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Capital Punishment Essay – Beyond Horror and Incivility

The Death Penalty: Beyond Horror and Incivility

“Capital punishment is the infliction of the death penalty on persons convicted of a crime” (Americana 596). Killing convicted felons has been one of the most widely practiced forms of criminal punishment in the United States. Currently, the states that do no practice the death penaly are Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin. However, for the remaining states that do practice the death penalty, it has been a topic of debate for many years. There are two parties who argue over its many points, including whether or not it is a fitting and adequate punishment, whether or not it acts as a deterrent to crime and whether or not it is morally wrong. These two classes of people can be grouped together as the retentionists, or the proponents, and the abolitionists, or the opponents (596). For the retentionists, the main reasons they are in support of the death penalty are to take revenge, to deter others, and to punish. They are most concerned with the protection of society from dangerous criminals. In spite of all this however, the death penalty is not a good form of criminal punishment for many reasons: it is morally wrong, it does not act as a deterrent for crime, it is irreversible and can be inflicted upon people who are innocent, it is more expensive than imprisonment and those who are convicted commonly use the costly process of appealing the decision and there is no chance to make restitution to the victim and/or the victim’s family.

“People that favor the death penalty agree that capital punishment is a relic of barbarism, but as murder itself is barbaric…

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…pectacle of publicly sanctioned killing has cheapened human life and dignity without the redeeming grace which comes from justice meted out swiftly, evenly, humanely” (Draper 44).

Works Cited

Amnesty International Report. The Death Penalty. England: Amnesty International Publications, 1979.

Bedau, Hugo Adam. The Death Penalty in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.

“Capital Punishment.” Encyclopedia Americana. 1990 ed.

Draper, Thomas. Capital Punishment. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1985.

Horwitz, Elinor Lander. Capital Punishment U.S.A. New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1973.

Jayewardene, C. H. S. The Penalty of Death. Massachusetts:Lexington, 1977.

Meador, Roy. Capital Revenge: 54 Votes Against Life. Philadelphia:Dorrance, 1975.

“Violent Crime Control And Law Enforcement Act of 1994.” 3/8/95(date retrieved).

Capital Punishment Essay – Justice in Retribution

Capital Punishment: Justice in Retribution

The American government operates in the fashion of an indirect democracy. Citizens live under a social contract whereby individuals agree to forfeit certain rights for the good of the whole. Punishments for crimes against the state are carried out via due process, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The use of capital punishment is decided by the state, which is legal in thirty-seven states. It is a moral imperative to protect the states’ rights to decide their own position on the use of capital punishment.

Capital punishment is a method of retributive punishment as old as civilization itself. Both the Greeks and the Romans invoked the death penalty for a wide variety of offenses. Socrates and Jesus were perhaps the most famous people ever condemned for a capital crime in the ancient period. Hammurabi’s Code, a code of laws developed by the king of one of the first empires, dates back from the third or second millennium before Christ. This code claims that retribution, an eye for an eye and a life for a life, is justice. In Anglo-American law the death penalty has been a customary response to certain kinds of offenses. The movement in America to have the death penalty declared unconstitutional received paramount attention during the landmark case of ‘Furman v. Georgia,’ rendered on June 29, 1972, which declared the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment. No executions took place between 1967 and 1977 (Bedau, 1992). However, after a supreme court decision in 1975 ‘Gregg v. Georgia’, which stated capital punishment did not violate the Eighth Amendment, executions commenced again under state supervision. Should capital punishment be continued? Retribution is a ju…

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…nal awaits the sentence to be carried out. This lesson may be said not to benefit society since it is too late for the criminal. It is also too late for the victim who was murdered in cold blood. To look at this as “bloodthirsty revenge” would be saying that capital punishment is itself the injustice. Is it not an injustice to let a cold-blooded killer escape the consequences of a crime? A society that tolerates injustice can by no means be called just.

Works Cited

Bedau, Hugo Adam. In Spite of Innocence. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992.

Block, Eugene B.. When Men Play God: The Fallacy of Capital Punishment. San Francisco: Cragmont Publications, 1983.

Locke, John. Second Treatise of Civil Government. Ch 2, Sec 6.

Meltser, Michael. Cruel and Unusual: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment. New York: Random House, 1973.

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