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The Issue of Capital Punishment in the United States

analytical Essay
3442 words
3442 words
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Death Valley: The Issue of Capital Punishment in the United States Should capital punishment be practiced in the United States? This question has been highly debated for many years because of the numerous, often conflicting perspectives from which various parties have attempted to answer it. These parties range from high-ranking politicians seeking to lower the national crime rate to the average United States taxpayer who does not want to see his or her money being spent inefficiently. In addition to such empirical concerns, moral issues such as conceptions of justice arise as well. After examining the history of the issue, its international status, and the arguments of the opposing factions, we will recommend that capital punishment remain in use in those states that want to regulate it, but that reforms are necessary in order to improve its system of implementation. The debate over the death penalty dates as far back as the late 1700s when incarceration became an alternative to killing criminals and gave rise to the abolitionist movement. The abolitionists supported the idea that the state did not have the right to take anyone’s life. Although the death penalty became an important issue in the mid nineteenth century, the civil war shifted more focus towards the anti–slavery movement. It wasn’t until the Progressive Period of the early twentieth century that the capital punishment debate was in full swing. Again between the 1920s and 1940s capital punishment was being used as an intended deterrent to crime. Finally from the 1950s on, capital punishment again became unpopular and since then many nations have banned capital punishment altogether. International comparisons show us that the United States is one of the few i... ... middle of paper ... ...ional Attitudes and the Death Penalty in America.” Criminal Justice Ethics 17, Sum/Fall 1998, no. 2: 19-32. Jackson, Robert M., ed. Sociology: Social Foundations of Public Issues. New York: McGraw- Hill, 2003. Mooney, Brian C. “Democrats Shift on Death Penalty.” Boston Globe 7 December 2003: A12. Pataki, George E. “Death Penalty is a Deterrent.” USA Today March 1997. Paternoster, Raymond. “Myths and Misconceptions About the Death Penalty.” In Jackson 12-54. Rizvi, Haider. “Rights US-Top Democratic Hopefuls Shun Death Penalty Debate.” Global Information Network 14 January 2004: 1. Sourcebook for Criminal Justice Statistics 2002. “Public Attitudes Toward the Death Penalty.” 20 Feb. 2004. http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/1995/pdf/t246.pdf The Road Atlas ‘O3. New York: Rand McNally, 2003 The Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that capital punishment should be practiced in the united states because of the numerous, often conflicting perspectives from which various parties have attempted to answer it.
  • Analyzes how the debate over the death penalty dates back to the late 1700s when incarceration became an alternative to killing criminals.
  • Analyzes how the divisiveness stems from the fact that capital punishment is a controversial practice. the plurality of viewpoints reflects the diverse moral upbringings experienced by those with an interest in the issue.
  • Explains that politicians support the death penalty because it is a sensitive issue, but the two front-runners for the democratic nomination, john kerry and john edwards, support it.
  • Argues that the death penalty is just an appeal to the law of hammarabi. the law is problematically ironic in that it is intended to compensate for the loss of an innocent life.
  • Explains that the moral arguments for and against capital punishment have appealing moral cases, and empirical issues come to the fore when one decides which political stance to take.
  • Argues that a platform that seeks not simply to maintain but also to improve the system of capital punishment implementation might well result in voters shifting from the camp that prefers life imprisonment without parole.
  • Argues that the best way to cut the cost of capital punishment is to reform the legal system in which it operates.
  • Argues that strong adherents to the "death is different" claim might respond to proposed reforms by maintaining that the penalty phase and appeals process are necessary to ensure that only those who deserve to die are executed.
  • Argues that there is no shortage of evidence against the claim that capital punishment is a better deterrent than life without parole.
  • Argues that alternative to the death penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. public opinion is split between capital punishment and life without parole, and arguments on both sides have already been rehearsed.
  • Argues that cutting government funds and investing extra money in crime prevention programs is an alternative to capital punishment, but the extent to which these anti-crime policies are true alternatives is dubious.
  • Argues that the debate over whether or not the united states should implement capital punishment is terribly difficult to decide conclusively. those who oppose it on strictly moral grounds are unlikely to be persuaded.
  • Describes grant, stefanie, "a dialogue of the deaf?" new international attitudes and the death penalty.
  • Cites the sourcebook for criminal justice statistics 2002. "public attitudes toward the death penalty."
  • Explains that most politicians support the death penalty to some degree, as public opinion polls show that the majority of americans favor capital punishment.
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