The Just and Fairness of the Death Penalty

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The Just and Fairness of the Death Penalty
Lori Pope
PHI 103
Daniel Haynes
November 9, 2011

Is the death penalty just and applied fairly? One of the great debates of our time is the legality and use of the death penalty. The death penalty is something that many people do not have a clear decision on. Some insist that the death penalty acts to deter a capital crime, while others feel that it has not effect whether a capital crime is still committed.

My personal look at the death penalty is that it should be administered only in cases of particularly cruel crimes or serial crimes such as serial murder. If we administered the death penalty when the death penalty is called for maybe then people would stop before they commit the ultimate sin. If a person murders some other person then that person who is the murderer must not hold any value to the concept of life. Why should we let these people spend useless time in our prisons if we know beyond a doubt that they have indeed committed murder? If the death penalty is administered for the cases of the heinous crime of intentional murder, then maybe we can deter others from following in the same steps.

Many people pose the question in that how can we punish a murderer by putting that person to death. The answer to this question is, there really is not easy answer. No matter how much a person can explain it there is always someone else there to will argue the point and try to show how justification can be or cannot be.

U.S. Supreme Court, in Booth v. Maryland 482 U.S. 496,107 S. Ct 2529, 96 L.Ed.2d 440(1987), initially forbade the use of victim impact statements in death penalty cases. The Court reasoned that the imposition of the death penalty could be based on subjective feelings for the victim rather than the objective criteria indicating the defendant’s guilt and culpability. However, in Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808,111 S. Ct. 2597,115 L.Ed.2d 720(1991), the Court reversed itself and held that the Eight Amendment does not bar the jury from considering victim impact statements. It is believed that victim impact statements help victims overcome the emotional trauma associated with their experience by allowing them a forum in which to express their feelings. In addition, advocates of allowing statements hope that criminal offenders will realize the terrible effects that their actions have. (Group, In World of Criminal Justice, 2002) So my question that arises because of this statement is, “What do we do if they express their feelings, but still have no remorse, on the act of which they committed?” Do we just say it is okay for a murder just to say I am sorry and not punish them with more extensive punishment? Quite possibly the biggest question about the death penalty is whether or not it deters serious crimes. Groups that support the death penalty often say that it is a deterrent for the future criminals who are thinking of committing murders or other heinous crimes. To many, this is the biggest justification for or against capital punishment. It the death penalty acts as a deterrent to serious crime, then why isn’t it more widely used? If the death penalty doesn’t act as a deterrent to serious crime, then why not do away with it altogether? (Schaefer, 2009). There are many who argue that the death penalty is not a deterrent. Quite honestly, they are not thinking about what a deterrent is. The mere fact that the criminal was put to death means that they are no longer alive to commit the crime again. That is the first step of deterrence.

Retribution is another strong argument for capital punishment. Contrary to popular belief, retribution when applied to capital offenses is not the act of seeking revenge against the perpetrator. Rather, it is the theory that the punishment needs to fit the crime. If a person takes the life of another, that person‘s life should be forfeit. (ProCon.org, 2009).

It is the responsibility of...
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