Capital Punishment

Research Paper CCJ 3024The topic of death as a punishment is so controversial that people have been debating it for many years. An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. But is death the ultimate punishment or just the ultimate revenge? There are many arguments for and against the death penalty and as I researched this topic, I do acknowledge that both sides have a convincing point of view.

But I keep coming back to the same question, why do we kill as a punishment for killing? Some people argue that the death penalty is a deterrent for others. That the mere thought of the electric chair or lethal injection can sway them from committing a crime. But there are no studies that support this reasoning. Most murders are done out of misplaced passion, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (http://www.cacp.org/) Beccaria wrote in his Essay on Crimes and Punishment that the certainty of punishment, rather than its severity, was a more effective deterrent. Social scientists have collected statistical data on the effects of capital punishment in certain jurisdictions.

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They compare homicidal rates in places with and without the death penalty. They found that the presence of capital punishment does not influence the rate of homicide. (www.encarta.msn.com) According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2002, the murder rate in the South increased by 2.1% while the murder rate in the Northeast decreased by almost 5%.

The south accounts for 82% of all executions while the North accounts for less than 1% (deathpenaltyinfo.org) It seems to me that the deterrence argument is used to justify death. Sure it makes sense for those who have not committed a crime because we are thinking reasonably. We understand the effect a crime will have and the punishment that will occur when we chose to do something illegal. But people who are full of emotion, drugs, alcohol, or just not thinking rationally do not consider the possibility of being executed.

The deterrence argument does not seem like an argument at all. No shred of evidence supports its theory, therefore making it invalid.As of 2000, 87 nations authorized the death penalty for crimes such as murder or treason. (http://encarta.msn.com/) Most states with the death penalty choose first-degree murder as a capital offense. But doesnt the 8th Amendment of the Constitution condemn cruel and unusual punishment? Does the type of murder we perform on a criminal really change the fact that we are taking that persons life? Whether it be the gas chamber, lethal injection, or the electric chair, he is being murdered. We are taking a human beings life for a crime we think is severe enough to do so.

Who are we to make this decision? Did we give that person life? No. So why do we have the right to take it away? And if the death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment, why do we try to make the process of killing someone less painful and gruesome? The lethal injection is used to make us feel like we are not killing and the prisoner is not dying. Sterilized and depersonalized methods of execution do not eliminate the brutality of the penalty.

(www.encarta.msn.com)What about the chance of error? Twenty one condemned inmates have been released since 1993.

Many of these cases were discovered not because of the appeals court, but rather as a result of new scientific techniques, investigations by journalists, and the dedicated work of expert attorneys not available to the typical death row inmate. (deathpenaltyinfo.org) The Stanford Law Review found evidence that suggested that at least 350 people between 1900 and 1985 in America might have been innocent of the crime for which they were convicted, and could have been sentenced to death. 139 were sentenced to death and as many as 23 were executed.(http://www.

religioustolerance.org/) In my opinion that seems like 23 too many. Put yourself in that convicted murderers position.

Imagine not only being publicly humiliated, waiting in a cell for your day to come but then being executed because a court room of people considered you guilty. I know this is an every day consequence with all criminals and the judicial process but innocent people are being killed. If these people were kept alive then when we discovered they were innocent they would be able to go home and live the rest of their natural lives. In case of a mistake, it is impossible to pardon a corpse. (www.

religioustolerance.org)Why isnt life in prison considered a reasonable sentence for capital punishment supporters? I understand that people feel severe crimes deserve severe punishments. I understand that emotions get involved and some people may want nothing more than for the criminal to feel pain. But is this irrational? Is it considered acceptable to judge a person when we are blinded by emotions? When choosing between killing an innocent person or life in prison without a chance for parole, how could the decision be hard when there may be a possibility that person is innocent? I feel that life in prison is an extremely severe punishment.

Every day of their life should be a reminder of the horrible choice they made. I think that execution doesnt prove anything to the criminal. Its a way out; they no longer need to face what they have done. Being incarcerated seems to be the ultimate low for any human being. Your freedom is taken away. You no longer have any rights to do anything. All you have is the memory of your crime.Some people may believe that the death penalty is cheaper than keeping a prisoner incarcerated for life.

But studies show that sentencing a prisoner to life in prison is a better allocation of resources than sentencing him to be executed. Florida calculated that each execution costs 3.18 million. If incarceration is estimated to cost 17,000 per year, a comparable statistic for life in prison of 40 years would be $680,000. (http://www.mindspring.com/) This is money that can be going towards the law abiding public, rehabilitation programs and compensation for the families of the victim.

Is there a disproportionate amount of poor and minorities being sentenced to death? Although African Americans make up 12% of the population, they account for 43% of current death row inmates. Since 1977, blacks and whites have been the victims of murders in almost equal numbers, yet 80% of the people executed in that period were convicted of murders involving white victims. (NCADP- National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty- ncadp.org) These facts show that the race of the victim and the accused has a great impact on the way a person is sentenced.

How could two people who commit the same crime be sentenced differently? The color of your skin should not determine whether or not you will be allowed to live. Is this truly death by discrimination? The poor can not afford to hire the best lawyers to defend them. How can they make a good defense- especially if they are considered guilty before proven innocent?Rev.

David B. Thompson, Bishop of Charleston S.C states Capital punishment feeds the cycle of violence in society by pandering to a lust for revenge. It brutalizes us, and deadens our sensitivities to the precious nature of every single human life. Life is a very amazing gift that we should consider valuable. When we are exposed to something such as the death penalty, we begin to accept it. We consider revenge and a desire for retribution justifiable reasons to commit murder.

Is the death penalty just a settling of the scores?George W. Bush once stated that every person, however frail or vulnerable, has a place and a purpose in this world. Every person has a special dignity. This right to life can not be granted or denied by government, because it does not come from government, it comes from the Creator of life. I guess he meant every person except those accused of murder. Although this statement is hypocritical, it does have a point. In my mind, it all comes down to the fact that this is a life we are discussing.

In our country everyone has the right to life, our Constitution guarantees that. When that right is taken away what do we have left? We each make choices between right and wrong and our system deals with those who chose wrong. The severity of those wrongful choices may vary, but death shouldnt be a consequence for anything.

Capital Punishment

What is capital punishment? Capital punishment is the maximum penalty of aconviction. More than 4, 400 people have been executed since 1930. There is noway of knowing how many people have been executed in U.S. history because theyused to be local affairs with nobody to record them. On the edge of the 21stcentury, Capital punishment is still one of the two most debated issues in theU.S.

, the other is abortion. This paper will attempt to show the effects ofcapital punishment and how it is used. Capital punishment has been a veryattention grabbing incident over the years. For example, in 1936, about 20,000people gathered in Owensboro, Kentucky, on the morning of August 14 to see thehanging of a 22 year old black man, Rainey Bethea. Many people have also diedwrongfully. Sacco and Vangetti were two Italian immigrants that were accused ofpayroll robbery. Although they had alibis of there whereabouts, they were stillconvicted of the crime and sentenced to death by the electric chair. Nearlyevery culture throughout history has practiced capital punishment.

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Quarteringwas a popular method in Europe. Quartering is being torn apart by horses. InIndia, executions were sometimes carried out by having an elephant crush thecondemneds head. In modern times, societies have sought to make executionsmore “humane.” Such was the goal of the guillotine, which severed thecondemneds head with a heavy blade, and the electric chair which kills with amassive dose of electrical current. The Constitution of the United Statesguarantees to every citizen certain fundamental rights. The First Amendment, forexample guarantees freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.The Second Amendment promises that “the right of the people to keep and beararms shall not be infringed.

” The amendment most relevant to the issue of thedeath penalty is the Eighth Amendment. It reads: “Excessive bail shall not berequired, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishmentinflicted.” However simple and straightforward these words may sound, its notalways clear what they mean. That is because the words cruel and unusual aresubjective. One person may think, for instance, that capital punishment is crueland unusual, while another person may not. In 1972, the Supreme Court declaredthe death penalty cruel and unusual, and therefore unconstitutional. It was soonreactivated in 1976 by 35 states. People have tried to influence decisions onthe death penalty.

For example, the Pope has played a role in the decision ofthe death penalty. The Pope pleaded for a criminals life and the criminal wassentenced to life in jail instead of the electric chair. Many people that areinnocent have been sentenced to death. Harry Blackman, a death penalty opponent,stated “Innocent persons have been executed and will continue to beexecuted,” explaining why he could no longer support the death penalty.

Isidore Zimmerman, came within 2 hours of execution for a murder he did notcommit. Citing instances like this, death penalty opponents claim that thedanger of a terrible and irrevocable mistake capital punishment intolerable.Cost often comes up when the death penalty is mentioned. Those in favor of thedeath penalty say the government shouldnt waste its money on guarding,feeding, and housing a depraved criminal for the rest of his or her life.

Thetruth is, however, that it costs much more to put a prisoner to death than tokeep a prisoner in jail. It cost about 2 million to 3 million dollars tosentence someone to death and keep them on death row for 8 years. The same itcosts to keep 3 prisoners in a maximum security prison for 40 years.

Opponentsuse this as a contradiction. Race is a big issue in death sentencing althoughnot admitted. There is still a lot of hard decision making when it comes toethnics being punished. A comprehensive examination of capital murder casesin Georgia, a black convicted of murdering a white has a 22 percent chance ofbeing sentenced to die, whereas a white convicted of murdering a black has onlya 3 percent chance. This has been a big thing in the civil issues in America.When the death penalty is actually brought out to the society, basicallyeverything has an a effect on it. Religion, race, cost, and morals, but it isstill used in America today. Many democratic countries have outlawed the deathpenalty and the U.

S. probably should too. The Pope of the Catholic Church oncesaid, “Only God has the Power to give and take life from someone.” Thisbeing true to most people, but the government and the American society have todecide whether or not to keep capital punishment.

Capital Punishment

Many people are split on the idea of capital punishment because it involves death. I feel that capital punishment is morally and ethically acceptable because it rids society of our worst criminals. Many people argue that killing criminals who kill is just as bad as being the criminals. For one the criminals killed innocent people who had no idea what was coming, and had no way to prevent it. The criminal who commited the crime in almost all cases had to commit first degree murder, which includes some planning of the act.

To plan an act of murder and taking someone’s life is beyond emotion, it is psychological and takes some rationalization. If no rationalization takes place, then it can happen again. Another reason that pro-capital punishment argument is that there are innocent men and women sitting on death row that shouldn’t be sentenced to death. Most death row inmates, unless they commit a serious multiple murder have been in and out of jail most of their life. Capital Punishment is a way for society to weed out the bad seeds that corrupt the whole.

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Personally I think they should be castrated, or not have a conjugal visits. Having people like that procreate makes me sick. Someone who has taken someone’s ability to procreate and enjoy life should be treated if they had killed themselves that day. I also think that multiple rapists should be put to death.

If they are given a chance to put their life together and they commit the same crime again then, rehabilitation was unsuccessful and they should be terminated. This may sound like a Nazi speaking of the Jews in the early 1930s, but they based the killing on a religion, not on a case by case basis, as we do in this country. Our legal system is ment to rid society of evil, and by killing the murderers and rapists it clears them out of the genetic pool and also gives an example to others of what not to do. Although it may seem cruel to systematically kill people based on one act in their life, it is justifiable because those people have the potential to kill again, and if they are going to hurt someone they should be kept from society. If ex-killers have the potential to kill again, whether it be another prisoner or a person walking the street, they should be taken away from humans.

Cavanagh, Suzanne, and David Teasley. “Capital Punishment: A Brief Overview.” CRS Report For Congress 95-505GOV (1995): 4Frame, Randy. “A Matter Of Life and Death.” Christianity Today 14 Aug. 1995: 50 Tabak, Ronald J.

“Report: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel and Lack of Due Process in Death Penalty Cases.” Human Rights 22.Winter (1995): 36

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