Capital Punishment Essay: Criminals Can Think Twice or Die Once

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Capital punishment has been in effect since the 1600's (Cole 451). However, in 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment, which was unconstitutional according to the Eighth amendment. It was public opinion that the current methods of execution, hanging, electrocution, and facing a firing squad, were too slow and painful upon the person to be executed (Cole 451). The U.S. Supreme Court reversed this decision when a "cleaner" way to bring about death was found in 1976. This "cleaner" way is death by lethal injection, which is quick and painless if administered right (Cole 450). Since capital punishment has been reinstituted many people have argued for and against capital punishment. Some say the death penalty is what the criminal deserves while others object to it because death is irreversible. I feel the death penalty is a good form of justice because only about 250 people a year get the death penalty and they are guilty beyond a doubt and don't deserve living with the possibility of parole. The sentencing judge or jury are ordered by the Supreme Court to look for "specific aggravating and mitigating factors in deciding which convicted murderers should be sentenced to death" (Cole 451). Some of these mitigating factors are the defendant's motivation, character, personal history, and most of all remorse (Costanzo).

Every year approximately 250 new offenders are added to death row. In 1994 there were 2,850 persons awaiting execution. Yet no more than thirty-eight people have been executed a year since 1976. This is a ridiculously low number compared to 199 persons executed in 1935 (all from Cole 451). The reason for this slow execution rate is the process of appeals, from sentencin...

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... is a punishment that will remain active for a long time in the future, even with all the criticism. It is an ancient way of dealing with extremely serious offences that plague our country today. Hopefully the appeals process will be shortened, but remain effective, so more criminals can be executed, making prospective criminals think twice.

Works Cited

Bailey, William C., "Murder, Capital Punishment, and Deterrence" 1994. Journal of Social Issues.

Cole, George F., The American System fo Criminal Justice 1995, New York.

Costanzo, Mark "Attorney Persuasion in the Capital Penalty Phase" 1994. Journal of Social Issues.

Death Penalty Discussion, Sept. 12, 1994. Search on Turbogopher under "Execution".

Death Penalty, May 12, 1994. American Civil Liberties Union. Search on Turbogopher under "Execution".

The Electric Chair, Aug 13, 1993.

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