Capital Punishment: Does the End Justify the Means?

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Capital Punishment: Does the End Justify the Means?

If... he has committed murder, he must die. In this case, there is no substitute that will satisfy the legal requirements of legal justice.There is no sameness of kind between death and remaining alive even under the most miserable conditions, and consequently there is no equality between crime and the retribution unless the criminal is judicially condemned and put to death." Immanuel Kant.

About 2000 men, women, and teenagers currently wait on America's "Death Row." Their time grows shorter as federal and state courts increasingly ratify death penalty laws, allowing executions to proceed at an accelerated rate. It's unlikely that any of these executions will make the front page, having become more and more a matter of routine in the last decade. Indeed, recent public opinion polls show a wide margin of support for the death penalty. But human rights advocates continue to decry the immorality of state-sanctioned killing in the U.S., the only western industrialized country that continues to use the death penalty. Is capital punishment moral?

Capital punishment is often defended on the grounds by the government, that society has a moral obligation to protect the safety and the welfare of its citizens. Murderers threaten this safety and welfare. Only by putting murderers to death can society ensure that convicted killers do not kill again.

Second, those favoring capital punishment contend that society should support those practices that will bring about the greatest balance of good over evil, and capital punishment is one such practice. Capital punishment benefits society because it may deter violent crime. While it is difficult to produce direct evidence to support this claim since, by definition, those who are deterred by the death penalty do not commit murders, common sense tells us that they will die if they perform a certain act, they will be unwilling to perform that act. If the threat of...
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