People who oppose the death penalty even sometimes believe that there is occasionally a just cause for its use. If it was one of my family I’d want to do the killing myself. It seems only fair to me. Attorney general Janet Reno demanded the federal death penalty in 5 cases involving 9 defendants.

(Death and Reno p.11) Janet Reno is personally against the death penalty and even she finds the need to penalize these criminals. The numbers are showing that the death penalties per year are diminishing but the people are becoming more supportive of the penalty. We need these people to speak up and help us help our jail facilities. This would lower the number of inmates so there would be more room for others, lessening of costs to keep these people jailed up for long periods of time, and the more turnovers to death the larger the deterrent becomes. I believe that in the near future everyone is going to sway towards the death penalty and it will be widely used to destroy our nations criminals and the crime rate.

The talk of killing has dramatically increased over the past few years. The death penalty is becoming thought of as more along the lines of a form of self-defense used to protect the country in which we all live. If people are justified in defending themselves against wrongful aggression, the same principles of distributive justice under gird punishment as a societal defense. (Montague p.175) In other words, our society has a right to protect the majority of its people by destroying what could be considered a threat to our people. Presidents are even campaigning with these ideas and discussing similar topics.

It’s only a matter of time before people stop talking about it and start to act upon it. Quoted comments like until we can enjoy actual executions..(New York p.15), will soon end and the true justice shall begin. The attraction is to justice being served and death, not the pain and suffering that is too often associated with these kinds of killings. These criminals often show no sort of remorse for their killings and therefore we shouldn’t show them any either. People and government are working on ways to dispose of life in a quick, cheap, and painless way.

The less cost to us the better. Nitrogen asphyxiation is a unique way to die.. he never realizes anything is wrong.. he simply passes out when his blood oxygen level falls too low.(Creque p.52) Americans are not animals who thrive on pain and suffering in others. We just need an inexpensive way to clean up the trash in our population and in our penitentiaries.

This clean-up would make much more room for those of us who want to live in America by the laws. We wouldn’t have to spend millions of dollars looking for humane ways to kill people if we didn’t care. Personally, I think it doesn’t matter how we kill these people but the fact that we do kill these criminals. It seems like the only real solution to our overcrowding problem, dealing with serious offenders, and the best form of deterrence we could possibly come up with as a nation. There is only one point of the capital punishment idea that I do not agree with. Apparently some genius who realized that the death penalty is a good idea decided to also apply it to repeat juvenile offenders.

This adds a whole new twist to the theory. From the articles I read the major problem is with the families’ perspectives. Luckily, this is still in the experimental stages and I can’t see anyone with any sort of moral values using this idea in a real life situation. I fall into the popular category where I believe the response to juvenile crime should include: drug and alcohol programs, and lessened reliance on incarceration; decent employment, and education opportunities; and rehabilitation programs for all incarcerated youth. (Dicks p.295) There is absolutely no possible justification for any kind of capital-sized punishment to be inflicted on a juvenile. Capital punishment is a huge deterrent that will serve no point if we use it for juveniles.

It must have a very clear and structured understanding to have an influential effect on our society. Juvenile corrections of this type becomes a huge gray area in which we cannot afford someone to misunderstand. In conclusion, actions are finally being taken and problems addressed with capital punishment. Hopefully people will realize what is happening in our corrections system and stand up for what is right. We obviously need a new way of doing things because this way is only backing things all up to the point where there are waiting lists to get into jails and convicted felons are just left in a cell, taking up space, to rot, when we could put all of that space to good use. Whether for capital punishment or not, it’s the people who run our country and not anyone else.

Help end the reign of terror in our country with the constant overcrowding of our jails. We need to make it safe again for us and our children. Social Issues Essays.

Capital Punishment

Unlike popular belief, the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to
criminals. As stated by Alfred Blumstein, “Expert after expert and study
after study has shown the lack of correlation between the treat of the death
penalty and the occurrence of violent crimes.” (Blumstein 68) Isaac
Ehrlich’s study on the limiting effects of capital punishment in America reveals
this to the public. The study spans twenty-five years, from 1957 till 1982, and
shows that in the first year the study was conducted, there were 8060 murders
and 6 executions. However, in the last year of the study there were 22,520
murders committed and only 1 execution performed. (Blumstein 54) This clearly
shows that many violent criminals are not afraid of the capital punishment.

Abolitionists believe the offenders should be required to compensate the
victim’s family with the offender’s own income from employment or community
service. There is no doubt that someone can do more alive than dead. By working,
the criminal inadvert-ently “pays back” society and also their victim
and/or victim’s family. There is no reason for the criminal to receive any
compensation for the work they do, because money is of no jail time. This could
be considered a form of slavery to some, but it is no different from the days of
being sent to the “yard” to break stone. One of the most well-known
examples of the criminal contributing to the betterment of society is the case
Leopld and Loeb. They were nineteen years old when they committed “The
Crime of the Century.” In 1924, they kidnapped and murdered a
fourteen-year-old boy just to see how it would feel to kill someone. They were
both spared the death penalty and sentenced to life imprisonment. (Bedau 78)
Together their accomplishments included working in hospitals, teaching the
illiterate how to read, creating a correspondence school, writing a grammar
book, and making significant developments in the World War II Malaria
Project.(Bedau 193) “An inestimable amount of people were directly helped
by Leopold and Loeb, Both of tem made a conscious commitment to atone their
crimes by serving others.”(Bedau 217) The most widely used form of
execution has been electrocution. With this method of executing a prisoner, the
individual is strapped to a chair along with electrodes attached all over the
body. The executioner then proceeds to “throw the switch” sending vast
amounts of electricity flowing throughout the prisoner. During this period, the
prisoners flesh burns and the body shakes violently from the overdose of
electricity. When it is all over, smoke is often seen coming from the head of
the corpse. (Ernest Van den Haag 135) Officials often defend this punishment as
not being cruel and unusual, but how can they defend the opinion in the case of
John Evans who was executed by electrocution in 1983? According to witnesses at
the scene of the death of Mr. Evans, he was given three charges of electricity
over a period of fourteen minutes. After the first and second charges, Mr. Evans
was still conscious and smoke was coming from all over his body, as a result
from his flesh burning. An official at the prison even tries to stop the
execution on account of it being cruel punishment, but the man was unsuccessful.

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Witnesses later called the whole incident “a barbaric ritual”. (Haag
221) Another method of execution is the gas chamber; during this procedure a
prisoner is put in a closed chamber and forced to inhale lethal fumes from a
sulfuric acid and a cyanide chemical reaction. (Haag 243) According to a
statement given by the U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens concerning
the 1992 execution of Donald Harding, there did not seem to be any civilized
aspect of the gas chamber method of executing prisoners. (Haag 259) According to
the report, Harding tried to hold his breath inside the chamber. When he finally
began to take in fumes, his body started going into convulsions and the muscles
and veins under his skin were twitching in a wave-like motion. This execution
took over eight minutes to complete, and Mr. Harding was writhing in pain for
most of the time. According to officials, Harding did not fall unconscious until
right before his death. (Haag 262) The latest method of execution has been
lethal injection. It has become deemed as the cleanest form that a prisoner can
die. It s thought to be the cleanest because it does not maim the body, unlike
all of the other methods of execution. Nonetheless, it is in the opinion of this
author that this is still another unjust form of punishment. At the 1988
execution of Raymond Landry, persons at the scene had to repeatedly puncture him
because he had very small veins. In addition to this cruel treatment, during the
procedure, the tube attached to the needle leaked and the harsh chemicals used
to kill Landry were sprayed into the direction of the witnesses. (Haag 307)
Besides this case, there have been cases where the victims were not given a
strong enough dosage and writhed in pain for several minutes while still
conscious. In a statement to the Associated Press, many police officials who
have been witnesses to the death penalty, they say it should be abolished
because they are sick of having to watch it and it does not deter violent
criminals from lashing out against society. The belief that execution cost less
than imprisonment is absolutely false. As Haag states “The cost of the
apparatus and maintenance of the procedures attending the death penalty,
including the actual stay on death row, and the endless appeals and legal
machinery, far out-weigh the expense of maintaining in prison the tiny fraction
of criminals who would otherwise be slain.” (Haag 38) The strongest
argument against using capital punishment for retributive purposes is the
dispute that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. The Eighth
Amendment of the United States Constitution, condemning cruel and unusual
punish-ment, is used to protect the death penalty. The fallacy of this argument
is that it appears to be a “red herring” argument, one that takes
attention away from the facts of the case. When the constitution was drafted,
capital punishment was practiced widely in this country, yet was not specified
as wrong of cruel and unusual. Many of the framers of the constitution endorsed
the death penalty, as did philosophers from which the constitution draws from.

John Lock went s far as to say, “…that murder is not intrinsically wrong.

Man, as he is bound to preserve himself and not quite his station willfully, by
the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he,
as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind.” (Bedau 277) An
argument against the death penalty is the basic moral issue of conservation of
human rights and humanity. The argument of retribution would be even easier to
dismiss if it consisted only of a basic thirst for revenge. As stated by Bedau
“Society must manifest a terrible anger in the face of a terrible crime,
for nothing less will suffice to remind us of the moral order by which alone we
can live as human beings.” (Bedau 121) This is a serious moral argument.

Opponents of capital punishment must be willing to answer it on its own terms.

They say that “… the death penalty demeans the moral order and execution
is not legalized murder, nor is imprisonment legalized kidnapping, but it is the
coldest, most premeditated form of homicide. It does something almost worse than
lowering the state to the moral level of the criminal: it raises the criminal to
the moral equality with social order.” (Haag 280) Indeed, one of the
ironies of capital punishment is that it focuses attention and sympathy on the
criminal. How can murder not be immoral? Citizens under a social contract agree
not to kill only because others also agree. In an attempt to try and stop the
public from taking the law into their own hands, the judicial system must
convince society that it is not in their best interest to murder. So how can the
constitution be brought into this argument, since it makes no mention of capital
punishment? These are a few of the questions that we must ask ourselves when we
try to form and develop our own opinion on the subject of the death penalty.

Even though the retentions pose some interesting arguments, I myself feel that
the abolitionist outlook contains much stronger support and more reasons for
opposition. The first of which is the death penalty is wrong morally because it
is the cruel and inhumane taking of a life. The methods by which most executions
are carried out can involve physical torture. Haag states “Electrocution
has on occasion caused extensive burns and needed more than one application of
electric current to kill the condemned.”(Haag 137) To many opponents,
capital punishment is a euphemism for legally killing people. And no one, not
even the State, has the authority to play God. Despite the moral argument
concerning the inhumane treatment of the criminal, we return to the
“nature” f the crime committed. Can society place an unequal weight on
the tragically lost lives of murder victims on the criminal? This is not an exam
question in a Thiel philosophy class, but a moral puzzle at the center of
perhaps the most interesting issue facing the Supreme Court today. Punishment is
meted out because of the nature of the crime, without any reference to social
identity of the victim. Compassion and political calculations have combined to
transform victims and their advocates into a way to sway voters by their
feelings. Beginning in California in 1987, the Supreme Court carved out a
crucial exception: Neither the life of the victim or the suffering of his
survivors could be a factor in any state or federal case punishable by death.

The catch is that every cutback in the complex legal process has evolved to
ensure that only the guilt die, increasing the chance that an innocent person
will be subjected to this most irreversible and final of punishments. (Bedau
298) The possibility of an innocent person being put to death is another factor
some people have against the death penalty. According to a 1987 Stanford
University survey, at least 23 Americans have been wrongly executed in the
twentieth century . In case of a mistake, the executed prisoner can not be given
another chance and justice will have miscarried. In the last hundred years,
there have been more than seventy- five documented cases wrongly conviction of
criminal homicide. A death sentence was carried out on eight of these seventy-
five individuals. Surely there are many other cases of mistaken convictions, and
execution occurred and remained undocumented. A prisoner discovered to be
blameless can be freed, but neither release nor compensation is possible for a
corpse. The death penalty should be abolished because it is a barbaric form of
punishment, which should not be allowed in the United Sates, which is supposedly
one of the most civil nations in the world. It should also be abolished not only
because it is barbaric, but it also defies the U.S. Constitution, which most
Americans hold sacred. In addition to this, the death penalty even if it remains
legal in the U.S. would not obtain its goal. The death penalty fails its main
objective and because of the reasons stated above should be abolished. Works
Cited American Civil Liberties Union.Goher:/gopher.pipeline.com:70/00/society/
aclu/publicatios/papers/8. Briefing Paper Number 8. Associated Press. News:death-penalty/[emailprotected]
PD Chiefs: Death Penalty Fails. Bedau, Hugo Adam. Goher:/goher.pipeline.com:70/000society/aclu/issues/
death/case_against. The Case Against the Death Penalty Blumstein, Alfred and
Jacqueline Cohen. Deterrence and Incapacitation: Estimating the Effects of
Criminal Sanctions on Crime Rates. Washington, DC., 1978. National Academy of
Sciences Van den Haag, Ernest. Punishing Criminals: Concerning a Very Old and
Painful Question. New York, NY, 1975. Basic Books, Inc. Why Capital Punishment
Should be Abolished Unlike popular belief, the death penalty does not act as a
deterrent to criminals. As stated by Alfred Blumstein, “Expert after expert
and study after study has shown the lack of correlation between the treat of the
death penalty and the occurrence of violent crimes.” (Blumstein 68) Isaac
Ehrlich’s study on the limiting effects of capital punishment in America reveals
this to the public. The study spans twenty-five years, from 1957 till 1982, and
shows that in the first year the study was conducted, there were 8060 murders
and 6 executions. However, in the last year of the study there were 22,520
murders committed and only 1 execution performed. (Blumstein 54) This clearly
shows that many violent criminals are not afraid of the capital punishment.

Abolitionists believe the offenders should be required to compensate the
victim’s family with the offender’s own income from employment or community
service. There is no doubt that someone can do more alive than dead. By working,
the criminal inadvert-ently “pays back” society and also their victim
and/or victim’s family. There is no reason for the criminal to receive any
compensation for the work they do, because money is of no jail time. This could
be considered a form of slavery to some, but it is no different from the days of
being sent to the “yard” to break stone. One of the most well-known
examples of the criminal contributing to the betterment of society is the case
Leopld and Loeb. They were nineteen years old when they committed “The
Crime of the Century.” In 1924, they kidnapped and murdered a
fourteen-year-old boy just to see how it would feel to kill someone. They were
both spared the death penalty and sentenced to life imprisonment. (Bedau 78)
Together their accomplishments included working in hospitals, teaching the
illiterate how to read, creating a correspondence school, writing a grammar
book, and making significant developments in the World War II Malaria
Project.(Bedau 193) “An inestimable amount of people were directly helped
by Leopold and Loeb, Both of tem made a conscious commitment to atone their
crimes by serving others.”(Bedau 217) The most widely used form of
execution has been electrocution. With this method of executing a prisoner, the
individual is strapped to a chair along with electrodes attached all over the
body. The executioner then proceeds to “throw the switch” sending vast
amounts of electricity flowing throughout the prisoner. During this period, the
prisoners flesh burns and the body shakes violently from the overdose of
electricity. When it is all over, smoke is often seen coming from the head of
the corpse. (Ernest Van den Haag 135) Officials often defend this punishment as
not being cruel and unusual, but how can they defend the opinion in the case of
John Evans who was executed by electrocution in 1983? According to witnesses at
the scene of the death of Mr. Evans, he was given three charges of electricity
over a period of fourteen minutes. After the first and second charges, Mr. Evans
was still conscious and smoke was coming from all over his body, as a result
from his flesh burning. An official at the prison even tries to stop the
execution on account of it being cruel punishment, but the man was unsuccessful.

Witnesses later called the whole incident “a barbaric ritual”. (Haag
221) Another method of execution is the gas chamber; during this procedure a
prisoner is put in a closed chamber and forced to inhale lethal fumes from a
sulfuric acid and a cyanide chemical reaction. (Haag 243) According to a
statement given by the U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens concerning
the 1992 execution of Donald Harding, there did not seem to be any civilized
aspect of the gas chamber method of executing prisoners. (Haag 259) According to
the report, Harding tried to hold his breath inside the chamber. When he finally
began to take in fumes, his body started going into convulsions and the muscles
and veins under his skin were twitching in a wave-like motion. This execution
took over eight minutes to complete, and Mr. Harding was writhing in pain for
most of the time. According to officials, Harding did not fall unconscious until
right before his death. (Haag 262) The latest method of execution has been
lethal injection. It has become deemed as the cleanest form that a prisoner can
die. It s thought to be the cleanest because it does not maim the body, unlike
all of the other methods of execution. Nonetheless, it is in the opinion of this
author that this is still another unjust form of punishment. At the 1988
execution of Raymond Landry, persons at the scene had to repeatedly puncture him
because he had very small veins. In addition to this cruel treatment, during the
procedure, the tube attached to the needle leaked and the harsh chemicals used
to kill Landry were sprayed into the direction of the witnesses. (Haag 307)
Besides this case, there have been cases where the victims were not given a
strong enough dosage and writhed in pain for several minutes while still
conscious. In a statement to the Associated Press, many police officials who
have been witnesses to the death penalty, they say it should be abolished
because they are sick of having to watch it and it does not deter violent
criminals from lashing out against society. The belief that execution cost less
than imprisonment is absolutely false. As Haag states “The cost of the
apparatus and maintenance of the procedures attending the death penalty,
including the actual stay on death row, and the endless appeals and legal
machinery, far out-weigh the expense of maintaining in prison the tiny fraction
of criminals who would otherwise be slain.” (Haag 38) The strongest
argument against using capital punishment for retributive purposes is the
dispute that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. The Eighth
Amendment of the United States Constitution, condemning cruel and unusual
punish-ment, is used to protect the death penalty. The fallacy of this argument
is that it appears to be a “red herring” argument, one that takes
attention away from the facts of the case. When the constitution was drafted,
capital punishment was practiced widely in this country, yet was not specified
as wrong of cruel and unusual. Many of the framers of the constitution endorsed
the death penalty, as did philosophers from which the constitution draws from.

John Lock went s far as to say, “…that murder is not intrinsically wrong.

Man, as he is bound to preserve himself and not quite his station willfully, by
the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he,
as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind.” (Bedau 277) An
argument against the death penalty is the basic moral issue of conservation of
human rights and humanity. The argument of retribution would be even easier to
dismiss if it consisted only of a basic thirst for revenge. As stated by Bedau
“Society must manifest a terrible anger in the face of a terrible crime,
for nothing less will suffice to remind us of the moral order by which alone we
can live as human beings.” (Bedau 121) This is a serious moral argument.

Opponents of capital punishment must be willing to answer it on its own terms.

They say that “… the death penalty demeans the moral order and execution
is not legalized murder, nor is imprisonment legalized kidnapping, but it is the
coldest, most premeditated form of homicide. It does something almost worse than
lowering the state to the moral level of the criminal: it raises the criminal to
the moral equality with social order.” (Haag 280) Indeed, one of the
ironies of capital punishment is that it focuses attention and sympathy on the
criminal. How can murder not be immoral? Citizens under a social contract agree
not to kill only because others also agree. In an attempt to try and stop the
public from taking the law into their own hands, the judicial system must
convince society that it is not in their best interest to murder. So how can the
constitution be brought into this argument, since it makes no mention of capital
punishment? These are a few of the questions that we must ask ourselves when we
try to form and develop our own opinion on the subject of the death penalty.

Even though the retentions pose some interesting arguments, I myself feel that
the abolitionist outlook contains much stronger support and more reasons for
opposition. The first of which is the death penalty is wrong morally because it
is the cruel and inhumane taking of a life. The methods by which most executions
are carried out can involve physical torture. Haag states “Electrocution
has on occasion caused extensive burns and needed more than one application of
electric current to kill the condemned.”(Haag 137) To many opponents,
capital punishment is a euphemism for legally killing people. And no one, not
even the State, has the authority to play God. Despite the moral argument
concerning the inhumane treatment of the criminal, we return to the
“nature” f the crime committed. Can society place an unequal weight on
the tragically lost lives of murder victims on the criminal? This is not an exam
question in a Thiel philosophy class, but a moral puzzle at the center of
perhaps the most interesting issue facing the Supreme Court today. Punishment is
meted out because of the nature of the crime, without any reference to social
identity of the victim. Compassion and political calculations have combined to
transform victims and their advocates into a way to sway voters by their
feelings. Beginning in California in 1987, the Supreme Court carved out a
crucial exception: Neither the life of the victim or the suffering of his
survivors could be a factor in any state or federal case punishable by death.

The catch is that every cutback in the complex legal process has evolved to
ensure that only the guilt die, increasing the chance that an innocent person
will be subjected to this most irreversible and final of punishments. (Bedau
298) The possibility of an innocent person being put to death is another factor
some people have against the death penalty. According to a 1987 Stanford
University survey, at least 23 Americans have been wrongly executed in the
twentieth century . In case of a mistake, the executed prisoner can not be given
another chance and justice will have miscarried. In the last hundred years,
there have been more than seventy- five documented cases wrongly conviction of
criminal homicide. A death sentence was carried out on eight of these seventy-
five individuals. Surely there are many other cases of mistaken convictions, and
execution occurred and remained undocumented. A prisoner discovered to be
blameless can be freed, but neither release nor compensation is possible for a
corpse. The death penalty should be abolished because it is a barbaric form of
punishment, which should not be allowed in the United Sates, which is supposedly
one of the most civil nations in the world. It should also be abolished not only
because it is barbaric, but it also defies the U.S. Constitution, which most
Americans hold sacred. In addition to this, the death penalty even if it remains
legal in the U.S. would not obtain its goal. The death penalty fails its main
objective and because of the reasons stated above should be abolished.
Bibliography
American Civil Liberties Union.Goher:/gopher.pipeline.com:70/00/society/ aclu/publicatios/papers/8.

Briefing Paper Number 8. Associated Press. News:death-penalty/[emailprotected]
PD Chiefs: Death Penalty Fails. Bedau, Hugo Adam. Goher:/goher.pipeline.com:70/000society/aclu/issues/
death/case_against. The Case Against the Death Penalty Blumstein, Alfred and
Jacqueline Cohen. Deterrence and Incapacitation: Estimating the Effects of
Criminal Sanctions on Crime Rates. Washington, DC., 1978. National Academy of
Sciences Van den Haag, Ernest. Punishing Criminals: Concerning a Very Old and
Painful Question. New York, NY, 1975. Basic Books, Inc.


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