Whenever the word "death penalty" comes up, extremists from both sides of the spectrum begin to wildly express their opinions. One side says deterrence, the other side says there's a potential of executing an innocent man. One says justice, retribution, and punishment, the other side says execution is murder. However, all arguments aside, the best way and the only way to truly make a rational decision about capital punishment is to examine the purpose of our criminal justice system. Once the purpose of the criminal justice system is established, one must find out the purpose of capital punishment. This paper will show that the purpose of capital punishment is consistent with and embodies the purpose of the criminal justice system. Then, this paper will determine whether or not the present form of the death penalty is fulfilling its purpose, and what could be changed to make the death penalty more efficient and effective.
The first question that must be faced is, "What is the purpose of the criminal justice system and does the death penalty help to fulfill that purpose?" In The Law, Frederic Bastiat says that humans have inalienable rights that existed outside of and before government. These rights are life, liberty, and property. He contends that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect these rights. When one person inflicts on another's rights or takes advantage of another person, he is plundering. Bastiat asks, "When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor. It is evident, then that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder," (Bastiat 24-26).
People will plunder, take advantage of others, and commit crimes as long as it is in their best interest to do so. The purpose our entire criminal justice system is to protect the... [continues]
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