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Death Penalty Essays

According to Dezhbakhsh, Rubin and Shepherd, “in recent decades, the debate has heated up in the U. S. following the Supreme Court-imposed moratorium on capital punishment. Currently, several states are considering a change in their policies regarding the status of the death penalty (1). ” Sidhu states that the death penalty has been met with controversy even from the beginning of the development of the United States of America (454). There have been several arguments that have been espoused in order to denounce the implementation of the death penalty in the country.
Some of such arguments include concepts of public policy as well as law enforcement. However, it is clear that the bulk of the debates regarding the matter rely on moral considerations as well as the impacts of such school of thoughts on the development of the country in terms of societal considerations. The death penalty is a legal sanction in certain jurisdictions but there are some countries that detest such practice, disapproving the same as an inhuman practice for punishing crimes. There are several arguments that support the implementation of the death penalty and there are also several arguments that are against it.
Sidhu writes that “There is perhaps a no more divisive and significant issue in the United States than that of capital punishment. The debate over the death penalty is of vital import and intrigue because it involves death, the termination of an individual’s known existence. Not only does the death penalty involve death, but more properly, it involves the deliberate taking of life. It is precisely because the death penalty involves the willful extermination of human life that the debate must be thoroughly examined.
This article attempts to add this needed clarity by evaluating the various arguments against the death penalty (455). ” Such reason may be also the primary reason why there are so many who oppose the implementation of the death penalty as a means of dealing with crime. In this essay, the arguments against the death penalty will be discussed. According to Sunstein and Vermeule “many people believe capital punishment is morally impermissible. In their view, executions are inherently cruel and barbaric. Often they add that capital punishment is not, and cannot be, imposed in a way that adheres to the rule of law.
They contend that as administered, capital punishment ensures the execution of (some) innocent people, and also that it reflects arbitrariness, in the form of random or invidious infliction of the ultimate penalty (1). ” The bulk of the argument against the death penalty relies on the morality of the act. Many use religion as a means to measure whether or not it is right to take away someone’s life for committing the worst form of crimes. However, some use legal provisions such as the protection of the right to life found in the Constitution as well as international agreements and conventions.
The protection of the human life is also found in the basics of human rights in the international community. However, the arguments against the implementation of the death penalty as a means of capital punishment do not rely merely on morality. Sidhu states that one of the arguments against the death penalty involves the costs that are related to the implementation of such means of punishment (455). The implementation of the death penalty should be done in such a means that affords a humane way of taking away the life of the accused.
In today’s world of technological advances as well as medical development, there have been means that allow for a more humane way of pushing through with the death penalty. In certain states the lethal injection is made the means of carrying out such punishment. In the use of such methods, however, there are certain costs that are entailed. The procedure requires a specialized room to be used for the execution of the penalty. The procedure also entails the purchase and storage of certain chemicals and substances to induce death.
All such elements cost the government substantial amounts. Such amounts are taken from public funds which could be used for other more relevant projects to help improve the correctional facilities in the country. According to Sidhu, the most important argument to consider is the concept of death penalty as a just form of punishment. Hence, “Whether death is a just punishment can be reframed as the following inquiry: whether a person—regardless of the means of execution, cost, internal or international popularity, rate of imposition, and deterrent effect—deserves to die.
The justness of capital punishment thus turns on exclusively on the question of whether it is deserved (492). ” In this context, there are some who argue that murder or the taking of a life is one of the crimes being punished by law. The act involves the taking of the life of another and is globally considered as a crime. The elements of such crime shall match that of the imposition of the death penalty as a form of punishment. In this line of argument, it is asked why it would be legal for the government to take a life when it punishes its citizens for performing such act.
Steiker and Steiker claim that an “argument in the death penalty debate focuses on another aspect of contemporary capital practice distinctive to our time: the prolonged interval between the pronouncement of sentence and execution, often endured by the condemned in essentially solitary confinement (662). ” According to the authors, a lengthy imprisonment plus the thought of death at the end of such sentence makes the process one of torture for the convict. The alternative to the death penalty is lifetime imprisonment.
Such means of punishment will be a more welcome relief since it only entails lengthy imprisonment without the fear of death. Also, there has been documentation of the situation in the penal institutions in the country. The death row convicts are likely segregated from the inmates that are not subject to the capital punishment. The conditions in such penal institutions are usually not at par with the conditions of modern facilities. Such convicts must not only endure the length of imprisonment but must also endure the harsh conditions in such facilities.
In past cases, the Supreme Court held that a law that allowed the convict to be placed in solitary confinement instead of in a regular prison cell prior to his execution and a law that allowed the jail warden to decide when to push through with the execution was invalid for being contrary to the Ex Post Facto Law found in the Constitution. Such changes in the sentence of the convict were held to be additions to the death penalty that was already chosen for the accused. Such “greater penalty” is one not allowed in law.
Goel reports that “By reviewing the statutes, precedents and penalties of international criminal tribunals, one would recognize clearly that the death penalty is not permitted in any of these international forums. As an example, Article 77 of the International Criminal Court specifically excludes the death penalty as a punishment for crimes against humanity or any other international offenses. The Court is allowed to only impose imprisonment for a specified term not to exceed thirty years or a term for life “when justified by the extreme gravity of the crime and the individual circumstances of the convicted person (154). Such argument has also been one of the leading arguments against the imposition of the death penalty. The international community has entered into several agreements concerning several aspects of the government of a country. There have been conventions on peace and on human rights. Such conventions are binding on the member states and have been adhered to by such countries. There is an international trend that shows the deviation from the traditional capital punishment of death.
International tribunals are not allowed to impose the death penalty and are only limited to the imposition of life imprisonment as the capital punishment. Such move towards the deviation of the death penalty shall be a significant influence on how the country should choose its own form of capital punishment. Another argument, against the death penalty is that “the death penalty is often opposed on the grounds that, because every criminal justice system is fallible, innocent people will inevitably be executed by mistake, and the death penalty is both irreversible and more severe than lesser punishments.
There is a virtual certainty that genuinely innocent people will be executed and that there is no possible way of compensating them for this miscarriage of justice (Goel, 158). ” Under such argument, it can be said that the chance of putting innocent people to death even if limited is too great a risk to bear. The criminal justice system is designed in order to punish the perpetrators of cremes in a way that will serve as a deterrent. However, if the system also allows for the killing of innocent people then there will be too much room for error.
It would not be an effective criminal system if such is allowed. In a study by Dezhbakhsh, Rubin and Shepherd they conclude that, “finally, a cautionary note is in order: deterrence reflects social benefits associated with the death penalty, but one should also weigh in the corresponding social costs. These include the regret associated with the irreversible decision to execute an innocent person. Moreover, issues such as the possible unfairness of the justice system and discrimination need to be considered when making a social decision regarding capital punishment.
Nonetheless, our results indicate that there are substantial costs in deciding not to use capital punishment as a deterrent (31). ” It is clear that the impacts of the death penalty are not merely one of deterrence of crime. Although such cause is one of the primary reasons for the enforcement of laws and criminal justice system procedures, it should also be important to consider the impacts of such laws on society. In sum, there are several arguments against the implementation of the death penalty. Aside from moral considerations, there are arguments based on societal and economic considerations as well.
Dezhbakhsh, Rubin and Shepherd report that “in recent decades, the debate has heated up in the U. S. following the Supreme Court-imposed moratorium on capital punishment. Currently, several states are considering a change in their policies regarding the status of the death penalty (1). ” In fact, Sidhu agrees that the death penalty has been met with controversy even from the beginning of the development of the United States of America (454). The bulk of the argument against the death penalty relies on the morality of the act.
Many use religion as a means to measure whether or not it is right to take away someone’s life for committing the worst form of crimes. However, some use legal provisions such as the protection of the right to life found in the Constitution as well as international agreements and conventions. The protection of the human life is also found in the basics of human rights in the international community. However, the arguments against the implementation of the death penalty as a means of capital punishment do not rely merely on morality.
From the foregoing, it can be said that the death penalty should be abolished as a means of capital punishment for criminals. The death penalty is often regarded as an immoral and barbaric means of punishment. Such arguments stem from the fact that the convict will have to endure lengthy imprisonment in harsh conditions before even being executed. The length of time that the convict spends in such conditions may affect him psychologically and may be harsher than physically inflicted punishments.
Although the modern means of conducting the death penalty are less painful and more accurate, the methods have now become more expensive. With the number of convicts put on death row, the state shall spend a substantial amount of money on such procedures. Aside from such arguments, many are also of the belief that the trends in the international community should also be considered. For example, the laws governing international tribunals have already denounced the death penalty even for the worst form of crimes.
The sentiments of the international community should also be considered in the formulation of a just and equitable means of capital punishment. One of the main reasons for the law enforcement policies is to deter citizens from committing crimes. However, there are also chances that those who are put under the capital punishment are actually innocent. If the system also allows for the killing of innocent people then there will be too much room for error. It would not be an effective criminal system if such is allowed.

Works Cited
Dezhbakhsh, Hashem, Paul H. Rubin and Joanna M. Shepherd. Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? October 2003. 22 November 2012 . Goel, Vaibhav. “Capital punishment: A human right examination case.” International NGO Journal 3.9 (2008): 152-161. Sidhu, Dawinder S. “Death as Punishment: An Analysis of Eight Arguments Against Capital Punishment.” Wes Virginia Law Review 111 (2008): 453 – 495. Steiker, Carol and Jordan Steiker. “Capital Punishment: A Century of Discourteous Debate.” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 100.3 (2010): 643-390. Sunstein, Cass R. and Adrian Vermeule. “Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The.” Public Law And Legal Theory Research Paper Series (2005): 1-53.

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