Flaws of the Death Penalty

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Flaws of the Death Penalty

Capital Punishment has been part of the criminal justice system since as far back as 1700 B.C. However, in recent times opponents have shown the death penalty to be racist, barbaric, and in violation with the United States Constitution as "...cruel and unusual punishment." In this country, although laws governing the application of the death penalty have undergone many changes since biblical times, the punishment endures, and controversy has never been greater.

Abolitionists maintain that the state has no right to kill anyone. The right to reject life imprisonment and choose death should be respected, but it changes nothing for those who oppose the death at the hands of the state.

The death penalty is irrational - a fact that should carry considerable weight with rationalists. As Albert Camus pointed out, "Capital punishment has always been a religious punishment and is reconcilable with humanism." In other words, society has long since left behind the barbaric "customs" from the cruel "eye for an eye" anti-human caves of religion- another factor that should raise immediate misgivings for freethinkers.

State killings are morally damaging. Why do governments kill people to show other people that killing people is wrong? Humanity becomes associated with murderers when it replicates their deeds. Would society allow rape as the penalty for rape or the burning of arsonists' homes as the penalty for arson?

The state should never have the power to murder its citizens. To give the state this power eliminates the individual's most effective shield against oppression of the majority and is inconsistent with democratic principles.

Family and friends of murder victims are further victimized b...

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...e are those who claim that we, the taxpayers, shouldn't have to "support" condemned people for an entire lifetime in prison - that we should simply "eliminate" them and save ourselves time and money. The truth is that the cost of state killing is up to three times the cost of lifetime imprisonment. Judges and others are reluctant - as they should be - to shorten the execution process for fear that hasty procedures will lead to the executions of more innocent people. The death penalty has been imposed most for murders committed during the course of another felony. Aggravating circumstances for murder are defined in the applicable death penalty statute.


Works Consulted

Flanders, Stephen A. Capital Punishment. New York, NY: Facts on File, 1991.

Long, Robert Emmet. Criminal Sentencing. New York, NY: H.W. Company, 1995.
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