The death penalty was first instituted and used over 375 years ago. Since then, many opinions have formed regarding how the death penalty should be applied, if at all. Some people believe capital punishment to be "cruel and unusual punishment," a blatant violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U. S.
Constitution. Others believe that a person, who kills, should himself or herself be killed. This statement alone raises the question, "How should they be killed?" The question that should really be asked is, "Should we kill at all?" Would it be morally correct to kill someone just because they have killed someone else? The U. S.
death penalty has been a means for punishment since 18 th century B. C. In ancient times, the death penalty was a consequence for a number of crimes, not only for crimes involving murder. The death penalty was administered for offences such as not honoring the Sabbath, cursing one's parents, practicing a different religion, engaging in prostitution, homosexual behavior, blasphemy, and premarital sex. The first known execution in the United States was in 1622 when Daniel Frank was put to death in the Colony of Virginia for the crime of theft. Since then the death penalty has almost always been a factor of the criminal justice system.
Dr. Benjamin Rush one of the signers of the U. S. Declaration of Independence, opinions influenced Pennsylvania to become the first state in the U. S. to differentiate between different types of killings and to implement the death penalty solely for murder in the first degree, which is how it is mainly used today.
The death penalty has always been a controversial issue in society. This is due to the fact that people only see the act of killing as opposed to justice being served for a notorious act of crime. The death penalty was found to be an unethical practice that promotes a violent and inhumane society in which killing is considered okay. One of the strongest argument states argues is that the death penalty does not deter murder. The deterrence argument suggests that executing murderers will decrease the homicide rate by causing other potential murderers to not commit murder for fear of being executed. Also, the murderer who is executed can never kill again.
The death penalty operates as a uniquely effective deterrent to serious crime. Although some abolitionists may differ, some people believe it is always better to waste the life of a convicted murderer than to risk the life of an innocent person who may become a future murder victim. Even if the death penalty deters one criminal from committing a serious crime, then deterrence is working. Some of the major arguments used by those opposed to the death penalty include: Murder is always wrong.
The death penalty is murder, therefore the death penalty is wrong. Then, there is the greater value of human life wich some believe that ^aEURoeHuman life has intrinsic value, even if a person has murdered another individual. The death penalty denies the sacredness of human life. Life is so precious that nobody should ever be killed, even by the state^aEUR. Other reasons for opposing the death penalty are possible chance of error. There is no way to right an execution if new evidence proved the victim innocent of the crime that her are she died for.
The death penalty is also said to be unfair and that the mentally ill, poor, males, and minorities are over-represented among those executed. One pilot study of over two-dozen convicted criminals on death row found that all had been so seriously abused during childhood that they probably all suffered from brain damage. Also women convicted of murder are almost never executed; that is a penalty that is almost entirely reserved for men. A 1986 study in Georgia showed that persons who killed "whites were four times more likely to be sentenced to death than convicted killers of non-whites." One argument that comes up when deciding if the death penalty is just or un-just is the position of the condemned, family. The family of the prisoner is victimized and punished by having their loved one murdered by the hand of the state. ^aEURoeErnest van den Haag presents an argument regarding the deterrent effect of the death penalty.
Haag maintains that if we retain the death penalty, we run the risk of needlessly eradicating the lives of innocent convicted murderers. Given this argument, maybe the death penalty is not a uniquely effective deterrent. On the other hand, if we abolish the death penalty, we run the risk of innocent people becoming future murder victims. Maybe the death penalty is a uniquely effective deterrent. Faced with such uncertainty, Haag maintains that it is our moral obligation to retain the death penalty. "We have no right to risk additional future victims of murder for the sake of sparing convicted murderers." Burton M.
Leiser is a retention ist who responded rather directly to Justice Marshall's dissent in Gregg v. Georgia. Leiser believes that the death penalty is the ultimate condemnation, morally and legally, of a person who has, through his / her actions, demonstrated his / her utter contempt for human worth and dignity and for the most fundamental rules of human society. ^aEURoeHow does one morally condemn a serial killer who is insane? Does the criminal really care about human worth and / or dignity after killing ten innocent people on a New York Subway? I would think not. ^aEUR Another supporter of the death penalty, Sidney Hook, writes about the death penalty for two diverse cases. The first case is when some criminal defendants, when sentenced to a life in prison, may in fact prefer the death penalty.
Hook believes that their wishes should be granted. The other case is for repeat offenders. "Some convicted murderers, having served one prison sentence, murder again." When a repeat offender is found to be sane, and when there is a reasonable probability that they will attempt to murder again, the death penalty should be imposed. Although the arguments against the death penalty are strong a great majority of Americans in the US support the death penalty for reasons like: "an eye for an eye" which commonly translates into ^aEURoewhat you do to me I will do to you^aEUR.
Also if one who kills is killed he or she are unable to kill again. Justice is a reason commonly use for pro death penalty. Justice is said to be server when caption punishment is brough upon the convicted. Many people feel that killing convicted murderers will satisfy their need for justice and or vengeance. They feel that certain crimes are so heinous that executing the criminal is the only reasonable response. This theory applies mainly to the friend and family of murdered victims whom feel that this is the only way for them to have peace.
Justice Thurgood Marshall upheld his previous claims that any administration of the death penalty was unconstitutional. Justice Marshall felt that is was unconstitutional to kill a criminal whether he / she was killed by a painless lethal injection or stoned to death. Justice Marshall believes that "the death penalty is excessive" and the American people, if "fully informed as to the purposes of the death penalty and its liabilities, would reject it as morally unacceptable." Justice Marshall reaffirms previous arguments that society sees the death penalty as a security blanket, and not a justice being served. Author Craig R. Hanson concluded ^aEURoethe death penalty is, in itself, not ethical. There is absolutely no way a judge or jury can be sure that the right person is being sentenced to their death, unless a confession is presented.
Even if a confession is presented, it is not morally right to kill another person because they have once killed. This is not to say that I am totally against killing in society. If one must kill another person in order to protect him / herself , then I feel that killing in self-defense is justified. Killing a criminal because someone decided that they "deserve to die" is not justified.
^aEUR Today many actions against anti death penalty and pro death penalty are still underway. The majority of the anti death penalty organizations are rooted in Christianity. Religious Organizing Against the Death Penalty is a Christian based group against the death penalty and the work of the, Religious Organizing Against the Death Penalty Project comprises of four central components: Education, Commitment, Ministry, and Action. There are several organization all over the world that promote pro-life decisions and are still trying to find an away to abolish the death penalty. Still many people believe that a person should suffer the consequence of the crime committed. Even though many people support the death penalty there are very few organizations taking action to defend their views.
Weather the death penalty is eliminated or continues to be the end of brutal crime this topic will always be a controversial issue. No matter which side you chose to defend the question still remains; would it be morally correct to kill someone just because they have killed someone else?