Is Capital Punishment Ever Justified?

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Capital punishment, better known as the death penalty, is the act of killing or executing a person who was found guilty of a serious crime, by the government. Capital punishment became widespread during the Middle Ages and was applied throughout Western Europe for more than two thousand years. Although, the call to abolish it started in the 18th century, some of the first countries being Venezuela in 1863, San Marino in 1865, and Costa Rica in 1877. Great Britain abolished the death penalty in 1965 and was permanently outlawed in 1969. By 2004, eighty-one countries had abolished capital punishment, but some countries in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia still use it for ordinary crimes. At present day, China and the United States apply the death penalty more frequently than other countries. Executions are considered the ultimate punishment for crime because there is no repeal from death, however; the debate whether it is justifiable is still widely disputed. First and foremost, the most significant argument against the death penalty is the risk of executing the innocent. This is because some defendants have been convicted purely based on circumstantial evidence, false eyewitness testimony, and false confessions as a result of pressurising police interrogations. Furthermore, the courts assume that public defenders who have experience only in insurance and bank fraud type cases could handle capital cases and thus defendants on trial for murder receive poor legal council. Two Justices on the United States Supreme Court publicly admitted on the pervasive inadequacy of appointed counsel in capital cases. Those who are unable to obtain adequate legal assistance are therefore at a disadvantage as explained by Hugo Bedau and Paul Cassel in their debate against the death penalty in 2004. The pair said, “Support for capital punishment necessarily means accepting a punishment that is applied unequally and that largely condemns poor and disfavored defendants”. Public...
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