Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper
While capital punishment has been one of the most feared things in our time, it is still being questioned if it’s unconstitutional. The death penalty is being enforced in more than 100 countries. And throughout the history, the death penalty is usually a result of crimes of either rape or murder. Although we carry out the punishment in a better manner than other countries, its safe to say that the American public’s opinion toward the issue is divided. Some people believe that the procedure is cruel and unusual punishment, and not a deterrence. They have also been cases where many innocent people were put to death. Another argument that rises with capital punishment is the discrimination with black males. Studies show that about a 90% of males that are sentenced to death row are black. However, anyone who knows about law or the criminal justice system and its inner workings, could put up a very strong argument that capital punishment is not doing what it should be doing in reference to the deterrence point of view.
There has been substantial evidence to show that courts have been impulsive, racially biased, and unfair in the way in which they have sentence some people to prison while others to death. In the 1930 era, African American only made up about a 12% of the United States population but yet in that time they made up a 51% of the people executed. One can also argue that minorities commit the crimes that fit the death penalty more often than whites, but studies show that that is not the case either. What studies have shown is that a jury is more likely to impose the death penalty on blacks than on whites accused of the same offense. That brings up a very strong argument; big majorities of the people on death row come from a low-income background that are not very well educated. Classifying these people as the lower class. And the majority of people that make up the lower class are minorities. That Simply states one thing, whites may have more money to get a better layer while those minorities who don’t have the privileges to get a private layer, that can explain part of the reason of why white are sentence to death row in a less frequent rate than minorities.
The death penalty has been opposed by the people since the beginning of its era. One can argue that capital punishment is in violation of a person’s right to live. Since 1976, when the Supreme Court declared that the death penalty was not against the constitution, The Supreme Court has heard many cases dealing with these amendments. A lot of times people who are apposed to the death penalty bring up the eight amendment of the United States Constitution which “prohibits cruel and unusual punishment”. Some people say that the death penalty is a cruel and unusual act, while others argue that the types of executions that are used are horrible ways to die. A question arises from that argument. If a different type of execution were to be brought up would it then be all right to people to rest? In Louisiana, Patrick Sonnier was sent to the electric chair in April 1984. The death certificate stated that it took four minutes for Sonnier to die despite the 1,900 volts of electricity that passed through his body (Prejean 173).
The amendments of the constitution were created to protect the rights of the citizens and against the excessive government force. The fourteenth amendment guarantees individuals the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. While the eight amendment protects people from cruel and unusual punishment.
Those who are in favor of the death penalty will tell you that it is an excellent way to deter crime, and it is not a cruel and unusual punishment. However, there has been no statistical evidence proving that the death penalty reduces crimes in the states that the death penalty is enforced. And also in the opposite side of the argument, there has not been any statistical connection between the existence of the death penalty and the number of murders in a given area. States that show an absence of the death penalty do not show a significant increase of the crimes that applies to the death penalty. A study done by the New York Times, it shows that three Texas cities are among the top 25 cities in the U.S. for homicide, and this is with Texas having the death penalty. The study also showed that New York had no city in the top 25, and this was with New York not having the death penalty at that time.
The public may be misinformed about the facts of the death penalty and whether it deters crime or not. “There is, in fact, a little direct evidence on public goals of punishment or the way in which these goals influenced support for capital punishment” (Warr p.g.95). Most people say that retribution is the primary purpose of punishment, which increases with age, but decreases with education attainment. These are the people who are more likely to favor the death penalty, but they are only a minority of the people who support the death penalty.
Social scientist have been trying to understand the support of capital punishment. Whether it links to personality characteristics (such as authoritarianism or conservatism), or to whether they were given corporal punishment as a child. Lately, social scientists have been trying to link it to many different reasons such as “rising crime rates (real or perceived), fear of victimization, or changes in the risks of victimization” (Warr p.g. 96). Legal sanctions may be aiming at deterrence, retribution or incapacitation. You wouldn’t expect a person who is in favor of rehabilitation to be a believer of the death penalty. And if people say that they are in favor of the death penalty because of deterrence or incapacitation, they usually don’t know the “direct measures or motives” (Warr p.g 96).
A study done in 1980 in Seattle shows that 42% of the 339 returned mail surveys chose retribution as their number one or primary goal of punishment. And 66% chose retribution as their first, second or third most important reason of punishment (Warr p.g. 102). One problem with the study is that there was an under representation of black citizens (2% of respondents were black). If this were to directly relate to the entire population of the United States, the majority of the people would feel that retribution is the main purpose of the death penalty, not deterrence.
“Social scientists have drawn a negative conclusion about the deterrent effect of the death penalty based upon two sorts: (1) longitudinal analyses of homicide rates in jurisdictions before and after the abolition and/or reinstatement of capital punishment and (2) comparative analyses of homicide rates for abolitionist and retentionist jurisdictions. Contrary to the deterrence hypothesis, these studies have typically shown (1) no significant change in homicides that can be attributed to the abolition or reinstatement of capital punishment and (2) homicide rates to be the same or even higher in death penalty jurisdictions” (Bailey p.g. 608-609). Basically what this is saying is that the death penalty does not have any influence what so ever on homicide rates. In fact, some states that have formally had the death penalty the abolished it, the homicide rates tend to be higher for the former jurisdictions”.
States such as Florida have spent an average of $3.2 million a person since 1972. California spends almost $100 millions a year on capital punishment cases. And New York looking at something within that range as well. The death penalty has been in affect in the state of new jersey for over 13 years now, and its costing taxpayers a lot of money. Some say why have the death penalty if no one gets executed? And others say that capital punishment is uncivilized in theory and unfair in practice; so why do we stoop down to that level of murder?
Another big question that has been asked with police officers in mind is does the death penalty provide these police with extra protection while they are on duty? A study was conducted between 1961-1971 in the fifty states measuring the yearly cross-sectional analysis given by the FBI. They wanted to see if they were a straight correlation between states with the death penalty and police killings. A good example of this could be for instance, if someone was to commit a crime and were being chased by the police, if they know that their crime could make them eligible for the death penalty then they would probably be likely to do almost anything not to get caught. The data was retrieved from unpublished figures complied by the FBI. The killings recorded are only from lethal assaults, not including accidents or other natural causes of death.
What the deterrence hypothesis would say is that the states with the death penalty would have a much lower rate of police killings. What they found out was that over the ten years, the offense rate was very similar over the span of the study. These findings lend no support to the deterrence hypothesis. Even though some police spokesman may say that the death penalty does add a level of protection for the police officer, social scientists say that the presence of the death penalty doesn’t protect against police homicides at all.
The death penalty is ultimately cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment and violates the rights of life. Since 1977 the methods used to “exterminate criminals” differ somewhat. Out of 220 inmates, 106 were electrocuted, 103 were put to rest by lethal injection, 9 by the gas chamber, 1 by a firing squad, and 1 by hanging. Abolitionists believe that this society cannot mirror the brutality of the crimes committed by the convicted person because of its judicial murder.
Capital Punishment is brutal act that does not enhance respect for human life. Abolitionists also believe that “the state is a teacher and when it kills, it teaches vengeance and hatred. If the barbaric practice of execution has been abolished in most major industrial countries, even in South Africa, so can the so can the United States. An execution is a dramatic, public spectacle of official, violent homicide that teaches the permissibility of killing people to solve a social problems-the worst possible example to set for our society. Will society put money into schools, rehabilitation, community services, and jobs, or will it bankrupt itself with more prisons and more victims? The death penalty is no solution to violence.