Death Penalty versus Life Imprisonment
In the United States, if one is found guilty of a crime of the highest degree, then one faces one of two consequences of utmost severity, the death penalty or life imprisonment. Either way, a life is taken away, literally or figuratively speaking. Through sentencing of the death penalty, life will come to an end by lethal injection, electrocution, the gas chamber, hanging, or firing squad. Through sentencing of life imprisonment, life will come to an end and mere solitary existence within the walls of a prison will replace it until death eventually comes. The magnitude of these two punishments for crimes committed is without question, as are the similarities and differences that exist between the two practices. Capital punishment, also called the "death penalty," is the pre-meditated and planned taking of a human life by the government in response to a crime committed by the convicted person. The United States has limited use of the death penalty to cases of aggravated murder and on rare occasion to felony murder. On the other hand, life imprisonment can be the sentence for crimes involving not only murder but also high treason, severe or violent cases of drug dealing or human trafficking, or aggravated cases of burglary or robbery resulting in death or grievous bodily harm. Once convicted, an individual serving life imprisonment will remain in jail for the rest of his or her life until his or her death. Prosecutors state that imposing the death penalty is a crime deterrent. Prosecutors are also in support for the death penalty because it gives them a bargaining tool in the plea bargain process. Even if one believes that the defendant deserves life in prison, without the threat of a death sentence, there may be no way of getting him or her to plead guilty. Law enforcement agencies reject the notion of the death penalty being a crime deterrent. They advocate that its cost far outweighs its benefit and consider it to be one...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document