Death Penalty Essays (Examples)

death penalty essays

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Capital Punishment in the United States

Words: 1910 Length: 6 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 29768807

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 the human society (Palmer, 2008).

Although capital punishment appeals to some members of the public, it does not hold water. Even when committed or done by the Federal Government, this punishment does not meet its intended purpose in the society. As such, it turns out to be against the wishes…… [Read More]


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.
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Capital Punishment Does it Reduce Crime Capital

Words: 1448 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 3911568

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, lethal injection accounted for 71 executions (CP Statistics, 2003) while 1 was carried out by electrocution. Statistics in Capital Punishment have shown though that the numbers for 2002 have decreased for a second year in a row, and all inmates on Death Row had committed murder.

Capital Punishment is the…… [Read More]


Capital Punishment Statistics

Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2003.

Printable copy at:

Study # 3667: Capital Punishment in the United States 1973-2000
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Capital Punishment the Use of

Words: 858 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 99242292

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 limited to health care and education. Indeed, according to Souryal (2010), one such argument brands capital punishment a cost effective way of offender management. What this argument fails to appreciate is the fact that the bulk of costs relating to long-term imprisonment are as a result of lengthy and numerous…… [Read More]


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.
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Capital Punishment the Pros and

Words: 2096 Length: 6 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 28952904

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, Reiman 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, Reiman'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 van den Haag's "best bet argument" maintains that it is better for society to err on the side of safety by using the death penalty rather than taking a chance on alternative punishments. This pragmatic perspective is reinforced by the fact that having been convicted of a capital offense, death…… [Read More]


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.
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Death Sentence Capital Punishment and

Words: 1655 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 57043786

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 Biblical 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)

4. Conclusion

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 can be seen from the fact that a poll of views among Catholics indicates that members of the church are divided in this issue. It is also noteworthy that there has in recent years been a marked increase in the number of Catholics opposed to the death sentence. A poll…… [Read More]


Dulles A. Catholicism & Capital Punishment. Sunday. 3 Oct. 2010


Gonzales A. Pro-life and Pro-Capital Punishment Contradiction in Terms? 3 Oct. 2010 )
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Capital Punishment the Argument Over

Words: 1965 Length: 7 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 43729847

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 seem logically preferable.

Capital punishment is the only practical alternative to conviction for crimes so heinous that they require lifetime incarceration, as much to protect innocent members of society as to provide a means of punishment or retribution. In that sense, it is difficult to understand the suggestion that individuals…… [Read More]


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
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Capital Punishment Is Barbaric the

Words: 1839 Length: 6 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 24257241

And such an event, unfortunately, is all too possible, as evidenced by a review done by Bedau and Radelet 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 Radelet 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 body of literature. Donna Lyons (2000), for instance, cites several instances where reputed bodies such as the American Bar Association and the Federal Justice Department have raised concerns over the increasing evidence of racial disparity in prosecution and sentencing.

Thus, whichever way one looks at the issue of capital punishment,…… [Read More]


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.
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Capital Punishment the Issue of

Words: 2158 Length: 7 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 84771615

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 based on moral judgment. As can be seen by this, this point could go in circles for many more centuries.

The idea of retribution is equally as difficult to fairly analyze. Is an "eye for an eye" policy the best policy to exact the most powerful amount of retribution on…… [Read More]

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.