Capital Punishment has been part of the criminal justice system since the earliest of times.
Over the years, there have been many standards for the execution of the death penalty. Today,
the common arguments for implementing the death penalty are that,
It is a deterrent. It removes killers. It is the ultimate
It is biblical. It satisfies the publics need
for retribution. It relieves the anguish of the victims
family (Grisham 120).
This paper will address the issue of the death penalty and is more specifically to the
audience of death penalty advocates. It will show that looking out for the state of the publics
satisfaction in the scheme of capital sentencing does not constitute serving justice. Todays
system of capital punishment is fraught with inequalities and injustices.
Realistically, imposing the
death penalty is expensive and time consuming. It has yet to be proved as a deterrent. Morally, it
is a continuation of the cycle of violence and …degrades all who are involved in its enforcement,
as well as its victim (Stewart 1).
It is a deterrent. Perhaps the most frequent argument for capital punishment is that of
deterrence. The prevailing thought is that imposition of the death penalty will act to dissuade
other criminals from committing violent acts. Numerous studies have been created in attempt to
prove this belief; however, evidence does not show that capital punishment deters crimes any
more than long prison terms do than long prison terms do (Cavanagh 4). Bryan Stevenson, the
executive director of the Montgomery based Equal Justice Initiative, has stated that..
People are increasingly realizing that the more we resort to
killing as a legitimate response to our frustration and anger
with violence, the more violent our society becomes (Frame 51).
It removes killers. One argument of death penalty advocates is that it removes killers
from our society. Life impronment would also produce this same result. Millions and millions of
taxpayer dollars have been spent on the death penalty sine 1976.
The average cost per execution
averages two and a half to three and a half million dollars. This is about three times the cost of
imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for forty years (Death Penalty
Information Center 1).
It is the ultimate punishment. The key part of the death penalty is that it involves death
— something which is rather permanent for humans. This creates a major problem when there
continue to be many instances of innocent people being sentenced to death (Tabak 38). According
to a 1987 study, twenty three people who were innocent of the crimes for which they were
convicted were executed between 1900 and 1985 (Long 79).
A report by the House Judiciary
Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights shows that seventy people have been released
from death row with evidence of their innocence since 1970 (Death Penalty Information Center
1). These death penalty errors are irreversible. Until human judgment becomes infallible, this
problem alone is reason enough to abolish the death penalty at the hands of the state more
dedicated to vengeance than to truth and justice. In our legal system, there exists numerous ways
in which justice might be poorly served for a recipient of the death sentence. Foremost is in the
handling of his own defense counsel. In the event that a defendant is without counsel, a lawyer
will be provided.
Attorneys appointed to represent indigent capital defendants frequently lack
the qualities necessary to provide a competent defense and sometimes have exhibited such poor
character that they have subsequently been disbarred (Tabak 37). With payment caps or court
determined sums of, for example, five dollars an hour, there is not much incentive for a lawyer to
spend a great deal of time representing a capital defendant. In other words, “Capital punishment
means them without the capital gets the punishment (Frame 5).”
It is biblical. This concept is based on an eye for an eye scripture of the Old Testament.
This belief is morally bankrupt.
Why do governments kill people to show that killing people is
wrong? Humanity becomes associated with murderers when it replicates their deeds. Would
society allow rape as the penalty for rape or the burning of an arsonists home as the penalty for
arson? The state should never have the power to murder subjects. To give the state this power
eliminates the individuals most effective shield against tyranny of the majority and is inconsistent
with democratic principles. The .