Essay, Research Paper: Capital Punishment

Legal Issues

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the past, people have invariably felt that if they had been wronged in some
way, it was his or her right to take vengeance on the person that had wronged
them. This mentality still exists, even today, but in a lesser form because the
law has now outlined a person's rights and developed punishments that conform to
those rights, yet allow for the retribution for their crime. However, some feel
that those laws and punishments are too lax and criminals of today take
advantage of them, i.e. organized crime. Knowing very well that the punishments
for their crime, whether it is murder, theft, or any other number of criminal
activities, will be so negligible that it may be well worth their risk. Although
in the past, the number of crimes that were subjected to capital punishment,
defined simply as the death penalty for a crime, were outrageous. This leads to
the reason that capital punishment should be legal in all states. Amendments
were made to reflect the changes in the society's views on the morality of
capital punishment. That resulted in the narrowing down of the list of one
hundred crimes to twelve, punishable by the death penalty in 1833, and in 1869
it was cut down yet again to just three: treason, rape, and murder because of
violent nature of these crimes (Steele). These crimes, even today, are still
viewed as violent and should be punished with the highest degree of discipline
available to achieve justice. After much public pressure, capital punishment was
suspended on a trial run in 1967. This proved to be ineffective, because even
though the law stipulated that crime such as treason or the murders of law
enforcement agents were still to be subjected to the death penalty. The federal
cabinet continued to commute those criminals from death to life sentences, hence
the law was not being followed and justice was not being served. This soon was
followed with capital punishment's abolishment in 1976, as a formal declaration
of what was already happening or rather what was not happening. It is felt that
because of this and the fact that there had not been an execution since 1967,
that today's current form of punishments are no longer a sufficient deterrent
for such serious crimes and have contributed to an ever rising crime rate
(Steele). So, this is where the real issue of whether or not capital punishment
should exist begins and such a controversial issue could be best understood if
we looked at capital punishment in a perspective of how it fulfils or does not
fulfil society's ideas of punishment. Is not one of the four fundamental
objectives behind punishment retribution? The sentencing objective based on the
principle of "an-eye-for-an-eye", which means that what one person has
done to another should also be done to that person in return. Is that not
justified, especially in cases of premeditated murder of another human begin,
another life? Does capital punishment not act as a deterrent? Does it not
threaten with an imposition of a penalty for the commission of an act considered
wrong by society? Does capital punishment remove criminals from society so that
they cannot repeat their offence or commit other offences against society?
Doesn't capital punishment follow the above three objectives well? Most people
would say it does. But then, of course, people who support the abolishment of
capital punishment would ask about rehabilitation, the re-training of prisoners
with an employable skill for use when they are released. Not only is it
expensive to re-train and house criminals, but with some, it is just not
possible, because they are hardened criminals and will not change. For those
people, it is just not worth the effort and the taxpayers' money to even attempt
to reform them. Also, another point to consider is that today prison terms are
not enough. Many people are allowed out early on parole and/or remission
resulting in criminals just serving one third of their prison terms and being
released back into society. This type of quick release cannot adequately tribute
someone's death nor deter others strongly enough from repeating the same offence
that the criminals already have. As you can see, capital punishment fulfils our
society's "checklist" of what a punishment should do especially the
objective of retribution. Many people who want capital punishment restored to
all states, have also clearly stated that without a suitable punishments for
crimes, justice will never truly be served to those that have suffered damages
or losses. People will think less and less of the law and start resorting to
"private law and order". This would not only create chaos but also
raise the crime rate further with people running around on private vendettas.
Even with these facts and arguments, the government refuses to restore the death
penalty to all states. So all we can do now is protest to the government, wait,
and hope that it will not take a high crime rate and the loss of many innocent
lives.
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