Capital Punishment - Cruel and Inhumane?

Capital Punishment - Cruel and Inhumane?

After centuries of nearly universal implementation, the death penalty

remains a deeply debated issue. While one execution takes place, other

murders occur, and the question still stands: Will the death penalty safeguard

society and deter murder, or will it not? The death penalty cannot be considered

a proper economical and moral means of punishment to deter those who might

commit capital offenses, or can it?

In the past, capital punishment horrified people, which deterred them

from committing crime. In England, the country from which the United States

adopted the death penalty, the death penalty was imposed for a rather large

number of offenses in an effort to discourage people from committing crimes.

Methods of inflicting the death penalty have ranged "From stoning in biblical

times, crucifixion under the Romans, beheading in France, to those used in the

United States today: hanging, electrocution, gas chamber, firing squad, and

lethal injection"(Bedau 124). There were drastic penalties for such serious

crimes as homicide. Execution was a suitable punishment for those times. Today,

though, the law is not as strict. This leads potential criminals not to fear the

death penalty because government today uses more "humane" methods of execution,

rather than the brutal punishment that history portrayed.

People who oppose the death penalty say that "there is no evidence that

the murder rate fluctuates according to the frequency with which the death

penalty is used" (Masur 153). It is more likely that the convict would be

paroled instead of being executed because of the present practice of allowing

unlimited appeals. Convicted criminals are not exposed to cruel punishment, but

rather given a long waiting period. If the criminal is put to death, it is

usually done as mercifully as possible.

One problem with the death penalty, presently, is that crime is not

decreasing, but rather increasing. If capital punishment is supposed to deter

crimes such as murder, it is not serving its purpose. Even philosophers, such as

Beccaria, Voltaire, and Bentham of the Enlightenment Period, argued that "the

death penalty was needlessly cruel, overrated as a deterent, and occasionally

imposed in fatal error" (Fogelson 89).

Another problem with the death penalty is the enormous amount of money

being spent on implementation. It costs taxpayers millions of dollars more to

execute a criminal than to lock him up for life. The number of prisoners on

death row has been steadily increasing and will soon meet all time highs. This

fact brings up the question of economic feasibility of the implementation, as

well as the question of weather the death penalty is actually an effective

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