The Death Penalty Debate

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"The death penalty issue is obviously a divisive one. But whether one is for or against, you can not deny the basic illogic - if we know the system is flawed, if we know there are innocent people on Death Row, then until the system is reformed, should we not abandon the death penalty to protect those who are innocent?"

--Richard LaGravenese

In the United States the death penalty is used as a punishment for capital offenses. These specifically can vary from state to state, but commonly include first-degree murder, murder with special circumstances, rape with additional bodily harm, and the federal crime of treason. (Facts) The goal of the death penalty then, is to deter these crimes from even taking place, to be so feared that offenders think twice about committing such horrible crimes. But does it?

In the following paper, the above question will attempt to be answered by looking at the background of capital punishment and the death penalty, the ideas behind it, viable alternatives, and finally, the effectiveness of the death penalty at deterring crime.

Early death penalty laws date back to the Eighteenth Century B.C.. The death penalty also had a heavy presence in the Fourteenth Century Hittite Code, the Seventh Century Draconian Code of Athens, and the Fifth Century Roman Law of the Twelve Tablets. (History, 1) Today, thirty-four states in the United States of America still practice the death penalty as a means of punishment for capital offenses and heinous crimes. The death penalty debate is one that Americans are no strangers to; it has been abolished and repealed numerous times throughout our history.

Two of the first influential cases dates back to 1968, US v. Jackson and Witherspoon v. Illinois. In each ...

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"International Standards on the Death Penalty | Amnesty International." Amnesty International. Amnesty International, 1 Jan. 2006. Web. 23 Oct. 2011.

"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Welcome to the United Nations: It's Your World. Web. 18 Oct. 2011

"In U.S., Support for Death Penalty Falls to 39-Year Low." Gallup.Com - Daily News, Polls, Public Opinion on Government, Politics, Economics, Management. 13 Oct. 2011. Web. 17 Oct. 2011

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