From the ethical perspective of philosopher John Rawls who said that justice should be described as“ a fair system of arrangements; one that the parties can agree to without knowing how it will benefit them personally” , the death penalty must be considered just and right as it creates a fair balance between the act that has been committed and the punishment that has been dealt (Williams 78). Rawls supports the idea of an original position from which society chooses principles based on a veil of ignorance, its ideal judicial system developed not from personal tastes and interests, but from a socially moral position. From this perspective, the death penalty creates a balance between the offender and the victim, his life forfeited to insinuate the balance between his crime and his punishment. The Political Position of the World
The global community does not have political support for the death penalty with very few states using this form of punishment. However, the United States has a strong support of the punishment within its citizens, thus many of the states have legalized its use. While the debate about the use of the death penalty often does not include the concept of death, death itself is an end to suffering. Victims are often neglected for the sake of the rights of the offenders, with forgiveness being forced by the state and a sense of vengeance left unfulfilled, providing no closure for the families of victims. The death penalty is appropriate when crimes have create victims that have been heinously harmed, the lives of offenders taken in order to provide justice and closure to the families.
According to Amnesty International, in 1977 there were only 16 countries in the world that did not support the death penalty. By 2009, this number had ballooned up to 139. Only 18 countries executed prisoners in 2009. China executed thousands of their prisoners, but because they will not release statistics to the world community, the exact number is unknown. Iran executed 388, Iraq executed 120, Saudi Arabia executed 69, and the United States executed 52 prisoners from death row. The United States was the only Western democracy to have put prisoners to death in 2009. The type of community that the United States tries to become, the enlightened society that is always the goal of our people, does not seem to be congruous with the use of the death penalty as a form of punishment. The other countries on the list seem to have no ideological parallels to the founding principles that formed the philosophy of the United States.
According to a 2008 Gallop poll (Appendix 1), the people of the United States have been in steady support of the death penalty, except for a short window between 1963 and 1967 where the support of the death penalty wavered slightly and the supporting citizens and those against the death penalty crossed with both having figures in the forty percent range. In 2008, 64% of the poll responders supported the death penalty with 30% being against the state sanctioned executions, with 8% having no opinion. Despite the global opinion that the death penalty is beyond the rights of the state to take actions, the people of the United States support the death penalty. Execution and the World
The divergence of the opinions of the world in comparison to the United States would appear to state something about the culture that makes it different than other Western nations. There are some who might say that this support is indicative of the level of maturity within the U.S. and that the larger community has not attained the level of enlightenment needed to live through compassion and mercy (Barak 170). According to Bae, however, the European opinion polls actually reflect similar statistics in support of the death penalty, despite the fact that those states have all abolished capital punishment as a form of justice (100). Therefore, it...