In 1997, 80% of Americans favored the death penalty. A recent national poll found that, that number has significantly dropped to an all time low of 63%percent. In addition, those favoring the death penalty dropped to fifty percent when those polled were asked to assume that the alternative to the death penalty was life in prison with no chance of parole. And, the amount of death sentences imposed in the United States during the recent years has dropped to the lowest level since capital punishment was reinstated. Hence, it would seem that our society’s attitude toward capital punishment is changing as well. What was once ordinary is now abnormal, and what was once essentially unquestioned is now questioned.The debate over the legitimacy or morality of the death penalty may be almost as old as the death penalty itself and, in the view of the increasing trend towards its complete abolition, perhaps as outdated. Capital punishment is horribly flawed, ineffective at deterring crime, completely unethical, outrageously expensive, and has no place in a civilized society. Deterrence One of the major arguments in favor of the death penalty is that it deters future criminals. Many individuals are led to believe that if the potential consequence of killing someone is death, other individuals are going to be less-prone to kill one another. However, there is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than long terms of imprisonment. States that endorse death penalty laws do not have lower crime rates or murder rates than states without such laws. And states that have completely abolished capital punishment show no major differences in either crime or murder rates. The death penalty has absolutely no deterrent ef... ... middle of paper ... ... were African American. The ethical question here is, “Is the death penalty being handed to those based on race?” Constitutionality Death is an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality, and in its enormity. The fatal constitutional infirmity in the punishment of death is that it treats 'members of the human race as non humans, as objects to be toyed with and discarded . It is thus inconsistent with the fundamental premise of the Clause that even the vilest criminal remains a human being possessed of common human dignity. As such it is a penalty that 'subjects the individual to a fate forbidden by the principle of civilized treatment guaranteed by the [Clause]. Therefore, death is today a cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Clause. The ethical question here is, “Is the death penalty violating our very own amendments?” Conclusion
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For centuries, the death penalty has been used by nations throughout the world. Practices such as stoning, the guillotine, firing squads, electrocution, and lethal injections have all been common practices to condemn criminals who had enacted heinous crimes. In concurrent society, however, capital punishment has begun to be viewed as a barbaric and inhumane. From these judgments, arguments and controversies have erupted over whether or not the United States should continue to practice the death penalty. With advocates and critics arguing over the morality of the death penalty, the reason to why the death penalty exists has been blurred. Because of the death penalty’s ability to thwart future criminals through fear and its practical purposes, the practice of capital punishment should continue in the United States.
Murder, a common occurrence in American society, is thought of as a horrible, reprehensible atrocity. Why then, is it thought of differently when the state government arranges and executes a human being, the very definition of premeditated murder? Capital punishment has been reviewed and studied for many years, exposing several inequities and weaknesses, showing the need for the death penalty to be abolished.
Is the death penalty consistent with the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against the imposition of cruel and unusual punishments? This essay will address this question and present a short history of the death penalty in America.
The death penalty, as administered by states based on their individual laws, is considered capital punishment, the purpose of which is to penalize criminals convicted of murder or other heinous crimes (Fabian). The death penalty issue has been the focus of much controversy in recent years, even though capital punishment has been a part of our country's history since the beginning. Crimes in colonial times, such as murder and theft of livestock were dealt with swiftly and decisively ("The Death Penalty..."). Criminals were hanged shortly after their trial, in public executions. This practice was then considered just punishment for those crimes. Recently though, the focus of the death penalty debate has been on moral and legal issues. The murderers of today's society can be assured of a much longer life even after conviction, with the constraints of the appeals process slowing the implementation of their death sentence. In most cases, the appeal process lasts several years, during which time criminals enjoy comfortable lives. They have television, gym facilities, and the leisure time to attend free college-level classes that most American citizens must struggle to afford. Foremost, these murderers have the luxury of time, something their victims ran out of the moment their paths crossed. It is time this country realized the only true justice for these criminals is in the form of the death penalty. The death penalty should be administered for particularly heinous crimes.
Throughout the United States violent crime has been a persistent problem that state governments are constantly trying to contain, if not eliminate. When a crime arises to the severity of the death penalty many times people instantly jump to the support of pro capital punishment , thinking that the accused should be put to death for killing another person. Currently updated as of 2011, there are 34 death penalty states and 16 states that have abolished the death penalty. In deed, very few issues are as polarizing as that of capital punishment. Support for the death penalty crosses all lines of race, socio-economic status, and religion. Given the right climate and circumstances, anybody can be quick to judge, convict, and condemn. Aside from the vengeful feeling of ‘an eye for an eye’, people are in favor of the death penalty because they feel it deters criminals and its less taxing on our penal system. However, what they fail to realize is that the death penalty has not been found to do either of those things, in fact, states without the death penalty have had consistently lower crime rates. Likewise, people are not correctly aware of what the results of the death penalty have really produced, or that life in prison without parole has been proven to be the more effective and economical path to go. The death penalty has proven to be more costly and a failure as a deterrent to crime.
The Eighth Amendment was ratified on December 15, 1791 and it states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” (Rossum & Tarr, 2009). However, since the latter part of the 1970’s the United States has proceeded with the execution of 1277 convicted felons (Death Penalty Information Center, 2011). To many people these executions represent a violation of the felon’s constitutional rights and should not have been allowed. On the other hand, if we take an in-depth look, we can see that death caused by electrocution or lethal injection recognizably would not be considered immoral or unjustified provided that the felon was granted a fair trial in a court of law (Bedau, Cassell, 2004).
The use of capital punishment greatly discourages any wrongdoers from committing any crime such as murder. Many people’s greatest fear is death; therefore if they know that death is a possible consequence for their actions, they are less likely to perform such actions. Ernest van den Haag, a professor and author of “Punishing Criminals:Concerning a Very Old and Painful Question” wrote about the issue of deterrence: “…capital punishment is likely to deter more than other punishments because people fear death more than anything else. They fear most death deliberately inflicted by law and scheduled by the courts…the threat of the death penalty may deter some murderers who otherwise might not have been deterred. And surely the death penalty is the only penalty that could deter prisoners already serving a life sentence and tempted to kill a guard, or offenders about to be arrested and facing a life sentence.”
The death penalty dates back to the eighteenth century. Criminals received many punishments throughout the centuries such as hangings, quartering, and burning at the stake. The death penalty consists of lethal injections today. The death penalty is a controversial topic because some people are for the death penalty and some people are against the death penalty. There is no one consensus for or against the death penalty. Although there have been many studies on the immorality of the death penalty and whether or not to limit the death penalty in some ways or just completely abolish it all together. It appears that more people are leading towards getting rid of the death penalty, but the courts want to keep it because the courts argue that that it is a successful fear tactic and may prevent future crimes. The death penalty is inhumane, biased, arbitrary, and an unsuccessful fear tactic so it should be abolished.
There are many false impressions floating around through American society concerning the death penalty; this paper hopes to clarify some of the more prominent, noticeable ones.
The death penalty is a controversial topic in the United States today and has been for a number of years. The death penalty is currently legal in 38 states and two federal jurisdictions (Winters 97). The death penalty statutes were overturned and then reinstated in the United States during the 1970's due to questions concerning its fairness (Flanders 50). The death penalty began to be reinstated slowly, but the rate of executions has increased during the 1990's (Winters103-107). There are a number of arguments in favor of the death penalty. Many death penalty proponents feel that the death penalty reduces crime because it deters people from committing murder if they know that they will receive the death penalty if they are caught. Others in favor of the death penalty feel that even if it doesn't deter others from committing crimes, it will eliminate repeat offenders.
In summary, Radelet & Borg (2000) draw three general observations from the data. First, there have been significant changes in the arguments made for and against the death penalty in the United States. While the case of cost is admittedly not as clear as the other areas, retribution has become the only real justification for capital punishment. Second, countries around the world have been, and continue to be, declining in their usage of the death penalty. Last, social science scholars are being listened to. More research is being published on key issues, and changes are being implemented, albeit seemingly slowly, in accordance with research conducted by criminologists.
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The key phrase to examine when determining the constitutionality of capital punishment is “cruel and unusual punishments.” The question that must be answered are ‘what makes a punishment cruel and unusual’ and if or how these standards apply to capital punishment. According to Supreme Court Associate Justice William Brennan “the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause ‘must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” (Brennan 32). Judging from thi...
“This is not a nice man … innocent is not a word that suits him in any way,” says Brian Webster when speaking of Matthew Poncelet, the man on death row in the movie Dead Man Walking. Many people feel that the death penalty is immoral and it should not be used; however I feel completely opposite. I believe that capital punishment is a fair sentence for a murderer to receive. In the movie Dead Man Walking, the main character Matthew Poncelet, is on death row waiting for the lethal injection that will soon put him to death for good.
On 16 February 2003 the Australian PM said in a Sunday morning television interview that the Bali bombers “should be dealt with in accordance with Indonesian law. …and if [the death penalty] is what the law of Indonesia provides, well, that is how things should proceed. There won’t be any protest from Australia”.