The Death Penalty is Cruel and Unusual Punishment

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The Death Penalty is Cruel and Unusual Punishment The Eight Amendment of the United States says, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The anti-federalists who wrote this amendment did not have the death penalty in mind. Executing an individual for a crime committed was a widely excepted practice. But now, over 200 years later most of the western world has abolished the death penalty—the United States has not. In 1972, when the United States Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia [408 U.S. 238]1, the court ruled that the nation's death penalty, in its current form, violated the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.. But with the Gregg v. Georgia [428 U.S. 153] 1 decision in 1976, the Court reopened the path for executions, accepting new death penalty laws that supposedly eliminated arbitrariness, racial bias and class discrimination. However, can a western country that claims to be a democracy still have the death penalty? In general, the people of the United States are in favor of the death penalty. Sixty-three percent of people are in favor, however that number drops to less than half when if life without parole was guaranteed.2 Socrates would most likely be in favor of the death penalty in the United States. He might or might not agree with it personally, but the death penalty is the will of the people and when a person is sentenced to death, he or she has a trial by jury. However, the death penalty is not an issue that affects most people on a day-to-day basis. When people choose to be in favor of the death penalty, they use their emotions to decide. People believe in retribution and that criminals should get what they deserve—an eye for an eye. Politicians usually do not try to change things that people are largely in favor for. Besides, people believe that there are more pressing issues that the government should work on. The death penalty became a hot issue during the 2000 presidential election. Texas leads the nation in executions and George W. Bush had to defend this practice. However, nobody saw Al Gore condemning Bush. Why?, because he believes in it too, so he just kept his mouth shut and let the press get on Bush’s case.
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