Analyzing Capital Punishment

Powerful Essays
Analyzing Capital Punishment

The issue of capital punishment involves analyzing the morals that are used to justify its implementation or rejection. There is no one “correct” set of morals, making this issue extremely divisive. For instance, it is arguable that the punishment for a crime should be comparable to the crime committed. However, one may counter by asking who decides what is a comparable punishment for a crime and how can one go about ensuring that no undeserved punishment is being practiced. Thus, because the discussion of the issue elicits various views about how effective punishments are and what is morally “right or wrong,” it is difficult to reach a consensus about what the appropriate stance on the death penalty should be.

Valuable insight can be gained by understanding how the death penalty evolved and by understanding why many countries have abandoned capital punishment, while others still retain it. By looking at the 20th century, it is clear that the implementation of the death penalty in the U.S. often corresponds to periods of social unease. For instance, in the early 1900s, six states completely outlawed its use, while three others outlawed the death penalty except for certain crimes that occur in low frequency, such as treason or the killing of a government official. However, fear of the effects of the Russian revolution, entrance into World War I, and international challenges to capitalism caused frenzy in the U.S. Therefore, by 1920, five of the six abolitionist states reinstituted the death penalty (Death Penalty Information Center, hereafter DPIC). As Americans suffered through the Great Depression and Prohibition, the use of the death penalty surged. In fact, t...

... middle of paper ...

...ilization, and the Death Penalty: Answering van den Haag.” Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 14, No. 2. Jstor. 10 Feb. 2004 .

Grant, Robert. “Capital Punishment and Violence.” The Humanist. Buffalo, Jan/Feb. 2004. ProQuest. 15 Feb. 2004 .

Zimring, Franklin E, Garvey, Stephen, Brumberg, Joan Jacobs. “Trying to Understand America’s Death Penalty System and Why We Still Have It.” Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology. Chicago, Fall 2003. ProQuest. 10 Feb. 2004 .
Get Access