Essay, Research Paper: Capitol Punishment

Legal Issues

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Currently, the United States is the only western democracy that still has
capital punishment on the books. Even South Africa has eliminated it. The United
States is left with such company as Libya, Iran, and Iraq. America, where
freedom and democracy are firmly entrenched, remains committed to this brutal
and dehumanizing form of punishment. The goal of the death penalty is revenge.
It is not a deterrence of crime, as the death penalty has been proven not to
deter crime. Capital punishment is nothing more than an outlet for the bloodlust
of the American people. Capital punishment is unjust, and it is not an effective
deterrent of crime. Does the government have the right to kill? A policeman
defending the safety of the public by firing on an armed and dangerous criminal
might have that right. Suppose we apply the same standards to the government
that we have for civilians. A civilian at home can legally shoot at an intruder,
but if the civilian catches the intruder, incapacitates him, and then shoots him
that act would be considered murder. That is what capital punishment is--murder.
Also, capital punishment is an unjust punishment. Currently, the death penalty
is divided along racial lines. In Georgia, a person accused of killing a white
person was 4.3 times more likely to be sentenced to death than a person accused
of killing a black person (Hood 25). Arkansas, Illinois, North Carolina, and
Mississippi showed similar statistics. Also, each year, only two percent of
death sentences are given to women. Since 1608, three percent of the 19,000
confirmed executions in the United States were women (Hood 37). Finally, the
death penalty does not deter crime. Proponents for the death penalty argue that
the death penalty deters violent crimes. Statistics show the opposite. The
United States is the only Western nation that still allows the death penalty,
and it still has one of the highest crime rates. In the 1980's, the death
penalty states averaged an annual rate of 7.5 criminal homicides per 100,000
crimes while abolition states averaged a rate of 7.4 criminal homicides per
100,000 crimes (Greenberg 25). Murder was more common in states with the death
penalty. In a nationwide survey of police chiefs and sheriffs, capital
punishment was ranked last as a way of reducing crime (Greenberg 26). Also, the
theory behind the deterrence doctrine is flawed itself. Murderers do not examine
risk charts before they kill. Being criminal is inherently irrational. Life
imprisonment ought to deter a rational person. No criminal commits a crime
thinking that he will be caught. The death penalty is wrong, unfair, and is
proven not to deter crime. Coretta Scott King spoke out against the death
penalty saying that: As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the
victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the
death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not
redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the
tacking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder (Amnesty

BibliographyAmnesty International Report. The Death Penalty. England: Amnesty
International Publications, 1979. Greenberg, Jack. Taking Sides. Boston: The
Dushkin Publishing Group, March 1995. Hood, Roger. The Death Penalty: A World
Wide Perspective. Oxford: Clarendon Press, May 1989.
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