Capital punishment is the most severe sentence imposed in the United States and is legal in thirty-eight states. The death penalty is a controversial subject, especially because the U.S. is the only western democracy to retain this consequence (Scheb, 518). I personally believe that the death penalty is a valid sentence for those who deserve it. Some believe it is not constitutional, but those who face this penalty are clearly suspect of a savage offense and therefore should be at a loss of certain rights. The arguments don’t end there once one considers that “the controversy over capital punishment becomes more heated when special circumstances arise” (Sternberg, 2). This issue brings up more arguments against the death penalty because of the constitutionally protected ban on cruel and unusual punishment which is protected by the Eighth Amendment. There have been nearly 15,000 executions that have taken place in America, the first in 1608 with the death of Captain George Kendall (Siegel, 410). Most of these were sentenced to death because of their own action of killing others. However, more and more crimes are now able to be punishable by death. This is the result of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which “dramatically increased the number of federal crimes eligible for this sentence” (Scheb, 520). Even so, the federal government has yet to put someone on death row for a non-homicidal case. The arguments for and against capital punishment are lengthy and strictly opinionated, but are also important to see the evolution of our society as the majority view changes and new influences come about.
The main dispute for those who favor capital punishment is due to the fact that death is the “ultimate incapacitation” (Siegel, 411). I think that this is the quintessential reason why the United States should continue to allow the death penalty. Without it there are ways of mitigating ones sentence, making it unfair to the victims. Sternberg states that taxpayers “should not bear the costs of keeping [those on death row] alive in prison” (Sternberg, 5). I agree with this statement because once a person is convicted of a harsh enough crime to be condemned to life in prison they should not be dependent on society’s hard earned cash. Not only does capital punishment clear up room in our already overcrowded prisons, but...
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...ty believe that the death penalty serves as the ultimate justice and that it will, in the end, deter murderers and promote the sacredness of human life. Abolitionists view it as harsh, unfair, and contradictory. They see hypocrisy in punishing murder by engaging in murder. Arguments for the death penalty are matched by those that support its abolition; the fight to abolish capital punishment seems to be far from over and only time will tell the story.
Higgins, Michael. “Is Capital Punishment for Killers Only?” ABA Journal August 1997: 30-31.
Criminal Justice Periodicals. ProQuest. Univ. of Tenn. at Chattanooga. 4 April 2005.
Roberts, Julian V. “Capital Punishment, Innocence, & Public Opinion.” Criminology & Public
Policy: February 2005: 1-2. American Society of Criminology. ProQuest. Univ. of Tenn.
at Chattanooga. 3 April 2005.
Scheb, John, John Scheb II. Criminal Law and Procedure. United States: Thomson
Siegel, Larry, Joseph Senna. Introduction to Criminal Justice. United States: Thomson
Sternberg, K. Capital Punishment: Pros and Cons. 14 May 2003.
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