210: Introduction to Criminal Justice
November, 17, 2012
Professor: Aaron M. Carver
Pros and Cons Capital Punishment
Capital punishment (death penalty) is the severest form of legal punishment today. There are vast differences in the way people view the death penalty. Some oppose it and some agree with it. There have been many studies trying to prove or disprove a point regarding the death penalty. Some have regarded the death penalty as a deterrent, and some have regarded it as state sanctioned murder and not civilized. The death penalty has been attributed to societies for hundreds of years. More recently, as we become more civilized, the death penalty has been questioned to be the right step towards justice. During the course of this paper I will review the pros and cons of the use of the death penalty as we, Americans, know it. The death penalty is a highly controversial subject. No one knows who’s right or whose wrong-it’s fifty percent speculation and fifty percent research. It’s just a lot of thoughts and beliefs from people who have contributed to the death penalty hype. Who’s right and who’s wrong? That is the question. Problem Statements
In order to list the pros and cons of the death penalty I will discuss a bit about what exactly is capital punishment. This will help better understand why people feel the way they do about capital punishment. Like mentioned earlier, capital punishment or also known as the death penalty is the most extreme of all sentencing options (Schmalleger, 2012). Almost all nations in the world have had the death sentence and had enforced it in many ways. It has been used in most cases to punish those who broke the laws or standards that were expected of them. There are a lot of methods of execution however not all are legal in the United States. Procedures authorized in the United States now are electrocution, the gas chamber, and the lethal injection. The most common form of capital punishment is lethal injection, with electrocution to be the second most common form (Schmalleger, 2012). When it comes down to sentencing a criminal to the death penalty, many say that it has never been a fair sentencing. Those against capital punishment claim that it has been inflicted on innocent people or that it is costly to execute someone (Schmalleger, 2012). Those for the death penalty claim that the criminals who committed horrifying crimes deserve to die for their actions (Schmalleger, 2012). For the reason being, that anything else other than death does not fulfill as a sanction for the crime (Schmalleger, 2012). Literature review
The people who oppose the death penalty have very different reasons than people who agree with it. Those who oppose it feel that no matter how bad of an offense that the criminal has committed, they should not be executed. Arguing against capital punishment, Amnesty International believes that "The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. It violates the right to life...It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. There can never be any justification for torture or for cruel treatment."
It has been said that innocent people have been placed on death row for crimes they never committed and then executed. In my opinion, I find that very true and support this very strongly. From 1973 up to late 2009, over 138 people in 25 different states where freed from death row after being determined that they were innocent for the capital crime they had been convicted of (Dieter). One example of this claim is of James Bain, a Florida man, released from jail after being incarcerated for 35 years. He was formerly convicted back in 1974 for supposedly kidnapping and a 9 year-old boy and raping him in a nearby field (Schmalleger, 2012). What helped him gain his freedom in...