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As such, it is unlikely to change in light of knowledge or information about the death penalty and its administration" (Vollum & Buffington-Vollum, p. 30). Furthermore, "those who scored higher on value-expressive attitudes were less accepting of information critical of the death penalty and, in turn, less likely to change their views in light of the information presented." Thus, the widespread support of the death penalty in the face of ample evidence suggesting both its functional inefficacy and unjust application is explained by the fact that much support for the death penalty is shaped by values and beliefs wholly separate from evidence or data, and as such those beliefs are largely immutable in the face of such evidence.
Thus far the death penalty has only been considered in general as it relates to people's support for it. As has been shown, not only does the death penalty lack any kind…
Choe, J. (2010). Another look at the deterrent effect of death penalty. Journal of Advanced
Research in Law and Economics, 1(1), 12-15.
Miller, MK, & Miller, DR. (2008). Religious characteristics and the death penalty. Law and Human Behavior, 32(2), 113-23.
Lynch, M, & Haney, C. (2004). Discrimination and instructional comprehension: guided discretion, racial bias, and the death penalty. Law and Human Behavior, 24(3), 337-351.
Death Penalty is the most severe forms of punishment that can be accorded to a criminal who has committed a crime and deserves to be punished. The brief history of death penalty shows that this is nothing new, because it was something that was practiced right from the eighteenth century BC, in Babylon, and thereafter in Athens, and in ome, and in Great Britain. The death penalty methods of punishments were actually brought in from Great Britain to the United States of America, and there were any number of methods of execution, like for example guillotine, burning at a stake, or impalement. There are many numbers of people who either support death penalty or are against it, and there are quite a few arguments in support of both. However, what one decides ultimately rests on the individual and his cultural background and his religious and moral ethics, but the death…
Appeals. 5 October, 2001. Retrieved From
http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Appeals.htm Accessed on 24 March, 2005
Capital Punishment, Three good reasons for supporting the death penalty. Retrieved From
http://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/punish.html Accessed on 24 March, 2005
Death Penalty Is Fair
The Death Penalty Is a Fair Punishment for Murder
Arguements have been raised concerning death penalty for a long time now. A lot of people consider death penalty as an immoral, or an unreasonable punishment. (Messerli, 2007) Despite the fact that the death sentences were a constant element of society in the past, which actually initiated from lynching and ended in the modern capital punishment and is still applicable in some states the topic of death penalty is one amongst the most fretfully discussed topics in public. The topic of Capital punishment accompanies several legal, communal and ethical concerns. (Lifton and Mitchell, 2007)
Lots of people are against death penalty. They argue that it is against humanity and immoral and is there any a crime (or series of crimes) so terrible the offender deserves to depart his life? 33 states in America say yes, rest of…
Lifton, R, J., and Mitchell, G., (2002) Who Owns Death? Capital Punishment, the American Conscience, and the End of Executions, Harper Perennial, 200- 250.
Mandery, E, J., (2011) Capital Punishment: A Balanced Examination, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2 edition, 550- 578.
McCord, D., and Latzer, B., (2010) Death Penalty Cases, Leading U.S. Supreme Court Cases on Capital Punishment, Butterworth-Heinemann; 3 edition, 400- 410.
Messerli, J., (2007) "Should The Death Penalty Be Banned as a Form of Punishment " Balanced Politics . 1.
Death Penalty as Retribution
The Retributive Nature of the Death Penalty
The peaceful fabric of society is torn whenever a crime is committed. In the case of murder, the suffering of the victim's loved ones can be unbearable and last for a lifetime. The destructive ripple effect of these tragedies cannot be compensated for in any way, not even by the capture, conviction, and execution of the killer. However, many states still rely on the death penalty as a form of retribution for capital murder, but if the wrong committed cannot be corrected or compensated for, then what value does the death penalty serve?
One argument in favor of the death penalty is that it allows the government to exact retribution by taking the life of the killer (Budziszewski). Retribution, known by some as 'an eye for an eye' and 'just deserts' form of retaliation, attempts to reestablish social order…
Budziszewski, J. "Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice." Orthodoxy Today 145 (2004): 39-45. Web. 2 Apr. 2013.
DealthPenaltyInfo.org. "Death Penalty for Offenses other than Murder." Death Penalty Information Center. 2013. Web. 2 Apr. 2013.
Fagan, Jeffrey A. "Capital Punishment: Deterrent Effects & Capital Costs." Columbia Law School, Columbia University. 2013. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.
Gerber, Monica M. And Jackson, Jonathan. "Retribution as Revenge and Retribution as Just Deserts." Social Justice Research 26 (2013): 61-80. Print.
All indications are that capital offenses are on the rise and the response to this phenomenon has been a cry to impose capital punishment as retribution. Certainly the issue is one of the most hotly debated in the world today; both for consideration of its humaneness as well as efficacy as a deterrent. For the purposes of this assignment we will examine the issue from both sides with the intent of persuading the reader of the necessity of the death penalty.
The United States legal system currently allows for executions; although not all states practice capital punishment. It is a charged moral issue that regularly invokes heated debates both for and against the death penalty. Since the inception of executions, ethicists have used religion, emotion and practicality as the basis for their arguments. Since 1976 when capital punishment was reinstated in the United States one of the reigning…
Blecker, R., Kirchmeier, J., Erlbaum, W., Drehle, D.V. And Fagan, J. (2003). Rethinking the Death Penalty: Can We Define Who Deserves Death? - 24 Pace Law Review 107.
Gross, S.R. (2000). Still Unfair, Still Arbitrary - But Do We Care? Keynote Address, 26 Ohio Northern University Law Review 517.
Martin, E.F. (2000). Tessie Hutchinson and the American System of Capital Punishment" 59 Maryland Law Review 553.
Radelet, M., et. al. (2006). 7 Univ. Of Colorado Law Review 549.
An on-going Debate on Ethics and Morality
The debate on whether the death penalty, or capital punishment, should be utilized in the United States is best seen in the varied laws that exist within each state. For this reason, many states, most of which are in the northern parts of the country are against capital punishment, while many southern states support this kind of a law. The U.S. map is quite divided and many have joined the on-going debate on whether or not the U.S. should utilize this form of punishment. Despite the fact that most industrialized, westernized countries have rid themselves of the death penalty, and despite the fact that many argue cruelty and lack of civilized due process in utilizing such punishment, many of those who uphold the death penalty claim that it does work, especially in deterring criminals. The three articles presented below were thus…
The debate over the death penalty remains and the Supreme Court will most likely be asked decide such cases for years to come.
Summary and Conclusion
The purpose of this discussion was to examine several landmark Supreme Court cases and explain the evolution of capital punishment jurisprudence from 1972 to the present. The research focused on the cases of Furman v Georgia, Woodson v. North Carolina, Gregg v Georgia, McCleskey v Kemp, Ford v Wainwright, Atkins v Virginia and oper v Simmons. The research demonstrates a gradual evolution in the manner in which the Supreme Court views cases involving the death penalty.
In cases such as Furman v Georgia the arbitrary nature of the case was taken into account. The fact that the murder was not premeditated seemed to also be taken into account. The facts of the case seem to indicate that Furman went to rob someone and that…
Atkins v Virginia (2002).
22 June, 2008 http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=va&vol=1000395&invol=1
Gregg v Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976) 22 June, 2008 http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=U.S.&vol=428&invol=153
Ford v Wainwright. 477 U.S. 399 (1986) 22 June, 2008 http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=U.S.&vol=477&invol=399
However, sociologists argue that the retributive justice theory suffers due to the lack of appreciation of circumstantial causes involved in the commission of crime. y counting 'free will' as the only factor involved in a crime the deontological thinking lacks in the comprehensive analysis of criminal behavior. For instance the disproportionate number of crimes by the economically disadvantaged African-Americans when compared to Caucasians is a clear instance for external factors that could influence the behavior of a person. In the words of philosopher Thomas. a. Mappes, "Pure retributive thinking seems to presuppose a radical sense of human freedom and its correlate, a radical sense of personal responsibility and accountability for one's actions." [Laurence]
A moral community is based on the principle where each and every member of the community has equal rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." [Kenneth Cauthen] Under these circumstances if one person…
1) Amnesty International (2009)' More Executions in Japan as other countries Reject the Death penalty', Accessed Feb 20th 2010, Available at, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/more-executions-japan-other-countries-reject-death-penalty-20090731
2) Amnesty International, 'The Death Penalty in Canada: Twenty Years of Abolition', Accessed Feb 20th 2010, available at, http://www.amnesty.ca/deathpenalty/canada.php
3) Bureau of Justice Statistics (2009), 'Executions: Key Facts at a Glance', Accessed Feb 20th 2010, Available at, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/exetab.htm
4) B.A Robinson (1995), ' Capital Punishment: Death Penalty Data', Accessed Feb 20th 2010, Updated Dec 07, 2009, Available at, http://www.religioustolerance.org/execut3.htm
This article puts forward the notion that when analyzing the "...relationships between minority groups and mainstream populations," the issue of whether the use of "formal control is applied fairly and consistently between these different groups" is a pivotal place to begin (Ruddell, et al., 2004). It is pivotal because "injustice" not only can have "a corrosive effect" on the perception of the fairness (or unfairness) of the criminal justice system; it may actually "contribute to increased crime."
The rationale behind Ruddell's study is partly sociological and partly philosophical: when ethnic minority groups "increase in number and size, they also contest the status quo," and become a "threat." As the minority group grows, so do perceived threats to the economic and social structure of the majority increase, and hence "minority communities are likely to be policed more aggressively," Ruddell continues. As a result more arrests take place in these communities…
Adams, Lucy. (2005). Death by Discretion: Who Decides Who Lives and Dies in the United
States of America? American Journal of Criminal Law, 32(3), 381-401.
American Civil Liberties Union. (2006). National Death Penalty Fact Sheet / Race and the Death Penalty. Retrieved July 2, 2006, at http://www.aclu.org/capital/facts/10593res20050216.html .
Barkan, Steven E., & Cohn, Steven F. (2005). On Reducing White Support for the Death
Coming across cases in which people were charged with crimes that did not commit and as a result risked being executed, people in Maryland appear to be unsupportive toward capital punishment, as they recognize that one cannot be brought back from the dead. (ill Maryland follow Illinois's lead and abolish the death penalty?).
ith death penalty being presently a part of legal systems from around the world, it is particularly important for people to acknowledge the wrongness, risk, and destructive nature of the procedure. It is almost impossible to believe that modern society and some of the world's greatest powers continue to uphold such practices.
Geraghty, Thomas F. "Trying to Understand America's Death Penalty System and hy e Still Have it," Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 94.1 (2003)
Haines, Herbert H. Against Capital Punishment the Anti-Death Penalty Movement in America, 1972-1994 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996)…
Geraghty, Thomas F. "Trying to Understand America's Death Penalty System and Why We Still Have it," Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 94.1 (2003)
Haines, Herbert H. Against Capital Punishment the Anti-Death Penalty Movement in America, 1972-1994 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996)
Langan, John. "Capital Punishment," Theological Studies 54.1 (1993)
Steiker, Carol S. "No, Capital Punishment Is Not Morally Required: Deterrence, Deontology, and the Death Penalty," Stanford Law Review 58.3 (2005)
It would seem that many criminals would find this more amusing than frightening. They do not take their chances of being caught and subjected to capital punishment seriously enough to be frightened by the penalty like many assume they will be (van den Haag, 2001).
According to some who believe in God and feel that capital punishment is acceptable under the scriptures, there is one main point, which is that "This is not an issue that may be measured accurately in terms of statistics. No one can ever know how many potential murderers have refrained from taking human life due to their fear of prosecution, conviction, and ultimate execution" (Jackson, 2003). It is also questioned during this same argument, though, by those who conclude that capital punishment is not a deterrent to violent crime, whether they should also be able to conclude that prison is not a deterrent either, since…
Bayat, Mufti Z. (1999) Capital punishment a deterrent to serious crime. Jumiatul Ulama. http://www.jamiat.org.za/c_punishment.htm
Reforms required in capital punishment. (2002) the Christian Century.
Cook, Kimberly J. (1999) Against Capital Punishment. Social Forces.
Ikramullah, Mir M. (2003) Capital punishment: deterrent to crime?. The Spectrum Press.
Studies consistently and generally show that, all factors held constant, the race of the accused is a critical variable in determining who will be sentenced to death. lack citizens are, thus, subjected to double discrimination. From initial charging decisions to plea bargaining to sentencing by the jury, lack defendants receive harsh treatment and, as victims, their lives are given less value than whites. Most juries still consist of all white members in many places (Freedman).
Freedman (1997) adds that most capital defendants cannot afford a suitable attorney and so the court must appoint a counsel. Major studies found that the quality of defense representation in capital murder trials is in general far lower than in felony cases. This area is highly specialized. The State must offer attractive pay to competent counsels on the one hand and there many poor people needing them on the other. When the poor person must…
American Demographics. The Death Penalty - American Attitudes. Media Central, Inc.: PRIMEDIA Company, November 1, 2001
Easterbrook, Gregg. The Myth of Fingerprints. Florida: New Republic, July 21, 2003
Freedman, Eric. The Case Against the Death Penalty. USA today: Society for the Advancement of Education, March 1997
Goldberg, Steven. SoWhat if the Death Penalty Deters? National Review: National Review, Inc., June 30, 1989
Functional Theory Approach to Death penalty
The functional theory approach to the death penalty is the longest standing explanation for why the death penalty works. Simply put, the death penalty serves a function. The functionalist theoretical approach suggest that death penalty serves a certain function, that is, deterring crime (Weisberg, 2003; Gamson, 1988). This may also be referred to as manifest function. Unfortunately this theory is somewhat debunk, as there is little hard evidence supporting the notion that the death penalty successfully deters crime. In this case a functionalist may in turn look for latent functions the death penalty might serve including revenge or victim appeasement (Weisberg, 2003). Functionalists support strong condemnatory action because weak or less severe penalties may suggest that the underlying conduct "is not genuinely worth condemnation" (Weisberg, 467).
Social Conflict Theory and the Death Penalty
Social conflict theory typically connects deviant behaviors with power. It suggests…
Aguirre, A. & Baker, D. (1993). "Racial prejudice and the death penalty: A research note." Social Justice, 20(1-2): 150
Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Enblewood Cliffs:
Galiher, J.M. & Galiher, J.F. (2001). "A commonsense theory of deterrence and the ideology of science: The New York State death penalty debate." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 1: 307.
It violates the right to life...It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. There can never be any justification for torture or for cruel treatment" (White, n.d., pg. 1).
In addition to the argument that it is a denial of human rights, abolitionists have an equally strong offender-centered argument of innocence (White, n.d. pg. 2). They argue that innocent people are often put to death, in what can only be termed a heinous denial of justice. Further arguments against the death penalty consist of its use against primarily poor offenders, its inconsistent use, and the fact that convicted criminals, even murderers, can reform in prison and be reproductive once again (White, n.d., pg. 2). White uses the example of Stanley "Tookie" Williams to show this is true. Williams, a former gang member and founder, was executed in 2005, but only after he had sincerely reformed of his ways during…
Liptak, A. (2007, Nov. 18). "Does Death Penalty Save Lives? A New Debate." Retrieved
May 28, 2009, from the New York Times. Web Site: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/us/18deter.html
White, D. (n.d.). "Pros & Cons of the Death Penalty." Retrieved May 28, 2009, from About.com. Web Site: http://usliberals.about.com/od/deathpenalty/i/DeathPenalty.htm
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that people convicted of crimes should not be subject to excessive bail or fines, and that authorities may not inflict 'cruel and unusual punishments' (Eighth Pp). Ratified in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, this amendment has been cited as an argument against capital punishment (Eighth Pp). In the 1972 United States Supreme Court case 'Furman vs. Georgia, three men who were sentenced to death argued that the death penalty violated their Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and the Court ruled that the death penalty was cruel and unusual in this case because it was not applied fairly or objectively (Eighth Pp). This decision affected six hundred people already on death row and since then, several states have adoped new laws to prevent arbitrary use of the death penalty (Eighth Pp).
In 2002 United States District…
Van den Haag, Ernest. "The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense." Copyright
1986 Harvard Law Review Association
Greenberg, Jack. "Against the American System of Capital Punishment."
Death Penalty for Juvenile Offenders
Supreme Court by a majority decision on March 1, 2005 in oper v. Simmons held that death penalty for juveniles was "cruel and unusual" and as such the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution forbid the execution of offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed. The action reversed the death sentences of 72 convicted murderers in the U.S. who had committed their crimes as juveniles. While the Supreme Court decision has pleased the anti-death penalty advocates, it has not put to rest the debate about death penalty for juvenile offenders. In this paper I shall examine some of the arguments for and against the death penalty for juveniles and the implications of enforcing or doing away with juvenile death penalty.
Arguments for Juvenile Death Penalty
A Murder is a Murder:
The advocates for juvenile death penalty argue…
"Death penalty for minors: Cruel and unusual." (September 27, 2004). American Medical News. Retrieved on May 14, 2005 from http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org /article.php?scid=38& did=884#amn 'Recent Public Opinion on the Juvenile Death Penalty." (n.d.) Death Penalty and Information Center.
Whether or not the death penalty should be utilized as a punishment for serious crimes is a contentious issue, one that is hotly debated throughout the world. In the past few decades the number of nations that sentence criminals to the death penalty has dramatically decreased, as more than two thirds of countries in the world have abolished the use of the death penalty in practice or law (Amnesty International, 2010). The increase in countries choosing to abolish the death penalty is for good reason, as the arguments against its use are numerous and are based in reliable research and logic. The following discussion will highlight three facets of the powerful argument against the use of the death penalty. These three key points include: the fact that the death penalty is ineffective in efforts of crime prevention; the death penalty is immoral; and the majority of Americans do…
Imanbekova. "Does the death penalty really deter criminals?" University Wire 25 June 2007. Retrieved November 24, 2010 from HighBeam Research.
Amnesty International. "Death Penalty" 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010 from http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/numbers .
"Poll Shows Growing Support for Alternatives to the Death Penalty; Capital Punishment Ranked Lowest Among Budget Priorities." PR Newswire 16 November 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010 from HighBeam Research.
All arguments against the death penalty appear doubly applicable to women so convicted; those already victimized by their circumstances and relationships are further victimized by a justice system that is supposed to help them, while the guilty are allowed to continue with their crimes, freed by the skill of high-priced lawyers.
According to Dreyfuss (2003), women convicted of murder specifically face issues such as prosecutors who ignore mitigating circumstances, self-defence, abuse, and mental illness in seeking the death penalty. These are issues that further contribute to the injustice of the death penalty for women, particularly in states such as Texas, and particularly in cases where women are innocent like Jacobs or mentally ill like Yates.
Women face a wide variety of integrated problems when faced with any sort of conviction, and particularly the death penalty. These issues are generally a result of circumstances beyond the control of these…
ACLU (2002). ACLU Applauds Jury Decision to Spare Andrea Yates' Life. http://www.aclu.org/capital/women/10342prs20020315.html
Dow David & Dow, Mark. (2002). Machinery of Death. Routledge.
Dreyfuss, Claudia. (2003). Women on Death Row in Texas. Ms. Magazine, Spring. http://www.deathrow-usa.us/womenTX.html
Freedberg, Sydney P. (1999, Jul 4). Sonia Jacobs: "I had nothing... The world I left no longer existed." St. Petersburg Times. http://www.truthinjustice.org/soniajacobs.htm
Human civilization has come a long way in terms of upholding and safeguarding basic human rights to life, liberty, dignity, equality and justice. Indeed, this trend is evident in the worldwide human rights movement that protests and fights against cruel practices such as child labor, prisoner abuse, war crimes, and domestic violence against women and children. It is, therefore, surprising that some countries continue to use the death penalty for capital crimes such as murder. Indeed, as this paper will argue, the death penalty has no place in any society that claims to be progressive, humane and just.
hat constitutes a progressive human society? Surely, it is one that refuses to allow brutal punishments such as the death penalty and attempts instead to work towards rehabilitating its criminals? This is precisely the point that King raises in her article The Death Penalty Is a Step Back. Indeed, one…
King, C.S. "The Death Penalty Is a Step Back." Reading and Writing Effective
In viewing the basic research available on this issue, the average cost of keeping a prisoner in jail falls somewhere between $100 and $130 a day depending on what area of the country that offender is imprisoned. This equates to a rough estimate of nearly $40,000 per prisoner per year, which not only equals an exceedingly large sum of money, but also surpasses that national average salary of hard working men and women who have done nothing to offend their country or its laws. In viewing the state of the national economy alone in terms of this number, it becomes clear that death-row prisoners kept in prison as well as those prisoners serving a life sentence continue to offend society by becoming a consistent drain on the country's resources.
With the average individual on death row being sent to prison not to be executed immediately, but to serve a significant…
Society's primary responsibility lies in working towards assuring the physical and psychological well-being of its honest and upright citizens. Implicit in the preceding statement is that government and other social institutions must bring about a social environment that is safe and free of crime, especially serious offenses that can endanger lives. Viewed from this perspective, it appears that perhaps the death penalty is a necessary recourse for any society, which wishes to prevent the reoccurrence of severe crimes. Further, and more important, imposing the death penalty plays a pivotal role in society being able to uphold the values of justice, innocence, and social well being.
The ongoing debate on whether the death penalty should be retained or abolished concerns itself with the issue of justice from differing perspectives. The abolitionists, for instance, argue that the death sentence runs the risk of executing some convicted people, whose innocence is…
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
Should Canada reinstate the death penalty for planned and premeditated murder What is your position and why
Why are people punished for their crimes? What is the driving idea behind punitive sentencing in criminal justice? Is life behind bars somehow to be considered more humane of a sentence for a person who commits premeditated murder? Or is knowing that one will never again have his freedom a worse punishment than death? Obviously these are all subjective questions and people will have different views on the matter, so it is important to define one’s own approach to the question. If one is talking about preferences and whether it is better to give up one’s life than to live the rest of one’s days in prison, one might go either way. But if one is talking about the issue of capital punishment from an ethical point of view, it is an approach…
The most notable provision of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution is the prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments.” Several arguments waged against the death penalty invoke the Eighth Amendment and claim that capital punishment is both cruel and unusual. However, the Supreme Court has heard several such cases and consistently upholds the constitutional legality of the death penalty on Eighth Amendment grounds, as with Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, (1976). The death penalty cannot be considered much if at all crueler than a life term in prison, and when the death penalty is proportional to a crime, it is by no means unusual. Therefore, the death penalty is not a violation of the Eighth Amendment, as long as it is restricted for use in response to capital crimes unequivocally committed by mentally capable adults.
The Supreme Court has also created limitations on the use of the death penalty,…
Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute (2017). Death penalty. Retrieved online: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/death_penalty
Death Penalty Information Center (2017). Methods of execution. Retrieved online: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/methods-execution
“Is the Death Penalty Unconstitutional?” (n.d.). ProCon. Retrieved online: https://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.background-resource.php?resourceID=001715#VIII
This essay assumes a pro death penalty stance. The arguments in favor of the death penalty include the following. First, the death penalty stems from ancient traditions that define American culture and society. Second, the death penalty encourages respect for the law and possibly prevents some crimes from being committed in the first place through the deterrent effect. Third, the death penalty could save taxpayers a lot of money and reduce prison overcrowding, too. Arguments against the death penalty are valid but insufficient to withdraw from a pro death penalty position. For example, the death penalty is neither racist nor is it cruel and unusual punishment. The recommendation for public policy is to retain the death penalty.
The continuing use of the death penalty for specific crimes remains a distinguishing feature of the American penal system. Much criticism has been waged at the death penalty, and for good…
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,…
Amnesty International. Death Penalty. 2008. www.amnestyusa.org/death-penalty/page.do?id=1011005).
Death Penalty Information Center. Facts About the Death Penalty. March 1, 2009. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org /FactSheet.pdf' target='_blank' REL='NOFOLLOW'>
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).
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.
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
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…