History of Capital Punishment Background Research Paper

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and, that do to so would contradict Judeo-Christian values of morality (Wilson, 2009). Additionally, opponents of the death penalty note that there is no evidence that lethal punishment has any effect whatsoever on whether or not criminals will commit a murder; and, that retribution here does not help to bring about closure. Rather, it perpetuates the underlying violence and had a tendency to bring about more anger as opposed to peace. In the words of Jesuit Priest and Community Professor, Raymond a. Schroth, S.J., "It [capital punishment] contaminates the otherwise good will which any human being needs to progress in love and understanding" (Schroth, 2008). Thus, capital punishment as a means to provide retribution for families fails to take into consideration the immense toll that the process of putting another human being puts another under.

In addition to the foregoing reasons against capital punishment, a review of the implementation of capital punishment over the years in America in particular reveals that the practice itself is not free from racial stereotypes. In fact, a disproportionate amount of people of color have been sentenced to death. Furthermore, the poor have less access to knowledge regarding his or her options and they have less resources to rely upon should they need help. As such, a disproportionate amount of people being set to death includes those who cannot find a lawyer who is ready and willing to fight for their honor and their name (Wilson, 2009).

Case Study: Stanley Tookie Williams III

One of the more controversial modern capital cases occurred in the United States in 2005, upon the death of Stanley Tookie Williams III. The "King Crip" or Stanley Tookie Williams III was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1953. As a young adult, he founded Crips which has grown into one of the most notorious and violent gangs in the United States today. In 1979, the court convicted him of four murders during the course of a robbery and sentenced him to death. Toward the end of his life, he apologized for his role in the creation of the Crips and for the numerous crimes that he committed -- many of which included the murder and assault of innocent human beings. Moreover, in the last decade of his life, he authored many books professing the dangers of belonging to a gang and helped to influence many young people that violence was not the answer (Van Slambrouck, 2000, p.1). Despite substantial public outcry in support of granting him clemency and despite all the people he helped deter from gang affiliation in recent years, he was executed in December of 2005, for committing the crimes he did prior to his change in heart and contribution to humanity (Finch, 2005).


Modern society's morals and the purpose of the criminal justice system itself contradict the practice of putting people to death. Our government needs to recognize the barbaric nature of capital punishment. If for some reason, one does not see the barbaric nature, then ask yourself: Could I work there? Could I be the one delivering the last meal? Could I sit through even an execution of the most heinous of criminals? Indeed, most of us could not do the foregoing. As we enter a more advanced era in our history, our history books need to demonstrate a movement toward human rights. In short, capital punishment itself runs contradictory to the notions of morality and spirituality as demonstrated through the life and the death of Tookie Williams.


America's Tug of War over Sanctioned Death. (2009, September 9). Retrieved from Random House.

Banks, Cyndi. 2005. Punishment in America. Contemporary World Issues. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Banner, Stuart. 2002. The Death Penalty: An American History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.

Budziszewski, J. (2004). Capital punishment: The case for justice. Journal of Government and Philosophy. Retrieved from University of Texas at Austin.

Finch, S. (2005, December 23). WILLIAMS EXECUTED / LAST HOURS / Gang co-founder put to death for 1979 murders of 4 in L.A. area. SF Gate.

Levinson, David. 2002. Capital Crimes. Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment. 4th Vol. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schroth, SJ, R.A. (2008, September 18). Email to Procon.org [E-mail].

Van Slambrouck, P. "On Death Row, an Author and Nobel…

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