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The Use of Capital Punishment in America Essay examples

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The Use of Capital Punishment in America

The use of capital punishment in the U.S. is a growing concern for most American citizens. According to statistics, seventy percent of Americans are in support of the death penalty, while only thirty percent are against it. These statistics show that few people are against capital punishment (“Fact” 1). With the use of the death penalty growing the controversy is becoming more heated. With only twelve states left not enforcing it the resistance is becoming futile (“Fact” 4). Many debates have been made and even clauses have been invoked, such as, the “Cruel and Unusual Clause” that was invoked by the Supreme Court in 1962 (Meltsner 179). The use of death as a punishment has been viewed as “cruel and unusual,” but in further research the view of what is considered “cruel and unusual” has been reduced drastically (Berns 31). America’s method of punishments has been reduced from several extremely painful execution methods, to four quick and less painful punishments. They consist of line of execution, gas chamber, electric chair, and the most popular lethal injection (“Ways” 1-4). The debate about the death penalty consists in both ethical and religious viewpoints.

The death penalty should be legalized in all fifty states, to deter from crime, keep repeat offenders off the streets, and alleviate prison costs from the taxpayers. On the other hand, there have been some men and women that have been wrongfully accused and executed for murder. Since the 1900’s at least 416 people have been wrongfully executed causing great concern for the accuracy of the death penalty (“Death” 4). According to an examination of the “Death Penalty and Legislature,” Henry Schwarzchild calculated that if the courts were to “carry out the death penalty for every murder, then we would be executing 400 persons per week (Bedau 366). At the same time this small number of mistakes is nothing compared to the problems society would face without the death penalty.

The concern of the death penalty not only pertains to social problems, but also to biblical aspects as well. Walter Berns states many passages from the Bible that support the death penalty, but after careful research he determines that the passages can be interpreted in many different ways. To read this passage from Genesis someone might think that the death penalty is suppo...


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...sy and debate that could continue in years to come.



Works Cited



1. Bedau, Hugo. The Death Penalty in America Third ed. New York: Oxford University P, 1982.

2. Berns, Walter. “Crime and the Morality of the Death Penalty.” For Capital Punishment. New York: Basic Books P, 1974.

3. Carelli, Richard. “Court refuses to outlaw Florida electric chair.” Washington 19 Jan. 1999. http.//web.lexus-nexus.com/universal (20 Jan. 1999).

4. “Death Penalty Facts.” 7 June 1995. http://susers.aol.com/mcluf/deathf.htm (20 Jan. 1999).

5. “Death Penalty Fact Sheet.” http://www.ohio.net/~mhs/civics/capp/-factsheet.htm (20 Jan. 1999).

6. Kieter, Richard. “On the Front Line: Law enforcement views on the Death Penalty.” Feb. 1995. http://www.essential.org/dpic/dpic.r03.html (5 Feb. 1999).

7. “Nine Lives: Myths and Facts about the Death Penalty.” http://www.ninelive.org/myths. htm (20 Jan. 1999).

8. Meltsner, Michael. “The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment.” Cruel and Unusaul. New York: Random House P, 1973.

9. “Ways to be Executed by the Death Penalty. http://www.ohio.net/~mhs/civics/capps/ execution.htm (20 Jan. 1999).


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