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Capital Punishment in the United States
Capital punishment is one of the comprehensive, but debatable punishments given to criminal offenders in the U.S. And many other nations across the globe. Capital punishment involves the issuance of the death penalty because of committing serious crimes like crime in the society. Capital punishment has received tumultuous public support touching both ends of the society with its authorization in thirty-seven American states. It is widely used by the federal system of government and the military. The essence of capital punishment or the death penalty was directed at ending or terminating acts of violent behaviors among U.S. citizens. Many people support this form of punishment while others view it as unfair, unconstitutional, and sheer breakage of human right to life. Based on the connotations laid out by the U.S. state and other nations supporting the elimination capital punishment, capital punishment should be eradicated in…
Bedau, H.A., Pierce, C.M., & American Orthopsychiatric Association. (1976). Capital
punishment in the United States. New York: Published for the American Orthopsychiatric
Association [by] AMS Press.
Bye, R.T. (1919). Capital punishment in the United States. Philadelphia, Pa: Committee on Philanthropic Labor of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends.
From 1977 to 2007, the number of death sentences per capita was as follows: Alabama .89, Oklahoma .818, Mississippi .558, Nevada .546, Delaware .497, North Carolina .481, Florida .463, South Carolina .422, Arizona .412, Arkansas .399, Texas .379, Louisiana .342, Missouri .313, Pennsylvania .277, Ohio .270, Tennessee .270, Idaho .267, Georgia .236, Illinois .233, California .219, Kentucky .193, Virginia .192, Oregon .184, Indiana .148, Nebraska .147, yoming .134, Montana .104, Maryland .094, South Dakota .075, New Mexico .071, Utah .068, New Jersey .066, ashington .057, Connecticut .037, Kansas .029, Colorado .027, and New York .004 (Death Penalty Information Center, Death Sentences Per Capita by State). Therefore, it becomes clear that the leaders in executions may not be the per capita leaders in executions, and that one must examine executions in comparison to state populations.
The number of executions in each state also varies dramatically, and some of that variance becomes…
Death Penalty Information Center. "Death Row Inmates by State." Death Penalty
Information Center. 30 November 2011. Web. 4 Dec. 2011.
Death Penalty Information Center. "Death Sentences Per Capita by State." Death Penalty
Information Center. 30 November 2011. Web. 4 Dec. 2011.
However, on the contradicting side, the question is "Can death penalty really deter criminals?." Several studies show it does not. An online source indicates the following evidences.
From 1976 to 1996, the number of executions per year in the United States has increased from 0 to just under 60. The homicide rate per 100,000 population has remained constant at just under 10.
Criminologists who belong to the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the Law and Society Association were polled. Over 80% believe that our current knowledge does not indicate a deterrent effect. 75% felt that increasing the numbers of executions or decreasing time spent on death row would not result in a deterrence.
Despite of different opinions and stands on death penalty, several researches find that there are more reasons why death penalty should be abolished. First of all, death penalty does not value…
Wagner, Peter. Crime and Punishment in the U.S. http://www.westernprisonproject.org/PrisonIndex/Section_1/DeathPenalty.html
Johnson, David. Deadly Questions. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/deathpenalty2.html
Capital Punishment: The Death Penalty. http://www.religioustolerance.org/execute.htm
Facts About Capital Punishment. http://www.religioustolerance.org/execut3.htm
The death penalty may exact a high cost but so does remaining behind bars for life imprisonment (Haag 1986). ut righting wrongs in a society has a higher option than entailing the costs. Penalties are also acts of social retribution to restrain personal or private vengeance aimed at vindicating the law and social order, which has been injured or violated by a crime. Proponents or advocates of the death penalty emphasize on this viewpoint. They also see that executing a murderer, though unpleasant, is lawful as against the unlawful and undeserved killing, wherein the criminal's life must be taken away. They also view the death penalty as not unjust as it is necessary in deterring crimes and in instituting justice. It may, at times, be inappropriate but the punishment of the guilt is not viewed as unjust. y committing a crime, the person takes the risk of acquiring that punishment…
1. Haag, Ernest van den. The Ultimate Punishment: a Defense. Harvard Law Review Association, 1986
2. Hood, Roger. The Death Penalty: a Worldwide Perspective, revised edition. Clarendon Press, 1996
3. New Abolitionist. Campaign to End the Death Penalty, CEDP Fact Sheet, 2000. http://www.nodeathpenalty.org
4. Wikipedia. Capital Punishment. Media Wiki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_penalty
Currently, 38 states have legalized capital punishment statutes. In most states, the reinstatements of the death penalty were a response to public outcry over the perceived increase of violent crimes. There are now more than 3,000 people on death row, and more are being convicted each year.
Despite this legalized status, a vocal group of opponents have raised questions regarding the constitutionality, fairness and effectiveness of capital punishment. This paper argues that opponents of the death penalty are misguided, and that the death penalty is a sad but necessary tool for American society.
The first part of the paper is an overview regarding capital punishment in the United States. It looks at which states have legalized the death penalty and how this punishment is imposed. It focuses especially on Texas, the leading state in the number of executions.
The next part of the paper gives an overview of…
Bonner, Raymond and Fessenden, Ford. "States with No Death Penalty Share Lower Homicide Rates." The New York Times (22 September 2000): A1.
Cohen, Laurie P. "Inside the Cell: Innovative DNA Test Is an ID Whose Time Has Come for the FBI," The Wall Street Journal (19 December 1997): A1+.
Goldberg, Steven. "The Death Penalty Deters Murder," in The Death Penalty. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1991.
"Introduction to the Death Penalty," n.d., (24 October 2004)
[DPIC] Similarly, many other researches were conducted but failed to offer any conclusive evidence as to the effectiveness of capital punishment in deterring crimes. The lack of consistency in these results presents a complex problem before us in evaluating the utilitarian value of death penalty.
One more aspect to be considered under the utilitarian thought is the cost of executions. It is well-known that the legal cost of executions in the United States is the greatest in the world and exceeds the cost for a lifetime imprisonment. However the 'cost of execution' ratio is not the same in other parts of the world and hence cannot be universally applied in evaluating capital punishments. Also the right to high quality legal representation is a major factor in deciding the outcome of the case. Poor people have no recourse to hiring expensive lawyers and are left in the lurch. This disparity that…
1) Washington State University, "The Code of Hammurabi," Accessed on 3rd February 2005, http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_1/hammurabi.html
2) University of Alaska, "The death Penalty in the U.S.," Accessed on February 3rd 2005, http://justice.uaa.alaska.edu/death/history.html
3) DPIC, "History of Death Penalty," Accessed on 3rd February 2005, http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org /article.php?did=199&scid=15
4) DPIC, "Executions in the United States from 1976 to 2005," Accessed on February 3rd 2005
The study also made an assessment of the 14 countries who eradicated the capital punishment. Murder went up by 7% from five years prior to the abolition period to five years following the abolition claimed by the study. Besides, researches were conducted by Prof. Issac Erlich from the years 1933 to 1969. He came to the conclusion that "An added execution per year might bring down the number of murders." (Death Penalty Arguments: This Paper in Memoriam of Sean Burgado) the average number of years spent in death row is 10 years. We are all aware that all the appeals, the capital punishment is not rapid! In reality, nearly every killer believes that they have every possibility that the death sentence will be waived. In case the capital punishment was rapid and unavoidable, a lowering of the homicide rates was a distinct possibility. ecurring murders were eradicated and murders that…
Brief Summary of Pros/Cons of the Death Penalty. Retrieved at http://www.lwvil.org/death_penalty/docs/pros_and_cons.doc . Accessed on 16 April, 2005
Capital Punishment: Life or Death? Retrieved at http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~tonya/spring/cap/group1.htm. Accessed on 16 April, 2005
Capital Punishment: Three good reasons for supporting the death penalty. Retrieved at http://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/punish.html . Accessed on 16 April, 2005
Death Penalty Arguments: This Paper in Memoriam of Sean Burgado. Retrieved at http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/OrnellasPaper.htm. Accessed on 16 April, 2005
The issue of the death penalty and capital crime has become one of the dominant issues debated in contemporary culture. The reason for this is firstly a moral questioning of the right to take a life, even when it is in retribution for extreme crimes like murder. The foundation of this contemporary attitude lie in the view that modern culture and society should be able to deal with extreme crime in a more humane and therapeutic way than is at present the case.
The issue of capital punishment also leads to hosts of pertinent issues and questions that often extend further than confines of the topic and have a direct and indirect connection to social, cultural and sociological issues. One of the most relevant issues debated today is the fallibility of the legal system. Many critics refer to statistics that prove numerous people have been executed as a…
Derechos. Human rights. Acessed 17 April, 2004. http://www.derechos.org/dp/
Baird, Robert M. And Stuart E. Rosenbaum, eds. The Current Debate. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995.
Bedau, Hugo Adam, ed. The Death Penalty in America An Anthology. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co., 1964.
Bienen, Leigh B. "The Death Penalty: A World-Wide Perspective." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 89.2 (1999): 751.
Death Penalty: Social Attitudes and Modern Alternatives
The issue of the death penalty raises deep emotions on all sides of the debate. Many feel that the death penalty no longer holds value as a tool for society to prevent heinous crimes. In the past, the prevalence of the death penalty created a measure of deterrence on social behaviors. However, in modern life, there is no longer is a measurable deterrence felt in the public consciousness. Like a magnet which is too far from a piece of iron to draw the metal toward it, the distance between the commission of the crime and a death penalty execution has diminished deterrence in all but theoretical discussions.
Many feel that the death penalty contains a measure of justice, and that the criminals 'deserve' to die, as well as society 'deserves' to see justice through death of the convicted. Those who present this argument…
Bedea, Hugo. The Death Penalty in America: An Anthology Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co., 1964
Reprinted, by permission of the author and publisher, from "Is Capital Punishment Wrong?" Christianity Today, vol. IV, no. 1. October 12, 1959, pp. 7-9.
The Case Against Capital Punishment," Social Action., pp. 4-15. The Council for Christian Social Action, United Church of Christ. April, 1961
Friends' Conference on Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, What Do the Churches Say on Capital Punishment? 1961, p. 24.
Opponents also provide evidence that the death penalty is unjust. Data show that death row prisoners are disproportionately low income, minority, and under-represented by the legal system. Thus, we many wonder if those who can't afford the best lawyers are more likely to be sentenced to death, and if so, then we may have effectively put a price on the life of a criminal. Similarly, if the flawed legal system convicts an innocent person and sentences him to death, there is no opportunity for justice to prevail when the prisoner's innocence is ultimately proven. Two states, Maine and hode Island, discovered that they had likely executed innocent men and subsequently abolished the death penalty.
Many note that the time and expenses associated with the death penalty are reasons enough to disallow it. Extensive review and judicial process is guaranteed for death row cases, with the intent of ensuring that innocent…
Arguments For and Against Capital Punishment. Available at:
Bailey, William C., et.al. (1974). Crime and Deterrence: A Correlation Analysis. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 11 (2): 124-143
Death Penalty Arguments: Pros and Cons. Available at:
Like abortion, the institution of capital punishment is a very divisive topic. The line dividing the supporters and opponents of capital punishment is variably drawn across political philosophies, race, sex and religion. The Governor of Illinois, not long ago, declared a moratorium on death penalty cases in his state. This essay is dedicated to a presentation of facts about capital punishment, without delving into personal opinions in support or opposition. Approximately, 80 per cent of Americans support the death penalty. When options are offered, such as life imprisonment without possibility of parole, the number of people who support the death penalty reduces to about 53 per cent. Recently, the number of people put to death has decreased. Improvements in forensic technologies, especially, DNA testing is the cause. Many unfairly condemned people have been exonerated.
Strong cases have been made for and against capital punishment. Supporters of the death…
Bedau, H.A. Killing as Punishment: Reflection on the Death Penalty in America. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004.
Cauthen, K. Toward a New Modernism. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1997.
Dorsen, N. The Unpredictable Constitution. New York: New York University Press, 2002.
Easterbrook, G. DNA and the End of Innocence. The Myth of Fingerprints. 31 July 2000. Available:
Politically correct or not, criminals should pay for the crimes they commit. In no society do we see no punishment for crimes. alter Berns notes that Aristotle taught anger is just and those who kill should be held responsible. e do not live in such a politically correct society that executing justice is perceived as wrong. Justice is never wrong and we as a society should never feel guilt or wrong when we feel angry because someone has been murdered. Anger is a "human passion" (Berns qtd. In hite 147), states Berns and murderers are "properly the objects of anger," (148). In some cases, anger is healthy and no one can argue that anger over murder is not justified. Berns understands that angry men are also capable of respecting life. Supporting the death penalty does not make one less human it defends life. Defending life and the sanctity of life…
Amsterdam, Anthony. "Capital Punishment." Contemporary Moral Problems. White, James Ed.
New York: West Publishing Company. 1991. Print.
Bayat, Mufti Zubair. "Capital Punishment Maintains Law and Order." 2008. Opposing
Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale Resource Center. 27 Feb. 2010
, 2010, p. 428). In a country where Blacks represent only 13% of the population, as of 2010 they made up "twenty-eight of the fifty-seven (49%) of inmates on federal death row," Cohen writes on page 428.
Speaking of the "geography of the federal death penalty," Cohen asserts that six of the ninety-four federal judicial districts account for fully "one-third of death authorizations." Seven federal districts are responsible for "…approximately 40% of the individuals on federal death row," Cohen explains on page 428, though he doesn't identify where the districts are located. Juxtapose those data with the fact that two-thirds of districts have never sentenced anyone to death, and you see the difficulty in justifying the geographic breakdown of death penalty cases.
Clearly there are problems -- very serious problems -- within the system of justice when it comes to the death penalty. hy, for example, do 80% of…
American Bar Association. (2001). Death Without Justice: A Guide for Examining the Administration of the Death Penalty in the United States. Retrieved March 2, 2011, from http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/irr/finaljune28.pdf .
Cohen, Ben G., and Smith, Robert J. (2010). The Racial Geography of the Federal Death
Penalty. Washington Law Review, 85(3), 425-493.
Saad, Lydia. (2008). Americans Hold Firm to Support for Death Penalty. Gallup. Retrieved March 2, 2011, from http://www.gallup.com .
In more than half the countries of the world, there is no death penalty as was the case in Australia for a long time. As many as 76 countries do not have death penalty for any crime. In Australia, Queensland was the first among the states to abolish death penalty in 1922 and the last death penalty was carried out in 1913. (Capital Punishment)
In many countries, punishment is very harsh and the nature of punishment is comparable to capital punishment. One such country is Saudi Arabia. There the Shari at convention or the religious laws of Muslims are applicable. When a Muslim changes his religion to some other religion the punishment is death, if he does not convert back. For others there are many other equally harsh punishments, and in October 2000, Amnesty International reported that two teachers of the Ismailia Shia faith, who were arrested in…
Encyclopedia: Status of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. Retrieved September 5, 2005, from the World Wide Web: http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Status-of-religious-freedom-in-Saudi-Arabia
Healey, Justin. 2004. Capital Punishment. Issues in Society. Volume 205. Retrieved September 5, 2005, from the World Wide Web: http://www.spinneypress.com.au/205_book_desc.html
Kingston, Margo. 2003. Howard to the states: Capital punishment your call. Retrieved September 5, 2005, from the World Wide Web: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/08/08/1060145858623.html
Stolinsky, David. C. America: The Most Violent Nation? Retrieved September 5, 2005, from the World Wide Web: http://www.haciendapub.com/stolinsky.html
" (Introduction to the Death Penalty) an important decision was taken by the Supreme Court in 1958 which stated that "… the Eighth Amendment contained a & #8230;evolving standard of decency that marked the progress of a maturing society." (Introduction to the Death Penalty) This decision referred to standards of decency and morality in civilized countries which also implies that the death penalty was not socially or morally acceptable. (Introduction to the Death Penalty)
This view was also based on the important morals issue of the right to life. In terms of this ethical stance which emphasized the sacred nature of life there can be little moral justification for the implementation of the capital punishment. There is also another moral dimension that should be considered in this regard. This refers to the view that in a civilized society there should be humane and make use of more sophisticated ways of…
Bienen, Leigh B. "The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 89.2 (1999).
Human rights. September 26, 2004.
Introduction to the Death Penalty. 25 September, 2009.
Our society does not truly condone or express interest in the Old Testament eye for an eye type of justice - we do not support the removal of limbs or torture, we do not force the criminal to forfeit their property (other than money) as direct restitution (criminal law does not generally include a commitment to the victim other than jail time - money is doled out in civil court), nor do we support the killing of the perpetrator's family in the case of murder. ather, our support for capital punishment comes from something less direct and more limited in scope - the idea that there is a point at which a criminal act goes too far, crosses a line that there is no returning from. Some crimes, to a particular society, are so heinous, so unforgivable, that allowing the perpetrator to live, even in jail, is an affront to…
Cohen, Michael. "The Victims and the Furies in American Courts." The Humanist. Jan/Feb, 2006; 66:1, p19(5).
Coope, Christopher Miles. "Death Sentences." Philosophy January, 2006; 81:315, p5-32.
The Hangman's Knot." The Christian Century. Feb 2007; 124:3, p5.
(Though this does not factor in geriatric care) Capital cases apparently cost between one million and seven million to prosecute, confine, and execute. Non-capital cases cost about $500,000 -- including imprisonment. "In 1991 New Jersey spent $16 million to impose the death penalty. The next year the state laid off 500 police officers because they could not afford to pay them..." (NCADP) the argument suggests this money would be better spent on patrolling and preventing crime. Any suggestion that the appeals process be shortened is, of course, met with outrage regarding the possible conviction of innocent people.
These all seem like powerful arguments, however, there are some significant flaws that are easily pointed out. For example, the idea that the death penalty devalues human life is seen by many as absurd. Chuck Colson, who has worked for decades with prison outreach and who has many personal friends on Death Row,…
9). To help such victims, the Florida Department of Health had set up several billboards in Tampa and the billboards say, "Sex without consent is rape." Such billboards are hoped to helped the victims to come forward and identify the offender so that more women can be saved from similar abuse.
This increase in the number of crimes as well as the lasting effect it has on the victim qualifies it as a potential case for death penalty. This is not excessive when compared to the nature of the crime and the use of the eight amendment of the constitution to this crime should be removed. It was written in the constitution to protect people who are likely to be charged with death penalty for minor offenses and rape or sexual assault is by no means a minor offense. This is the reason it should be removed for this gruesome…
Hylton, Hilary. (2007, May 02). Death Penalty for Child Molesters? Time. Retrieved from: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1616890,00.html
No author. (Nov 2009). Sex without consent is rape. Tampa Bay Wellness. Vol 24(11). p.9-9
Lange, Andrew. (Winter 2008). Barberry and the treatment of sexual trauma. American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine. Vol 101(4). pp199-204.
Rayburn, Corey. (Fall 2004). Better Dead than Raped: The Patriarchal Rhetoric driving capital rape statutes. St. John's Law Review. Vol 78(4). pp 1119-1165.
If the court puts a man in prison and later discovers his innocence, he can easily be released. It is tragic, but he is able to get at least some of his life back, largely dependent on how long he was incarcerated. If a man has been executed, however, and then it is discovered that he was innocent, there is no compensation that can be given. His life is already over, and the people that he has left behind are involved in as much pain and grief as the family of the victim. Meanwhile, the real criminal is still out in the world, getting the chance to do harm to others as well. This is not something that happens often, but it has happened in the past. If the death penalty remains in effect, it will quite likely happen again.
Another issue to be considered is that many people who…
The opponents of the death claim that death penalty is used disproportionately against minorities and the death row in the U.S. holds a disproportionately large population of blacks relative to their general population. This is disproved by the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, which states: "since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, white inmates have made up the majority of those under sentence of death." This is despite the fact that blacks committed 51.5% of the murders in the U.S. between 1976 and 1999 vs. 46.5% by the whites (Quoted by Eddlem, 2002).
In conclusion, it would be fair to say that the arguments put forwarded by the opponents of death penalty are neither based on solid reasons nor on verifiable facts. On the other hand, as we saw in this essay, capital punishment is an effective deterrent against serious crime, is morally justified,…
Deterrence: States Without the Death Penalty Fared Better Over Past Decade." (2006). Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved on September 26, 2006 at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org /article.php?scid=12&did=168
Eddlem, T.R. (2002). "Ten Anti-Death Penalty Fallacies." The New American. Vol. 18, No. 11. June 3, 2002. Retrieved on September 26, 2006 at http://www.thenewamerican.com/tna/2002/06-03-2002/vo18no11_fallacies.htm
Jacoby, J. (1998). "The Unjust Logic of Sparing Murderers." Boston Globe. August 1998. Retrieved on September 26, 2006 at http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Jacoby2.htm
Lowe, W. (2006). Pro-Death Penalty Webpage. Retrieved on September 26, 2006 at http://www.wesleylowe.com/cp.html
Twenty other studies in the nation have found similar results in their studies. It has also been found that the race of the defendant plays a major role in whether or not he or she is sentenced to death. Blacks tend to be overrepresented in shootings that include robberies, while white offenders are more likely to commit crimes that involve rape and violence to the victim during the murder. Despite the fact that the evidence shows that crimes committed by whites are often more brutal or more apt to involve vulnerable individuals, blacks are 1.75 times more likely than whites to receive the death penalty. Many proponents of the death penalty, including the Supreme Court, believe that racial disparities are not unconstitutional. Opponents, however, believe that minorities are overrepresented in the capital justice system.
By reading this article, it becomes clear that race is a factor during sentencing. This disparity…
Phillip, David. "Capital Punishment." New York Times. New York Times, 18 Dec. 2009. Web. 16 Mar. 2010.
Liptak, Adam. "A New Look at Death Sentences and Race." New York Times. New York Times, 19 Apr. 2008. Web. 16 Mar. 2010.
Murder cannot be a decried and yet practiced by the same entity without being hypocritical. Innumerable individuals on death row have been wrongfully convicted due to any number of reasons. The appeals of death row inmates sometimes never get heard. Those inmates who cannot afford to fight a good appeal are the worse off of all. Because DNA testing and more traditional forms of evidence can be used to reverse the death penalty, caution should be used when sentencing a citizen to death. Death is irreversible; life in prison is not. The families of the wrongfully convicted deserve such consideration.
Moreover, the death penalty is meted out unjustly to a greater number of poor, minority, and disabled population. Capital punishment reveals biases and flaws in the American judicial system. The death penalty is also extremely costly even though it would seem that killing a convict costs less than feeding one.…
ACLU. "Race and the Death Penalty." 2003. Retrieved Feb 21, 2008 at http://www.aclu.org/capital/unequal/10389pub20030226.html
Amnesty International. "Cost of the Death Penalty." Retrieved Feb 21, 2008 at http://www.amnestyusa.org/Fact_Sheets/Cost_of_the_Death_Penalty/page.do?id=1101084&n1=3&n2=28&n3=99
Bonner, Raymond and Fessenden, Ford. "States With No Death Penalty Share Lower Homicide Rates." The New York Times. 22 Sept 2000. Retrieved Feb 21, 2008 at http://www.truthinjustice.org/922death.htm
Death Penalty Focus. "Cost Studies." Retrieved Feb 21, 2008 at http://www.deathpenalty.org/index.php?pid=cost
Evolution of the Death Penalty in Supreme Court Jurisprudence
Capital punishment has been in existence for centuries. As early back as the Eighteenth Century B.C., the use of the death penalty was found in the Code of King Hammurabi (Death Penalty Information Center [DPIC], 2010). The utilization of the death penalty for designated crimes continued through the years and became incorporated in Britain's penal system (DPIC, 2010). Britain's use of capital punishment carried over into colonial America (DPIC, 2010). Since that time, the death penalty has been a part of the American criminal justice system. However, its use has not been without strong opposition. This paper explores the Supreme Court cases exploring this controversial topic and discusses the evolution of jurisprudence on the subject matter.
Much of the legal support or opposition for the use of the death penalty has been at the state level. Where the death…
Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002).
Death Penalty Information Center. (2010). Part I: History of the Death Penalty. Retrieved November 17, 2010, from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org /part-i-history-death-penalty
Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972).
Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976).
Death Penalty+ Annotated Bibliography
It has been theorized and even proven that many laws that are in place in America are the product of JudeoChristian religious beliefs, practices and writings, that have over the years been toned down to better meet the needs and standards of the U.S. society. here is a clear sense that some penalties for breaking the law have little if any effect on crime committed in the future, i.e. act as deterrents to crime and penalties for crime range from paying small fines to capital punishment. Opponents of capital punishment have always claimed that it does not deter crime while proponents have claimed that it does. Opponents have also claimed that the death penalty is a violation of the 8th amendment, cruel and unusual punishment and that it does not belong in any civilized society. Proponents on the other hand state that it is important to…
Tonry's book is a detailed and comprehensive look at racial disparity in the U.S. legal system. The work is troubling but based on serious inquiry and serious thought. In the work he discusses how many experts have convened over the years to determine that there is no reason to believe that capital punishment is more of a deterrent to violent crime that life sentences and yet the U.S. government is still alone among all Western nations to retain its legality.
Zimring, F.E. (2003) The contradictions of American capital punishment. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Zimring's book is a fascinating discussion about the history of capital punishment in the U.S. with comprehensive look at the ebb and flow of the laws that entrench it and the many theories and contradictions that are embedded in it. He is also very effective at providing a relatively balanced look at just why in a social, political and legal sense that capital punishment exists today and especially at the manner in which it is applied, including an extensive look at why the appeals process is so vast and strict. His thesis is basically that the process is so "moral" and "ethical" because it is the stop gap effort of the nation to come to terms with why the death penalty is still on the books at all.
A good example is the 1985 murder of convenience store clerk Cynthia Barlieb, whose murder was prosecuted by a district attorney bent on securing execution for Barlieb's killer (Pompeilo 2005). The original trial and all the subsequent appeals forced Barlieb's family, including four young daughters, to spend 17 years in the legal process - her oldest daughter was 8 years old when Cynthia was first shot, and 25 when the process ended without a death sentence (Pompelio 2005). During those 17 years, Cynthia Barlieb's family was forced to repeatedly relive her murder.
hen a person is murdered, it is understandable that American society demands justice, particularly on behalf of the victim's family and loved ones. But we can not advocate capital punishment under the guise of protecting the interests of victims' families, and then cut those members out of the process when they do not support the death penalty. and,…
American Civil Liberties Union (2002). "ACLU Praises Supreme Court Refusal of 'Sleeping Lawyer' Case as 'Acknowledgment and Reminder' of Death Penalty Problems." Retrieved Sept. 30, 2006 at http://www.aclu.org/capital/unequal/10466prs20020603.html .
American Civil Liberties Union (2002). "DNA testing and the death penalty." Retrieved Oct. 1, 2006 at http://www.aclu.org/capital/innocence/10392pub20020626.html .
Amnesty International (2006). "Death penalty." Retrieved Sept. 30, 2006 at http://www.amnestyusa.org/abolish/index.do .
Antonio, Michael E. (2006). "Arbitrariness and the death penalty: how the defendant's appearance during trial influences capital jurors' punishment decision." Behavioral Sciences & the Law. March 2006.Vol.24, Iss. 2.
However, the reasons why people commit crime are as different as the individuals themselves. Intentional murder comes in two different flavors. The first is the carefully plotted, well thought out, planned act. In this scenario, motivational theory takes over. The person must feel that they will gain some type of value from the action. It may be that they gain something, such as money, or they may feel that eliminating a person will offer them some type of protection. In any case, the person justifies their actions through a perceived reward in the future (Horisch and Strassmair).
In the case of an intentional murder, the death penalty may deter the action. However, several conditions must be met for the fear of death to act as a deterrent. The person must feel that there is a significant possibility that they will be caught and punished for their crimes. In many cases,…
Capital Punishment: Does it Reduce Crime?
Capital Punishment is a social controversy that epitomizes the axiom "an eye for an eye."
In the United States there are 38 states that utilize the death penalty, and usually for select crimes, including treason, and mass murder. In 2002, 71 inmates were executed, which was 5 more than 2001, and of these 71 inmates, 53 were Caucasian, and 69 were male (Capital Punishment Statistics, 2003).
Capital Punishment has been in effect since the 1970s, despite cases and controversy that it goes against a person's 8th Amendment rights. Nevertheless, there has been changes in Capital Punishment laws and "in 2002 the Court barred the execution of mentally retarded offenders, overturning its 1989 ruling on the matter. In the same year the Court ruled that the death penalty must be imposed through a finding of a jury and not a judge" (Columbia, 2003). In 2002,…
Capital Punishment Statistics
Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2003.
Printable copy at: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cp.htm
Study # 3667: Capital Punishment in the United States 1973-2000
[James fieser] We also have to assess the 'proportionality of happiness' factor in determining if capital punishment is justifiable in a particular case. That is to say that if the execution of a prisoner will save the lives of many people capital punishment can be approved in such cases. Let us for instance take the example of a captured terrorist or a suicide bomber. In this case it is fairly obvious that the destructive potential of these people would be greater and consequently their execution entails greater safety, protection and happiness for the society. Under these circumstances capital punishment stands clearly justified. Finally, the cost factor is also used by abolitionists in supporting their argument. While the legal cost of executions maybe high they are insignificant when compared with delivering justice.
The deontological theory on the other hand is concerned only with the rightfulness of an act irrespective of its…
1) James Fieser, "Capital Punishment," Accessed on 3rd June 2007, available at http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/c/capitalp.htm
2) Dudley Sharp, "Death Penalty as a Deterrent," Accessed on 3rd June 2007, available at http://www.dpinfo.com/death_penalty_as_a_deterrent.htm
3) Kenneth Cauthen, " Capital Punishment," Accessed on 3rd June 2007,
Available at, http://www.frontiernet.net/~kenc/cappun.htm
It is important to note that though the victim's family also does suffer, the accused could be somebody's mother, father, spouse or even best friend. In such a case, it becomes hard for many to come to terms with death as a form of punishment for a loved one. Thus though capital punishment may be viewed as a symbol of justice by the victim's family as well as friends, it surely does cause pain to the wrongdoer's family and friends who may have had nothing to do with the offense committed.
In recognition of opposing views, it is important to note that over time, those in support of capital punishment have often cited cost considerations. Here, they argue that through the long-term imprisonment of criminals, who would have otherwise been on death row, the government wastes funds which should ideally be used for other more worthy needs including but not…
Banks, C. (2004). Criminal Justice Ethics: Theory and Practice. California: SAGE.
Gaines, L.K., & Miller, R.L. (2011). Criminal Justice in Action: The Core. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Souryal, S.S. (2010). Ethics in Criminal Justice: In Search of the Truth (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Elsevier.
Our prejudiced minds and clouded vision make us believe that all black men are criminals resulting in a twisted criminal justice system. Thomas Sancton (1991) reveals, "...blacks and Hispanics are proportionally far more likely to be sent to death chambers than whites; that poor defendants are condemned more often than rich ones; that the existence of the death penalty, despite widespread beliefs to the contrary, in fact has no deterrent value. The execution in some states of minors and retarded inmates is profoundly shocking to many people in the U.S. And abroad, as is the multiplicity of judicial errors that have sent innocent people to execution chambers or long terms on death row."
Regardless of what people have to say about death penalty, researches and unbiased studies have shown that this form of punishment doesn't serve any good purpose. It exists because society refuses to operate with compassion but revels…
1) Richard a. Posner, Capital Crimes., the New Republic, 04-01-2002
2) Thomas Sancton/Paris With reporting by James Graff and Gareth Harding/Brussels, Barry Hillenbrand/Washington, Christine Whitehou, a Matter of Life or Death the McVeigh case shows how differently Europe and America view capital punishment., Time International, 05-21-2001, pp 28+.
4) Eric Pooley Reported by Sally B. Donnelly and J.F.O. Mcallister / Washington, Sylvester Monroe/Atmore, Andrea Sac, Nation/Crime and Punishment: Death or Life? Mcveigh Could Be the Best Argument for Executions, but His Case Highlights the Problems That Arise When Death Sentences Are Churned Out in Huge Numbers., Time, 06-16-1997, Pp 31+.
5) the cruel and ever more unusual punishment. Vol. 351, the Economist, 05-15-1999.
Moreover, in Perry v. Louisiana, 498 U.S. 38 (1990), the Court used that decision to bolster Louisiana's attempts to forcibly medicate a prisoner in order to make him death-eligible. If one agrees that the death penalty is a just penalty for one who has committed a capital crime, and that the reason that mentally ill defendants should not be executed is because they lack competence, then it does not seem unethical to allow them to be forcibly medicated in order to be competent. After all, in that scenario, avoiding medication could be likened to any other attempt to avoid punishment. Moreover, an organic physical disorder that arose after conviction, but that would have prevented a defendant from committing a crime, would not be sufficient reason not to execute a person on death row.
However, forced medication, especially for court appearances, may violate a defendant's Fifth Amendment right to present a…
Bonnie, R. (2007). Panetti v. Quarterman: mental illness, the death penalty, and human dignity. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 5, 257-283.
Fentiman, L. (1986). Whose right is it anyway? Rethinking competency to stand trial in light of the synthetically sane insanity defense. University of Miami Law Review, 40, 1109-1127.
Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986).
Panetti v. Quarterman, 127 S. Ct. 2842 (2007).
Racism is also a problem in the penal system. Furthermore, even if only one innocent person were sentenced to death it would be too many.
1. Perez's observations are most likely correct. Although whistleblowers perform an admirable and courageous act of public service, their efforts are thwarted by legal, political, and social obstacles. I fully agree with the author's observations but still believe whitleblowers are admirable. Whistleblowers should be encouraged to come forward because they ensure a more ethical society. Discouraging whistleblowing allows white collar crime to flourish.
2. Rob Perez claims that whistleblowers suffer consequences including social isolation that may outweigh the impact of their courageous deeds. Colleagues and coworkers cut off the whistleblower. A whistleblower is brought into the public eye, making it difficult for that individual to operate socially or in a business environment. A whistleblower might lose all his or her business accounts and contacts because…
Death penalty is the use of death as a punishment for the crimes committed by an individual. In most cases, death penalty is administered by lethal drugs or by electrocution. There has been a lot of debate on the moral and ethical aspect of issuing death penalty to criminals and many human rights groups are advocating the use of long-term imprisonment without parole (LWOP) as an alternative to death penalty. But, are they really justified in opposing the death penalty? In many cases, this justification is not valid as it leads to more crime and higher taxes for the society.
Death penalty has been present in the United States from colonial times. The first ever recorded execution was in Jamestown in 1608 and since then, it has been used as an effective tool of punishment (Supreme Court Debates, Dec 2004). With such a long history, it is no surprise that…
Soss, Joe; Langbein, Laura; Metelko, Alan. (2003). Why Do White Americans support the death penalty? Journal of Politics. 65(2), 397-421.
No author. (Dec 2004). The Death Penalty in America. Supreme Court Debates. 7 (9), 259.
Statistics show that black murderers are far more likely than white murderers to get the death penalty, especially if the victim was white. Blacks make up 12% of the population but 40% of the population on death row, as noted. Georgia can serve as a case in point. Statistics show that a black man accused of killing a white person in Georgia is substantially more likely to receive the death penalty than a white person convicted of killing either a white or a black, and forty-six percent of the inmates on Georgia's death row are black, with most on death row for killing a white person. The situation is much the same in the 35 other states that have capital punishment. In Maryland, blacks make up nearly 90% of the prisoners on death row; in Illinois, 63%; and in Pennsylvania, 60%. The disparity nationwide is even greater when the race…
Aguirre, a., Jr., & Baker, D.V. (1991). Race, racism, and the death penalty in the United States. Berrien Springs, Michigan: Vande Vere Publishing.
Amnesty International (1999).. Killing with prejudice: race and the death penalty. Amnesty International, Pub. No. AMR 51/52/99. London: Amnesty International.
Baldus, D.C., Woodworth, Q., & Pulaski, C.A., Jr. (1990). Equal justice and the death penalty: A legal and empirical analysis. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
Baldus, D.C., Woodworth, G., Zuckerman, D., Weiner, N.A., & Broffitt, B. (1998). Racial discrimination and the death penalty in the post-Furman era: An empirical and legal overview, with recent findings from Philadelphia. Cornell Law Review 83:1638-770
The Death Penalty should not be considered as something that people desire, but as a form of punishment whose purpose is to deter crimes from being committed. Those who support this form of punishment believe that this is the only way that society can make sure that people who consider committing serious crimes can be stopped. There is a strong sentiment that those who commit the kind of crimes that would warrant the death penalty should not be put into prison for life. It is believed that this still presents these people with the opportunity to offend again.
Anderson, David. (2008). Arguments for the Death Penalty. etrieved May 25, 2010, from Web
Death Penalty Arguments: Deterrent or evenge. (2001). etrieved May 24, 2010, from Web
Hinton, Patrick. (2009). The Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty. etrieved May 25, 2010, from Suite 101 Web site:…
Anderson, David. (2008). Arguments for the Death Penalty. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from Web
Death Penalty Arguments: Deterrent or Revenge. (2001). Retrieved May 24, 2010, from Web
However, this difficulty can be avoided by examining van den Haag's distinction between justice and equality. The physical reality of administering justice can never match its theoretical guidelines. Justice is a necessary tool in the aim of producing a functional society. Accordingly, inequities that arise in its practice must be tolerated -- although fought against. State sanctioned killing, on the other hand, is not a logistic necessity for any society. Death is the most severe and permanent form of punishment American society has to offer. Mistakes and breeches of justice cannot be rectified. The most direct, simplest, and easiest way to eliminate the arbitrary factors in a form of punishment not essential to society is to remove that form of punishment. Justice is intrinsically unequal, so assigning it the responsibility of life and death decisions is unwarrantable. Stephen Nathanson writes,
To do away with punishment entirely would be to do…
Baird, Robert M. And Stuart E. Rosenbaum. (1995). Punishment and the Death Penalty. New York: Prometheus.
Bessler, John D. (2003). Kiss of Death: America's Love Affair with the Death Penalty. Boston: Northeastern University.
Kurtis, Bill. (2004). The Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice. New York: Public Affairs.
Sarat, Austin. (2001). When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition. Princeton: Princeton University.
In contrast, other data, compiled by state and federal agencies within the last twenty years, failed "to demonstrate any deterrent value to the death penalty" and according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, "when states with the death penalty (were) compared to those without the death penalty," it was shown that "a majority of death penalty states have homicide rates higher than non-death penalty states" (Espejo 58).
The death penalty has also come under other criticism, especially in relation to executing innocent persons on death row in America's prison system. Of course, with the advent of DNA testing, many death-row inmates have been exonerated after tests revealed that they could not have been involved in their alleged crimes. Yet some death penalty advocates still believe that the possibility of executing innocent people does not justify the abolition of the death penalty. As Stephen Markman puts it, "the death…
Bedau, Hugo and Paul Cassell. Debating the Death Penalty. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Bidinotto, Robert. Criminal Justice?: The Legal System vs. Individual Responsibility. New York: Foundation for Economic Education, 1996.
Espejo, Roman, Ed. Does Capital Punishment Deter Crime? Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson-Gale, 2003.
Pojman, Louis and Jeffrey Reiman. The Death Penalty: For and Against. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998.
The victim is unable to make peace with himself, say goodbye to his family or have his constitutional rights seen too. When a murder is committed, I believe that the perpetrator does not forfeit his rights, but rather some of the respect and convention which is usually given to a dying person. After all, what respect and convention was awarded to his victim?
Many of the states which currently allow the death penalty have victim services via the department of Corrections. The services which they provide range all the way from family support and counseling to the provision for family members of the victim to watch the execution should they so desire. This ability is limited state to state, however. It should also be noted that several of the victims services programs have been severely curtailed due to budget cuts, while the needs of the prisoner in the time surrounding…
John Paul II, Gospel of Life, the (Evangelium Vitae) (1995) Three Rivers Press
Quinto, Morgan "Murder Rate in 2001 National Rate = 5.6 Murders per 100,000 Population" Accessed via the World Wide Web on 17 May 2006 at http://www.morganquitno.com/cit01rank.pdf
No Author Cited "Illinois Suspends Death Penalty Indefinitely" January 30, 2000 accessed via the World Wide Web on 17 May 2006 at http://archives.cnn.com/2000/U.S./01/31/illinois.executions.02/
Prejean, Helen, CSJ. "Would Jesus Pull The Switch" Salt of the Earth. 1997 Accessed via the World Wide Web on 17 May 2006 at http://salt.claretianpubs.org/issues/deathp/prejean.html
Death Penalty II
The Death Penalty and the Bible
The Bible is an important and valuable book providing a wealth of information, and it should be used as a determination as to whether the death penalty should be chosen for certain, specific crimes, despite the often-cited issue of separation between church and state.
f. Other Crimes
The Death Penalty
ansom From the Death Penalty
The Separation of Church and State
The death penalty has been around since biblical times, during which it was commonly used for a number of offenses. It is important to point out, however, that these offenses were punishable by death, meaning that the death penalty could be used. That does not mean that it had to be used, and there was discretion available. Here, several common crimes will be looked at in the context of biblical death…
Anderson, B.W., Bishop, S., & Newman, J. (2006). Understanding the Old Testament. NY: Pearson.
Anderson, E. (2007). If God is dead, is everything permitted? In Hitchens, Christopher. The portable Atheist: Essential readings for the nonbeliever. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.
Dershowitz. (2000). The Genesis of Justice. NY: Grand Central Publishing.
Freedman, D.N., Myers, A.C., & Beck, A.B. (2000). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. NY: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
The death penalty is therefore morally and ethically necessary not only for an ordered society but as a necessary means to protect the innocent from evil.
Secondly, from a Catholic point-of-view this stance is supported by centuries of Church doctrine and by references to iblical test, as discussed above. This also refers to the view that many modern Catholics take; which in turn refers to the contemporary emphasis on the right to life as a sign of the decline of religion and the growth of secularization. This reflects the view that the growing opposition to the death penalty"… has gone hand in hand with a decline of faith in eternal life." ( Dulles)
The above discussion has outlined the two central arguments for and against the death penalty from a Catholic perspective. There is little doubt that this topic has also crested intense debate within the Church. This…
Dulles A. Catholicism & Capital Punishment. Sunday. 3 Oct. 2010
( http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0461.html ).
Gonzales A. Pro-life and Pro-Capital Punishment Contradiction in Terms? 3 Oct. 2010
( http://www.roman-catholic.com/Roman/Articles/CapitalPunishment.htm )
The debate surrounding capital punishment is not as clear as one might think -- in fact, there is a great deal of gray within this debate. The actual definition is State controlled taking of a human life in response to some crime committed by a person who was legally convicted of that crime (Lacayo, 2009). Capital punishment has been part of human history, and currently 58 global nations actively practice it, 95 have abolished it, and the remained have not used it in over a decade (Amnesty International, 2010). Some scholars tout the view that capital punishment produces an extremely strong deterrent effect to crime that actually saves lives, is supported by the majority of Americans, and that each execution actually results in a statistically viable reduction in murders (Muhlhausen, 2007). As of 2010, however, Amnesty International categorizes most countries as abolitionist regarding the death penalty (Figures on…
REFERENCES and WORKS CONSULTED
Atkins v. Virginia (2002). U.S. Supreme Court 536 U.S. 304.
"Campaign to End the Death Penalty." (2010). NoDeathPenalty.com. Cited in:
"Capital Punishment, 30 Years On: Support, but Ambivalence as Well." (2006).
life imprisonment, we must follow common sense and assume that if one punishment is more fearful than another, it will deter some potential criminals not deterred by the less fearful punishment" (p. 282). In an effort to deconstruct the tenability of van den Haag's assertions, eiman takes the deterrent analogy to an extreme and suggests that the death penalty is insufficient and that death by torture would serve as an even more effective deterrent.
While some observers might suggest that this is precisely what is happening to internees at Guantanamo Bay detention camp, eiman's extreme position concerning capital punishment does serve to highlight the moral and legal ambiguities involved in assessing the value of the death penalty for a modern society. Notwithstanding these moral and legal ambiguities, though, in the case of capital crimes, there is far too much at stake to allow such heinous acts to go unpunished, and…
Black's law dictionary. (1991). St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co.
Cahn, S.M. & Markie, P. (1998). Ethics: History, theory, and contemporary issues. New York: Oxford University Press.
Reiman, J.H. (2000). Justice, civilization and the death penalty. In White at 273-283.
A van den Haag, E. (1978). In defense of the death penalty: A practical and moral analysis.
165). On page 166 Bannister points out that outside of China, the numbers show a decrease in individuals being put to death through capital punishment. In 2006, the number of reported executions dropped to 1591 from 2148 in 2005; also, since 1996 more than 30 nations have "put an end to this cruel and inhuman practice" (Bannister, 170).
The Chief Editor of Criminal Law Review, Chen Xingliang, writes that there is a consensus among the scholars that contribute to his publication; and those scholars "…are in favor of strict limitations on the death penalty in order to eventually abolish it" (p. 41). However, Xingliang admits that the "public understanding of the death penalty is quite different fro that of these scholars" (p. 42). That is because the "public support for the death penalty is formed with an irrational understanding and thus should not be a justified factor considered for…
Center for Individual Freedom. (2007). Death Penalty Deters Future Murders, According to Remarkable New Empirical Study. Retrieved Dec. 1, 2010, from http://www.cfif.org .
Bannister, Piers. (2008). The death penalty: UN victory puts total abolition within our grasp.
International Review of Law Computers & Technology, 22(1-2), 165-170.
DeathPenalty.com (2010). Does the death penalty deter crime? Retrieved Dec. 1, 2010, from http://deathpenalty.procon.org . (Muhlhausen, ACLU, Bert, Reno, Borg, Van Den Haag).
Again, here we see that political disposition is a significant factor in shaping one's position on the subject. Those who support the death penalty tend to take a position of greater trust in the fairness and equality of the government, which is a disposition promoted itself by certain cultural, economic and racial characteristics. From this disposition, a counterargument frequently proposed against the notion of discontinuing the death penalty due to its apparent racial biases cites "a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that evidence specific to a defendant -- not statistics showing systemwide bias -- is necessary to challenge an individual's death sentence on a racial claim." (Melone, 1) This is to argue that an individual case evaluation, whereupon capital punishment is considered, should inherently protect against the permeation or ethnic, racial or geographical biases. Of course, in order to accept this argument, one must possess a certain degree of faith…
Carlson, T. (2000). Tucker Carlson: Death Penalty Deserves More Vigorous Debate. CNN. Online at http://archives.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/06/22/tucker.carlson/
DPIC. (2005). National Polls. Death Penalty Information Center. Online at
DPIC1. (2009). Financial Facts: Information on Costs of the Death Penalty from DPIC. Death penalty Information Center. Online at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org /costs-death-penalty
Gleick, E. et al. (1995). Rich Justice, Poor Justice. Time Magazine. Online at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,983050-2,00.html
Therefore, even staunch proponents of capital punishment share the concern that it be (1) imposed only where extreme punishment is appropriate to the nature of the crime, and (2) applied in a manner that does not cause unnecessary pain or prolonged suffering. Assuming those elements are satisfied, capital punishment is warranted in certain situations.
The prospect of conviction in error is one of the strongest positions against capital punishment, precisely because the concept of valuing the preservation of the freedom of the innocent from wrongful conviction over the value of ensuring punishment for the guilty is fundamental to American justice. By extension, one could argue convincingly that protection against wrongful execution is even more important than wrongful criminal conviction in general. However, it is possible to establish more stringent standards of proof, judicial review, and myriad other conceivable procedural safeguards short of abolishing capital punishment altogether. Therefore, that approach would…
Dershowitz, Alan, M. (2002) Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age. New York: Little Brown & Co.
Friedman, Laurence, M. (2005) a History of American Law. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Hall, Kermit, L. (1992) the Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.
Nowak, John, E., Rotunda, Ronald, D. (2004) Nowak and Rotunda Hornbook on Constitutional Law, 7th Edition (Hornbook Series). St. Paul, MN: West
And such an event, unfortunately, is all too possible, as evidenced by a review done by Bedau and adelet in 1987. The authors used a variety of published and unpublished sources to locate information on potential capital cases in the United States during the twentieth century. Of the cases identified, Bedau and adelet found 350 persons who had been wrongfully convicted of potentially capital offenses between 1900 and 1985. Of these, 139 were sentenced to die (Haines, 1996, p. 87-88). Thus, it is evident that capital punishment can end up reflecting very poorly on a society that practices it, in more ways than one.
The other reason why capital punishment can be said to be socially unjust is because, all too often, it is imposed indiscriminately against the poor and underprivileged sections of society, who also lack the means of better representation. This fact has been addressed in a wide…
Borg, M.J., & Radelet, M.L. (2000). The Changing Nature of Death Penalty Debates.
Annual Review of Sociology. P. 43.
Fattah, E.A. (1981). Is Capital Punishment a Unique Deterrent? A Dispassionate Review of Old and New Evidence. Canadian Journal of Criminology. Vol. 23:3, p. 291-311.
Haines, H.H. (1996). Against Capital Punishment: The Anti-Death Penalty Movement in America, 1972-1994. New York: Oxford University Press.
What happens at this point is the issues are then prioritized, and the death penalty can potentially be considered less important than personal taxes, abortion, or whatever other issue the voter deems as important. This results in an extremely clouded concept of what the majority of the population actually supports in this country -- not just on the death penalty, but any issue. Ultimately this point of this argument, though not invalid in a humanistic point-of-view, is invalid because of its lack of solid, empirical ground to stand on. In fact, it is in danger of being ignored all together if we are to take a macrocosmic view of the country in terms of the constitution and the freedoms from religious policy that we enjoy. Of course if we take this point-of-view then we have to ask how we come to any decisions about our laws at all if not…
Comparative Studies Show There is No Effect. Econometric Models, In Contrast, Show a Mixture of Results. Why the Difference? And Which is the More Reliable Method?" Skeptical Inquirer Jul.-Aug. 2004.
Trollinger, William. "My Friend's Execution -- Witnessing an Execution Confirms
Feelings About Capital Punishment." Christian Century 11 Nov. 1998. A strong telling of the moral side of the debate against the death penalty. Also an intimate portrait of a Death Row inmate.
Capital punishment, also known as the Death Penalty, is a legal penalty enacted against a person who has been found guilty, via the judicial process, of committing a capital offense. his paper seeks to briefly introduce the history of the death penalty, and introduce current thought for and against the use of the death penalty in the United States.
he earliest record of an established death penalty law is found in the Code of King Hammurabi of 18th century BC Babylon, which allowed the death penalty for 25 crimes.[footnoteRef:1] One famous ancient examples of the death penalty can be found in the rial of Socrates who was sentenced to death, by consumption of hemlock, in a Greek court. In the United Sates, the first recorded legal execution was carried out by British soldiers in 1776 against Nathan Hale, a revolutionary War Solider, who was hung for treason. Hanging…
The rightness or wrongness of the death penalty has been a long held civil debate. Those who favor the death penalty ultimately believe that the death penalty is justified, i.e. It offers the victims and the state retribution for the crime committed. Since the punishment fits the crime it is fair and offers victims closure and a sense of justice. In addition, many believe that it is an effective deterrent to would-be killers. The belief that capital punishment deters crime was an underlining reason that criminals were crucified by Roman soldiers or drawn and quartered by English executioners. They believed that if the punishment was horrible enough, the criminal will think twice before committing a capital offense. Opponents believe that crimes worthy of capital punishment are committed under an array of circumstances unaffected by the sentencing standard.
Those who oppose the death penalty are often motivated by humanitarian issues. No doubt the humanitarian issues that are raised are numerous. They range from the question of cruel and unusual punishment, to disproportionate death penalty demographics for poor or minority defendants. One issue of great interest for those who support a moratorium on the death penalty is the increasing recognition that the court system is fallibility. Craig Haney, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, points out the many things that can, and do in fact, go wrong in death penalty cases which, in his opinion, creates a situation where defendant are not 'death worthy.' He cites cases where death row inmates are exonerated and notes that these cases are striking to public opinion and causes a second-look at the system. However, he moves forward with a more nuanced argument that defendants who are guilty of a crime endure many judicial errors which cause them to face harsher sentence than legally necessary. He writes, "The failure to follow these minimal standards is likely to continue to produce miscarriages of justice at the penalty phase stages of capital cases, resulting in wrongful condemnations that would have resulted in life sentences had competent counsel handled them."[footnoteRef:2] [2: Craig Haney, Exoneration and Wrongful Condemnations: Expanding the Zone of Perceived Injustice in Death Penalty Cases, Golden University Law Review [Vol 37], 9/17/2006, p.172]
The debate regarding the death penalty is both somber and complex. Both sides offer compelling arguments and ask thought provoking questions: How thin is the line between retribution and revenge? How can a punishment be both a) not "cruel and unusual" and b) severe enough to be a deterrent? Is the humanity of society compromised when an innocent man is executed? Is life in prison true justice for a criminal who has committed the most horrendous crimes in society? The answers may be allusive but the search in none-the-less noble.
Death Penalty -- Part One
"The Death Penalty Costs Too Much" -- George Sjostrom: The arguments presented by Sjostrom follow other similar lines of argument by those who oppose the death penalty. He doesn't take the ethical line or the line that putting a criminal to death doesn't deter crime. He is concerned with dollars and cents. And he alludes to the emotional price society pays for putting a person to death. It costs California taxpayers about $250 million to execute a felon (he bases that on the last 11 executions in California; it includes the cost of the trial, and the other long, drawn-out legal procedures, appeals, new trials) but it costs a lot less to just house a criminal who gets life without the possibility of parole. On top of the high cost of trial and legal fees, Sjostrom claims that there is a kind of "emotional purgatory"…
The issue of whether capital punishment is justified in a civilized world that is progressively concerned with achieving human rights and dignity for all its citizens is a subject that challenges the very scales of justice. On the one hand, the imposition of the death penalty prematurely terminates a human life and precludes any chance of rehabilitating criminals as productive members of society. On the other hand, abolishing the death penalty implies endangering society with the presence of known, dangerous anti-social elements who may one day become eligible for parole or worse escape from prison. Thus, the scales need to be weighed taking into consideration that society's primary responsibility is to ensure that its honest and upright citizens are able to lead a secure and safe life. Indeed, it is the purpose of this paper to demonstrate that the scales of justice need to necessarily be tipped in…
Jacoby, J. "When Murderers Die, Innocents Live." The Boston Globe.
Sept. 28, 2003. Accessed Feb. 29, 2004: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2003/09/28/execution_saves_innocents/
Kane, G. "To murder victims' families, executing killers is justice." The Baltimore Sun. Feb.5, 2003. Accessed Feb. 29, 2004: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-md.kane05feb05,0,6385621.column
Murdock, D. "A sure way to prevent prison escapes." Mar 30, 2001.
Although that case involved jury selection, the Court established a standard for alleging racial discrimination in prosecution. The Court held that the defendant has to show that he is a member of a cognizable racial group, that the prosecutor has acted in a manner having a discriminatory effect, and that the procedure in place allows those who choose to discriminate the leeway to do so. Once a defendant has established a prima facie showing of discrimination, the State then has the burden of proving race-neutrality. (Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 96-98 (1986)). The clear reasoning of the Batson decision would suggest that since Bass could show that he is an African-American, that African-Americans are disproportionately subject to the death penalty, and that the decision whether to charge a defendant with the death penalty is left to the discretion of the prosecutor, that he has established a prima facie case…
Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).
United States v. Bass, 2001 FED App. 0340P (6th Cir.).
Analysis of "The Death Sentence" by Sidney Hook
Sidney Hook's analysis of the capital punishment and its effect and implications in the society are outlined in his article entitled, "The Capital Punishment." In his article, Hook discusses the different perspectives wherein the debate over the implementation or abolishment of capital punishment is discussed. Hook contends that individuals and groups that favor the implementation of capital punishment tend to subsist to the 'retributive theory,' whose primary aim, according to Hook, is to "desire for revenge," and not justice, as what many proponents for capital punishment claim. Similarly, Hook also criticizes the proponents against the implementation of capital punishment, who are popularly called as the "Abolitionists." The abolitionists contend (against the pro-capital punishment groups) that capital punishment is inhumane, and society must give the criminal a chance to reform his/her self primarily because the criminal's behavior and acted may have…
Death Penalty Viewpoint
There are contradictory viewpoints concerning the death penalty with some viewing it as needed for family closure in capital cases and others viewing it as an excuse where closure is not clearly defined in the arguments. There are also questions of whether the death penalty actually restores communities and families, whether it really serves justice, or whether it is actually a revenge for families and society. The similarity and differences in the viewpoints bring out points of victim complexity, clarity in the word meanings, and how families can be tortured in the probation hearings when offenders request probation review.
(Bandes, Susan) argues that there is no clear definition of closure or the justice system rights to obtain closure in arguments. She claims that some families have found closure if an offender takes responsibility for the crimes committed, but feels the justice system uses closure as an excuse…
Bandes, Susan, Viewpoint 6: The Death Penalty Does Not Fulfill Survivors' Needs for Closure
Stambaugh, Irl and Stambaugh, Gary, Viewpoint 5: Death Penalty Would End Punishment of Victim's Family
Death penalty has been a long-contested issue among States, legislators, policy makers, and individuals alike. So complicated is the issue that no two opinions appear to be the same. Indeed, the divergence of the various opinions extend to a variety of concerns within the death penalty and the Constitution themselves, including the fairness of capital punishment and decisions relating to it in terms of gender, class, race, and so on. One of the most prominent issues within the death penalty is probably mental illness and retardation. As pointed out by one of the authors to be examined below, the law prohibits imposing the death penalty for persons who are mentally incompetent. The question is, however, how many mentally incompetent persons in fact declare their incompetence?
The case Atkins v. Virginia involves Daryl enard Atkins, who was accused of abduction, armed robbery, and capital murder. After it was revealed that he…
Atkins v. Virginia
Human Rights Watch. Executing the Mentally Retarded is Unfair.
Tobolowsky, P.M. Chapter 9: Mental Health and the Death Penalty: Matters of Competency and Culpability.
Convicted wrongfully for the murder of a man by the name Delbert Baker, Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon spent more than seventeen years on death row awaiting his execution. His eventual release came after Mr. Baker's real killer confessed to the said murder. Now a free man, Melendez-Colon adds his voice to the call for the abolition of the death penalty. In his opinion, wrongful conviction cases cannot be resolved using DNA testing. In response to proponents of the death penalty who are somehow convinced that DNA testing could easily resolve persistent cases of wrongful conviction, Melendez-Colon points out that DNA "is quite limited because it is not present in the great majority of murder cases." To back up his assertion, Melendez-Colon observes that since 1973, only 17 of the 139 death row exonerations involved DNA. In his opinion, there is a huge amount of money that the…
Like Melendez-Colon, Philip Brasfield and Carl M. Cannon are also of the opinion that DNA testing cannot help resolve the inherent shortcomings of the capital punishment system. According to Brasfield, although post-conviction DNA testing has been of great significance in helping expose the fallibility of the said system, "DNA tests are useless in cases where no evidence is found at the crime scene." This statement effectively reinforces Cannon's assertion that DNA is largely irrelevant in a significant number of other cases including but not limited to non-rape cases. For this and several other reasons, the authors appear convinced that the execution of innocents cannot necessarily be prevented through the utilization of DNA evidence. In the opinion of both authors, the death penalty should be abolished so as to bring to an end the killing of innocents in the name of justice.
My Opinion on the Topic
It is highly likely that a significant number of people have been wrongfully convicted and subsequently executed since the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty in the U.S. In my opinion, embracing the utilization of DNA testing (both pre and post-conviction) could help solve some of our capital justice system's fundamental flaws. Given that the said testing has in the past helped exonerate quite a number of death row convicts, its widespread utilization could help solve many more innocent lives. With that in mind, the federal government needs to further increase funding to programs that seek to enhance both the availability and quality of DNA testing. That way, we do not necessarily have to abolish the death penalty.
The research shown to the Supreme Court suggests just the opposite about them (Liptak, 2005).
Third, evidence shows that many teens in jail for serious crimes have significant mental health problems. Representative Henry Waxman (D) of California noted that in his state, one of the most populous in the country, there is little competent psychiatric help for youthful offenders who are incarcerated. He and his staff found that hundreds of teens held in California services were not getting the mental health services they desperately needed (Author not stated, 2005). 70% made suicide attempts while incarcerated, and nearly 75% attacked others (Author not stated, 2005). In spite of such clear evidence of instability, nearly six out of ten California facilities lacked staff with mental health training. Youthful offenders, meanwhile, had a wide range of diagnoses including not only substance abuse but AD/HD, retardation and learning disabilities (Author not stated, 2005). These…
Author not stated. 2005. "Mentally ill California youth await treatment in detention." Child Protection Law Report, Feb. 11.
Liptak, Adam. 2005. "Too young to die?" New York Times, Feb. 14.
Yen, Hope. 2005. "Supreme Court strikes down death penalty for juveniles." AP Worldstream, March 1.
Death Penalty: Right or Wrong?
For some time I have believed that the death penalty is a necessary part of our legal system, for the protection of society as a whole. In forming this opinion, I looked at Ted Bundy, who was convicted of monstrously killing four college sorority sisters and a 13-year-old girl he happened upon while she was walking home from school. He held the poor 13-year-old girl for several days in a deserted pigsty in the hot scrub woods of northern Florida before finally killing her. Some authorities think that he may be responsible for over 100 murders, and not the thirty or so he admitted to before his death. Ted Bundy tried to negotiate his way out of being put to death by hinting that the police could clear a lot more murders, but that he would only talk if his death sentence were reversed. Authorities…
Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, warned about broader problems with the capital punishment. "When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint." He took into account the many dangers of the death penalty and concluded it should be restricted to homicides (Death Penalty Information Center, 2008).
The main question regarding the research for or against capital punishment as a deterrent is whether to continue the death penalty because the findings are inconsistent or to stop it for the same reason. esearchers adelet and Borg (2000), in fact, say that the findings impact how Americans perceive the death penalty. They showed how the conclusions of the research over the past several decades have influenced the debate pro-or con capital punishment. Their literature review in relationship to historical events "suggests changes in the nature of death penalty debates…
Berk, R. (2005) New Claims about Execution and General Deterrence: Deja Vu All over Again? Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 2(2), 303-330
Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
Dezhbakhsh, H., Rubin, P. & Shepherd, J. (2003) Does capital punishment have a deterrent effect? American Law and Economics Review, 344.
Through which he concluded that each execution prevents around seven or eight people from committing murder (Worsnop 402). In 1985, an economist from the University of North Carolina by the name of Stephen K. Layson published a report that showed that every execution of a murderer deterred eighteen would be murderers (Guernsey 68). While the numbers from these studies seem quite low as compared to the large number of murders committed every day in the United States, the numbers become quite large when discussed in the terms of every year executions. (Guernsey 65)
The opponents of capital punishment here give different points which are also quite true. According to the critics of capital punishment many of the people who commit acts of murder are either retarded or are immature. Capital punishment doesn't have an effect on the youth and immature people. As Richard L. Worsnop writes in his article entitled…
Worsnop, Richard L. Death Penalty Debate Centers on Retribution. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1990.
Guernsey, JoAnn Bren. Should We Have Capital Punishment? Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co, 1993.
Van den Haag, Ernest, and John Phillips Conrad. The Death Penalty a Debate. New York: Plenum Press, 1983.
Maestro, Marcello T. A Pioneer for the Abolition of Capital Punishment Cesare Beccaria. [New York]: Journal of the History of Ideas, 1973.
Death penalty advocates rationalize capital punishment under the principle of an eye for an eye which is the belief that punishment should fit the crime. In particular, people who support capital punishment dispute that murderers should be put to death in retribution for their crimes and that such vengeance serves justice for murder victims and their survivors. Death penalty opponents stress the purity of life, quarrelling that killing is forever wrong whether by a person or by the state and that justice is best served by way of reconciliation (The Death Penalty: Specific Issues, 2010).
Opponents of the death penalty dispute that there is a hazard of putting to death innocent people, and cite real cases in which defendants were incorrectly convicted of, and occasionally put to death for, capital crimes. Death penalty opponents see current laws which limit the appeals process as equivalent to mounting the likelihood for putting…
Constitutionality of the Death Penalty in America. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://deathpenaltycurriculum.org/student/c/about/history/history-5.htm
Introduction to the Death Penalty. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org /part-
Recent Legal History of the Death Penalty in America. (2011). Retrieved from http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/bldeathpenalty.htm