The Death Penalty

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Capital Punishment: Justice or Injustice?


Intro: Give a description regarding the history of the death penalty.

Paragraph 1: Discuss the purpose of the capital punishment. Give the when, where, and why of the death penalty.

Paragraph 2: Talk about the types of people put to death and the different forms of the death penalty.

Paragraph3: Discuss and reference all the supporters of the death penalty and the reasons why they support death.

Paragraph 4: Discuss and reference all the supporters of abolishing the death penalty and their reasons why the support life.

Paragraph 5: Discuss my views of the death penalty and any calls to action to support this view.


Final Argument Revised

Capital Punishment: Justice or Injustice?

Calvin D. Johnson

Dr. Kim Carter-Cram
October 31st, 2007

Has anyone asked your views on capital punishment? The words lethal injection, electrocution, and gas chamber are synonymous with the death penalty. Even in today’s society of die-hard liberals, right-winged republicans, and middle of the road democrats the capital punishment argument is still a squeamish topic that incites strong emotional debate from abolitionists and supporters.

In an online article titled “The History of the Death Penalty, Part I” it states:
The history of the death penalty laws date back as far as the Eighteenth Century B.C. in the code of king Hammaurabi of Babylon times. (p. 1) Capital punishment appealed to other countries like Rome, Greece, and Britain. These countries had public gatherings that showcased forms of death to include crucifixion, impalement, drowning, boiling, burning, and beheadings for such crimes as witchcraft, treason, stealing, immorality, infidelity, and religion, just to name a few. During these times, capital punishment happened to men, women and children, regardless of color, class or privilege. The ideology of public executions is discussed in a book by Stuart Banner titled “The Death Penalty: An American History.” In a review of the book Steven Martinovich states:

Up until the early 1900s, executions were public displays that sometimes drew thousands of people to witness the display of state power. Before the executions moved behind the walls of prisons, those public displays were meant to cleanse the community and allow its residents to join in the condemnation of the criminals’ actions. As well as giving criminals an opportunity to repent for their crimes, public executions provided a clear message to potential lawbreakers of what could happen to them if they broke society’s rules. (2002, p. 66)

As barbaric as these forms of death may seem, little changed over the course of the next few decades. Although some states abolished the death penalty in the mid-Nineteenth Century, it wasn’t actually until the first half of the Twentieth Century that marked the beginning of the “Progressive Period” of reform in the United States. In the 1970s, at the height of racial inequality and racial discrimination, the Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment as then practiced was unconstitutional. This ruling was hard felt by constituents in the southern states. An article by Alan Rogers clearly defines this sentiment:

Convinced that the death penalty was a means of reasserting local dominion over their black fellow citizens, white legislators in the South took the lead in restoring the death penalty. In Gregg v. Georgia (1976) the court found the revised death penalty statutes constitutional. State-ordered executions began again in thirty-eight states. (2000, p. 648)

Since this landmark decision, more than 580 people have been executed in the United States. Over fifty percent of those have been killed since 1992. More than three-quarters of all executions since 1976 took place in southern states, with Texas and Virginia respectively holding the number one and two...
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