There have been many controversies in the history of the United States, ranging from abortion to gun control; however, capital punishment has been one of the most hotly contested issues in recent decades. Capital Punishment is the execution of a criminal pursuant to a sentence of death imposed by a competent court. It is not intended to inflict any physical pain or any torture; it is only another form of punishment. This form of punishment is irrevocable because it removes those punished from society permanently, instead of temporarily imprisoning them, this is the best and most effective way to deal with criminals.
The usual alternative to the death penalty is life-long imprisonment. Capital punishment is a method of retributive punishment as old as civilization itself. The death penalty has been imposed throughout history for many crimes, ranging from blasphemy and treason to petty theft and murder. Many ancient societies accepted the idea that certain crimes deserved capital punishment. Ancient Roman and Mosaic Law endorsed the notion of retaliation; they believed in the rule of an eye for an eye. Similarly, the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, and Greeks all executed citizens for a variety of crimes.
The most famous people who were executed were Socrates (Saunders 462) and Jesus. Only in England, during the reigns of King Canute (1016-1035; Hoyt 151) and William the Conqueror (1066-1087; Miller 259) was the death penalty not used, although the results of interrogation and torture were often fatal. Later, Britain reinstated the death penalty and brought it to its American colonies. Although the death penalty was widely accepted throughout the early United States, not everyone approved of it.
In the late-eighteenth century, opposition to the death penalty gathered enough strength to lead to important restrictions on the use of the death penalty in everal northern states, while in the United States, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island abandoned the practice altogether. In 1794, Pennsylvania adopted a law to distinguish the degrees of murder and only use 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. Throughout history, governments have been xtremely inventive in devising ways to execute people. Executions inflicted in the past are now regarded today as ghastly, barbaric, and unthinkable and are forbidden by law almost everywhere. Common historical methods of execution included: stoning, crucifixion, burning, breaking on the wheel, drawing and quartering, beheading and decapitation, shooting, and hanging. These types of punishments today are banned by the eighth amendment to the constitution (The Constitution, Amendment 8).
In the United States, the death penalty is currently implemented in one of five ways: firing squad, hanging, gas chamber, lectrocution, and lethal injection. These methods of execution compared to those of the past are not meant for torture, but meant for punishment for the crime. For the past decades, capital punishment has been one of the most hotly contested political issues in America. This debate is a complicated one. Capital punishment is a legal, practical, philosophical, social, political, and moral question. The notion of deterrence has been at the very center of the practical debate over the question of capital punishment.
Most of us assume that we execute murderers primarily because we believe it will discourage others from ecoming murderers. Retentionists have long asserted the deterrent power of capital punishment as an obvious fact. The fear of death deters people from committing crimes. Still, abolitionists believe that deterrence is little more than an assumption and a naive assumption at that. Abolitionists claim that capital punishment does not deter murderers from killing or killing again. They base most of their argument against deterrence on statistics.
States that use capital punishment extensively show a higher murder rate than those that have abolished the death penalty. Also, states that have abolished the death penalty nd then reinstated it show no significant change in murder rate. They say adjacent states with the death penalty and those without show no long-term differences in the number of murders that occur in that state. And finally, there has been no record of change in the rate of homicides in a given city or state following a local execution. Any possibility of deterring a would-be murderer from killing has little effect.
Most Retentionists argue that none of the statistical evidence proves that capital punishment does not deter potential criminals. There is absolutely no way to prove, with any certainty, how many ould-be murderers were in fact deterred form killing due to the death penalty. They point out that the murder rate in any given state depends on many things besides whether or not that state uses capital punishment. They cite such factors as the proportion of urban residents in the state, the level of economic prosperity, and the social and racial makeup of the populous.
But a small minority is willing to believe in these statistics and to abandon the deterrence argument. But they defend the death penalty base on other arguments, relying primarily on the need to protect society from killers who are considered high isk for killing again. Incapacitation is another controversial aspect of the death penalty. Abolitionists say condemning a person to death removes any possibility of rehabilitation. They are confident in the life-sentence presenting the possibility of rehabilitating the convict; however, rehabilitation is a myth.
The state does not know how to rehabilitate people because there are plenty of convicted murderers who kill again and again. Some of these murderers escape and kill again or they kill while still in prison. While reading different articles both on the internet and in magazines I came cross many stories of inmates who kill another inmate for a piece of chicken, how pathetic is this rehabilitation system The life-sentence is also a myth, because of overcrowding in prisons early parole has released convicted murderers and they still continue to kill.
Incapacitation is not solely meant as deterrence but it is meant to maximize public safety by removing any possibility of a convicted murderer to murder again. The issue of execution of an innocent person is troubling to both abolitionists and Retentionists alike. Some people are frightened of this possibility enough to be convinced that capital unishment should be abolished. This is not true at all! The execution of innocent people is very rare because there are many safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty.
There is legal assistance provided and an automatic appeals process for persons convinced of capital crimes. Persons under the age of eighteen, pregnant women, new mothers, or persons who have become insane cannot be sentenced to death. Capital punishment saves lives as well as takes them. We must accept the few risks of wrongful deaths for the sake of defending public safety. Abolitionists say the ost of execution has become increasingly expensive and that life sentences are more economical.
A study of the Texas Criminal System estimated the cost of appealing capital murder at approximately $3. 2 million. This high cost includes $265,640 for the trial; $294. 240 for the state appeals; $113,608 for federal appeals (over six years); and $135,875 for death row housing. In contrast, the cost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum-security prison single cell for 40 years is estimated at $535,000 (TheElectricChair. com). This is a huge amount of taxpayer money but the public looks at it as an investment in safety since these urderers will never kill again.
Retentionists argue that these high costs are due to the lengthy time and the high expenses result from innumerable appeals, many over technicalities which have little or nothing to do with the question of guilt or innocence, and do little more than jam up the nations court system. If these frivolous appeals were eliminated, the procedure would neither take so long nor cost so much. The moral issues concerning the legitimacy of the death have been brought up by many abolitionists. They think that respect for life forbids the use of the death penalty, while retentionists believe that respect or life requires it.
Abolitionists usually cite the Bible saying, To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste (Deuteronomy 32:35). Whereas the retentionists usually cite, Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed (Genesis 9:6). Both of these verses are good arguments and seem contradictory; however, many religious people say that God works in mysterious ways and one thing He works through is the government so the sentencing of criminals could be God working is vengeance through our court systems.
The latter of the two verses is many peoples moral justification for supporting the death penalty, and let the punishment fit the crime usually goes right along with the verse also. All three of these quotes could 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.
In the United States, the main objection to capital punishment has been hat 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 eleven times more likely to receive the death penalty than a white man who kills a black person (TheElectricChair. com).
In Texas in 1991, blacks made up twelve percent of the overall population, forty eight percent of the prison population, and 55. 5 percent of the population on eath row (TheElectricChair. com). 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 on both races.
And third, poor and friendless defendants, those who are inexperienced or have 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 he 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 uidance 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 a 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 reinstated their death penalty laws. In 1989 the Supreme Court decided that the death penalty could be used on those who were mentally retarded r underage (but not under sixteen) 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. 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 a murderer to kill again and destroy another family. The death penalty is not a problem if all avenues have been investigated and nothing is questionable. 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 person 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. Repeat offenders and people who enjoy killing do not deserve to walk our streets; this method of punishment will prevent that from ever happening. I fell 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 consequence of death.