Corporal Punishment Death Penalty the Death Penalty, Term Paper

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Corporal Punishment Death Penalty

The death penalty, as well as corporal punishment in general is one of the most controversial issues in America today. It cannot fail to elicit mixed responses within individuals, especially those with very strong convictions about life, right and wrong and also faith. Few people are neutral on the subject even though many people think that it is simply a fact of life associated with the nature of the penal system in this country. The example having been set centuries ago, many people think of it as a simple expression of history, and dismiss it in kind because of its historical nature, falsely believing it to be a deterrent for heinous acts of brutality and unaware that the United States is one of the only developed nations that still employs the death penalty.

Bienen) "Abolitionists claim that although the death penalty was considered an acceptable practice by the framers of the Constitution, in the modern era it constitutes the type of cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment."

Bryan Vila and Morris xxxi) Even the families of victims are often torn on the death penalty response.

There are many very grounded arguments against the death penalty and there are at least two that stand out as the most influential, though certainly not to be discussed in entirety in this very brief application, they are clearly deciding elements in this very personal decision. The first argument is associated with the fact that there have been several historical cases where the death penalty has been employed against those who have later been found innocent of the crimes they were convicted of. The second argument that stands out is associated with the fact that the legal system is clearly administered unfairly, more often than not convicting individuals who lack the financial means for an adequate defense.

Bedau 28)

The initial argument, that of the fact that innocent people are wrongly convicted in capital cases has been well researched and documented. Three of the leading legal researchers on the subject have compiled a very large mass of evidence associated with innocent capital conviction and have this to say about it, Michael L. Radelet, Hugo Adam Bedau, and Constance E. Putnam:

We are confident, as a result of [our] years of work... that there are hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of other cases in which innocent people have been convicted of homicide or sentenced to death without having been able to prove their innocence to the authorities. We also have reason to believe that there are other cases, not yet known to us, in which states have officially acknowledged, one way or another, that an innocent person was convicted of homicide.

For many people the simple evidence that even one individual has been wrongly convicted of a capital crime, sentenced to death and eventually executed should be enough reason for the whole institution of the death penalty to be questioned, yet it is simply not enough for individual states, or the federal government to eradicate it.

Even today, after eight years of continuous and well-publicized research into this subject, we learn of new cases at the rate of one each month. Some of these cases date back twenty or thirty years; others crop up as current news reported in the daily papers.


Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Robert M. Baird, and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, eds. The Current Debate. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995.

Bedau, Hugo Adam. The Courts, the Constitution, and Capital Punishment. Lexington,

MA: Lexington Books, 1977.

Michael W. Markowitz, and Delores D. Jones-Brown, eds. The System in Black and White: Exploring the Connections between Race, Crime, and Justice. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2000.

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