Ethical debate on the death penalty

Topics: Ethics, Death Penalty, Morality Pages: 4 (1242 words) Published: April 7, 2014


As human beings, we are often faced with ethical dilemmas that we consider wrong according to our own code of ethics. No one person is right or wrong for having an opinion. Our own personal code of ethics helps us shape the people we are today and defines our personality. From the time we are able to comprehend what death and murder was, we knew and understood that it was morally wrong and was stated so in the Bible. We ask ourselves this question: “Do any of us have the right to determine who gets the death penalty?” Many are against the death penalty, some are for it, it all depends what side fits their code of personal ethics. Personally, I am against it. The Bible states that “Thou shall not kill,” and I take that literally, no matter what the situation or circumstance.

As early as 1700 BC was the first known death penalty laws. The Code of Hammurabi was a legal document from ancient Babylonia. Twenty-five crimes were punishable by death. Some of these crimes included adultery and helping slaves escape. Murder was not considered a punishable crime at this point. 1608 was when murder became a serious enough crime to get the death penalty. The Founding Fathers had included provisions to the Constitution including the Fifth and the Eighth Amendment, and the basic principles of government executions remained allowable under each separate state and federal governments. Thomas Jefferson attempted to change Virginia’s death penalty laws so that murder and treason were the only punishable offenses, but after a stormy debate, legislature defeated the bill by only one vote. Each state could choose to use the death penalty as a punishment if they wished. In 1790, the first person to be executed under US federal law was Thomas Bird (Procon.org 2nd para). Since then, many have fought to eliminate the death penalty, arguing that it is inhumane and cruel. As with any other ethical issues, there will be two sides of every story. I would like to...

References: Berns, W. (1979). For capital punishment: Crime and the morality of the death penalty (p.91). New York: Basic Books
Forst, B.E. (1976). Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Cross-State Analysis of the 1960’s, The. Minn. L. Rev., 61, 743.
Haines, H. H., & Haines, H. (1996). Against capital punishment: The anti-death penalty movement in America, 1972-1994 (p.7). New York: Oxford University Press.
Zimring, F.E. (2004). The contradictions of American capital punishment (pp. 89-118). New York: Oxford University Press.
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