Capital Punishment and International and National Courts

By way of international courts, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), in a judgement which may have far-reaching consequences on death penalty cases in the English-speaking Caribbean, commuted the death sentences of six convicted prisoners in Jamaica on 12 September. The JCPC which serves as the final appeal court for English-speaking Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and the Bahamas, ruled that it is unlawful to execute prisoners whose appeals are pending before international bodies such as the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee.

The JCPC also ruled that the Jamaican Privy Council (Mercy Committee) when considering whether to exercise the prerogative of mercy, must provide prisoners with an effective and adequate opportunity to participate in the mercy process, including notification of the date on which the Mercy Committee will consider the case and the opportunity to make informed representations to the Committee and to challenge any inaccurate information before it.

This judgement overrules previous decisions of the JCPC and other Caribbean courts, including the 1996 decision from the Bahamas, in which the JCPC had held that a condemned prisoner had no rights before the Mercy Committee. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) held public hearings in the LaGrand case (Germany v the USA) from 13 – 17 November in The Hague. For the first time in its history, the ICJ has been asked to determine what remedies are required under international law when arrested foreign nationals are not informed of their consular rights and are then sentenced to death.

German nationals Karl and Walter LaGrand were sentenced to death in Arizona, USA, for killing a bank manager during a robbery in 1982. Although the local authorities were aware of their nationality, the two brothers were arrested, tried and sentenced to death without being advised of their right to consular notification and assistance, as required under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Germany maintains that the treaty violation contributed to the death sentences by preventing consular assistance in the gathering of mitigating evidence for presentation at the sentencing stage of the trial.

German consular officers only became aware of the case 10 years after the trial when they were contacted by the LaGrands, who had finally learned of their right to consular assistance, not from the Arizona authorities but from other prison inmates. Under the US legal doctrine of ”procedural default” the failure to first raise the treaty violation on appeal in state court proceedings prevented the federal courts from considering it as grounds for reversal of the conviction and sentence.

Despite appeals for clemency by the German authorities, Karl LaGrand was executed by lethal injection on 24 February 1999. On 2 March 1999 Germany instituted proceedings at the ICJ for violations of the Vienna Convention committed by the USA. In a unanimous order dated 3 March 1999 the Court called on the USA to take all measures at its disposal to ensure that the execution not take place pending a final decision in the proceedings. Walter LaGrand was executed in the Arizona gas chamber later that same day.

Germany has asked the ICJ to declare that the United States must provide effective review and remedies for death sentences imposed in cases where German nationals were not informed of their consular rights. Germany also requested a guarantee of the non-repetition of the illegal acts and a judgement that the USA violated its international legal obligations by applying the domestic doctrine of procedural default to override the treaty provisions.

The USA admitted the breach of its obligations under the Vienna Convention but asked the ICJ to reject Germany’s demand for legal reparation, arguing that an apology and a promise of future compliance are the only remedies available. The Court’s ruling is expected to establish an important precedent regarding the effect of international treaty obligations on the domestic use of the death penalty. By the end of the year the Court had not finished its deliberations and has yet to deliver its verdict. The Court’s judgement will be binding on both parties under international law and without appeal.

The European Court of Human Rights: In Turkey in January the government decided to halt the procedures related to the execution of Abdullah Ocalan pending a decision on his case by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Ocalan, who had been convicted of treason and separatism and sentenced to death, had applied to the Court for a ruling, claiming that his treatment had infringed 12 articles of the European Convention on Human Rights which Turkey is bound to respect as a member of the Council of Europe.

The Court accepted Ocalan’s case in December announcing that it would be tried by a Grand Chamber of 17 judges. In December 1999 Turkey was accepted as an applicant state for membership of the EU and has been urged to abolish capital punishment to membership standards. Finland, the then Chair of the EU, warned that if Ocalan were to be executed it would gravely jeopardise Turkey’s bid to join the Union. No one has been executed in Turkey since 1984.

In January 2001 the court admitted Turkey’s complaint against the transfer of the case to the Grand Chamber, thus the case will be heard instead by the 1st Chamber. It is expected that it will be several months before a ruling is announced. ] Now let’s focus on national courts, beginning with the USA. In October in New Orleans the Federal Appeals Court ruled that a defendant in a capital murder trial does not have an absolute constitutional right to have an attorney who stays awake for the entire trial.

The ruling was made in the case of Calvin J Burdine, during whose trial in 1983, his court-appointed lawyer frequently fell asleep. In 1999 a federal district judge in Houston had ordered a new trial for Burdine, saying that “a sleeping counsel is equivalent to no counsel at all. ” However by a 2-1 majority the panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. The judges maintained they were not condoning sleeping by defense counsel during a capital murder trial but said that from the trial record it was impossible to determine whether counsel’s sleeping actually hurt Burdine’s case.

In Canada on 23 May the Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments in the case of Atif Ahmad Rafay and Glen Sebastian Burns, two Canadian citizens facing extradition to the USA on capital murder charges. Lawyers for the two men argued that their return without satisfactory assurances against the death penalty would violate Canadian constitutional protections and international human rights standards. Among interveners in the case was the Italian Senate, which was given unprecedented permission by the Court to submit a written brief on the European prohibition against extradition to face the death penalty.

The Italian Senate asked the Supreme Court to consider whether Canada, which does not have the death penalty, should be forced to seek guarantees that its citizens will not be executed when they are sent to other countries to face charges for crimes for which they could receive the death penalty. Under Supreme Court rules, intervener status can be granted when a party establishes that it has an “interest” in a case and will make legal arguments which are useful and different to those of other parties.

The Italian Senate, argued that it is in an advantageous geographical position to apprise the judges of legal developments across Europe, where extradition to countries imposing capital punishment is prohibited. [In a unanimous decision issued on 15 February, 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadian authorities must routinely seek and obtain assurances against the death penalty before allowing extraditions, in all but exceptional circumstances.

Burns and Rafay were later surrendered to face trial after the prosecutor in the state of Washington provided the necessary assurances. ] Guatemala On 14 November the Constitutional Court of Guatemala repealed the death sentences imposed in 1998 on five members of a band of kidnappers. Article 4(2) of the American Convention of Human Rights (ACHR) which Guatemala ratified in 1978, prohibits member states from extending the death penalty to crimes other than those already included in national legislation at the time of ratification.

Nevertheless, in March 1995 the Guatemalan Congress approved Decree 14-95 which extended the death penalty to kidnapping. In giving its decision the court ruled that in matters of human rights, international law prevails over national legislation. Local analysts hope that the acceptance in this case of this important principle in international law will set a significant precedent for future sentencing in cases of kidnapping where the victim does not die.

Two Wrongs Dont Make a Right

The question of whether capital punishment is right or wrong is a truly tough choice to make. Capital punishment (death penalty) is legal because the government of the United States of America says that it is all right to execute another human being if their crimes are not punishable by other means. There are many different forms of capital punishment. Some of the most popular ones have been hanging, firing squad, electrocution (the chair), the gas chamber, and the newest lethal injection. In the readings of George Orwell, Edward I.

Koch, and Jacob Weisberg, there are incites to capital punishment that are not usually thought of or expressed aloud. Also in the movie “Dead Man Walking,” the act of lethal injection, a form of capital punishment, is presented and made visual for ones eyes. Both the readings and the movie hit on emotions that some people have never thought about feeling. With the many people in the world there are many different feelings on capital punishment. Upon reading George Orwells “A Hanging,” the reader can obviously see that the writer is against capital punishment.

Orwell brings out many of the points that are considered for argument against the death penalty. Orwell writes “It is curious; but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we are alive. ” In this quote Orwell brings out the emotion of knowing that what is being executed may seem like a monster, but the fact remains that the prisoner is still a human being.

Orwell also brings out the point that when we were a society that conducted hangings, the executioner would put a bag over the prisoners head. This was basically to make it so we didnt have to watch the facial expressions of the dying because it would make society feel guilty. Another writer against capital punishment is Jacob Weisberg. In Weisburgs “This Is Your Death,” the reader must take into account that most of the public is immune to seeing violence on the TV and that broadcasting executions live would just be another form of entertainment.

Weisberg writes also about the inhumane and cruel death penalties we have devised to kill criminals. Weisberg tells of the pain and suffering of the prisoners that goes on during an execution. Even if one was watching, one may not always be able to see what is really going on. Weisberg goes into a deep explanation of the many death penalties. Upon reading, one may be shocked as to what really goes on in an execution. For example, the gas chamber kills people by hypoxia. Hypoxia means “the cut-off of oxygen to the brain.

One cant understand the pain they are feeling unless one has suffered a heart attack which has many of the same sensations. Weisberg explains that “all methods of execution can be botched. ” If an execution were to be botched, then that would only mean more pain and suffering for the one being executed. Weisberg states that “electrocutions go wrong frequently and dramatically. ” An example is while a prisoner was being electrocuted, the voltage had been lowered to 100 volts because of a synthetic sponge. At a 100 volts ones body is simply tortured until death.

This might seem to come under cruel punishments. Another opinion on capital punishment is conveyed by Edward I. Koch. In Kochs “Death and Justice,” he yields the position of being for capital punishment. He tries to counteract all of the points brought about by the arguments against capital punishment. Koch says “its not the method that really troubles opponents. Its the death itself they consider barbaric. ” He relates the barbaric act of the death penalty to radical surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy in attempts to cure cancer. This is a pretty far stretch.

Koch also is the first to bring out the fact that the Bible says it is wrong to kill another human being. Koch disproves this by telling the reader that the Torah says the death may be used as a punishment. There are many different religions so the topic of religion is a hard one to use as an argument for or against capital punishment. Another opinion on capital punishment is the neutral position. This position is covered in the movie “Dead Man Walking. ” The director helps you to visualize both sides of the argument without telling you which one to choose.

The movie fairly and accurately depicts both the emotions of the victims family members who are for the death penalty and also the feeling of the criminal and his family. This is good because it leaves the observer still in question of what the right choice is if they didnt have an already formed opinion. In todays society no one can tell you how you feel. This is a touchy subject and people will try to influence others, but it all comes back to the person making the decision for themselves.

Americas Fetish For Death

Capital punishment has not simply taken its toll upon lives, though also society. Throughout history, the general purpose of execution was a last resort to criminal punishment or to see fit the severity of the crime. Though due to the fashions of society, racism crept its ways into this form of punishment and transformed it into a form of family entertainment. In past years, human death has become widely accepted and has sprung it roots into the couches of America along with other forms of wholesome programming such as pornography, sadomasochism, and narcotics.

Nationalism and racial superiority have existed since the diversion of races. However, never did it truly become horrific until the creation of slavery and indentured servitude. This was especially evident in the Old World Powers. Nations such as Great Britain, France, and Spain brought new meaning to the phrase “physical abuse. ” Spain and France, countries tied directly to the Roman Catholic Church spread the profound word of Christ along with the purification of numerous heathens. Their mission was simply to expand their territory while infecting the globe with the words of a pathogenic messiah.

If in the process it was necessary to “swat a few flies” then so be it in the name of Christ. Nevertheless, their unforgettable actions can never compare to the atrocities of America. In the tradition of the great mother country, America continued its importation of Africans. Eventually America underwent a massive battle due to its traditions, which led to the deaths of many soldiers both innocent and tainted. As the dust of the Civil War settled, African-American gained equality gradually, though never the respect and acceptance of Anglo-Saxons.

They were still viewed as inferior animals, less than the common housefly. As if racism were not bad, enough the implication of it upon capital punishment was truly genius. Since American, could not kill African-Americans without serving some form of punishment, they decided to integrate it with the legal system. Now Anglo-Saxons could taste that “Negro-blood” without the usual mess. This implication had existed for some time though it did not reach its sexual climax until the invention of legal equilibrium.

The integration of racism and law has existed for some time and are evident. Between 1882 and 1968 alone, over three-quarters of executions were that of African Americans. More than ninety percent of the executions took place in the South. Coincidentally, during those executions along with the executions to date, the majority of those juries were comprised entirely of Anglo-Saxon Americans. The same applied to the prosecutor and judge of those hearings. What makes this fact even more interesting is that crimes against Anglo-Saxons always ended in a severe from of punishment.

As these statistics continued to stagger, the district attorney of Georgia argued that despite the intimidating facts that there was no substantial evidence of racial discrimination. Death’s effect upon racism was detrimental to African-Americans, though its transformation of American society would ultimately lead to the sadistic lust of massacre. Since the implication of death and racism, family entertainment has taken some part. Mobs of white men as well as curious children and women have enjoyed the event for years; it has become “folk pornography.

Though in an age, in which information is transferred at the click of a mouse, death has become a household idiom. With trilogies such as The Faces of Death and films that portray psychotic and bloodthirsty perverts, America has become a spawning ground for death and murder. Morality has made its feudal attempts to block this wholesome entertainment, though as with pornography it failed. American purchase films of actual life death in record numbers, and to even further the gore they allow their children to view such content. Adolescents are no stranger to this content as they witness it on their corner streets or their television sets.

Death is no longer a word of taboo, though rather a word that is accepted and viewed with an entertainment factor. What is even more terrifying is that it gives reason for psychologically distraught individuals to massacre others, such as that at Columbine High School. Capital Punishment’s effect upon society is astronomical, and will continue to consume society and history. It has and will continue to mold our society into a world that tolerates such vulgarity and views it with a cold-hearted laugh. It is no longer a stranger in our homes, but instead a neighbor that everyone welcomes with loving arms.

Why Capital Punishment Should be Abolished

Unlike popular belief, the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to criminals. As stated by Alfred Blumstein, “Expert after expert and study after study has shown the lack of correlation between the treat of the death penalty and the occurrence of violent crimes. ” (Blumstein 68) Isaac Ehrlich’s study on the limiting effects of capital punishment in America reveals this to the public. The study spans twenty-five years, from 1957 till 1982, and shows that in the first year the study was conducted, there were 8060 murders and 6 executions.

However, in the last year of the study there were 22,520 murders committed and only 1 execution performed. (Blumstein 54) This clearly shows that many violent criminals are not afraid of the capital punishment. Abolitionists believe the offenders should be required to compensate the victim’s family with the offender’s own income from employment or community service. There is no doubt that someone can do more alive than dead. By working, the criminal inadvert-ently “pays back” society and also their victim and/or victim’s family.

There is no reason for the criminal to receive any compensation for the work they do, because money is of no jail time. This could be considered a form of slavery to some, but it is no different from the days of being sent to the “yard” to break stone. One of the most well-known examples of the criminal contributing to the betterment of society is the case Leopld and Loeb. They were nineteen years old when they committed “The Crime of the Century. ” In 1924, they kidnapped and murdered a fourteen-year-old boy just to see how it would feel to kill someone. They were both spared the death penalty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Bedau 78) Together their accomplishments included working in hospitals, teaching the illiterate how to read, creating a correspondence school, writing a grammar book, and making significant developments in the World War II Malaria Project. (Bedau 193) “An inestimable amount of people were directly helped by Leopold and Loeb, Both of tem made a conscious commitment to atone their crimes by serving others. “(Bedau 217) The most widely used form of execution has been electrocution. With this method of executing a prisoner, the individual is strapped to a chair along with electrodes attached all over the body.

The executioner then proceeds to “throw the switch” sending vast amounts of electricity flowing throughout the prisoner. During this period, the prisoners flesh burns and the body shakes violently from the overdose of electricity. When it is all over, smoke is often seen coming from the head of the corpse. (Ernest Van den Haag 135) Officials often defend this punishment as not being cruel and unusual, but how can they defend the opinion in the case of John Evans who was executed by electrocution in 1983?

According to witnesses at the scene of the death of Mr. Evans, he was given three charges of electricity over a period of fourteen minutes. After the first and second charges, Mr. Evans was still conscious and smoke was coming from all over his body, as a result from his flesh burning. An official at the prison even tries to stop the execution on account of it being cruel punishment, but the man was unsuccessful. Witnesses later called the whole incident “a barbaric ritual”. (Haag 221) Another method of execution is the gas chamber; during this procedure a prisoner is put in a closed chamber and forced to inhale lethal fumes from a sulfuric acid and a cyanide chemical reaction.

According to a statement given by the U. S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens concerning the 1992 execution of Donald Harding, there did not seem to be any civilized aspect of the gas chamber method of executing prisoners. (Haag 259) According to the report, Harding tried to hold his breath inside the chamber. When he finally began to take in fumes, his body started going into convulsions and the muscles and veins under his skin were twitching in a wave-like motion. This execution took over eight minutes to complete, and Mr. Harding was writhing in pain for most of the time.

According to officials, Harding did not fall unconscious until right before his death. (Haag 262) The latest method of execution has been lethal injection. It has become deemed as the cleanest form that a prisoner can die. It s thought to be the cleanest because it does not maim the body, unlike all of the other methods of execution. Nonetheless, it is in the opinion of this author that this is still another unjust form of punishment. At the 1988 execution of Raymond Landry, persons at the scene had to repeatedly puncture him because he had very small veins.

In addition to this cruel treatment, during the procedure, the tube attached to the needle leaked and the harsh chemicals used to kill Landry were sprayed into the direction of the witnesses. (Haag 307) Besides this case, there have been cases where the victims were not given a strong enough dosage and writhed in pain for several minutes while still conscious. In a statement to the Associated Press, many police officials who have been witnesses to the death penalty, they say it should be abolished because they are sick of having to watch it and it does not deter violent criminals from lashing out against society.

The belief that execution cost less than imprisonment is absolutely false. As Haag states “The cost of the apparatus and maintenance of the procedures attending the death penalty, including the actual stay on death row, and the endless appeals and legal machinery, far out-weigh the expense of maintaining in prison the tiny fraction of criminals who would otherwise be slain. ” (Haag 38) The strongest argument against using capital punishment for retributive purposes is the dispute that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment.

The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution, condemning cruel and unusual punish-ment, is used to protect the death penalty. The fallacy of this argument is that it appears to be a “red herring” argument, one that takes attention away from the facts of the case. When the constitution was drafted, capital punishment was practiced widely in this country, yet was not specified as wrong of cruel and unusual. Many of the framers of the constitution endorsed the death penalty, as did philosophers from which the constitution raws from.

John Lock went s far as to say, “… that murder is not intrinsically wrong. Man, as he is bound to preserve himself and not quite his station willfully, by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind. ” (Bedau 277) An argument against the death penalty is the basic moral issue of conservation of human rights and humanity. The argument of retribution would be even easier to dismiss if it consisted only of a basic thirst for revenge.

As stated by Bedau “Society must manifest a terrible anger in the face of a terrible crime, for nothing less will suffice to remind us of the moral order by which alone we can live as human beings. ” (Bedau 121) This is a serious moral argument. Opponents of capital punishment must be willing to answer it on its own terms. They say that “… the death penalty demeans the moral order and execution is not legalized murder, nor is imprisonment legalized kidnapping, but it is the coldest, most premeditated form of homicide.

It does something almost worse than lowering the state to the moral level of the criminal: it raises the criminal to the moral equality with social order. ” (Haag 280) Indeed, one of the ironies of capital punishment is that it focuses attention and sympathy on the criminal. How can murder not be immoral? Citizens under a social contract agree not to kill only because others also agree. In an attempt to try and stop the public from taking the law into their own hands, the judicial system must convince society that it is not in their best interest to murder.

So how can the constitution be brought into this argument, since it makes no mention of capital punishment? These are a few of the questions that we must ask ourselves when we try to form and develop our own opinion on the subject of the death penalty. Even though the retentions pose some interesting arguments, I myself feel that the abolitionist outlook contains much stronger support and more reasons for opposition. The first of which is the death penalty is wrong morally because it is the cruel and inhumane taking of a life.

The methods by which most executions are carried out can involve physical torture. Haag states “Electrocution has on occasion caused extensive burns and needed more than one application of electric current to kill the condemned. “(Haag 137) To many opponents, capital punishment is a euphemism for legally killing people. And no one, not even the State, has the authority to play God. Despite the moral argument concerning the inhumane treatment of the criminal, we return to the “nature” f the crime committed. Can society place an unequal weight on the tragically lost lives of murder victims on the criminal?

This is not an exam question in a Thiel philosophy class, but a moral puzzle at the center of perhaps the most interesting issue facing the Supreme Court today. Punishment is meted out because of the nature of the crime, without any reference to social identity of the victim. Compassion and political calculations have combined to transform victims and their advocates into a way to sway voters by their feelings. Beginning in California in 1987, the Supreme Court carved out a crucial exception: Neither the life of the victim or the suffering of his survivors could be a factor in any state or federal case punishable by death.

The catch is that every cutback in the complex legal process has evolved to ensure that only the guilt die, increasing the chance that an innocent person will be subjected to this most irreversible and final of punishments. (Bedau 298) The possibility of an innocent person being put to death is another factor some people have against the death penalty. According to a 1987 Stanford University survey, at least 23 Americans have been wrongly executed in the twentieth century .

In case of a mistake, the executed prisoner can not be given another chance and justice will have miscarried. In the last hundred years, there have been more than seventy- five documented cases wrongly conviction of criminal homicide. A death sentence was carried out on eight of these seventy- five individuals. Surely there are many other cases of mistaken convictions, and execution occurred and remained undocumented. A prisoner discovered to be blameless can be freed, but neither release nor compensation is possible for a corpse.

The death penalty should be abolished because it is a barbaric form of punishment, which should not be allowed in the United Sates, which is supposedly one of the most civil nations in the world. It should also be abolished not only because it is barbaric, but it also defies the U. S. Constitution, which most Americans hold sacred. In addition to this, the death penalty even if it remains legal in the U. S. would not obtain its goal. The death penalty fails its main objective and because of the reasons stated above should be abolished.

Capital Punishment Essay

It has always been a belief for some that if another person wrongs them, they should have the right to take revenge against that person. In the present day, this view still remains, but has been toned down by laws that state the rights of the accused and have developed punishments for offenders. Many, myself included, still believe that those punishments are not harsh enough and allow criminals to take advantage of them, knowing that if caught, the punishment is not near enough to make it wise to simply avoid the risk.

I believe that capital punishment is an effective way of dealing with people who have committed heinous crimes. For example, there is a middle-aged man. This man rapes and kills a little girl and is given life in prison. Unfortunately, after a mere 30 years in prison he is up for parole and receives it. After being back on the streets he commits and is convicted of another murder. Did that second person really need to die? Could it have been prevented? Absolutely. That second victim would still be enjoying holidays with their family and vacations with their friends.

Thats why we have the death penalty. According to Mark Costanza, The theory [of deterrence] is simple and self-evident: Fear of the execution chamber will restrain potential murderers. Knowing that they could face the executioner, those who would otherwise kill will stop short of killing and innocent lives will be saved. (95) Others say that the evidence shows that it does not work as a deterrent. But, if for each execution we follow through with, one criminal thinks twice and decides not to commit his or her crime, then that execution has been ustified.

It could also be argued that deterrence to crime is only partly caused by the knowledge of possible punishments. For the most part it is inside the person who commits it. It is shaped and changed by family, friends, and the persons surroundings or way of life. If a child is not disciplined when young and is permitted to do whatever they want, they will not be as likely to follow the rules when they are older. They are not as aware of the repercussions of their actions. On the contrary, a child who is strictly watched and taught the difference between right and wrong when young, will be more aware of the law, and at a younger age.

Murder will never be able to be halted completely,  but if it can be slowed or minimized at all, then it should be. Although capital punishment is a fair punishment for those who commit murder, it also should be given consistently. If two people are involved in the same homicide, its not right for one of them to receive the death penalty and one to get life. It should be one or the other. A great example of this is in Tim Robbins 1995 drama Dead Man Walking. In the movie the inmate tells a nun about the crime.

He describes it as he holding someone while his partner shot them. In the movie he got death and his partner did not. (Robbins)  Instances such as this are not morally right and need to be regulated in some way. According to Stephen Nathanson, the argument over capital punishment is interesting in its double sidedness, or ability to be justified from either side. One of the most interesting examples of this is the fact that both sides argue their point based on a espect for life (1). Those against, say that they are arguing because they respect the killers right to life.

Those for it say that the murderers deserve to die because they respect the life of the victim and they find it hard to believe that they would get any other penalty. Arguing to either direction is justifiable but if that detained person is executed, the state is in a way respecting not only the life of the victim, but also the victims friends, family and acquaintances because often the death of the murderer brings closure to the issue for those affected. The issue of  the morality of capital punishment has been argued for years. By morality I mean whether the practice is morally right or wrong.

Those against it point to people who have been wrongly accused. Those for it point to people such as Dahmer, Gacy, and others like them who committed multiple, horrific acts of murder and still would be, if not in jail or dead. In his work titled Capital Punishment: A Personal Statement, Charles W. Colson asks What about mercy? (61) He then proceeds to answer the response is simple. There can be no mercy where justice is not satisfied. 61) Society as a whole has a right to be protected from people who repeatedly perform barbaric acts against others.

The only way to be absolutely sure that they will not act again is to take their life. At the same time however, there needs to be a fail safe way of not punishing, or perhaps even killing, innocent people wrongly convicted of a crime that they did not commit. One of the largest arguments opposers have against the death penalty is the issue of how humane it really is. Is it humane to kill an individual who has committed an act against another so barbaric that many of us cannot go so far as to fathom it?

There is not a set answer to this question. But answer this. Is it humane to give these convicted criminals food, shelter, clothing, heat, bathrooms and running water while there are homeless people on the streets, many of whom have done nothing, and they have none? Those against will say not as inhumane as taking ones life. Then should the homeless become criminals in order to receive these perks? Everyone has his or her own opinion on this issue and everyone thinks that theirs is the right answer.

Imposition of the death penalty is extraordinarily rare. Since 1967, there has been one execution for every 1600 murders, or 0. 06%. (Sharp internet)  Those who oppose the death penalty need to realize that the justice system is judging the crimes and criminals to the best of their abilities. They are not sentencing anyone and everyone who commits a violent crime to death. Those criminals who they feel are a serious threat, or have committed an especially heinous crime, are punished accordingly by receiving a sentence of equal proportions.

The issue of cost has been brought up in many arguments with each one ending with different costs. It is difficult to say which is cheaper because there is no way to decide. Everything depends on how long the person lives. Generally speaking, the per year prices include a number of things including, but not limited to the construction, maintenance and operating costs of a maximum-security prison cell, food, clothes, heat, water, etc. According to Sharp, adding up the basic costs of all these would amount to roughly $34,200 a year.

If the prisoner lived for 50 years at a 2% annual cost increase, it would cost the United States a total of $3. 01 million for that prisoner, plus $75,000 for appeals and trials. The cost for an inmate sentenced to death includes housing and the actual execution. It is estimated at around $60,000 per year for an average of 6 years with a 2% annual cost increase plus nearly $1. 5 million for appeals and trials. According to this estimation, the upfront costs are more expensive for death, but with rising costs, estimated, to move up to 3 or 4%, and expenses, would be cheaper in the long run.

Costanzo 60-61)  The issue of racism remains an ongoing battle in todays society. Just as it has invaded all other aspects of our lives, it too has become a sub-issue in the big picture of capital punishment. It is thought that blacks are executed more than whites. When it really gets right down to it, it is not even much of an issue. A murderer is a murderer, no matter what he or she looks or acts like. “If and when discrimination occurs it should be corrected.

Not, however, by letting the guilty blacks escape the death penalty because guilty whites do, but by making sure that the guilty white offenders suffer it as the guilty blacks do. Discrimination must be abolished by abolishing discrimination – not by abolishing penalties. However, even if… this cannot be done, I do not see any good reason to let any guilty murderer escape his penalty. It does happen in the administration of criminal justice that one person gets away with murder and another is executed. Yet the fact that one gets away with it is no reason to let another one escape. Lowe internet).

Stanley Rothman and Stephen Powers say that studies have surprisingly shown that white murderers receive the death penalty more often than black murderers by 5%. While the murderers of whites do receive the death penalty more then the murderers of blacks, it has also been shown that there is far more intra-racial killing then interracial. In fact, Most analysts agree that between 92 and 97 percent of homicides are intra-racial. In that much smaller number of cases in which blacks kill whites, the circumstances seem to be substantially different.

The Debate of Capital Punishment

The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has enduredfor years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and complicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the Dahmers and Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous barbaric acts of these individuals and other killers, by taking away their lives to function and perform in our society. At the same time, we must insure that innocent people such as Marshall and Millgard are never convicted or sentenced to death for a crime that they did not commit.

Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of deterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per- capita basis in countries or states that do have it, then those that do not. In order for capital punishment to work as a deterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal’s mind prior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware that others have been punished in the past for the offence that he or she is planning, and that what happened to another individual who committed this offence, can also happen to me.

But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from uto theft to 1st-Degree Murder, never take into account the consequences of their actions. Deterrence to crime, is rooted in the individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set of conduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they will and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made or be broken by friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. An individual who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child, will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do, until they have learned it themselves.

Therefore, capital unishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of human nature to ignore practised advice and to self learn. There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itself a form of vengeance on the killer. But isn’t locking up a human being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself? And is it “humane” that an individual who took the life of another, should receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3 meals a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one receives nothing? Adversaries of capital punishment claim that it is far more humane then having the state take away the life of the individual.

In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender, was scheduled to hang. But just days before his execution, the then Liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted McCorkell to life in prison. Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenessee boy. He was sentanced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leaving Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the attempted murder of an 11-year old boy. What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in 1963, two boys would never have had to have gone through the horror f being sexually abused.

These individuals may themselves become sex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused as children. McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in the past, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do this once, he killed two boys, and assaulted two others, leaving one for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this man have to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children, what will he do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a life would the state have been taking away in this case? An innocent life?

A forgiving life? No, a life that was beyond the realm of reform, and did not care to be. We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, even when suspicion may cause considerable doubt, send an innocent person to be executed. It could have happened to David Millgard, it could have happened to Donald Marshall. It probably has even occured numerous times in the history of the earth. But with proper police investigations, and where the evidence shows that the individual is a threat to the peace of society as long as he or she is alive, capital punishment must be used.

Capital Punishment Essay

Have you been wondering where all our tax dollars are going to these days? A large amount of it is going towards maintaining murderers, rapists and thieves, and for what reason, to live the good life? The average prisoner costs the federal government one hundred and fifty dollars a day which amounts to fifty-three thousand four hundred dollars a year. Now, ask yourself this question, Is it worth all this money to keep these savage criminals in jail? Do you really want these brutal criminals after release from prison roaming freely in our streets near our homes? The ultimate answer to these questions is only too evident, we must control the situation, we need to enforce an alternative… we need Capital Punishment.

For all of the murderers, thieves, drug lords, rapists and any other severe law perpetrator, there must be some form of control and it must be capital punishment. Any person who kills people with no regrets or rapes innocent victims continuously, does not deserve to live in a luxurious North American penitentiary or anywhere for that matter, they deserve nothing but the death penalty. When the words death penalty or capital punishment are heard, they obviously are disturbing and uncomfortable, but so are their crimes. There is no hope for criminals with this kind of behavior and mentality. I believe that capital punishment is the key necessity.

If capital punishment was enforced for severe crimes, it would eliminate a fair amount of tax money going towards the judiciary system. If a prison were to maintain a deadly criminal sentenced for life starting at the age of thirty and living to seventy, it would cost tax payers an unbelievable amount of two million one hundred and thirty-six thousand dollars. It is hard to believe but it is true, and imagine, if that is the cost of just one criminal, imagine the astronomical amount of five hundred criminals each costing that amount of money… something must be done. Capital punishment would eliminate those figures and leave you and me a whole lot happier.

When a murderer kills a person and goes to court, he expects to get around thirty to fifty years in jail, and if he behaves well in prison, he could very well get out in half the time. It is also a fact that after the criminal has been released from prison, he will most likely perform the same acts that rendered him there in the first place. Society cant handle these brutal behaviors so therefore capital punishment will. When a criminal is sentenced to the death penalty and is executed by means of capital punishment, all the other potential murderers and rapists will get a warning. They will think twice about doing the crime after they learn of what awaits them in the end.

The fact of the matter is, it has been far too long that we have been too kind to the fiends who murder our loved ones, rape our spouses and daughters and perform other savage brutalities. By no way or justice should they be allowed to roam the streets freely after having a relaxed visit at the local penitentiary. They end up costing the tax payer an unimaginable amount of money so that they can live in a sheltered jail while having hearty meals and access to pay-TV and other commodities. All of this is simply unnecessary for the solution is capital punishment and as long as it is put off, the longer all of these and other things will go on.

The Debate over the merits of capital punishment

The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has endured for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and complicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the Dahmers and Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous barbaric acts of these individuals and other killers, by taking away their lives to function and perform in our society. At the same time, we must insure that innocent people such as Marshall and Millgard are never convicted or sentenced to death for a crime that they did not commit.

Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of deterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per- capita basis in countries or states that do have it, then those that do not. In order for capital punishment to work as a deterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal’s mind prior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware that others have been punished in the past for the offence that he or she is planning, and that what happened to another individual who committed this offence, can also happen to me.

But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from auto theft to 1st-Degree Murder, never take into account the consequences of their actions. Deterrence to crime, is rooted in the individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set of conduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they will and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made or be broken by friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. An individual who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child, will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do, until they have learned it themselves.

Therefore, capital punishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of human nature to ignore practised advice and to self learn. There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itself a form of vengeance on the killer. But isn’t locking up a human being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself? And is it “humane” that an individual who took the life of another, should receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3 meals a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one receives nothing? Adversaries of capital punishment claim that it is far more humane then having the state take away the life of the individual.

In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender, was scheduled to hang. But just days before his execution, the then Liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted McCorkell to life in prison. Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenessee boy. He was sentanced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leaving Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the attempted murder of an 11-year old boy. What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in 1963, two boys would never have had to have gone through the horror of being sexually abused.

These individuals may themselves become sex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused as children. McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in the past, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do this once, he killed two boys, and assaulted two others, leaving one for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this man have to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children, what will he do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a life would the state have been taking away in this case? An innocent life?

A forgiving life? No, a life that was beyond the realm of reform, and did not care to be. We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, even when suspicion may cause considerable doubt, send an innocent person to be executed. It could have happened to David Millgard, it could have happened to Donald Marshall. It probably has even occured numerous times in the history of the earth. But with proper police investigations, and where the evidence shows that the individual is a threat to the peace of society as long as he or she is alive, capital punishment must be used.

Capital Punishment on Trial

Capital Punishment is an issue that has been argued over from the dinner table in the average American home the the oval office in the White House for countless amounts of years. The opposing sides each state their claim on why we should, or shouldn’t allow the death penalty to be administered to those criminals who the courts believe should be killed. Each argument has very valid reasons on why the death penalty is right and wrong, and they both have convincing points to prove their argument.

The social problems within capital punishment vary from it being morally right or wrong, humane or inhumane, to the xcessive time and money that is spent during appeals and stays of execution. This paper will focus on the problem of the justice system, and why we should and should not grant numerous appeals and stays of execution. Capital Punishment has been around since the days of Christ, and its results have not changed, only the way capital punishment is administered has.

States such as California use the gas chamber as the means to end the convict’s life, while Texas and Florida have used the electric chair in the past, the remedy for death is now by using leatheal injection to end the convicts life. Death has always been used as a way to deter criminals from engaging in criminal activity. In the days of the old west, a man would be hung if he was caught stealing another mans horse, and during the Cold War, death would be handed down if you were convicted of treason against your country in many of the nations involved.

Today though, the death penalty is given in a selected amount of murder cases where the jury or judge feels that it is the only way to go about giving the murderer a just sentence, and that life in prison sentence would be to lenient. In 1995, prison uthorities saw the largest number of state mandated killings since 1957, and with more that 3,000 inmates on death row in this country, and several legislative moves to cut the appeals process, a execution boom seems imminent (Bruderhof 1996). Pain. Anger. Frustration.

Hatred. These feeble words do not describe the anguish felt by the families of murder victims. Ted Bundy was responsible for the deaths of more than fifty young women across the United States (Lamar 34). Bundy was finally sentenced to death by the state of Florida in 1978 after being convicted for the kidnapping and brutal urder of a 12 year old girl and the deaths of two Florida State sorority sisters. As if the loss of a loved one is not enough for a family to deal with, Bundy remained on death row for nearly ten years.

Three stays of execution and endless appeals kept Bundy alive for almost a decade, when his victims lives were untimely and viciously taken from them (Lamar 34). Many in fovor of the death penalty feel that if a sentence of death is handed down, then it should be enforced immediately, not as a question of morality, but simply as an act of justice. The death penalty already exists in thirty six states, and given its existence it should e enforced. The problem that arises within the criminal justice system as it is currently written in the law books is where part of this social problem arises.

Since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death Penalty in 1976, thirty six states have legislated capital punishment statutes (Capital Punishment 1992). All but thirteen states and the District of Columbia have the death penalty as a sentencing option, including Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin (Norman 1). Since capital unishment is already in existence, the problem is that it is not enforced.

This lack of enforcement translated into inefficient functioning of the criminal justice system, which begins to be looked at as a social problem. If the criminal justice system cant enforce its own laws, the what will make the hardened criminal believe that he is in danger of getting caught and convicted. This shows a weakness in a institute that should be rock solid and non swaying in the carrying out of its laws and decisions. Two reasons why the death penalty should be enforced are saved time, by the court ystem through limited appeals, and saved money, by taxpayers due to reduced court and imprisonment fees.

Much of the court’s time could be saved if death row inmates were limited to a set number of appeals in a reasonable amount of time. Facilitating numerous appeals results in many unforeseen costs. In 1992, expenditures on criminal justice activities by all federal, state, and local governments combined to reach $299 per capita (BJS). Ted Bundy’s ten year stay on death row, involving numerous appeals and excessive imprisonment fees, eventually cost the Florida taxpayers more the six million dollars Lamar 34).

For those in favor of a swift death penalty being taken out, these expenses were unnecessary and unjustifiable and could of been alleviated by limiting his appeals. Public defense expenditures reached a startling $16. 4 billion in 1990, which breaks down to about seven dollars per capita for each case tried in public defense cost alone (Capital Punishment 1992). Although those figures are for total spending on public defense, it is easy to reduce that by limiting the number of appeals for death row inmates, which would then reduce these figures significantly.

An automatic appeal has been instituted in 35 of the 36 death-penalty states in an effort to reduce the amount of time spent by the court’s appeal system reevaluating capital cases (Capital Punishment 1992). Mandatory appeals shorten the length of time spent on death row and therefore could not be considered cruel and unusual punishment, although many opponents of the death penalty argue that appeals themselves are also a form of torture as they keep inmates on death row for many years. This argument is contradictory because they also assert that there is a possibility of executing a innocent person.

With no ppeal, the chance of freeing a falsely convicted felon is also decreased. The argument those against the death penalty have arguing against quick mandatory appeals in that they bog down system defeats the purpose of their other argument against the killing of and innocent person. Those in favor of the death penalty see mandatory appeals as a way of expediting the execution process, which is currently at an average of nine years and six months that the inmate spends on death row before the sentence is carried out (Capital Punishment 1992).

Use of the death penalty as intended by law could actually reduce the number of iolent murders by eliminating some of the repeat offenders thus being used as a system of justice, not just as a method of deterrence. Many opponents of the death penalty will argue that although it is said to exist as a crime deterrent, in reality it has no effect on crime at all. For the most part, modern supporters of capital punishment no longer view the death penalty as a deterrent, but as a just punishment for the crime, which is a shift from the attitudes of the past generations (Norman 1).

Previously the deterrence argument put the burden of proof on the death penalty advocates, but recently the argument has become ess effective due to what one source said, “.. in recent years the appeal of deterrence has been supplanted by a frank desire for what large majorities see as just vengeance” (Dionne 178-180). Those in opposition to the death penalty believe that if there were not a death penalty, then there would not be as many appeals tying up the court systems.

But since executions are being performed, we will look at there opinions of why countless appeals, and stays of executions should be granted. A very strong fact in why those in opposition to the death penalty believe appeals should be granted is because at least 23 innocent eople have been executed in this century. And since 1970, 59 people have been discovered and released from death row after evidence of their innocence was proved in the appellate levels of the court systems (Bruderhof 1996).

Another reason why many feel the death penalty is wrong is because in several states, new legislation drastically limits possibilities of appeals and stays of executions, ensuring that increasing numbers of capital defendants will be executed because they are unable to obtain adequate, if any legal representation (Bruderhof 1996). More timely enforcement of the death penalty would help to reduce the crime problem by instilling a sense of respect for the law in that sentences would appear to be more than words on a page.

Crimes carry consequences which should be understood. This change in the ideology also would reduced cost to the taxpayers. “One of the many problems with the death penalty is that it is anything but swift and sure” (PD Chiefs: Death Penalty Fails). The reasoning behind that quote is because the long drawn out process that a convict has the right to go through after he has been convicted for the first time. As in he case of Ted Bundy, the system fell down by allowing him to remain on death row for ten years after murdering 50 women.

The justice system needs to allow only one stay of execution which would be immediately followed by one chance to appeal the case. In no way should the justice system allow a criminal to have so many ways to extend his life on this earth, since it is he/she that has ended the life of one or many innocent people with out any regard for their life. It is the responsibility of all of those in favor of the death penalty to show support to reform the current laws regulating the death penalty and its executions.

As we learned in chapter 9, future strategies to curve the social problems in judicial reform would be to provide swift, certain, and fair punishment. Swift punishment can be applied by the deduction of paroles and stays of executions. Certain punishment would prove that if a certain criminal deed is done, that the justice system will make sure the criminals know that they will be convicted. And fair punishment would be that of an eye for an eye type of punishment. If a murderer has such disregard for a human life that he is willing to take it, why should we have such high regard for his own.

The Debate of Capital Punishment

The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has endured for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and complicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the Dahmers and Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous barbaric acts of these individuals and other killers, by taking away their lives to function and perform in our society. At the same time, we must insure that innocent people such as Marshall and Millgard are never convicted or sentenced to death for a crime that they did notcommit.

Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of deterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per- capita basis in countries or states that do have it, then those that do not. In order for capital punishment to work as a deterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal’s mind prior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware that others have been punished in the past for the offence that he or she is planning, and that what happened to another individual who committed this offence, can also happen to me.

But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from uto theft to 1st-Degree Murder, never take into account the consequences of their actions. Deterrence to crime, is rooted in the individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set of conduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they will and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made or be broken by friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. An individual who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child, will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do, until they have learned it themselves.

Therefore, capital unishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of human nature to ignore practised advice and to self learn. There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itself a form of vengeance on the killer. But isn’t locking up a human being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself? And is it “humane” that an individual who took the life of another, should receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3 meals a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one receives nothing? Adversaries of capital punishment claim that it is far more humane then having the state take away the life of the individual.

In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender, was scheduled to hang. But just days before his execution, the then Liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted McCorkell to life inprison. Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenessee boy. He was sentanced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leaving Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the attempted murder of an 11-year old boy. What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in 1963, two boys would never have had to have gone through the horror f being sexually abused.

These individuals may themselves become sex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused aschildren. McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in the past, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do this once, he killed two boys, and assaulted two others, leaving one for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this man have to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children, what will he do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a life would the state have been taking away in this case? An innocent life?

A forgiving life? No, a life that was beyond the realm of reform, and did not care to be. We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, even when suspicion may cause considerable doubt, send an innocent person to be executed. It could have happened to David Millgard, it could have happened to Donald Marshall. It probably has even occured numerous times in the history of the earth. But with proper police investigations, and where the evidence shows that the individual is a threat to the peace of society as long as he or she is alive, capital punishment must be used.

Capital Punishment: Just Or Unjust

A man by the name of Gary Mark Gilmore spent most of his life either in trouble or in jail being punished for it. He was born December 4 1940 and he grew up in Portland, Oregon. He was abused by his father and when the family moved to Salt Lake City, he started on a life of crime. When the family moved back to Portland, Gilmore became a neighborhood tough and dropped out of school at the age of 14. His involvement in a car theft ring opened his long criminal record. He was arrested a second time, and was sent to a boys reformatory, where he spent most of the time in solitary confinement.

After his release, he was arrested again and spent much of the two years in jail. In 1961 he moved back with his parents, but was arrested two more times, the second time tearing his cell apart when he learned that his father had died of cancer. Gilmore was in jail for 11 years, and was released in 1976. Three months later on July 19, he killed a service station attendant during a robbery attempt in Utah. The following night, repeating the crime, he murdered a 25-year-old motel manager. Both men, married and having children, had been shot twice in the back of the head.

Gilmore was caught, convicted, and, in October 1976, was sentenced to death. On the morning of January 17, 1977, Gilmore was led from his cell on death row to a vacant cannery, tied to a Rivera 2 beat-up office chair, and read his execution order. A hood was placed over his head and the five marksmen, seated 10 feet away behind a canvas curtain, fired at a black target pinned on his chest, and Gilmore died, the first man in the United States to be put to death following the ten-year moratorium on capital punishment ended by the Supreme Court in 1967.

Capital punishment does not only lower the murder rate, but its value as retribution alone is a good reason for handing out death sentences. Support for the death penalty in the U. S. has risen to an average of 80 percent. The death penalty deters murder by putting the fear of death into would be killers. A person is less likely to do something, if he or she thinks that harm will come to him or her. Another way the death penalty deters murder, is the fact that if the killer is dead, he will not kill again.

Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should be punished for their crimes, and that it does not matter whether it will deter the crime rate. There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itself a form of vengeance on the killer. But isnt locking up a human being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself? And isnt it inhumane that an individual who took the life of another, should receive heating, clothing, indoor Rivera 3 lumbing, 3 meals a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one and had done nothing receives nothing?

The primary purpose of legal punishment is to deter crime. Over the years theorists have agreed on three additional purposes of punishment-rehabilitation, bringing about changes in the character of the convict, incapacitation, also referred to as isolation from society, or imprisonment, and finally, justice which without a doubt, is one of the main reasons for punishment. Van de Haag 53) In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19-year-old sex offender, was scheduled to hang.

Just days before his execution, the then liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted McCorkell to life in prison. Less that 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year-old Tennessee boy. He was sentenced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leaving Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the murder of an 11-year old boy. (Mill 32) Had McCorkell been executed in 1963, two boys would never have gone through the horror of being abused, and the 11-year old boy wouldnt of had his life taken by a madman.

Society must be kept safe from the monstrous and barbaric acts of violent killers, by taking their lives to function and perform in our society. At the same time we must insure that innocent people are never convicted or sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit. In 1986 a young white woman was killed at a dry cleaners in Monroeville, Alabama. For the next 8 months the police were unable to come up with any likely suspects. Finally, police arrested Walter McMillian, a black man who lived in a nearby town.

McMillian denied murdering the woman; he claimed he was with his relatives all day, in fact, his story was corroborated by several people. Nevertheless, he was arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned on death row even before formal sentencing. For more than six years McMillian was on death row until finally was proved innocent. A study by the Stanford Law Review found that between 1900 and 1985, 349 people were incorrectly convicted of capital crimes and later found to be innocent on the basis of reexamination of cases.

Of these, 23 were actually executed. The debate over the merits of capital punishment had endured for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and complicated issue. I, personally am for the death penalty. I believe in the eye for an eye punishment. If someone kills they should be killed, no questions asked. I just would not want an innocent person executed for a crime that they did not commit.

Capital Punishment Report

In the following pages, I will discuss the history, debate, past and current public opinion, and how it applies to American ideology and opposing values. Both sides have a fair amount of support and I have included direct quotes and paraphrasing from authors, celebrities, journalists, and ordinary people arguing both sides. The history of the death penalty goes back to the earliest civilizations where it was used to punish all sorts of crimes from robbery, to murder, to different forms of heresy.

In the United States it evolved to just punish murder, treason, and some cases of rape. It has been an issue that has sparked a never ending debate that goes back to colonial times. The general public traditionally supported the death penalty in a majority with only a few politicians speaking out against it (i. e. , Benjamin Rush, Ben Franklin and later on Horace Greeley). Once the U. S. gained independence, each state went back and forth in abolishing and reinstating the death penalty and methods of execution.

The 1960’s saw many trials concerning capital punishment cases that led to a ten year halt in executions. In 1965, the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) announcement of their anti-death penalty stance was a sign of things to come. It was particularly important because the ACLU had always neglected to have an opinion on the issue because they believed it was not a civil rights issue. They now determined that capital punishment was “inconsistent with underlying values of a democratic system.

They explained that it discriminated against blacks and other minorities and did not comply with the eighth amendment of the constitution, in other words, it was cruel and unusual punishment (Vila, Morris:127). The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense Fund (NAACP-LDF) also began to speak out in the mid-sixties. They agreed that the death penalty discriminated against blacks and launched a campaign against the death penalty around the same time.

The LDF poured its resources into aiding death row prisoners which tied up the capital punishment cases for years allowing them to achieve their goal of a moratorium on the death penalty (Vila, Morris:131). From 1967 to 1977, there were no executions anywhere in the United States because of groups like these that rallied to oppose it, the particularly low public support of it, and a number of supreme court cases that decided in the favor of the abolitionist movement.

One crucial case was Witherspoon v. Illinois in 1968. The supreme court ruled that prospective jurors who oppose the death penalty can not automatically be excluded from juries in possible capital punishment cases. The court said that having jurors that oppose the death penalty is part of a fair, “impartial jury” as dictated by the Sixth Amendment. Some dissenters claimed that people who were ethically opposed to the death penalty were biased because they would never vote to give the death penalty to people who deserved it.

Some historians say that this marked the first time that the supreme court was persuaded by public opinion against capital punishment. The following statement was made by Justice Potter Stewart who spoke for the majority, “In a nation less than half of whose people believe in the death penalty, a jury composed exclusively of such people cannot speak for the communityIn its quest for a jury capable of imposing the death penalty, the State produced a jury uncommonly willing to condemn a man to die” (Gottfried:60).

Scholars and lawyers also thought this would be the end of capital punishment for good because the courts’ willingness to accept people who fundamentally opposed the death penalty, but this turned out not to be true because of details in the decision that allowed courts and legislatures to work around it. The 1972 case of Furman v Georgia was seen as a complete victory for abolitionists at the time, but proved to be more complicated than it appeared.

It said that the death penalty, as it was administered, violated the Eighth Amendments because it was cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it did not guarantee equal protection under the law (Costanzo:18). The crucial part of this statement was “.. as it was administered” because it left the law open to be revised and then reinstated if in compliance with the Constitution. The important thing to realize was that the court did not say that the death penalty itself was unconstitutional, it said the current way it was being administered was unconstitutional.

The court said that juries were not given adequate guidance in imposing a death sentence and the jury systems were different in every state. This did put a halt to all executions in the country, but only until the laws were re-written. Many states rewrote their death penalty laws that were all deemed acceptable only four years later. The apparent abolition of the death penalty was very short lived. After many states changed their laws concerning the death penalty, criminals sentenced to death, and then given life sentences, were put back on death row.

In Gregg v. Georgia, the Supreme Court decided that under the new revised laws regarding capital punishment cases that the death penalty was indeed constitutional. The new laws stated that juries had to be under the guidance of a trial court during decision making in the death penalty phase and also there was to be a mandatory state appellate court review of all death sentences (Vila, Morris:161). Justice Stewart even pointed out that public opinion had flip-flopped since the late sixties and early seventies and there was now heavy support for capital punishment (Gottfried:62).

The Supreme Court was not only persuaded by public opinion in this case, but came right out and sited public opinion polls as a reason for the court’s decision. The first person to die under the new court decision was Garry Gilmore. For the general public he was the perfect example of someone who deserved the death penalty because of his blatant apathy towards human life. This confirmed the public consensus that in certain extreme cases, the death penalty is the only reasonable punishment. The case of Ted Bundy is another example.

He was a serial killer that was responsible for the deaths of 50 young women and kidnapping a 12 year old girl. There was no doubt that the majority of Americans thought the death penalty was appropriate for him and other cases like his. Despite the support of the majority of the public supporting capital punishment, many politicians and organizations still condemned the death penalty throughout the eighties and nineties. Groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, religious figures like the Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa, politicians like Jimmy Carter and Mario Cuomo all publicly stand against the death penalty.

In the eighties, there were court cases that concerned specific issues regarding the death penalty such as the execution of minors and mentally handicapped people. This is one of the many issues I will discuss in the next section of this paper that deals with the different arguments of the debate. I have separated the arguments regarding the death penalty debate into two separate categories: the issues concerning the moral and social aspects of the debate and the issues concerning legal and constitutional aspects.

A good place to start in the moral and social realm of the debate would be the issue of the death penalty as a deterrent. Aside from the need for “justice” and the safety of society, this is the reason the death penalty exists. Opponents of the death penalty say that fear of punishment will not stop people from committing horrendous crimes for a few reasons. The first is that people who engage in the type of crimes punishable by death are not rational people and/or are not rationally considering the consequences when committing the crime.

The second one is that the alternative to the death sentence, which would be life imprisonment without parole, actually might sound worse to someone that is considering the crime. Supporters of the death penalty say that fear of being put to death does deter would be murderers from pulling the trigger. Some cite statistics that crime has gone done after death penalty laws are enacted, but the opponents have said that overall, it hasn’t changed that much.

An important point that supporters contend is that the death penalty doesn’t apply to all murders, but just the especially horrific ones, so it might deter potential kidnappers and rapists from taking those extra steps. They also believe that the fear of death is a fundamental human motive that everyone, including crazed murderers, will consider. In an article in New Republic, former New York City mayor Edward Koch gives an example of a confessed murderer Luis Vera.

He shot and killed neighbor Rosa Velez when she found him robbing her apartment. Yeah I shot her, she knew me and I knew I wouldn’t go to the chair. ‘” Another aspect in this realm of the debate is retribution vs. revenge: Is it morally just to kill someone for killing? Opponents say capital punishment for murderers is simply revenge and is just state-sanctioned murder. Their argument is simply – two wrongs don’t make a right. Supporters would argue the “eye for an eye” theory – if you take someone’s life, yours shall be taken too. This is just a simple question of how far you personally take the idea of forgiveness.

Many clergymen and women have addressed this issue using religious references to support either side. Sister Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking) makes an obvious point: “it is curious that those who so readily invoke the ‘eye for an eye, life for a life’ passage are quick to shun other biblical prescriptions that also call for death, arguing that modern societies have evolved over three thousand or so years since biblical times and no longer consider such exaggerated and archaic punishments appropriate.

She is basically saying that anyone who cites the eye for an eye law because it is in the Bible also has to support the death penalty for pick-pocketing and different forms of heresy. Most people would assume a Christian to “turn the other cheek,” but in an essay published in The Death Penalty – Opposing Viewpoints, Charles W. Colson insists that capital punishment is necessary in extreme cases: “I believe that God requires capital justice, at least in the case of premeditated murder where there is no doubt of the offender’s guilt.

This is, after all, the one crime in the Bible where no restitution was possible. ” * You can’t debate the issue of the death penalty without considering the issue of race and class. According to Amnesty International (in the late nineties), African Americans make up about 12 percent of the population, they are almost half of the country’s death row population. In southern states they are even higher, reaching almost sixty percent of the death row population.

The reason could simply be that Blacks commit more crimes than whites, which could, in turn, relate to certain class issues. But many people who oppose the death penalty do not believe this to be the case. They contend that it is the conscious or subconscious prejudice of white jurors and the prosecutors seeking the death penalty. There is evidence that they are much more likely to seek the death penalty when the victim is white and the accused is black. Also blacks who are convicted of killing whites are more sentenced to death than any other kinds of offenders (Gottfried:51).

The argument to this is that these statistics are misleading because of added circumstances that make it much more complicated. I just don’t have the space to dive into that here! Another major complaint about the application of the death penalty is that it is unfair to those who don’t have big budgets. “That’s what capital punishment really means: those who ain’t got the capital, get the punishment,” convicted murderer and death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal contends in the spoken word CD accompanying his book All Things Censored (2000).

Accused criminals that can not afford a lawyer to represent them are appointed a lawyer by the court, but it is well known that in most cases, lawyers appointed by the court will not put the same effort into the defense that lawyers someone like O. J. Simpson san buy. So defendants from a lower class will not have the same defense as someone who can afford an expensive, prestigious lawyer. You could say that the cause for the abundance of poor people on death row is because of the obvious reason that poorer people are more inclined to commit crimes in general, including the harsher crimes that are punished by the death penalty.

Some opponents focus on limiting the cases that the death penalty can be applied to. The 1988 case of Thompson v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court ruled that minors could be put to death (Vila, Morris:232). Soon after, James Terry Roach was executed for a crime he committed when he was seventeen. In Penry v.. Lynaugh a year later, they decided that a mentally handicapped person was not protected under the Eighth Amendment, either. The defendant wasn’t capable of reading or writing and his confession was written by the police.

Some people feel that certain crimes are so bad, that even though the person might not have been in a normal mental capacity for whatever reason, society needs to be protected from them and incarcerating them is not enough. One more simple issue concerning morality and society is the issue of innocent people getting executed. Some people think that it is better to let some guilty people go than execute even one innocent person. “Many death penalty opponents say that the capital punishment should never be used in a case where the jury or judge is not 100% sure of guilt.

They say that, because it is impossible to ever be 100% sure about anything, the death penalty should not be used when someone might be innocent” (deathpenalty. org) The other side argues that more innocent lives will be saved in the long run if murderers are executed or possibly deterred by strict capital justice. There are certain legal and constitutional issues that rise when discussing capital punishment. The Eighth Amendment is consistently brought up by abolitionists because they believe that all death sentences are “cruel and unusual punishment.

Also the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifth Amendment is brought up because they believe that defendants are not getting “equal protection under the law” and/or “due process of law” for the racial and class reasons stated previously. The Supreme Court has determined that with all the opportunities for appeals and reviews that both of those concerns are met under the constitution according their decision in Gregg v. Georgia (1976). A crucial issue for both sides of the debate is the length of time between the time criminals get convicted and the time they are executed.

Many people were outraged at the fact that Ted Bundy remained alive for about ten years while his appeals went through. Both sides think that the ability to have appeals is necessary but people who support the death penalty generally think it should be shorter while opponents say that a long process is necessary to ensure fairness. This ties into another dispute regarding the length of time on death row. Supporters of the death penalty don’t believe that society should be paying for prisoners who committed horrific crimes to live out their lives in prison .

The abolitionist argument against that is that the death penalty process of appeals actually costs more than to support a prisoner for the duration of his or her life. So the pro-death penalty side argues back that the appeals process should be shorter because it is costing society (including the innocent victims’ family) so much tax money. Of course, these few pages come no where near covering all the issues surrounding the debate, but they are the most outstanding issues that people are concerned about. Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?

This was one of the questions asked for the Gallop poll over the years concerning the death penalty. Since the late 50’s, the public’s answer of “yes” to this this question has steadily risen. The percentage of people supporting the death penalty was barely over 50% in the sixties and rose to about eighty percent in the late eighties/early nineties, and then sinking down a little in more recent years (http://www. gallup. com/poll/releases/pr000224. asp). The social atmosphere of the sixties was naturally not the kind that would likely support a government policy like the death penalty.

It did not fit the liberal agenda of Lyndon Johnson or the New Left and was not exactly the best representation of “peace and love. ” Ted Gottfried sites The Encyclopedia of American Crime who asserted that “public opinion was overwhelmingly opposed to the death penalty [in the mid-sixties]. ” This broke an ongoing trend for centuries of the public supporting the death penalty. This shift in public opinion was recognized by everyone, from Johnson’s Commission on the Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice to Justice Stewart and the Supreme Court.

As I mentioned before, the 1968 case of Witherspoon v. Illinois was the first time that the Supreme Court acknowledged the influence of public opinion in deciding their verdict in a related case. Also Lyndon B. Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recognized the decline in popularity of the death penalty in its 1967 report, The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, and acknowledged the many problems (that abolitionists say) come with it (Vila, Morris: Document 50).

1966 actually marked the extreme low in the support of the death penalty: 42% (www. gallup. com). The support for the death penalty continued to remain low in comparison to modern support, although it rose a bit in the late sixties. It was the time period between 1972 and 1976 where a major shift took place again. And again, the courts responded. In Gregg v. Georgia, the Supreme Court pointed out the reforms made by states in their capital punishment laws and determined that the death penalty was indeed constitutional under these laws.

Justice Stewart admitted the influence of public opinion on the case: citing the recent polls showing heavy support for the death penalty (up to 66% in 1976), he said that the death penalty was a legitimate “expression of society’s moral outrage” towards brutal murders and horrific crimes (Gottfried:63). What is peculiar about the 1972 court decision and the 1976 court decision is that within a span of four years, the Supreme Court completely changed their point of view on capital punishment.

In 1972 they were claiming that the court was interpreting the constitution according to the “evolving standards of decency” in society, referring to the view that the death penalty was inhumane. But in 1976, they responded to “society’s moral outrage” concerning the leniency of the criminal justice system on the most horrific crimes. Public opinion must have really taken a big shift in the seventies. These examples show the blatant effect of public opinion on decisions made in even the highest court in the country.

Support for the death penalty continued gaining popularity and was endorsed by Ronald Reagan in the Eighties, when it reached its peak at 79% in 1988 and then 80% in 1994 (www. gallup. com). Toady, support for the death penalty is somewhere in the high sixties to low seventies in percentage of people who support it, according to polls. This means that somewhere between 2/3 and of the population say they support the death penalty when polled. But Mark Costanzo, Ph. D. (author of Just Revenge), argues that there are complications to those statistics.

He first accuses some sectors of the American public of not considering the entire issue when deciding what position to take. He asserts that they only take into account their belief in the “eye for an eye” law, and ignore other complications that could cause it to be unjust. Costanzo points out that the public recognizes the strong implications of race and class issues concerning the death penalty, “45% of Americans believe that a black person is more likely than a white person to receive the death penalty for the same crime, and 60% believe that poor people are more likely to be sentenced to death than wealthy people.

He also recognizes that the answer to the one question of the death penalty in the case of murder include a group of people that could hold very different beliefs. For example, some people could support the death penalty in case of any or most murders, while others only support in very extreme cases of horrendous crimes (Costanzo:116). Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that people did look at capital punishment in a different way through the eighties and nineties and still do today.

The most compelling reason for the rise in support is the rise of the crime rate in proportion to it (Costanzo:122). As the crime rate rose, people might have begun supporting the death penalty to vent their frustration and come down hard on crime. As a result of these rising crime rates, politicians used the gimmick of having a hard stance on crime more often, which usually included the support of the death penalty as a deterrent. Many elements of the death penalty relate to ideology conflicts in American culture.

The issues surrounding it cross over the obvious lines of left and right, probably more so than other issues that we could have chosen for this research paper. The first issue I will discuss is crime and punishment (not the Dostoevsky novel) and how it relates to different ideologies. Conservatives have had a history of being “tougher” on crime than liberals and this generalization follows through on the topic of capital punishment. They believe that order in society is crucial and must come before civil liberties and peaceful notions like “two wrongs don’t make a right” if need be.

The common pro-execution stance taken by conservatives can also be looked at as an extension of their tougher stances on crime in general. This position is taken in order to uphold traditional values (“the accumulated wisdom of the ages”) and to ensure that society stays “civil” as a whole. In general, all these conservative views boil down to the belief that it is better to kill a few innocent people as a result of tough legislation and save more innocent lives in the long run than to let guilty murderers run wild.

The liberal take on this would be just the opposite: better to let some guilty people go than execute someone who is innocent. They focus on the issues of race and class in relation to capital punishment (and the justice system in general) and some even take notice to particular outspoken convicts whose cases may raise an eyebrow. For example, Mumia Abu Jamal has gained support in the nineties from the political left because of his fishy conviction in 1981 and his prior radical politics.

Part of the reason for this support is the general liberal belief in one’s right to free speech and acceptance of radical politics geared towards social change. Because liberal politics are based on the idea that all the accomplishments of the past few hundred years (freeing of slaves, women’s suffrage, labor rights) are based around progressive social change. Conversely, conservatives believe that their grasp on tradition is the one thing keeping society from teetering over the edge into utter chaos and immorality.

These beliefs apply directly to the death penalty debate. Conservatives say that they are doing society a favor by being tough on crime (using capital punishment) while liberals say that individual human rights as well as issues of race and class are not being observed. When compared to other debates that become conservative vs. liberal ideology the death penalty doesn’t quite match up. Conservatives generally take the pro-life side of The abortion debate while liberals generally take the side of pro-choice.

In this case, the conservative viewpoint takes the side of the individual (or the unborn fetus) while the liberal stance defends the greater society (the right to have a choice). Its seems that conservatives are taking the side of human rights while liberals are looking out for greater society. This obviously is a direct effect of the Christian influence on the conservative side. It is curious that this same influence doesn’t affect the death penalty debate in the same way. As I mentioned before, there is a significant religious influence on the death penalty debate, but it is mostly supportive of the liberal side (anti-death penalty side).

Like any other political debate, there is no black and white on who supports what side and on exactly what each side believes, mostly because everyone is different and no one sees anything exactly the same way. Society has an interesting way of evolving that defines where people stand, what ideology they endorse, what political party they vote for, and where they stand on specific issues. The public opinion in the last few years few years has shown a little less support for the death penalty than the late eighties and early nineties and we (down to the mid to low sixties in percentage).

Today, it is nearly impossible to predict which way public opinion on capital punishment will turn next, but it is likely to be influenced in some way by recent terrorist attacks. There are not too many people on either side of the political spectrum that think that the people responsible for the terrorist attacks do not deserve to die. However, it will always remain a controversial issue with concern to crime, human rights, racism, society, punishment, morality, religion, and anything else you might consider important in political and social concerns.

Capital Punishment Report

The question with which we must deal is not whether a substantial proportion of American citizens would today, if polled, opine that capital punishment is barbarously cruel, but whether they would find it to be so in light of all information presently available. – Justice Thurgood Marshall Imagine a man who commits murder once, is given a fifteen-year jail sentence and is returned to the streets where he kills again. He is imprisoned again only to be released. This could happen since almost one in ten death row inmates has been convicted of murder at least once.

That means that some death row inmates have been given more than one hance to rehabilitate in prison and continue to commit violent crimes. Should the United States justice system continue to let violent criminals back on the streets where they are likely to commit murder again? Capital punishment is one of the oldest forms of punishment in the world. Most societies have considered it a fair punishment for severe crimes. It is even mentioned as an appropriate punishment in the Bible.

American colonists used capital punishment before the United States was a country, and most states use it today. Currently, however, there is a great deal of controversy surrounding he death penalty. Capital cases are long and expensive, and there is no proof as to whether capital punishment deters crime. For these reasons total abolition may be the best way to resolve the capital punishment controversy. If the laws concerning capital punishment were modified, however, capital punishment could become much cheaper, and possibly a lot more effective.

Steve Brinker Capital Punishment: Give It A Chance Since the beginning of man, people have been put to death. Capital punishment has been used all over the world as a means of punishing people for their crimes. Here in America, people are usually given a trial for their crime, judged upon by the jury and judge, and then finally decided upon their final verdict. If the crime is serious enough, the person is sent to spend time on death row in a maximum-security prison. The judge then sets a date when the person is to be executed.

The person has an opportunity to appeal, which must be granted by the governor in the state in which the person is imprisoned. If the person is pardoned, then they will set another date for execution, or they will spend the rest of their lives on death row. If the pardon is denied, then the erson will be sent to die on the scheduled day. Now I would like to give you a few examples of famous, and not so famous cases of people who were sentenced to be executed: Thomas More: was executed in the 1700s for being a traitor to the Roman Catholic Church in England.

According to the laws of his time. The accused man had no rights in the contemporary sense. There was no presumption of innocence, and the prisoner was given no opportunity to call witnesses in his defense Thomas More was convicted of being contempt, and not following the rules of the church. He was sentenced to death by having his head cut off with an axe. After his death, the flesh was boiled off of his head, it was then impaled upon a pole raised above the London Bridge. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg: This is probably one of the most famous cases of espionage in American History.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted for transmitting Atomic Military Secrets to the U. S. S. R. , and were labeled Communist Spies. This case was ended with a double death sentence, they were both sent to die in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison. George Stinney Jr. : was the youngest person to be legally executed in the United States in the 20th Century. In 1944, George Stinney Jr. , a 14 year old black male, was convicted of stabbing two young white females with railroad spikes in the head. Despite his age, he was convicted in less than 90 days after the murders.

He was electrocuted in Central Correctional institution in Columbia, S. C. Andrew Lavern Smith: On December 18, 1998, a man by the name of Andrew Smith became the 500th execution in the United States since capital punishment became reinstated in 1976. He was lethally injected in Columbia, S. C. He had been convicted for murdering an elderly couple after they refused to let him borrow heir car. Joshua Phillips: On the local standpoint, Joshua Phillips was convicted for the murder of Maddie Clifton here in Jacksonville.

Yet, because of his age, 14 at the time of the murder, he was sentenced to life at Wakulla Correctional Institution, instead of death, which is usually given for pre-meditated murder in the 1st degree. Why was he sentenced to die like George Stinney Jr.? That question is in the open. These are only a few examples of the thousands of people who have been executed over time of man. It would be nearly impossible to sit and write all the cases. I personally elieve that capital punishment is a necessity in our society. Without it, our prisons would be way overcrowded, and who knows?

These people could once again possibly escape back into the public, then we would have to live our lives in fear. A Brief History of Execution By Nicholas McCorkle The practice of execution is as old as civilization itself. From ancient Sumeria to modern executions by lethal injection, capital punishment has been practiced by almost every society in the world. Each culture has its own rites and rituals, but the feeling of a justified retribution is held by almost every ethnic nd civil group in the world. Yet the debate over its efficacy and morality continues unabated to this day.

The history of capital punishment begins with the translations of Hammurabis Code, the oldest legal document ever discovered. While the precise date of Hammurabi’s Code of Laws is disputed by scholars, it is generally believed to have been written between the second year of his reign, circa 1727 BCE, and the end of his reign, circa 1780 BCE, predating the Hebrew “Ten Commandments” by about 500 years. Perhaps the single most striking feature of Hammurabi’s Code is its ommitment to protection of the weak from being brutalized by the strong.

He believed that he had been ordained by his gods Anu (God of the Sky) and Bel (The Lord of Heaven and Earth, the God of Destiny) to establish the rule of law and justice over his people. It is believed by many historians, that the practice of execution even predates the code. The laws were merely administered by an assembly of elders and the acts of execution were usually performed by the victims family in cases of murder, rape, and other atrocities. The concept of an eye for an eye or post mortem retribution as used as justification. Basically, execution began as an act of revenge.

From there, the death penalty continued to evolve. We find references to execution in the works of Charles Dickens, Voltaire, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The severity of the laws changed over the course of history, providing for other alternatives, but the need for retribution remained. With the expansion of the British Empire to the New World execution in the respect that we think of it today was introduced to North America. The first recorded incident of a man being put to death in the territory now known as he United States of America was of Daniel Frank, put to death in 1622 in the Colony of Virginia for the crime of theft.

Since then the death penalty has almost always been a feature of the criminal justice system, first in the American colonies and then, after independence, in the U. S. It was upheld throughout the birth of the burgeoning nation and continued into the expansion west. During the Civil War, most death sentences were provided for deserters and traitors. As the United States continued to grow, many western territories, with the lack of dedicated police forces, looked to vigilante groups o provide justice to criminals. This usually resulted in the accused being hung, without trial or jury.

The United States did not begin to keep regular statistics on the death penalty until 1930. From 1930, the first year for which statistics are readily available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, to 1967, 3,859 persons were executed under civil (that is, nonmilitary) jurisdiction in the United States. The vast majority of those executed were men; 32 women were executed from 1930 to 1967. Three out of five executions during that period took place in the southern U. S. The state of Georgia had the highest umber of executions during the period, totaling 366 — more than nine percent of the national total.

Texas followed with 297 executions; New York with 329; California with 292; and North Caroline with 263. Most executions — 3,334 of 3,859 — were for the crime of murder; 455 prisoners (12%) — ninety percent of them black — were executed for rape; 70 prisoners were executed for other offenses. By the end of the 1960s, all but 10 states had laws authorizing capital punishment, but strong pressure by forces opposed to the death penalty resulted in an unofficial moratorium on executions for everal years, with the last execution during this period taking place in 1967.

Prior to this, an average of 130 executions per year occurred. Legal challenges to the death penalty culminated in a 5-4 U. S. Supreme Court decision Furman v. Georgia, 408 U. S. 153 (1972), which struck down federal and state capital punishment laws permitting wide discretion in the application of the death penalty. The majority ruled that they constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution and the due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Only two of the justices concurring in the decision declared capital punishment to be unconstitutional in all instances, however; other concurrences focused on the abitrariness of the application of capital punishment, including the appearance of racial bias against black defendants. In all, nine separate opinions — five invalidating existing laws and four arguing for their retention — were written by the nine Supreme Court justices spelling out their different views on what constituted the “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.

More than 600 death row nmates who had been sentenced to death between 1967 and 1972 had their death sentences lifted as a result of Furman, but the numbers quickly began to build up again as states enacted revised legislation tailored to satisfy the Supreme Court’s objections to arbitrary imposition of death sentences. The first execution under the new death penalty laws took place on January 17, 1977, when convicted murdered Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in Utah. Gilmore’s was the first execution in the United States since 1967.

Since the 1976 Gregg decision upholding the constitutionality of Georgia’s eath penalty law, numerous states have reinstated capital punishment in their statutes. The most recent state to enact a death penalty law was New York in 1995. As of January 1998, 38 states and the federal government have capital punishment laws in effect. Alaska, eleven other states Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — and the District of Columbia do not have a death penalty.

Racial Disparities in Capital Sentencing By Monique Small One argument that opponents of capital punishment make is hat it is meted out unfairly. They argue two main points: 1) that minorities, especially blacks, are substantially over-represented on death row and 2) the murders of minorities are not considered capital cases with even comparable frequency to the murders of whites. In this section I will address each of these points beginning with the first. When it comes to the question of representation on death row, it is obvious to almost anyone that blacks are severely over-represented.

African-Americans total approximately 12 percent of the population of America, while they make up approximately 39 ercent of those executed over the last 20 years and 42 percent of those awaiting execution on death row. This over-representation has long been the case and has been addressed by virtually every legislative body in America as well as by the Supreme Court. In the landmark case Furman Vs. Georgia in 1972 the Supreme Court overturned existing death penalty statutes on the grounds that those selected to die were chose primarily on the basis of race.

In this case the Supreme Court issued a temporary moratorium on capital sentencing. The moratorium ended in 1976 when the Court cleared the way or states to resume executions provided that the state statutes applied racially neutral standards for death sentences. This however, has not been the case, as we shall see with the examination of the second question. The second question is whether or not the lives of blacks and whites are looked upon equally when deciding if a murderer will get the death penalty. Again the answer to the question is straightforward, no.

Out of the total number of cases in which a prisoner has been executed in the past 20 years, in only 12 percent of the cases was the victim black, while in 80 percent of the cases the ictim was white. This becomes more shocking when we realize that whites are victims in less than half of the murders committed in America annually. I offer the state of Georgia as an example, in this state alone over 60 percent of murder victims since 1972 have been black, however of the 22 total executed in that state during this period of time 20 were charged with the murders of whites, only two were executed for killing a black person.

So while cases in which the murder victim is black account for more than 60 percent of total murders, only 9 percent of the people executed in Georgia ad a black victim, while in the other 91 percent of cases the victim was white. The conclusion to be drawn from this is obvious, that a defendant is more likely to be charged with the death penalty if the victim is white. While it is true that states like Georgia and Mississippi are notorious for racism (in Mississippi a defendant is 5. 5 times more likely to receive a death sentence if the victim is white), these types of disparities are the case all over America, not only in the south.

For example, in Illinois the odds of a death sentence are 4 times higher if the victim is white, and in Philadelphia the odds are 3. times higher. These types of glaring disparities fuel many debates over whether or not capital punishment should even be administered in America. Many people who oppose the death penalty do so because the method of sentencing is obviously racially motivated. These types of problems are not, however, indicative of a problem with America’s system of capital punishment anywhere near as much as they are indicative of the attitude of America as a country.

There are a number of issues that I will not be addressing in detail (like the number of innocent African-Americans freed from death row; or the ercentage of executed rapists who were black and charged with raping a white woman) but they all lead to one conclusion, that in America the lives of whites are more valuable than the lives of blacks. The problem is not that the idea of capital punishment is, in this respect, fatally flawed; instead the problem is the attitude of the people administering justice. Methods of Execution By Lisa Lorenzo In thirty-eight states of the United States it is legal to impose the death penalty.

There are currently five different legal methods of executing a prisoner. They are lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, anging, and firing squad(Peacenet). Lethal injection is legal in twenty-seven states. This method is a series of shots administered to the prisoner to relax, knockout, and then kill them. First, though, the prisoner is given an antihistamine to help against the coughing which the following drugs can bring on. The next shot used is sodium thiopentone which is a very rapid acting anaesthetic. Then, pancuronium bromide is given to relax the respiratory muscles to make the prisoner unconscious.

Finally, potassium chloride is administered to stop the heart. It is not this simple though, each drug has to e given with the correct dosage and at specific timed intervals(Abbott, 297). Due to the preciseness needed throughout this method, a man named Fred Leuchter developed an automatic machine to correctly administer the various drug at the appropriate times(Abbott, 298). Many states currently view this machine as the most humane way to kill a prisoner. The next most commonly found method of execution is by electrocution. It is currently legal in twelve states.

In this process the prisoner is strapped to a wooden chair with large leather straps and three electrodes are placed on the body, one to the head and one to each ankle. The electrode placed on the prisoners head is a leather helmet lined with copper screening and moistened sponge material(Abbott, 113). This helmet allows for some important wiring to also be connected. It is also necessary to administer the correct amount of voltage to minimize the amount of pain, too little and the prisoner suffers more, but too much and flesh would be grilled and the brain fried.

It has been determined that at least two thousand volts AC are needed(Abbott, 113). The gas chamber is currently only legal in five states. After several tests on animals the founders concluded that the following set-up was best for dministering the deadly gas. In an octagonal steel cubicle there are two chairs bolted to the floor. Beneath each chair is a bowl and above it is a cheesecloth bag containing one pound of sodium cyanide crystals or pellets. In another room a mixture of sulfuric acid and distilled water is made.

After the prisoner is strapped to the chair and the door locked, the bag of sodium cyanide is lowered into the sulfuric acid mixture. This combination makes hydrocyanic gas killing the prisoner(Abbott,161-164). Surprisingly enough hanging and firing squad each are still legal in two states. Hanging has been erformed in several of different ways, too numerous to go into detail of all of them. Basically, the prisoner has a rope placed around the neck and is then has the feet pushed, pulled, or dropped from beneath them.

The rope needs to be a specific length for the individual prisoner though; too short and the vertebrae would not break and they would die slowly of suffocation, but too long and the head could literally tear off(Abbott 234-279). Death by firing squad, like hanging, has been used throughout the ages since the gun was first invented. The number of people firing, the guns used, and where the bullet is imed varies greatly. Some contend that a shot to the head is more effective than a shot to the chest. The distance between the executioner and the prisoner along with shooting from the front or the back is debatable (Abbott,130-155).

This like any other method of execution is debatable and has had its fair share of mishaps. The Morality Debate By Tim Holter For obvious reasons, the question of state-sponsored executions has raised passions on both sides of the issue. Whether or not the state has a right to kill its own citizens, and if so, under what circumstances, is a moral question of the highest order. Both proponents and opponents of capital punishment have looked to the Bible to support their views. The Christian church, itself, is far from united on this issue. Some point to the Old Testament, wherein one finds the Sixth Commandment, Thou shalt not kill.

On the surface, this seems a straightforward proscription of the death penalty. Many dispute this, however, as the word most commonly translated as kill is in reality more accurately translated as murder. Their view is that to punish a murderer by taking his life does not constitute murder, and therefore there is not in conflict with the Sixth Commandment. Another view states that capital punishment is contrary to the Bibles teaching of love for ones neighbor as we love ourselves. Just as popular is the argument that vengeance is not the domain of those of us here on Earth, but is reserved only for God.

The New Testament book of Romans 12:17-19 states, Recompense to no man evil for evil Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves Vengeance is mine; I will repay. This argument neatly dovetails with the somewhat oversimplified view that two wrongs dont make a right. However, Romans 12:17-19 is followed closely by Romans 13:1-4, which reads, There is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God If thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

This passage clearly establishes the state as an instrument of God, authorized by Him to carry out His will. Arguably, it also establishes the right of the state to administer capital punishment to those that doeth evil. Perhaps the most popular Biblical passage used in opposition to the death penalty is found in John 8:1-11. This is the well-known parable of the condemned adulteress about to be stoned to eath, until Jesus says, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. In the absence of clear Biblical direction on this matter, various other moral arguments have been made both for and against capital punishment.

As discussed above, the racial dimension alone has led many to repudiate the practice. Another commonly used argument is centered on the possibility of executing the innocent. If a single innocent citizen is deliberately killed by his own government, the argument goes, then that government is guilty of pre-meditated murder, and does not have the moral authority to dminister capital punishment. As it happens, since 1900, at least 23 people have been executed in America who were later found to have been innocent of the crimes for which they were put to death.

In addition, 350 more have been found not guilty while on Death Row. Still another point raised by those opposed to capital punishment is that the death penalty contributes to a culture of violence. They believe that state-sponsored execution only serves to further lower the value society places on human life, making additional crimes and murders only more likely to occur, not less. Perhaps the strongest rguments in favor of capital punishment, as well as those most popular among the general citizenry, are those centered around the principle of retribution.

Some crimes are so heinous, it is believed, that only through the extreme punishment of execution can justice be served. This case of execution-as-retribution can be classified as lex talionis, a term from the Greek meaning punishment in kind. The alternative form of retributive punishment is known as lex salica, or punishment through payment or atonement. This belief in retribution for the most heinous of crimes is shared y a majority of Americans, including this author, but by no means all.

Conclusion Capital punishment has been an instrument of government authority since it was first written into Hammurabis Code nearly four thousand years ago, if not before. In todays modern, more enlightened times, many find the practice barbaric, and object on principle. Others believe the practice is sometimes justified, but object on grounds of iniquities in its application. Still others believe capital punishment lacks teeth, and would be a more effective deterrent to crime if used less sparingly, and with ess of the Byzantine judicial process currently required.

Recent reforms here in Florida reflect the latter view. In an effort to reduce the time actually spent on Death Row by the condemned, the State of Florida is altering its law to require that all appeals be complete within five years of sentencing in the absence of new evidence, and must be submitted simultaneously, not sequentially. At the same time, other states, such as Illinois, have imposed a moratorium on executions. It is an issue few are in total agreement about. Most Americans, however, agree that in the most heinous, horrific cases, the condemned has earned his fate.

Capital Punishment deters murder

Capital Punishment deters murder, and is just Retribution Capital punishment, is the execution of criminals by the state, for committing crimes, regarded so heinous, that this is the only acceptable punishment. Capital punishment does not only lower the murder rate, but it’s value as retribution alone is a good reason for handing out death sentences.

Support for the death penalty in the U. S. as risen to an average of 80% according to an article written by Richard Worsnop, entitled “Death penalty debate centres on Retribution”, this figure is slightly lower in Canada where support for the death penalty is at 72% f the population over 18 years of age, as stated in article by Kirk Makir, in the March 26, 1987 edition of the Globe and Mail, titled “B. C. MPs split on Death Penalty”. The death penalty deters murder by putting the fear of death into would be killers. A person is less likely to do something, if he or she thinks that harm will come to him.

Another way the death penalty deters murder, is the fact that if the killer is dead, he will not be able to kill again. Most supporters of the death penalty feel that offenders should be punished for their crimes, and that it does not matter whether it will deter the crime rate. Supporters of the death penalty are in favour of making examples out of offenders, and that the threat of death will be enough to deter the crime rate, but the crime rate is irrelevant.

According to Isaac Ehrlich’s study, published on April 16, 1976, eight murders are deterred for each execution that is carried out in the U. S. A. He goes on to say, “If one execution of a guilty capital murderer deters the murder of one innocent life, the execution is justified. ” To most supporters of the death penalty, like Ehrlich, if even 1 life is saved, for countless executions of the guilty, it is a good reason for he death penalty. The theory that society engages in murder when executing the guilty, is considered invalid by most supporters, including Ehrlich. He feels that execution of convicted offenders expresses the great value society places on innocent life.

Isaac Ehrlich goes on to state that racism is also a point used by death penalty advocates. We will use the U. S. as examples, since we can not look at the inmates on death row in Canada, because their are laws in Canada that state that crime statistics can not be based on race, also the fact that there are no inmates on death row in Canada. In the U. S. 16 out of 1000 whites arrested for murder are sentenced to death, while 12 of 1000 blacks arrested for murder were sentenced to death. 1. 1% of black inmates on death row were executed, while 1. % of white inmates will die.

Another cry for racism, as according to Ehrlich, that is raised by advocates of the death penalty is based on the colour of the victim, for example “if the victim is white, it is more likely that the offender will get the death penalty than if the victim had been black”. This is true, if you look at the actual number of people who are murder. More people kill whites and get the death penalty, then people who kill blacks and get the death penalty. The reason for this is that more whites are killed, and the murders captured.

Now if we look at the number of blacks killed it is a lot less, but you have to look at these numbers proportionately. Percent wise it is almost the same number for any race, so this is not the issue. In a 1986 study done by Professor Stephen K. Layson of the University of North Carolina, the conclusions made by Ehrilich were updated, and showed to be a little on the low side as far as the deterrence factor of capital punishment.

Professor Layson found that 18 murders were deterred by each execution is the U. S. He also found that executions increases in probability of arrest, conviction, and other executions of heinous offenders. According to a statement issued by George C. Smith, Director of Litigation, Washington Legal Foundation, titled “In Support of the Death Penalty”, support for the death penalty has grown in the U. S. , as the crime rate increased. In 1966, 42% of Americans were in favour of capital punishment while 47% were opposed to it. Since the crime rate United states has increased, support for the capital unishment has followed suit.

In 1986, support for capital punishment was 80% for and only 17% against with 3% undecided, but most of the undecided votes said they were leaning toward a pro capital punishment stance, if they had to vote on it immediately. Let us now focus on Canada. The last two people to be executed, in Canada were Arthur Lucas and Ron Turpin. They were executed on December 11, 1962. The executions in Canada were carried out by hanging. 1 The death penalty was abolished in Canada in the latter part of 1976, after a debate that lasted 98 hours.

The death penalty was only beaten by 6 votes. If we look back to 1976, the year the death penalty was abolished in Canada, threats of death, were being made to Members of Parliament and their immediate families from pro death penalty advocates. Most members of parliament, voted on their own personal feelings, as opposed to the views of their voters. 2 The same was the case in British Colombia, where accepting of the death penalty, if it was reinstated 1987 , by the federal government was discussed. The M. P. s were split, 17 out of 29 were for the death penalty.

This showed, that even the majority of the M. P. s were in favour of the death penalty in B. C. Support for the death penalty in British Columbia at the time was almost 70%, but the M. P. s felt that it was up to them to vote how they felt was right, and not to vote on which vote would give them the best chance for a second term. 3 In 1987, the Progressive Conservative government wanted to hold a free vote on the reinstatement of Capital punishment, but Justice minister Ray Hnatyshyn, who was opposed to it, pressured the M. P. , into voted against the bill.

Ray Hnatyshyn, was the deciding factor, if not for him, it was widely believed that the reinstatement of capital punishment would have gone through, and the death penalty would be a reality today. 4 Capital punishment is such a volatile issue, and both sides are so deeply rooted in their views that they are willing to do almost anything to sway all of the people they can to their side. We personally feel, and our views are backed up by proof, in the form of studies by the likes of Isaac Ehrlich’s 1975 and Prof.

Stephen K. Layson’s, that was published in 1986, and polls that ave been taken both in Canada and the United States over the past few years. All of these studies and surveys show that capital punishment is a valid deterrent to crime, and obviously the public, and society as a whole are in favour of it. The death penalty makes would be capital offenders think about weather committing a crime is really worth their lives. Even if capital punishment did not deter crime, the simple fact that it will allow society to “get even” with murders. Capital punishment also insures peace of mind because it insures that murders will never kill again.

My Research Paper – Capital Punishment

The topic I chose for my research paper is Capital punishment. I chose this topic because I think Capital punishment should be banned in all states. The death penalty violates religious beliefs about killing, remains unfair to minorities and is therefore unconstitutional, and is inhumane and barbaric. The death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (Bedau 2). Those who had shown no respect for life would be restrained, permanently if necessary, so they could not further endanger other members of the community (Cauthen 2).

But the purpose of confinement would not be vengeance or punishment (Cauthen 2). Rather an ideal community would show no mercy even to those who had shown no mercy (Cauthen 2). It would return good for evil. The aim of isolation is reconciliation and not revenge. Although the founders of the new country were generally in favor of the death penalty for certain crimes, many Americans in the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth century were highly vocal opponents, known as abolitionists (Stewart 12).

The best known of the American abolitionists was Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of The Declaration of Independence and a confidant of Benjamin Franklin (Stewart 12). Like many other Americans at the time, Rush equated the death penalty with a cruel monarchy specifically that of England’s George and believed that the new republic should have nothing to do with executions (Stewart 12). Rush wrote a number of pamphlets and books arguing that the very idea of a death penalty contradicted the notion of humanity and divine love (Stewart 12). Who are we to destroy what god has made.

It is far better to reform a criminal than to destroy him. It is shown that Capital punishment leads many citizens suffering before they are officially dead. When Mississippi executed Jimmy Lee Gray in the gas chamber in 1983, his head was not immobilized (Stewart 30). As the poison gas began suffocating Gray, eyewitnesses and media representatives reporting Gray suffering a torturous death, his head flailing about wildly, smashing the medal pipe (behind his chair used for support) many times before he lost consciousness (Stewart 30).

The electric chair and hanging too, sometimes fail to be quick, and there have been glitches in lethal injections- executioners have sometimes had difficulty finding usable veins into which to inject the poison, and some victims have suffered breathing trauma before being rendered unconscious by the injection (Stewart 30). Several electrocutions in recent years have taken more than fifteen minutes to kill the condemned man, and meanwhile he has been severely burnt (Stewart 76). How can it serve the purposes of a modern society to condone such torture.

Americans also express great concern over the possibility that an innocent person maybe killed by the state for the crime he or she did not commit (Jackson 45). At least 23 cases have resulted in the execution of innocent people (Jackson 45). Since 1900, this country, there have been on the average more than four cases per year in which an entirely innocent person was convicted of murder. (Bedau 8). Scores of these people were sentenced to death. In many cases, a reprieve or commutation arrived just hours, or even minutes, before the scheduled execution (Bedau).

In 1986 a white women was shot and killed at a dry cleaners in Monroeville, Alabama. (Stewart 66). The town was shocked by the murder; however, for the next eight months the police were unable to come up with any likely suspects (Stewart 66). Finally police arrested Walter McMillian, a black man who lived in a nearby town. (Stewart 66). McMillian denied murdering the women at the dry cleaners; he claimed he was at a fish fry all that day with friends and relatives (Stewart 66). In fact, his story corroborated by several people (Stewart 66).

Nevertheless, McMillian was arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned on death row even before formal sentencing (Stewart 66). For more than six years, Walter McMillian lived on death row while various appeals were filed in his behalf, all of which were denied (Stewart 67). Eventually, however, new attorneys took over the case an a volunteer basis, and were able to demonstrate serious improprieties in the prosecution’s case, such as withholding evidence that would have proved McMillian’s innocence (Stewart 67).

The television show 60 minutes featured McMillian’s case in November 1992 (Stewart 67). Partly because of outraged public response to the report, Alabama agreed to begin a new investigation, and eventually admitted that a terrible mistake had been made (Stewart 67). On March 3, 1993, McMillian was freed. What does this tell the community about trials? It tells me that sometimes they are mislead. Not all accused people will be as lucky as Walter will. This story just goes to show us that innocent people have been convicted.

There is an effective alternative to burning the life out of human beings in the name of public safety. That alternative is just as permanent, at least as great a deterrent and for those who are so inclined-far less expensive than the exhaustive legal appeals required in capital cases. The alternative is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Life imprisonment without parole can keep society safe without needlessly taking human life. Two case studies demonstrate the effectiveness of life without parole as a meaningful, practical alternative to the death penalty (Biscup 51).

In Alabama life without the possibility of parole has been met with praise where it is seen not only as an alternative to the death penalty, but as a more efficient means of sentencing (Biscup 52). The Alabama experience has shown that an increase in those sentenced to life without parole does not lead directly to overcrowded prisons (Biscup 52). The proportion of all Alabama prisoners who are truly incarcerated for life is less than nine percent, not even close to being a major reason for overcrowding.

It is obvious that if Americans be4came generally aware of life without possibility of parole as a viable means of punishing violent criminals, the death penalty would not be featured so prominently is our national discourse. The money we citizens pay in taxes is being wasted on cruel and unusual punishment. The long paper trails involved in trying and appealing are not only time consuming, but also costly (Stewart 50). For example, California spends 90 million each year- that’s taxpayers dollars on Capital cases.

In North Carolina each execution runs 2. illion; each one in Texas is about 2. 3 million. Florida leads them all, with a single execution costing taxpayers a whopping 3. 2 million. Surely the money could be better spent. A Duke University Study estimates that the fifty-six executions that occurred in 1995 cost Americans 121 million, enough to hire three thousand police officers at 40,000 each. Federal Judge Alex Kozinski complains We have constructed a machine that is extremely expensive, chokes our legal institutions, and visits repeated trauma on victim’s families.

A Question that always pops up in my head is Is the Death Penalty used as a sign of Discrimination? In 1972 when the Supreme Court noted that racial discrimination resulted in different patterns of sentencing and rates of execution for white convicted murders and black convicted murders. The supreme courts decision in Furman vs. Georgia was backed up by many studies and showed that blacks were executed at a rate far out of proportion to their numbers, and the Court urged States to rework their statutes to correct what it saw to be arbitrary and discriminatory use of the death penalty (Stewart 62).

The nations death rows have always had a disproportionately large population of African-Americans, relative to their fraction of the total population (Bedau 6). Over the past century, black offenders, as compared to white, were often executed for crimes less often receiving the death penalty, such as rape and burglary (Bedau 6). Since the revival of the death penalty in the mid 1970’s, about half of those on death row at any given time have been black.

A disproportionately large fraction given the black/white ratio of the total population, but not so obviously unfair if judged by the fact that roughly fifty percent of all those arrested for murder were also black (Bedau 6). Nevertheless, when those under death sentence are examined more closely, it turns out that the race is a decisive factor after all. Discrimination against the poor is also well established (Bedau 7). Approximately ninety percent of those on death row could not afford to hire a lawyer when they were tried.

A defendant’s poverty, lack of firm social roots in the community, inadequate legal representation at trial or on appeal-all these have been common factors among death row populations (Bedau 7). It is wrong to kill. It is wrong for these people to have killed in the community, but it is also wrong for the state to premeditate another murder (Bender 141). Capital punishment is cruel and unusual. It is a relic of the earliest days of penology, when slavery, branding, and other corporal punishments were commonplace (Bedau 2).

Opposition to the death penalty does not arise from misplaced sympathy for convicted murderers. On the contrary, murder demonstrates a lack of respect for human life. For this very reason, murder is abhorrent, and any policy of state authorized killings is immoral. Executions gives society the unmistakable message that human life no longer deserves respect when it is useful to take it that homicide is legitimate when deemed justified by pragmatic concerns (Bedau 3). Capital punishment wastes resources.

It squanders the time and energy of courts, prosecuting attorneys, defense counsel, juries, and courtroom and correctional personnel. It unduly burdens the system of criminal justice, and it is therefore counterproductive as an instrument for society’s control of violent crime (Bedau 3). It epitomizes the tragic inefficacy and brutality of the resort to violence rather than reason for the solution of difficult social problems. A decent and humane society does not deliberately kill human beings.

An execution is dramatic, public spectacle of official, violent homicide that teaches the permissibility of killing people to solve social problems-the worst possible example to set for society. In conclusion Capital punishment does not deter crime, and the death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice. We should not think of the motto An eye for an eye. We should make our society a human place, without the use of the death penalty.

Capital Punishment Report

The theory “a life for a life” is “as old as civilization itself” (McCiellan 9). The development of civilizations established what we call justice today. Capital punishment, the execution of a criminal convicted of a crime, or the legal taking of the life of a criminal, can be divided into three categories: first, crimes against the person; second, crimes against property; and third, crimes which endanger the security of the nation (Horwitz 13). Capital punishment is still in use in the United States today, but has been abolished by many countries (II 536).

The countries that still have the death penalty on their books, rarely employ it . The earliest writings on the subject dates as far back as 2000 B. C. , but it is clear that capital punishment more or less has existed since the birth of mankind (Szumski 25). Throughout history, it has been exercised in almost all civilizations as a retribution for severe crimes, but sometimes also for the thrill and excitement. The Romans put slaves and prisoners in the Coliseum as lion food while spectators enjoyed the sight (Horwitz 13).

In the early colonial states, the death penalty was applied for a vast umber of crimes, just like in England, the ruler of the states in this era (II 536). In England, in the 18th century, there were approximately 220 offenses punishable by death. Some of them would today be considered as misdemeanors and petty crimes (i. e. shooting of a rabbit, the theft of a pocket handkerchief, and to cut down a cherry tree) (Horwitz 13). The majority of these were crimes dealing with property. However, transportation became an alternative to execution in the 17th century.

A lot of these criminals were shipped to the U. S. (28). In the early days of our Constitution, the only segments that showed hat the death penalty existed were two amendments in the Bill of Rights (Landau 11). These amendments deal with protection and rights of the accused. The fifth amendment prohibits the state from depriving an individual of life without due process of law. The eight amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual” punishment. The Supreme Court has still not determined what this phrase means. In one case in the 1890s, the question was if capital punishment violated the eight amendment.

The court relied on the matter that “a definition of cruel and unusual punishment must reflect the evolving standards of decency that mark the rogress of a maturing society” (14). Surveys from this era show that a majority of the people favored the death penalty. In the Middle Ages, capital punishment was also applied to animals (Horwitz 24). An animal, guilty of having killed a human being, would be executed, sometimes after a trial with a lawyer representing the animal. In one case, in Dijon, France, a horse kicked his master to death.

In court, a witness testified that the man had provoked the horse. In spite of this, the creature was sentenced to death. Trials with animals was considered to be absolutely fair. Enlightment thinkers”, or social reformers, such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Caesar Beccaria fought to bring an end to the use of capital punishment (II 536). The Caesar Beccaria, an Italian criminologist in the 1700s, influenced society and “stimulated penal reform” to abolish the practice of this irrevocable penalty (Szumski 22). As an alternative, he recommends retribution, that is making up for losses.

In his essay An Essay On Crimes and Punishments, approved by philosopher Voltaire, he admits that capital punishment is justified in only one case; Beccaria argues that “when [a criminal], though deprived of iberty, he has such power and connections as may endanger the security of the nation”, he should be executed (Szumski 24). This relates to justify capital punishment in cases of spying, which still is a controversial issue today. Religious opposers argue that the death penalty “contradicts the teachings of love and mercy” (Szumski 86).

At the same time a religious supporter, Haven Bradford Gow, claims that the Bible justifies “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” as stated in the Catholic Bible in the Fifth commandment: “Another kind of slaying belongs to the civil authorities to whom is ntrusted the power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent” (Bradford). The Bible is constantly used as a defense for capital punishment and many references can be found to such a penalty.

Another religious supporter judge that “religious teachings prove that the death penalty upholds the dignity of human life as ordered by scripture” (Szumski 79). There are two famous cases in American history, dealing with capital punishment, that has evoked much controversy. They are Sacco and Vanzetti v. U. S. nd the case of the Rosenbergs. During the 1920s, fears of communism led to the dislike of immigrants. The Italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti were victims of this “Red Scare” (Davidson 336). They were accused of having killed two guards.

Since they were both anarchists, it has been speculated if they had a fair trial and if the death sentence was justified. None of the four witnesses could for sure tell if Sacco and Vanzetti were the men they had seen. Another case, that degrades the U. S. , is the case of the Rosenbergs. Since they were members of the Communist Party, which was considered “un- American”, especially in the 1950s, with the fear of the Soviet Union, which had just developed their own nuclear weapons. The Rosenbergs were accused of having planned and participated in a Russian spy-ring, giving out top secret information to the Soviets.

The Rosenbergs denied, but were sentenced to death. Today their punishment is considered to have been unjust and cruel. The case outraged many Americans and even Europeans; it became a world-wide affair. Arthur Garfield Hays, General for the Civil Liberties Union, exclaimed: “The death penalty for the Rosenbergs was not justified…. Mr Hays did not argue for the innocence of the Rosenbergs but claims that “this horrible killing by the state is not merited” (Szumski 143). Throughout history, there has been several different methods of execution.

The old brutal methods, such as drowning, stoning, and burning, were common (XIV 1098). In the Middle Ages, amputations of body parts, which often led to death, were popular (XV 283). The public executions drew large crowds. In the 1900s, attempts were made to make executions more humane, the electrocution and the gas chamber were invented. Earlier attempts in the 1700s, n France, replaced the old execution methods with the Guillotine (Horwitz 28). It soon became famous and toy stores even started selling toy Guillotines that came with a little cage filled with live mice or sparrows.

This toy became a bestseller. The reformers in Europe reached their goal eventually; the death penalty has been abolished in many European nations such as the Scandinavian, West Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland. The U. S. A. is one of the few countries that have retained the death penalty. Lawyer Clarence Darrow, famous for his criminal cases, believes this is n effect of the high homicide rate, which is higher in the United States compared to most countries in the world (Horwitz 52).

Darrow believes that the high homicide rate is caused by the fact that the population is crowded into cities whose “slums are natural breeding places of crime” (52). Another reason for the high homicide rate of the U. S. is that people have gathered from all over the world; racial differences are known to “intensify problems” (52). As solution, Clarence Darrow suggest that the government focus on the causes of crimes because “criminals will breed faster than hangman can spring his trap” 52). Certainly, there is quite a few people on death row.

Opposers, today and in the past, repeatedly declares that the death penalty is unapplied unequally; most criminals on death row are poor. Thus, they cannot afford good lawyers. The Supreme Court agreed with this argument and forced the states to rewrite their laws on capital punishment on the basis of what crimes are punishable by death and if minimum age requirements are to be set. Many state legislatures have set a minimum age at which such punishment is legal. In other states there is no age limits because the general public opinion opposed it.

Currently, there are 34 capital crimes, that is crimes deserving the death penalty, under federal law (i. e. treason, espionage, the assassination of the President, etc. ) while there are some 30 under state laws (i. e. aiding a suicide in Arkansas) (Horwitz 25). In some states the jury determine if the death penalty will be imposed, and in other the jury recommends the judge who is not bound follow to the jury’s advice. In some states, the death penalty is required (14). Fewer offenses are punishable by death than formerly; the courts increasingly chose alternative punishments, and many death sentences are not arried out (XIV 1098).

Opposers and reteutionists, those in favor of the death penalty, cannot be characterized by any aspect such as wealth, religion, or political views. More and more Americans seem to view the death penalty as just retribution. Abolitionists’ attempts to overturn the death penalty has been denied by the Supreme Court. Instead, the court argues that “In part, capital punishment is an expression of society’s moral outrage at particularly offensive conduct” (Landau 22). The issue of abolishing the death penalty has caused much controversy.

System Of Capital Punishment

Looking out for the state of the public’s satisfaction in the scheme of capital sentencing does not constitute serving justice. Today’s system of capital punishment is fraught with inequalities and injustices. The commonly offered arguments for the death penalty are filled with holes. “It was a deterrent. It removed killers. It was the ultimate punishment. It is biblical. It satisfied the public’s need for retribution. It relieved the anguish of the victim’s family. “(Grisham 120) Realistically, imposing the death penalty is expensive and time consuming. Retroactively, it has yet to be proven as a deterrent.

Morally, it is a continuation of the cycle of violence and “… degrades all who are involved in its enforcement, as well as its victim. “(Stewart 1) Capital Punishment has been part of the criminal justice system since the earliest of times. The Babylonian Hammurabi Code(ca. 1700 B. C. ) decreed death for crimes as minor as the fraudulent sale of beer(Flanders 3). Egyptians could be put to death for disclosing the location of sacred burial sites(Flanders 3). However, in recent times opponents have shown the death penalty to be racist, barbaric, and in violation with the United States Constitution as “… uel 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. Perhaps the most frequent argument for capital punishment is that of deterrence. The prevailing thought is that imposition of the death penalty will act to dissuade other criminals from committing violent acts. Numerous studies have been created attempting to prove this belief; however, “All the evidence taken together makes it hard to be confident that capital punishment deters more than long prison terms do. Cavanagh 4)

Going ever farther, Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Montgomery based Equal Justice Initiative, has stated that “people are increasingly realizing that the more we resort to killing as a legitimate response to our frustration and anger with violence, the more violent our society becomes. “Revenge is an unworthy motive for our society to pursue. “(Whittier 1) In our society, there is a great expectation placed on the family of a victim to pursue vengeance to the highest degree — perhaps 1 the death penalty.

Pat Bane, executive director of the Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation (MVFR), stated, “One parent told me that people made her feel like she was betraying her son because she did not want to kill the person who murdered him. “(Frame 50) This creates a dilemma of morality. If anything, by forcing families to seek the death penalty, their own consciences will be burdened by the death of the killer. Furthermore, “Killing him will not bring back your son[s]. “(Grisham 402). At some point, man must stop the violence. Seeking temporary gratification is not a logical basis for whether the death penalty should be imposed.

Granted, revenge is easily confused with retribution, and most would agree that the punishment should fit the crime, but can society really justify murdering someone else simply on the basis that they deserved it? Government has the right and duty to protect the greater good against people who jeopardize the welfare of society, but a killer can be sentenced to life without chance of parole, and society will be just as safe as if he had been executed. The key part of the death penalty is that it involves death — something which is rather permanent for humans, due to the concept of mortality.

This creates a major problem when “there continue to be many instances of innocent people being sentenced to death. “(Tabak 38) In the United States legal system, there exist numerous ways in which justice might be poorly served for a recipient of the death sentence. Foremost is in the handling of his own defense counsel. In the event that a defendant is without counsel, a lawyer will be provided. “Attorney’s appointed to represent indigent capital defendants frequently lack the qualities necessary to provide a competent defense and sometimes have exhibited such poor character that they have subsequently been disbarred. Tabak 37).

With payment caps or court determined sums of, for example, $5 an hour, there is not much incentive for a lawyer to spend a great deal of time representing a capital defendant. When you compare this to the prosecution, “aided by the police, other law enforcement agencies, crime labs, state mental hospitals, various other scientific resources, prosecutors experienced in successfully handling capital cases, compulsory process, and grand juries”(Tabak 37), the defense that the court appointed counsel can offer is puny.

If, in fact, a defendant has a valid case to offer, what chance has he to offer it and have it properly recognized. Furthermore, why should he be punished for a injustice that was created by the court itself when it appointed the incapable lawyer. Even if a defendant has proper legal counsel, there is still the matter of impartiality of judges. “The U. S. Supreme Court has steadily reduced the availability of habeas corpus review of capital convictions, placing its confidence in the notion that state judges, who take the same oath of office as federal judges to uphold the Constitution, can be trusted to enforce it. Bright 768)

This makes for the biased trying of a defendant’s appeals, “given the overwhelming pressure on elected state judges to heed, and perhaps even lead to, the popular cries for the death of criminal defendants. “(Bright 769) Thirty two of the states that impose the death penalty also employ the popular election of judges, and several of these even have judges run with party affiliations. This creates a deeply political justice system — the words alone are a paradox. Can society simply brush off mistaken execution as an incidental cost in the greater scheme of putting a criminal to death?

In Canada, there were private member’s bills introduced to end capital punishment as early as 1914, and again in 1915, 1916, 1917, 1924, and 1950. All were defeated. In 1954, the government established a joint committee of the House of Commons and the Senate, dealing with capital punishment and other items. The committee recommended abolition of the death penalty for offenders under the age of 18, and the substitution of the gas chamber for the gallows. Neither recommendation was followed. Between 1957-1963, the Conservative government under John Diefenbaker commuted 52 of the 66 death sentences.

In 1961, MP Davie Fulton (Minister of Justice) piloted a bill through the House which distinguished between capital and non-capital murder. In 1962, there were three cases of capital murder in which the juries recommended mercy. The government commuted all three of these deaths. In two other cases in 1962, the jury did not recommend mercy. Ronald Turpin, convicted of the shooting death of a policeman, and Arthur Lucas, convicted of stabbing a man to death, were hanged on December 19, 1962 in Don Jail, Toronto.

The attending physician, William Hills, waited on a Stepladder, listening for their heartbeats with his stethoscope, and only after sixteen minutes could he declare their deaths. There have been no executions in Canada since 1962. Between 1963-1967, the Liberal government under Lester Pearson commuted all death sentences. In 1967, MP Larry Pennell (Solicitor General) Introduced a government bill providing mandatory life sentences for capital murder convictions, except for the murder of police officers and prison guards.

It became law on December 29, 1967. The three sentences of death given during the next five years were all commuted by the Liberal government, who suspended the use of the death penalty for civilian offenses for a trial period of five years (1967-1972). On January 1, 1974, Canada temporarily abolished the death penalty for the period up to December 1977. This temporary abolition was made permanent in 1976. The issue of abolishing capital punishment in law was argued in the House of Commons under the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau in 1976.

After an impassioned debate lasting 98 hours, the abolitionists won the vote by 130 to 124 (Bill C-84). At the time, there were 11 men on death row across Canada. If the bill to abolish capital punishment had been defeated, some of these men who had killed policemen and guards would have been subject to hanging. In the 1984-1988 Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, the debate was once again introduced. The public at first appeared to be overwhelmingly in favour of a return to capital punishment. In Ontario and Quebec, five policemen were murdered over a short period of time.

There was also a great deal of public outrage following the serial murders by Clifford Olson. From these events, which received wide media coverage, many Canadians perceived an alarming increase in crime. However, as people were presented with more and more factual information, the numbers who favoured capital punishment decreased. In June 1987, following a free vote, capital punishment as a response to the crime of murder was again rejected in the House of Commons. The vote was 148-127 against the return of capital punishment.

Innocent people can-and have been- executed. With the death penalty errors are irreversible. According to a United States 1987 study, 23 people who were innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted were executed between 1900 and 1985(Long 79). Until human judgement becomes infallible, this problem alone is reason enough to abolish the death penalty at the hands of the state more dedicated to vengeance than to truth and justice. A vast misconception concerning the death penalty is that it saves society the costs of keeping inmates imprisoned for long periods.

In the act of preserving due process of justice, the court appeals involved with the death penalty becomes a long, drawn-out and very expensive process. In the United States, “The average time between sentencing and execution for the 31 prisoners put on death row in 1992 was 114 months, or nine and a half years. “(Stewart 50) “Criminal justice process expenses, trial court costs, appellate and post-conviction costs, and prison costs perhaps including years served on death row awaiting execution… l told, the extra costs per death penalty imposed in over a quarter million dollars, and per execution exceeds $2 million. ” (Cavanagh 4)

When you compare this to the average costs for a twenty year prison term for first degree murder (roughly $330 thousand), the cost of putting someone away for life is a deal. Is it really worth the hassle and money to kill a criminal, when we can put them away for life for less money with a great deal more ease? In earlier times–where capital punishment was common, the value of life was less, and societies were more barbaric–capital punishment was probably quite acceptable.

However, in today’s society, which is becoming ever more increasingly humanitarian, and individual rights and due process of justice are held in high accord, the death penalty is becoming an unrealistic form of punishment. Also, with the ever present possibility of mistaken execution, there will remain the question of innocence of those put to death. Finally, man is not a divine being. He does not have the right to inflict mortal punishment in the name of society’s welfare, when there are suitable substitutes that require fewer resources.

The use of capital punishment

The use of capital punishment has been a permanent fixture in society since the earliest civilizations and continues to be used as a form of punishment in countries today. It has been used for various crimes ranging from the desertion of soldiers during wartime to the more heinous crimes of serial killers. However, the mere fact that this brutal form of punishment and revenge has been the policy of many nations in the past does not subsequently warrant its implementation in today’s society.

The death penalty is morally and socially unethical, should be construed as cruel and unusual punishment since it is both iscriminatory and arbitrary, has no proof of acting as a deterrent, and risks the atrocious and unacceptable injustice of executing innocent people. As long as capital punishment exists in our society it will continue to spark the injustice which it has failed to curb. Capital punishment is immoral and unethical.

It does not matter who does the killing because when a life is taken by another it is always wrong. By killing a human being the state lessens the value of life and actually contributes to the growing sentiment in today’s society that certain individuals are worth more than others. When the value of life s lessened under certain circumstances such as the life of a murderer, what is stopping others from creating their own circumstances for the value of one’s life such as race, class, religion, and economics.

Immanual Kant, a great philosopher of ethics, came up with the Categorical Imperative, which is a universal command or rule that states that society and individuals must act in such a way that you can will that your actions become a universal law for all to follow (Palmer 265). There must be some set of moral and ethical standards that even the government can not supersede, otherwise how can the state expect ts citizens not to follow its own example. Those who support the death penalty believe, or claim to believe, that capital punishment is morally and ethically acceptable.

The bulk of their evidence comes from the Old Testament which actually recommends the use of capital punishment for a number of crimes. Others also quote the Sixth Commandment which, in the original Hebrew reads, Thou Shall Not Commit Murder. However, these literal interpretations of selected passages from the Bible which are often quoted out of context corrupt the compassionate attitude of Judaism and Christianity, which clearly focuses on redemption and forgiveness, nd urges humane and effective ways of dealing with crime and violence.

Those who use the Bible to support the death penalty are by themselves since almost all religious groups in the United States regard executions as immoral. They include, American Baptist Churches USA, American Jewish Congress, California Catholic Council, Christian reformed Church, Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church in America, Mennonite General Conference, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, Northern Ecumenical Council, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church of America, Southern California

Ecumenical Council, Unitarian/Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church (Death Penalty Focus). Those that argue that the death penalty is ethical state that former great leaders and thinkers such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Kant, Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Mill all supported it (Koch 324). However, Washington and Jefferson, two former presidents and admired men, both supported slavery as well.

Surely, the advice of someone who clearly demonstrated a total disregard for the value of human life cannot be considered in such an argument as capital unishment. In regard to the philosophers, Immanuel Kant, a great ethical philosopher stated that the motives behind actions determine whether something is moral or immoral (Palmer 271). The motives behind the death penalty, which revolve around revenge and the frustration and rage of people who see that the government is not coping with violent crime, are not of good will, thereby making capital punishment immoral according to ethical philosophy (Bruck 329).

The question of whether executions are a cruel form of punishment may no longer be an argument against capital punishment now that it can be done with lethal njections, but it is still very unusual in that it only applies to a select number of individuals making the death penalty completely discriminatory and arbitrary. After years of watching the ineffectiveness of determining who should be put to death, the Supreme Court in the1972 Furman v.

Georgia decision invalidated all existing death sentence statues as violative of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment and thus depopulated state death rows of 629 occupants (Berger 352). This decision was reached not because it was believed that the death penalty was intrinsically cruel and nusual but because, as Justice Stewart put it, the death penalty as actually applied was unconstitutionally arbitrary (Berger 353). Local politics, money, race, and where the crime is committed can often play a more decisive role in sentencing someone to death than the actual facts of the crime.

According to Amnesty International, the death penalty is a lethal lottery: just one out of every one hundred people arrested for murder is actually executed (Death Penalty Focus). In regards to racial discrimination in sentencing, it has been found that racial bias focuses primarily on the race of the victim, not the defendant Berger 355). Only 31 out of the more than 15, 000 recorded executions in this country have been of white defendants convicted of killing black victims, while black defendants convicted of raping white women were commonly sentenced to death (Death Penalty Focus).

Stephen Nathanson, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University addresses the problems of discrimination and randomness best by saying, as long as racial, class, religious, and economic bias continue to be important determinants of who is executed, the death penalty will continue to create and perpetuate injustice (Nathanson 46). Proponents of capital punishment believe that the argument that the death penalty is discriminatory and arbitrary does not give support to the abolition of capital punishment, but rather to the extension of it.

Edward Koch, the former mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989 and death penalty supporter, states that the discriminatory manner of the death penalty no longer seems to be the problem it once was, yet in 1987, the Supreme Court case of McCleskey v. Kemp established that in Georgia someone who kills a white person is four times more likely to be sentenced to death than someone who ills a black person (Death Penalty Focus). In response to this, supporters of the death penalty believe that the death penalty should be extended to all murders.

This is what was attempted after the Furman decision. A number of states sought to resolve the discriminatory and arbitrary nature of the death penalty by simply sentencing to death everyone convicted of first-degree murder, but the Supreme Court rejected this proposal saying that mandatory death sentence laws did not really resolve the problem but instead’simply papered [it] over’ since juries responded by refusing to convict certain arbitrarily hosen defendants of first-degree murder (Berger 353).

An argument against the death penalty which to sensible and decent persons should seem undeniable is the fact that innocent people have been murdered by the state in the past and in all probability more will follow. The wrongful execution of an innocent person is such an awful injustice that in any civilized society could never be justified, yet this is the message that the United States is willing to pronounce. Simply put by Professor Nathanson, to maintain the death penalty is to be willing to risk innocent lives.

In 1987, study conducted by Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet appeared in the Standford Law Review concerning the execution of innocent people. The study concluded that in the period between 1900 to 1980, about 350 people were wrongfully convicted of capital offenses, 139 of the 350 were sentenced to death, and 23 were actually executed (Nathanson 344). Over this eighty year period this figure averages out to the death of an innocent person about every 3. 4 years.

This fact is extremely disturbing and rightfully so, yet death penalty advocates blatantly disregard the information or attempt to justify it in ome way. Those who support capital punishment claim that such cases of innocent people being executed have never occurred. For instance, Edward Koch quotes Hugo Bedau in support of his claim that such cases are not true, saying it is false sentimentality to argue that the death penalty should be abolished because of the abstract possibility that an innocent person might be executed.

Koch, in an attempt to gain political support, acted quite unethically by quoting Bedau out of context and implying that such cases have not occurred. According to David Bruck, a prominent lawyer for South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense, all Bedau was saying was that doubts concerning executed prisoners’ guilt are almost never resolved. Koch also failed to relate in his essay that Bedau, who had not yet released the 1987 study, had already comprised a list of murder convictions since 1900 in which the state eventually admitted error in about 400 hundred cases.

Another response to the fact that innocent people have been executed is that the small number of innocents executed outweighs the number of lives that will be saved since the possibility of being executed will deter others from committing a murder, and also lives ill be saved since that murderer cannot kill again. Scientific studies have failed to prove that executions deter other people from committing crime. According to Dr.

Ernest van den Haag, a well-known scholar in favor of the death penalty, one cannot claim that it has been proved statistically that the death penalty does deter more than alternative penalties (Haag 338). However, Haag supports his stand on the death penalty by stating that, when they have the choice between life and death, 99 percent of all prisoners under sentence of death prefer life in prison. This statistic proves nothing but the fact that man as an innate desire for survival. Those asked the question have already committed the crime and thus does not reflect the sentiment of those considering a crime.

Also, people often kill when under great emotional stress or under the influence of drugs or alcohol – times when they are not thinking of the consequences (Death Penalty Focus). Career criminals and those that plan a crime do not expect to get caught, thus making the consequences an invalid issue. In response to the fact that a executed murderer will never kill again, society must ask itself whether it is morally and ethically acceptable to risk killing an innocent person hen an alternative such as life imprisonment without possibility of parole exists.

In California since 1978, more than 1,000 people have received this alternate sentence which includes no appeals process. The public can be assured that those who commit heinous murders and receive this sentence will never be free again. According to Death Penalty Focus, a recent Field Poll showed support for the death penalty plummeted when alternative sentencing is available. Just 29 percent favored death over life without parole plus requiring the defendant to work in prison and give part of his earnings as restitution to the families of his victims.

The Need for Capital Punishment

Imagine yourself in a room, 12 feet long by 6 feet wide. You’re sitting on a metal bed bolted to the floor with a thin foam cushion. The only other things in the room are a table and a chair, a sink and a toilet. There is no window, only a small faint light on the ceiling. You spend all of your time in this room, you have no choice. This is your dining room, your den, your bedroom and your bathroom. You are allowed to read and write letters in this room.

You cannot entertain guests in this room, you must go somewhere else for that, in a room with a mesh screen for you to sit behind, where you are constantly watched ver. Even though this is your bathroom, it has no shower stall or bathtub, but once a week you are allowed to leave this room to take a shower. Your days are spent inside this room reading, thinking and worrying. You aren’t in any ordinary room, you’re in a cell on death row. A cell reserved for people who were sentenced to death for committing a crime.

Death could be by firing squad, lethel injection, the gas chamber or electric chair. Chances are you’ve been in this room for many years and will be for many more. Your lawyers have began the lenghthly appeal process. Once all the appeals have failed, it soon is time, nd you will be moved to a holding cell. There you will be offered your final mean, of your choice. Your last visitors arrive, first your lawyer, your family members and at last a preist who prays with you. You take your final glance around the room, as you are lead to another room close by, the execution room.

A few prison officials are present to witness your execution. In a matter of moments it’s over. You could have been Gary Gilmore, Ted Bundy or Charles Brooks, all famous serial killers. Maybe you were the first women to die by lethel injection, Marcie Barfield, or the first women to die by the electric chair, Martha Place. Whoever it was well deserved this punishment, in fact, some readily accepted it in comparison to spending the rest of their lives in a jail cell, but many people who did deserve the death penalty did not recieve it.

In August 1969, seven people died at the hands of a serial killer including eight month pregnant acress Sharon Tate. This was the result of a bloody rampage by Charles Manson. Manson, who believes he is the reincarnate of god, is elible for parole this April. Between 1976 & 1977 David Berkowitz terrorized New York City killing 6 woman and wounding 7 more. Berkowitz, A. K. A Son of Sam, a mail man, took the orders to kill from his dog Sam, and is now serving 25 years to life in jail.

Between 1978 and 1991 Jeffrey Dahmer murdered and raped the dead bodies of 15 young men, cutting of their body parts and storing them in serveralplaces. When the police raided his house the found a human head in the fridge, 3 heads in the freezer, a human heart in the refridgerator freezer compartment, a blue barrel jammed with body parts and bones, 2 skulls in a computer packaging box, 3 skulls and some bones in a filing cobinet, 2 skulls in a kettle and a penis and ome hands in another kettle. These criminals and many others are sitting in a jail cell.

These sick psychotic people who took the lives of others get the luxery of cable T. V. They are permitted 15 magazines, 25 books, 4 newspapers, 15 personal letters and a bible. They are allowed to participate in weightlifting, leather work and learning to use an IBM computer. They can also study to get a University degree, all using public tax money. They are allowed to smoke. God help us that a Sadomistic, Necro philliac should have to go through nicotine withdrwel. Many f these men, like Charles Manson, are eligible for parole after 20 years.

What happened to an eye for an eye? Then there’s the other side of the story. Who are we to kill murderers? Doesn’t that make us just as bad as them? Aren’t we still breaking one of the commandments? Isin’t years of being locked up torture enough? In 1992 Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to 1050 years in prison, but didn’t get to serve his sentence. He got his own death penalty when he was beat to death in prison, but many other murderers and pedophiles are sitting in a jail cell, watching cable T. V, and planning their escape.

Is there a rational resolution to the capital punishment debate

Arguments on both sides create a hierarchy of various goals and principals in an effort to offer resolution. The principle of common human dignity appears to play a central role in determining the appropriateness of the death penalty as punishment. But because common human dignity cannot be precisely defined, other considerations – such as whether capital punishment is acceptable to society, whether the death penalty is administered in an even-handed way, and whether the purported goals can be met – are used as gauges.

In Furman v. Georgia (1972), for example, the Supreme Court used the common human dignity principle as the basis for a test of a Georgia statute regarding capital punishment. In this case, the Supreme Court not only determined that the statute unfairly administered the death penalty, it also deemed capital punishment impermissible. The Supreme Court roughly measured common human dignity in terms of the pain that a punishment would exact, and a vague maxim that humans not be treated as non-humans, adding three additional principles to ascertain whether capital punishment passed the human dignity test.

In the Furman case, capital punishment failed all tests. First, the Furman court indicated that the Georgia statute violated a principle that even-handedness is a necessary component for punishment. The Supreme Court demonstrated that capital punishment was inflicted primarily on racial minorities, and therefore was selective and irregular. The small number of criminals that were sentenced to death, approximately 50 per year, indicated that the punishment was not regularly or fairly applied, especially because the caliber of those particular murders were no worse than cases not resulting in the death penalty.

Judged by the irregular and unusual administration, the statute did not comport with the dignity of man, and was invalidated. Second, as to whether capital punishment itself could be considered cruel and unusual, the Supreme Court assessed the acceptance level of society, and also examined whether a less severe alternative to the death penalty could accomplish the same goals as those purportedly achieved by the death penalty. The Supreme Court reasoned that if society did not accept capital punishment, then capital punishment did not pass the dignity standard.

This supplies a sliding scale standard as regards dignity, as dignity could encompass more or less barbarous acts depending on the century. There was also a scale as to what could be used to gauge what constituted societal acceptance. According to the Supreme Court in Furman, legislative authorization did not reflect societal acceptance of capital punishment. In the courts reasoning, legislatures had to be closely scrutinized to avoid terrible excesses that had occurred in England and early American history.

So even though there was a statute on the books regarding capital punishment, other factors were scrutinized to determine acceptance level – the uniqueness of the subject matter that aroused heated debate; the evidence that capital punishment is reserved only for the most heinous crimes; the general rejection of the common-law rule imposing a mandatory death sentence for murder; and a historical successive restriction of capital punishment. These factors convinced the Supreme Court that society had almost totally rejected capital punishment.

Third, the Furman court examined what it considered the main goals in favor of capital punishment to ultimately determine that capital punishment was excessive and unnecessary. On this basis, the Supreme Court recommended that extended incarceration would obtain the same rational punitive effects that capital punishment was purported to accomplish. The notion of deterrence of potential criminals was flatly rejected as a proper goal of capital punishment. The Furman court indicated that a lack of sufficient statistical evidence reduced the goal to a mere belief that it was more effective than extended incarceration.

The idea that a potential criminal might consider the possible ramifications of his acts was too abstract a notion to be of any import to substantiate the deterrence goal for capital punishment. The Supreme Court also dismissed the goal of retribution for crimes committed as irrelevant. This goal, said the Furman court, cannot be the states sole end for punishment – proper goals include measurable deterrent effects, isolation of persons dangerous to society, and rehabilitation. Since all three of the proper goals could be accomplished sufficiently through a less severe. ss permanent punishment, such as extended incarceration, capital punishment was excessive.

The arguments contained in the Furman decision were readdressed by the Supreme Court four years later in Gregg v. Georgia (1976), when it assessed a revised Georgian statute regarding capital punishment. The Gregg court reasoned that the death penalty, under certain circumstances, is not excessive punishment. While using many of the same principles as Furman to arrive at its decision (which is, of course, legal tradition), the Supreme Court in Gregg indicated that some of the goals dismissed by the earlier court were legitimate considerations.

The Supreme Court in Gregg found that the carefully drafted statute satisfied the Furman courts concerns regarding application of capital punishment. Implementation of a bifurcated trial process – guilt or innocence determined at the first stage, penalty assessed at second stage with discussion of mitigating or extenuating circumstances and standards on applying them, automatic sentence review – made the application of capital punishment more even-handed, according to the Gregg court.

While it agreed with the Furman court that societal acceptance of capital punishment was an important principal, the Gregg court disputed the Furman courts findings that contemporary society rejected capital punishment. The Gregg court showed historical evidence that capital punishment was accepted by the Framers of the Constitution and by the Supreme Court itself, based in nearly two centuries of precedent.

The Gregg court flatly rejected the Furman courts indication that legislative measures do not represent societys acceptance of capital punishment; according to the Gregg court, measures adopted by the people’s chosen representatives weigh heavily in ascertaining contemporary standards. Specifically, the Gregg court referenced new statutes enacted by Congress and at least 35 states in the four years after the Furman decision as important evidence of wide popular appeal for the death penalty.

Finally, the Gregg court pointed out that infrequent application of the death penalty does not indicate rejection, rather, it shows the prevailing sentiment that capital punishment be reserved for the most heinous of crimes. While the Gregg court agreed with the Furman court that a legislature should not be allowed to impose excessive punishment – excessive meaning that a punishment involves unnecessary infliction of pain, or is disproportionate to the crime – the Gregg court reasoned that a legislature is not required to select the least severe penalty possible.

As opposed to the Furman court, the Gregg court found that state killing of a murderer was not disproportionate to the crime of murder. Given a focused and evenhanded application, societal acceptance of capital punishment, and that a legislature is not required to select a less severe punishment, the dignity of man was not compromised when a severe punishment was selected for a severe crime. In building their opinion, the Gregg court assigned greater importance to the goals of retribution and possible deterrence than did the Furman court.

The Gregg court indicated that an ordered society that asks its citizens to rely on legal processes rather than self-help to vindicate their wrongs is an essential function of society, and can be factored into the decision-making process regarding punishment. That deterrence could not be statistically assessed did not make it less important a goal. In The Death Penalty Debate, Ernest Van Den Haag agrees with the Supreme Court in the Gregg case: Deterrence is an important goal in considering capital punishment.

Van Den Haag tries to draw an analogy between deterrence and scientific endeavors in order to substantiate that statistical proof is not always necessary – just because it cannot be proven does not make it so. He indicates empirical evidence is available to determine that the death penalty is more of a deterrent than life imprisonment. Unfortunately, he tends towards gross generalization instead, such as a harsher penalty is always a greater deterrent than milder ones. Van Den Haag reasons that the elimination of one murderer by capital punishment will decrease the potential homicide rate.

He also ascribes a higher importance to the safety of potential victims to that of rights of convicted murderers when he indicates that the remote possibility that the death penalty would deter a few men from committing murder makes the process a worthy one. In this light, according to Van Den Haag, no other threat can deter certain crimes, ones which are special because of their very nature – war crimes, international spies, and murders which occur in prison. For the most part, these points rely on a different version of dignity than either of the Supreme Court cases.

To varying degrees, both Supreme Court cases attempted to maintain the principle that a convicted mans dignity be preserved to the greatest extent when punishment is decided. According to Van Den Haag, to indicate that the death penalty is unjust because it is inconsistent with human dignity lessens the horror of murder as a crime; the crime of murder is placed at par with lesser crimes, which decreases how it is perceived. This is where dignity is lost, says Van Den Haag.

Instead, dignity should be maintained by an individual by not taking a human life in the first place. Should a murder occur, society should maintain dignity by protecting the lives of innocents, vindicating the law, and imposing retribution on those who break the law by executing them. Van Den Haag indicates American law, common law, and religious doctrine backs this contention. In this argument, the role of the individual and the role of society are clearer as to maintaining dignity, and seems to return back to a no-exceptions based principle regarding certain crimes.

In How to Argue About the Death Penalty, Hugo Bedau argues that all of the arguments so far examined still exhibit at least one fatal flaw – none of the goals or principles can point with certainty to a conclusive reason to favor either side of the dispute over capital punishment. Thus, no rational resolution is possible for the controversy. The facts as we know them do not overwhelmingly point to the futility of the death penalty, nor do they indicate that capital punishment is the only means to obtaining the goals of crime reduction, economy, rectifying harm and injustice caused by crime, or channeling public indignation at the offender.

There remains little or no evidence that the death penalty is a better deterrent to murder than imprisonment. Capital punishment may still be administered in an arbitrary way. In making his case, Bedau points out what neither the Gregg decision nor Van Den Haag fully address – the risk that the death penalty will incorrectly execute an innocent person. Unlike its less severe counterparts, capital punishment is irrevocable and permanent, as pointed out in the Furman decision.

Bedau correctly articulates what the Gregg decision, the Furman decision, and Van Den Haag exemplify – that while we can assess goals and principles to come up with a decision regarding capital punishment, the outcome of these foundations depends ultimately upon the weight we give each element. Unfortunately, the several goals and principles that are identified in the debate have no obvious rank order or proper weighting. Without this, there is no rational resolution of the controversy possible.

The Harshest Form Of Punishment

Each year there about 250 people added to death row and only 35 of them are even executed. The death penalty is the harshest form of punishment actually enforced by the United States government. Once the jury has convicted a criminal offense they go to the second part of the trial, the punishment part. If then the jury considers the death penalty, then the judge agrees that the criminal will have to face a form of execution. Lethal injection is the most widely used by todays death row criminals.

For a period between 1972 to 76, capital punishment was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. There are many reasons for why they thought that. The death penalty was looked at a cruel and unusual punishment under the eighth amendment. This decision was switched when a new method of execution was formed. Capital punishment is a difficult issue and there are many opinions as there are people on this earth. Since the beginning of the United States there has been over 13,000 legal executions.

Texas has executed the most people since the death penalty has been reinstated in 1976. There are only about 30-60 prisoners killed yearly. “The Bible requires he death penalty for a wide variety of crimes, including sex before marriage, adultery, homosexual behavior, doing work on Saturday, and murder. It even calls for some criminals to be tortured to death by burning them alive”(SOURCE 1). Some of the things stated in the last quote were a little morbid, and made me question in what I truly believe in.

John Stuart Mill once stated, ” When there has been brought home to any one, by conclusive evidence, the greatest crime known to law; and when the attendant circumstances suggest no palliation of guilt, no hope that the culprit may even yet not be nworthy to live among mankind, nothing to make it probable that the crime was an exception to general character rather than a consequence of it, then I confess it appears to me that to deprive the criminal of the life which he has proved himself to be unworthy–solemnly to blot him out from the fellowship of mankind and from the catalogue of the living– is the most appropriate as it is certainly the most impressive, mode in which society can attach to so great a crime the penal consequences which for the security of life it is indispensable to annex to it”, this was stated before Parliament on April 1, 1868.

I find that in this passage a lot of good is said. How can you not agree with what he said. In 1994 there were 2,850 persons awaiting execution. Yet like stated before only 30-60 are executed yearly. This is ridiculously low number compared to 199 persons executed in 1935. Many people feel that innocent people will be executed, but I feel that if there was enough information to convict that person than they should be convicted for their wrong doings.

You know once a murder is executed , then he can’t do anymore harm to society. Also, once the persons are executed there are no further costs for the tax payer to maintain. All that capital punishment is, is a method of retributive punishment that is as old as earth itself. Retribution, or an eye for an eye and life for a life, is justice at its best. Through my findings, and talking to my fellow people. I have concluded in being for capital punishment.

I feel that retribution is a justification for capital punishment, because it is an injustice to tolerate criminal behavior such as murder. For a person to just go to jail while the family of the victim is in grief is unfair. I feel that it is are duty is to serve justice and have the person executed. Despite the moral argument concerning the inhumane treatment of the criminal, the punishment is meted out because of the nature of the crime.

Should a person on death row really get of free? I think if not capital punishment, then the jail should think of a outstanding mode of cruelty to deter from the crime. We should have them endeavor some punishment for the living criminal that shall act in their human mind as a deterrent force that is comparable to death.

The Use Of Capital Punishment

The use of capital punishment has been a permanent fixture in society since the earliest civilizations. It has been used for various crimes ranging from the desertion of soldiers during wartime to the more heinous crimes of serial killers. However, the mere fact that this brutal form of punishment and revenge has been the policy of many nations in the past does not subsequently warrant its implementation in today’s society.

The death penalty is morally and socially unethical, should be construed as cruel and unusual punishment since it is both discriminatory and arbitrary, has no proof of acting as a deterrent, and risks the atrocious and unacceptable injustice of executing innocent people. As long as capital punishment exists in our society it will continue to spark the injustice which it has failed to curb. Capital punishment is immoral and unethical.

It does not matter who does the killing because, when a life is taken by another, it is always wrong. By killing a human, the state lessens the value of life and actually contributes to the growing sentiment in today’s society that certain individuals are worth more than others. When the value of life is lessened under certain circumstances such as the life of a murderer, what is stopping others from creating their own circumstances for the value of one’s life such as race, class, religion, and economics?

Immanuel Kant, a great philosopher of ethics, came up with the Categorical Imperative, which is a universal command or rule that states that society and individuals must act in such a way that you can will that your actions become a universal law for all to follow (Palmer 265). There must be some set of moral and ethical standards that even the government can not go against, otherwise how can the state expect its citizens not to follow its own example? Those who support the death penalty believe, or claim to believe, that capital punishment is morally and ethically acceptable.

The bulk of their evidence comes from the Old Testament, which actually recommends the use of capital punishment for a number of crimes. Others also quote the Sixth Commandment which, in the original Hebrew, reads Thou Shall Not Commit Murder. However, these literal interpretations of selected passages from the Bible which are often quoted out of context, corrupt the compassionate attitude of Judaism and Christianity, second of which clearly focuses on redemption and forgiveness and urges humane and effective ways of dealing with crime and violence.

Those who use the Bible to support the death penalty are by themselves, since almost all religious groups in the United States regard executions as immoral. Those that argue that the death penalty is ethical state that former great leaders and thinkers such as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Kant, Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Mill all supported it (Koch 324). However, Washington and Jefferson, two former presidents and admired men, both supported slavery as well.

Surely, the advice of someone who clearly demonstrated a total disregard for the value of human life cannot be considered in such an argument as capital punishment. In regard to the philosophers, Immanuel Kant, a great ethical philosopher, stated that the motives behind actions determine whether something is moral or immoral (Palmer 271). The motives behind the death penalty, which revolves around revenge and the frustration and rage of people who see that the government is not coping with violent crime, are not of good will, thereby making capital punishment immoral according to ethical philosophy (Bruck 329).

The question of whether executions are a cruel form of punishment may no longer be an argument against capital punishment now that it can be done with lethal injections, but it is still very unusual in that it applies only to a select number of individuals, making the death penalty completely discriminatory and arbitrary. After years of watching the ineffectiveness of determining who should be put to death, the Supreme Court in the1972 Furman v.

Georgia decision invalidated all existing death sentence statues as violative of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment and thus depopulated state death rows of 629 occupants (Berger 352). This decision was reached not because it was believed that the death penalty was intrinsically cruel and unusual but because, as Justice Stewart put it, the death penalty as actually applied was unconstitutionally arbitrary (Berger 353). Local politics, money, race, and where the crime is committed can often play a more decisive role in sentencing someone to death than the actual facts of the crime.

According to Amnesty International, the death penalty is a lethal lottery: just one out of every one hundred people arrested for murder is actually executed (Death Penalty Focus). In regards to racial discrimination in sentencing, it has been found that racial bias focuses primarily on the race of the victim, not the defendant (Berger 355). Only 31 out of the more than 15, 000 recorded executions in this country have been of white defendants convicted of killing black victims, while black defendants convicted of raping white women were commonly sentenced to death (Death Penalty Focus).

Stephen Nathanson, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University addresses the problems of discrimination and randomness best by saying, as long as racial, class, religious, and economic bias continue to be important determinants of who is executed, the death penalty will continue to create and perpetuate injustice (Nathanson 346). Proponents of capital punishment believe that the argument that the death penalty is discriminatory and arbitrary does not give support to the abolition of capital punishment, but rather to the extension of it.

Edward Koch, the mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989 and death penalty supporter, states that the discriminatory manner of the death penalty no longer seems to be the problem it once was, yet in 1987, the Supreme Court case of McCleskey v. Kemp established that in Georgia someone who kills a white person is four times more likely to be sentenced to death than someone who kills a black person (Death Penalty Focus). In response to this, supporters of the death penalty believe that the death penalty should be extended to all murders.

This is what was attempted after the Furman decision. A number of states sought to resolve the discriminatory and arbitrary nature of the death penalty by simply sentencing to death everyone convicted of first-degree murder, but the Supreme Court rejected this proposal saying that mandatory death sentence laws did not really resolve the problem but instead ‘simply papered [it] over’ since juries responded by refusing to convict certain arbitrarily chosen defendants of first-degree murder (Berger 353).

An argument against the death penalty which to sensible and decent persons should seem undeniable is the fact that innocent people have been murdered by the state in the past and in all probability more will follow. The wrongful execution of an innocent person is such an awful injustice that in any civilized society could never be justified, yet this is the message that the United States is willing to pronounce. Simply put by Professor Nathanson, to maintain the death penalty is to be willing to risk innocent lives.

In 1987, a study conducted by Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet appeared in the Standford Law Review concerning the execution of innocent people. The study concluded that in the period between 1900 to 1980, about 350 people were wrongfully convicted of capital offenses, 139 of the 350 were sentenced to death, and 23 were actually executed (Nathanson 344). Over this eighty year period, this figure averages out to the death of an innocent person about every 3. 4 years.

This fact is extremely disturbing and rightfully so, yet death penalty advocates blatantly disregard the information or attempt to justify it in some way. Those who support capital punishment claim that such cases of innocent people being executed have never occurred. For instance, Edward Koch quotes Hugo Bedau in support of his claim that such cases are not true, saying it is false sentimentality to argue that the death penalty should be abolished because of the abstract possibility that an innocent person might be executed.

Koch, in an attempt to gain political support, acted quite unethically by quoting Bedau out of context and implying that such cases have not occurred. According to David Bruck, a prominent lawyer for South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense, All Bedau was saying was that doubts concerning executed prisoners’ guilt are almost never resolved. Koch also failed to relate in his essay that Bedau, who had not yet released the 1987 study, had already comprised a list of murder convictions since 1900 in which the state eventually admitted error in about 400 hundred cases.

Another response to the fact that innocent people have been executed is that the small number of innocents executed outweighs the number of lives that will be saved, since the possibility of being executed will deter others from committing a murder, and that lives will be saved since that murderer cannot kill again. However,scientific studies have failed to prove that executions deter other people from committing crime. According to Dr.

Ernest van den Haag, a well-known scholar in favor of the death penalty, one cannot claim that it has been proved statistically that the death penalty does deter more than alternative penalties (Haag 338). Haag supports his stand on the death penalty by stating that when they have the choice between life and death, 99 percent of all prisoners under sentence of death prefer life in prison. This statistic proves nothing but the fact that man has an innate desire for survival. Those asked the question have already committed the crime and thus do not reflect the sentiment of those considering a crime.

Also, people often kill when under great emotional stress or under the influence of drugs or alcohol – times when they are not thinking of the consequences (Death Penalty Focus). Career criminals and those that plan a crime do not expect to get caught, thus making the consequences an invalid issue. In response to the fact that an executed murderer will never kill again, society must ask itself whether it is morally and ethically acceptable to risk killing an innocent person when an alternative such as life imprisonment without possibility of parole exists.

In California since 1978, more than 1,000 people have received this alternate sentence which includes no appeals process. The public can be assured that those who commit heinous murders and receive this sentence will never be free again. According to Death Penalty Focus, A recent Field Poll showed support for the death penalty plummeted when alternative sentencing is available. Just 29 percent favored death over life without parole plus requiring the defendant to work in prison and give part of his earnings as restitution to the families of his victims.

The use of capital punishment has endured throughout the ages, yet its use today in a civilized society should no longer be acceptable to morally and ethically conscious individuals. The vast majority of countries in Western Europe and North and South America, more than 80 nations worldwide have abandoned capital punishment. Yet, the United States remains an avid supporter in company with countries such as Iran, Iraq, and China as one of the major users of capital punishment (Death Penalty Focus).

The use of the death penalty in its discriminatory and arbitrary methods only magnifies inequalities of race that persist in the criminal justice system and in American society generally (Berger 355). Even with the death of a guilty man, innocence is lost, even Edward Koch admits, The death of anyone even a convicted killer diminishes us all. But it is a sad commentary on the state of this country when we are willing to accept the avoidable death of an innocent person and allow the death penalty to continue to create and perpetuate injustice.

Capital Punishment Report

Susan Smith purposely drove her car off into a lake with her 2 children strapped to the back seats. Think of how they must have felt as the cold water started to fill the car, and then ultimately drowned them. Barbaric is the word I would use to describe her actions. But yet, the jury rejected the death penalty and chose a 30-year sentence instead because capital punishment was not enforced in the state. Broken up from the death of his 2 children, Mr. Smith said, Me and my family are disappointed that the death penalty was not the verdict.

I am going to convince you that capital punishment has to be enforced in all states. I will tell you about the problem, the solution to the problem, and what it would be like if my solution is implemented. The problem is that the current criminals that commit these brutal crimes are not fearful enough of the consequences and punishment they have to pay. Life in prison is too easy on the convicts. We have to be harder on them. Another problem is capital punishment is not imposed in enough states. All of the states need to adopt it in the United States for it to be effective.

Another dilemma is that it is not fair that an individual who took the life of another receives heating, shelter, clothing, 3 meals a day, and indoor plumbing while a homeless person who does not cause any harm to anybody else receives nothing. An additional problem is the current prisons are very low on cell space. The criminals that have life in prison are taking up many of them. The solution to the problem is to adopt capital punishment in all states. It lowers the number of brutal crimes and murders. According to a study composed by Isaac Ehrlich in 1976, 8 murders are deterred for each execution carried out in the United States.

He goes on to say, If one execution of a guilty capital murderer deters the murder of one innocent life, the execution is justified. To most supporters of the death penalty, like Ehrlich, if even one life is saved, for countless executions of the guilty, it is a good reason for the death penalty. The theory that society engages in murder when executing the guilty is considered to be invalid. Supporters feel that execution of convicted offenders expresses the great value that society places on innocent life.

There are 5 ways to actually perform the executions: lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, and firing squad. Lethal injection is by far the most painless and is the most widely used. It only takes about 15 seconds for the criminal to loose consciousness. If capital punishment is not implemented by all of the states, criminals will not receive the punishment that they deserve. Criminals are not afraid enough of just going to jail so they do not care if they get in trouble for their crimes. There are many additional murders and brutal crimes without capital punishment.

It is proven in statistics that capital punishment does work to deter potential criminals. Also with capital punishment, there would be less murderers taking up jail space so there would be more space for the criminals that committed less harsh crimes. Capital punishment needs to enforced in all states because it is not used in enough states, it is proven that it lowers the number of murders and brutal crimes, and the criminals are not fearful enough of just life in prison. You need to support capital punishment and vote in favor for it when you can and give those criminals the penalty they deserve.

Capital Punishment, The Legal Infliction Of The Death Penalty

Capital punishment is defined as the legal infliction of the death penalty. Today, in modern law, the death penalty is corporal punishment in its most severe form. It is irrevocable: it ends the existence of those punished, instead of temporarily imprisoning them. Although capital punishment is not intended to inflict physical pain, execution is the only corporal punishment still applied to adults. The usual alternative to the death penalty is life-long imprisonment. The earliest historical records contain written evidence of capital punishment.

Applied from ancient times in most societies, it has been used as punishment for crimes ranging from petty theft to murder. The bible called for the penalty of death for more than thirty different crimes. In England, during the reigns of King Canute and William the Conqueror, the death penalty was not used, although the results of interrogation and torture were often fatal. In the years to follow, the death penalty in the American colonies before the Revolution, was commonly authorized for a wide variety of crimes.

Blacks were threatened with death for many crimes that were punished less severely when committed by whites. Not until the end of the 18th century were efforts made to abolish the death penalty. Quakers led this movement in England and America. Encouraged by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, England repealed all but a few of its capital statutes during the 19th century. Many states in the United States, led by Michigan in 1847, abolished the death penalty entirely. However, since complete abolition could never be achieved, reformers concentrated on limiting the scope of capital punishment.

In 1794, Pennsylvania adopted a law to distinguish the degrees of murder and only used the death penalty for premeditated first-degree murder. Another reform took place in 1846 in Louisiana. This state abolished the mandatory death penalty and authorized the option of sentencing a capital offender to life imprisonment rather than to death. After the 1830s, public executions ceased to be demonstrated but did not completely stop until after 1936. The methods of execution have changed over the ages. The death penalty he been inflicted in many ways now regarded today as barbaric and forbidden by law almost everywhere.

Some ways it was inflicted in the past was crucifixion, boiling in oil, drawing and quartering, impalement, beheading, burning alive, crushing, tearing, stoning, and drowning. These types of punishment today are considered cruel and unusual punishment. In the United States, the death penalty is currently authorized in one of five ways: hanging, electrocution, the gas chamber, firing squad, or lethal injection. These methods of execution compared to those of the past are not meant for torture, they are meant for punishment for heinous crime.

Some questions that arise in the controversial issue of capital punishment is if it is a deterrent for crime or is it more effective than life imprisonment? Defenders of the death penalty insist that since taking an offender’s life is a more severe punishment than any prison term, it must be a better deterrent. Public opinion in America supports the death penalty by a more than two to one margin and this view rest largely on the deterrence of crime from this severe punishment. An example of these statistics comes from the state of Florida.

Support for death penalty changes when alternatives are added. When asked simply whether they favor the death penalty, 80 percent of Floridians said they did. When asked whether they favor death penalty or life without parole, the figure drops to 70 percent, and then to 60 percent when restitution is added to the equation. The cost is also an issue that critics of the death penalty attack. In Florida, it costs $3. 2 million on each death row inmate, compared to about $535,000 for an average of 40 years for each prisoner sentenced to life.

This is a huge amount of tax payers money but the public looks at it as an investment in safety since these murders will never kill again. Those who argue against the death penalty as a deterrent to crime say the following statements. Adjacent states, in which one has a death penalty and the other does not, show no long term differences in the number of murders that occur in that state. States that use the death penalty seem to have a larger number of homicides than states that do not use it. Also, states that have abolished the death penalty and then reinstituted it show no significant change in the murder rate.

And finally, there has been no record of change in the rate of homicides in a given city or state seems to occur following a local execution. The intent of scaring a possible murderer not to kill or kill again because of the penalty of death according to critics has little effect. The current prevailing view among criminologists is that no conclusive evidence exists to show that death as punishment is a more effective deterrent to violent criminal activity than life-long imprisonment. Many moral concerns are brought up by the death penalty used as punishment.

The bible (Genesis 9:6) says, “Whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man may his blood be shed. ” This classic argument in favor of the death penalty has usually been interpreted as a proper and moral reason for putting a murderer to death. “Let the punishment fit the crime” is its secondary counterpart. Both quotes imply that the murderer deserves to die and it was his own fault for putting himself on death row. Supporters of capital punishment say that society has the right to kill in defense of its members, just as an individual has the right to kill in self defense for his or her own personal safety.

This analogy is somewhat doubtful, however, as long as the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent to violent crimes has yet to be proven. Another controversial aspect of the death penalty is that innocent people are killed even though they did not commit any crime. The executing of the innocent is very rare. From 1900 to 1985, a recent survey found that 7000 people were executed by the means of the death penalty and 35 were innocent of capital crimes.

Proponents of the death penalty say that despite precautions, nearly all human activities, such as trucking, lighting, or construction, cost the lives of some innocent bystanders. These activities, however, are not simply abandoned, because the advantages moral or material, outweigh the unintended losses. Critics have also argued that an alternative can be found to substitute for the death penalty. They feel that the severity of the crime can match the severity of the punishment and does not require the primitive rule of “a life for a life. ”

In the United States, the main objection to capital punishment has been that it was always used unfairly, in at least three major ways. First, females are rarely sentenced to death and executed, even though 20 percent of all murders that have occurred in recent years were committed by women. Second, a disproportionate number of nonwhites are sentenced to death and executed. A black man who kills a white person is 11 times more likely to receive the death penalty than a white man who kills a black person. In Texas in 1991, blacks made up 12 percent of the population, but 48 percent of the prison population and 55. ercent of those on death row are black.

Before the 1970s, when the death penalty for rape was still used in many states, no white men were guilty of raping nonwhite women, whereas most black offenders found guilty of raping a white woman were executed. This data shows how the death penalty can discriminate and be used on certain races rather than equally as punishment for severe crimes. And third, poor and friendless defendants, those who are inexperienced or of court-appointed counsel, are most likely to be sentenced to death and executed.

Defenders of the death penalty, however, argue that, because nothing found in the laws of capital punishment causes sexist, racist, or class bias in its use, these kinds of discrimination are not a sufficient reason for abolishing the death penalty on the idea that it discriminates or violates the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Opponents of capital punishment have replied to this by saying that the death penalty is subject to miscarriage of justice and that it would be impossible to administer fairly.

In the 1970s, a series of U. S. Supreme Court decisions made the death penalty in the U. S. unconstitutional, if it is mandatory, if it is imposed without providing courts with adequate guidance to make the right decision in the severity of the sentence, or if it is imposed for a crime that does not take or threaten the life of another human being. The death penalty was also confined to crimes of murder, including felony murder. A felony murder is any homicide committed in the course of committing another felony, such as rape or robbery.

After the 1972 court ruling that all but a few capital statutes were unconstitutional, thirty-seven states revised and reenacted their death penalty laws. In 1989 the Supreme Court decided that the death penalty could be used on those who were mentally retarded or underage (but 16 years and over) at the time of the killing. A trend that the Supreme Court is following is making a cut back on the appeals that Death Row inmates could make to the federal courts. The current status of the death penalty may change in the near future as President Bill Clinton has announced his support toward the advantages to the death penalty.

I feel strongly toward using the death penalty as punishment for unspeakable crimes. I feel that it is a deterrent for criminal activity because of its severity and it will never allow the murder to murder again and tear apart another family. I do, however, feel that restrictions should be put on its uses. Not all crimes deserve the death penalty. Let the punishment fit the crime. If a criminal performs a premeditated heinous murder he should be put to death. It is that simple. If the convicted offender shows no remorse for his actions, then the decision should be even easier.

I feel that it is important to send a message to all future “thrill-killers” that taking the life of another human is wrong and if they decide to try it, they must face the consequences: Death. A real world example of a case that involved killers who showed no remorse for killing and performed a heinous felony murder was the homicide that occurred in Mandville Louisiana in 1979. Robert L. Willie and Joseph Vaccaro kidnapped Faith Hathaway, beat here, raped her and slit here throat. They continued to rape her long after she was dead.

This type of murder disturbed the entire town and devastated the victims family. When the detective of the case, Mike Varnado, was asked about the death penalty and this crime he said, “What they did to this girl [Faith], they tortured her, they beat her, they raped her, they did not want her money, they just wanted to degrade her, and just dehumanize her and just see how it feels to do this to someone. It was a senseless crime that in my opinion deserved the death penalty. ” Repeat offenders and people who enjoy killing do not deserve to walk our street.

Everyone has the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and no one has the right to take that away from another person. As I said above, I feel very strongly toward the use of the death penalty. The death penalty has changed greatly over the years. It has gone from torture as punishment to death as punishment. Capital punishment today is not meant to torture or be used as a means for revenge. The death penalty is a severe penalty for a sever crime. I feel that it does work as a deterrent for crime because of its severity over any prison term. Capital punishment is necessary for a stable society and should not be abolished.

Capital Punishment Report

Have you been wondering where all our tax dollars are going to these days? A large amount of it is going towards maintaining murderers, rapists and thieves, and for what reason, to live the good life? The average prisoner costs the federal government one hundred and fifty dollars a day which amounts to fifty- three thousand four hundred dollars a year. Now, ask yourself this question, Is it worth all this money to keep these savage criminals in jail? Do you really want these brutal criminals after release from prison roaming freely in our treets near our homes?

The ultimate answer to these questions is only too evident, we must control the situation, we need to enforce an alternative… we need Capital Punishment. For all of the murderers, thieves, drug lords, rapists and any other severe law perpetrator, there must be some form of control and it must be capital punishment. Any person who kills people with no regrets or rapes innocent victims continuously, does not deserve to live in a luxurious North American penitentiary or anywhere for that matter, they deserve nothing but the death penalty.

When the words death penalty’ or capital punishment’ are heard, they obviously are disturbing and uncomfortable, but so are their crimes. There is no hope for criminals with this kind of behavior and mentality. I believe that capital punishment is the key necessity. If capital punishment was enforced for severe crimes, it would eliminate a fair amount of tax money going towards the judiciary system. If a prison were to maintain a deadly criminal sentenced for life starting at the age of thirty and living to seventy, it would cost tax payers an unbelievable amount of two illion one hundred and thirty-six thousand dollars.

It is hard to believe but it is true, and imagine, if that is the cost of just one criminal, imagine the astronomical amount of five hundred criminals each costing that amount of money… something must be done. Capital punishment would eliminate those figures and leave you and me a whole lot happier. When a murderer kills a person and goes to court, he expects to get around thirty to fifty years in jail, and if he behaves well in prison, he could very well get out in half the time.

It is also a fact that after the criminal has been released from prison, he will most likely perform the same acts that rendered him there in the first place. Society can’t handle these brutal behaviors so therefore capital punishment will. When a criminal is sentenced to the death penalty and is executed by means of capital punishment, all the other potential murderers and rapists will get a warning. They will think twice about doing the crime after they learn of what awaits them in the end.

The fact of the matter is, it has been far too long that we have been too ind to the fiends who murder our loved ones, rape our spouses and daughters and perform other savage brutalities. By no way or justice should they be allowed to roam the streets freely after having a relaxed visit at the local penitentiary. They end up costing the tax payer an unimaginable amount of money so that they can live in a sheltered jail while having hearty meals and access to pay-TV and other commodities. All of this is simply unnecessary for the solution is capital punishment and as long as it is put off, the longer all of these and other things will go on.

The Debate over the merits of capital punishment

The Debate over the merits of capital punishment has endured for years, and continues to be an extremely indecisive and complicated issue. Adversaries of capital punishment point to the Marshalls and the Millgards, while proponents point to the Dahmers and Gacys. Society must be kept safe from the monstrous barbaric acts of these individuals and other killers, by taking away their lives to function and perform in our society. At the same time, we must insure that innocent people such as Marshall and Millgard are never convicted or sentenced to death for a crime that they did not commit.

Many contend that the use of capital punishment as a form of deterrence does not work, as there are no fewer murders on a per-capita basis in countries or states that do have it, then those that do not. In order for capital punishment to work as a deterrence, certain events must be present in the criminal’s mind prior to committing the offence. The criminal must be aware that others have been punished in the past for the offence that he or she is planning, and that what happened to another individual who committed this offence, can also happen to me.

But individuals who commit any types of crime ranging from auto theft to 1st-Degree Murder, never take into account the consequences of their actions. Deterrence to crime, is rooted in the individuals themselves. Every human has a personal set of conduct. How much they will and will not tolerate. How far they will and will not go. This personal set of conduct can be made or be broken by friends, influences, family, home, life, etc. An individual who is never taught some sort of restraint as a child, will probably never understand any limit as to what they can do, until they have learned it themselves.

Therefore, capital punishment will never truly work as a deterrent, because of human nature to ignore practised advice and to self learn. There are those who claim that capital punishment is in itself a form of vengeance on the killer. But isn’t locking up a human being behind steel bars for many years, vengeance itself? And is it “humane” that an individual who took the life of another, should receive heating, clothing, indoor plumbing, 3 meals a day, while a homeless person who has harmed no one receives nothing? Adversaries of capital punishment claim that it is far more humane then having he state take away the life of the individual.

In February 1963, Gary McCorkell, a 19 year old sex offender, was scheduled to hang. But just days before his execution, the then Liberal cabinet of Lester Person commuted McCorkell to life in prison. Less than 20 years later, McCorkell was arrested, tried, and convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year old Tenessee boy. He was sentanced to 63 years in prison. Prior to leaving Canada, he was sought by Metro Police in the attempted murder of an 11-year old boy. What has been gained by this? Had McCorkell been executed in 1963, two boys ould never have had to have gone through the horror of being sexually abused.

These individuals may themselves become sex offenders, as many sex offenders were sexually abused as children. McCorkell may have been a victim of sexually assualt in the past, but that does not justify what he did. He did not do this once, he killed two boys, and assaulted two others, leaving one for dead. He knew exactly what he was doing. What right does this man have to live? He has ruined the lives of 4 children, what will he do in life that will compensate for that? What kind of a life would the state have been taking away in this case? An innocent life?

A forgiving life? No, a life that was beyond the realm of reform, and did not care to be. We must be careful. We must be very careful to never, even when suspicion may cause considerable doubt, send an innocent person to be executed. It could have happened to David Millgard, it could have happened to Donald Marshall. It probably has even occured numerous times in the history of the earth. But with proper police investigations, and where the evidence shows that the individual is a threat to the peace of society as long as he or she is alive, capital punishment must be used.

Capital Punishment: For And Against

Thesis One: In principle a case can be made on moral grounds both supporting and opposing capital punishment. Thesis two: Concretely and in practice, compelling arguments against capital punishment can be made on the basis of its actual administration in our society. Two different cases can be made. One is based on justice and the nature of a moral community. This leads to a defense of capital punishment. The second is based on love and the nature of an ideal spiritual community. This leads to a rejection of capital punishment.

A central principle of a just society is that every person has an equal right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of appiness. ” Within that framework, an argument for capital punishment can be formulated along the following lines: some acts are so vile and so destructive of community that they invalidate the right of the perpetrator to membership and even to life. A community founded on moral principles has certain requirements. The right to belong to a community is not unconditional. The privilege of living and pursuing the good life in society is not absolute. It may be negated by behavior that undermines the nature of a moral community.

The essential basis on which community is built requires each citizen to honor the rightful claims of thers. The utter and deliberate denial of life and opportunity to others forfeits ones own claim to continued membership in the community, whose standards have been so flagrantly violated. The preservation of moral community demands that the shattering of the foundation of its existence must be taken with utmost seriousness. The preciousness of life in a moral community must be so highly honored that those who do not honor the life of others make null and void their own right to membership.

Those who violate the personhood of others, especially if this is done persistently as a habit must pay the ultimate penalty. This punishment must be inflicted for the sake of maintaining the community whose foundation has been violated. We can debate whether some non-lethal alternative is a fitting substitute for the death penalty. But the standard of judgment is whether the punishment fits the crime and sufficiently honors the nature of moral community. LOVE AND AN IDEAL SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY Christian love, is unconditional. It does not depend on the worthiness or merit of those to whom it is directed.

It is persistent in seeking the good of others regardless of whether they return the favor or even deserve to be treated well n the basis of their own incessant wrongdoing. An ideal community would be made up of free and equal citizens devoted to a balance between individual self- fulfillment and the advancement of the common good. Communal life would be based on mutual love in which equality of giving and receiving was the norm of social practice. Everyone would contribute to the best of ability and each would receive in accordance with legitimate claims to available resources.

What would a community based on this kind of love do with those who committed brutal acts of terror, violence, and murder? Put negatively, it would not live by the hilosophy of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life. ” It would act to safeguard the members of the community from further destruction. Those who had shown no respect for life would be restrained, permanently if necessary, so that they could not further endanger other members of the community. But the purpose of confinement would not be vengeance or punishment.

Rather an ideal community would show mercy even to those who had shown no mercy. It would return good for evil. The aim of isolation is reconciliation and not revenge. never gives up. It is ever hopeful that even the worse among us can be edeemed so that their own potential contribution to others can be realized. Opportunities for confronting those who had been hurt most could be provided to encourage remorse and reconciliation. If a life has been taken, no full restitution can be made, of course, but some kind of service to the community might be required as a way of partially making amends.

EVALUATION Such, in brief, is the argument for and against capital punishment, one founded on justice and the nature of moral community, the other resting on love and the nature of an ideal spiritual community. If we stand back from this description nd make an attempt at evaluation, one point is crucial. The love ethic requires a high degree of moral achievement and maturity. It is more suitable for small, closely-knit communities in which members know each other personally and in some depth. Forgiveness and reclamation flourish best in a setting in which people can participate in each other’s lives.

If you press the motif to its highest manifestation, it becomes an ethic of non-resistance to evil, unqualified pacifism, and self-sacrifice in which self-interest is totally abandoned. The non-resisting Jesus on the cross who surrenders his life to save others is the pitome of at this level. Love at this point becomes superethical. It is grounded in a deep faith in God that surrenders any reference to earthly justice. That is the reason for speaking of love and the nature of an ideal spiritual community. Love of this kind abandons the right to kill another in self-defense and will refuse absolutely to kill enemies even in a just war.

If made into a social ethic, it requires the poor to sacrifice for the rich, the sick to sacrifice for the healthy, the oppressed to sacrifice for the oppressor. It allows the neighbor to be terrorized, brutalized, and slaughtered, since estraint of the aggressor is forbidden. All this is indefensible on moral grounds. To make sense of this, it is helpful to distinguish between an ethical dimension of love and an ecstatic dimension. Love as an ethical ideal seeks a community based on mutuality and reciprocity in which there is an equality of giving and receiving.

Mutual love has a justice element in which every person has an equal claim to fulfillment and an equal duty to be responsible. Ethical love is unconditional and will reach out to others even when they lack merit. But it will resist encroachment upon its own equal claim o fulfillment and will repel if possible any denial of ones own right to be fully human in every respect. Against the pacifist, ethical love would justify killing in self-defense and killing enemies in a just war when non-lethal alternatives are unavailable. They are necessary and tragic emergency means here and now to stop present and ongoing violence.

Capital punishment is opposed since the crime has already been committed, and isolation can protect society against future violence. Love in the ecstatic dimension becomes superethical. In ecstasy one is delirious with impetuous joy in the presence of the other and totally devoted to hat person’s happiness and well- being. In ecstasy we do not count the cost to ourselves but are totally self-giving, heedless of our own needs. In this mood sacrifice for the other is not an ethical act of self-denial but the superethical expression of what we most want to do.

Ecstasy involves the unpremeditated overflow of boundless affection and the impulsive joy of exhilarating union with the loved one. The ecstatic lover dances with delight in the presence of the beloved. Sensible calculations balancing rights and duties have no place. Rational ethics has been transcended by spiritual ecstasy. Ecstatic love expresses itself spontaneously in a certain frame of spirit. Love expressed in ecstasy gives all without regard to whether the recipient has any claim on the gift. It is pure grace.

Consider the story of the woman who poured expensive perfume on the fee….. t of Jesus (Mk. 14:3-9). She was displaying love in the ecstatic dimension. Some present were thinking ethically. They complained that this perfume could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. On ethical grounds they were right. What the woman did was indefensible as a moral act. It was irrational and superethical. This deed flowed spontaneously from cstatic love. Love has both an ethical and an ecstatic or superethical dimension, and we should not confuse the two.

It is quite clear, however, that ecstatic cannot be the norm of large, impersonal societies. A corporation cannot exist on the basis of forgiving seventy times seven an incompetent employee whose repeated ineptness is costing thousands of dollars. Ecstasy is not even the mode in which we can live all the time in the most exemplary family life with spouses and children. Ecstatic love is an occasional, fabulous, wonderful overflowing of spectacular affection that adds immeasurably to the joy of life, ut it cannot be the day to day standard for ordinary life even in the family or the church.

Can Christian love in the ethical sense be an appropriate norm for a large, secular, pluralistic, civil society? Can unconditional love for the other that regards the welfare of the neighbor equal with ones own be the ideal expected of the citizens of New York or the United States? Surely, to agree with Reinhold Niebuhr, that would be to hope for an “impossible possibility. ” Ethical love is a description of ideal life in the family, in the church, and other small communities in which unconditional regard for each other can be lived out n face-to-face relationships.

Even in these settings, we will often fail, but we can hold it up as the criterion by which we are judged and to which we aspire even in our shortcoming. In this sense, ethical love is the supreme norm that serves as both goal and judge of all conduct. Realistically, however, we can hope only for some rough approximation with decreasing levels of attainment as we move away from intimate communities toward larger collectives. Nation states are not likely, even occasionally, to become ecstatic in their devotion to each other!

Mutual, not even to mention sacrificial, love is hardly the guiding rule f relations between General Motors and Toyota, nor does either have aspirations in that direction. A workable ethical standard for the state and the nation will appeal to the ideals defined by justice and the requirements of a moral community. To say it otherwise, ethical love expressed as social policy for large, impersonal societies takes the form of justice. What that norm involves for New York or the United States as secular, pluralistic societies cannot be spelled out here.

Within this framework a strong but debatable case can be made for capital punishment. Pragmatically and politically, of course, Christians ave to work within the framework of justice as defined by the secular society in which they have their citizenship and seek to transform it in the light of their own ideals. PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS This brings me to thesis two. The most compelling arguments against capital punishment can be made on the basis of its actual administration in our society. I will list five of the usual points. 1. The possibility of error. Sometimes a person might be put to death who is innocent. . Unfair administration. Capital punishment is inflicted disproportionately on the poor and minorities.

3. Weakness of the argument from deterrence. The claim that the threat of capital punishment reduces violent crime is inconclusive, certainly not proven, extremely difficult to disprove, and morally suspect if any case. 4. The length of stay on death row. If there were ever any validity to the deterrence argument, it is negated by the endless appeals, delays, technicalities, and retrials that keep persons condemned to death waiting for execution for years on end.

One of the strongest arguments right now against capital punishment is that we are too incompetent to carry it out. That incompetence becomes another injustice. 5. Mitigating circumstances. Persons who commit vicious crimes have often suffered from neglect, emotional trauma, violence, cruelty, abandonment, lack of love, and a host of destructive social conditions. These extenuating circumstances may have damaged their humanity to the point that it is unfair to hold them fully accountable for their wrongdoing. Corporate responsibility somehow has to be factored in to some degree.

No greater challenge to social wisdom exists than this. The conclusion of the matter is that the present practice of capital punishment is a moral disgrace. The irony is that the very societies that have the least right to inflict it are recisely the ones most likely to do so. The compounding irony is that the economic malfunctions and cultural diseases in those same societies contribute to the violence that makes it necessary to unleash even more repression and brutality against its unruly citizens to preserve order and stave off chaos.

To the degree that society provides opportunities for all citizens to achieve a good life in a sensible culture, it is reasonable to believe that the demand for capital punishment will be reduced or eliminated. The fact that our prisons are so full is the most eloquent testimony imaginable of our dismal failure to reate a good society. Massive incarceration indicates the bankruptcy of social wisdom and social will. It points to the shallowness of our dedication to solving the basic problems of poverty, moral decay, meaninglessness, and social discord.

Meanwhile, our leaders divert our attention with the alluring fantasy that capital punishment will make our citizens more secure against violent crime. THE CHURCH AND CHRISTIAN WITNESS What, then, is the role of the church? It is two-fold. (1) Ideally and ultimately, followers of Jesus are the salt of the earth, light of the world, leaven in the secular loaf. As such, Christians go into the world with the aim of moving, lifting, and luring society in the direction of ethical love.

The vocation of Christians is to hold up ethical love as “a transcendent gauge exhibiting the moral defects of society and thus spread the infection of an uneasy spirit” (A. N. Whitehead). In particular, Christians should work to overcome the larger injustices, social disarray, and cultural illness that create an atmosphere conducive to violence. This work will involve both political action and cultural transformation. (2) Pragmatically and immediately, Christians will translate ethical love into andates of secular justice and work for the best approximation of the norm that is possible under given circumstances.

Hence, Christian witness may be but is not necessarily directed against capital punishment on moral grounds in principle. The choice is a matter of practical discernment and social wisdom in a particular situation. Christians should insist that if capital punishment is to be practiced, it must be administered in a just way. On this count, present-day society fails miserably. My prediction is that a society that becomes sensitive enough to make sure that the death enalty is administered in a just way will then do away with it altogether in favor of more humane practices such as life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

In short, for the moment the Christian witness to society is this: first demonstrate that capital punishment can be administered in a just and efficient manner. Then we will debate with you as to whether capital punishment is in principle necessary, fitting, and right or whether a humane society will find non-lethal alternatives to protect citizens from persistently violent criminals. Until then the church should say “no” to this extreme measure.