Criminology/ Capital Punishment term paper 16131

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Running Head Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment

Is Capital Punishment Justified?

Ed G. Weathersbee

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Capital Punishment



Capital Punishment is the extreme penalty for crime. Such methods as drowning, stoning, hanging, and beheading have been used to carry out execution of criminals for a great variety of offenses. Modern executions are usually done by means of electrocution, the gas chamber, or a lethal injection of a drug. Hanging is still used in some places, as is execution by firing squad. The question is not how one personally feels about capital punishment, but whether or not capital punishment is justified. I say that that is a justification reserved only for one person…God.

Capital Punishment


The main reason for combating crime and enforcing punishment is to prevent the disintegration of society. In other words, the preamble to the United States Constitution uses the phrase “to insure domestic Tranquillity” to describe this goal. Over the years, different reasons have been used as justification for punishment.

Revenge is the most natural motive people have had for wanting to inflict punishment. The argument is simple, the person that has harmed someone should have harm inflicted upon him. Is this the society that we are today in modern society? Revenge is still the most common motive for the use of punishment, especially as a response to the most brutal and senseless crimes. But the revenge motive, of course, is usually left on the curb a long way from the courthouse.

The justification used in the courthouse is deterrence. Deterrence is the notion that the threat of punishment will prevent criminal activity. It presumes that individuals act rationally in their own interests and therefore will seek to escape the pain that punishment brings. Deterrence was intended for the law-abiding individual as well as those prone to criminal behavior. Evidence that it has served to diminish the extent of crime in society is minimal. If punishments do not serve to deter crime, they should be abolished.(

As pointed out by the American Civil Liberties Union, the death penalty inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantee of due process of law and the equal protection of the laws. This in itself is justification enough not to use this sort of punishment. Just break the phrase down. Cruel, yes, this is an act that even if someone were to get caught doing to an animal such as a dog or cat, would be put in prison for. Unusual, oh yeah, it isn’t very often a person gets in a chair with electricity hooked up to it or gets a shot that is going to kill him.

Capital Punishment


The moral reasons against capital punishment should be enough to do away with it, but lets look for a second at the cost. Anyone who does not know the facts about capital punishment will argue why keep someone in jail that is going to have be fed and sheltered by the tax payers, when he can be put to death, and out of the taxpayers hair. The fact is with the many trials and court appeals, putting someone to death cost extremely more that keeping him in jail for the rest of his life. Life imprisonment without parole cost an average of $750,000 to $1 million total for a maximum-security cell for 40 years. A capital punishment trial cost an average of $2.3 million in Texas and $3.2 million in Florida.( With capital punishment trials costing six times more that other murder trials in California taxpayers in California could save $90 million by abolishing capital punishment.

It is argued that capital punishment is a way to internalize cost, it doesn’t. They are able to appeal which cost double the original judicial process. Death row prisoners are commonly defended by public defenders that are paid for by the public. Once executed the accountability of capital crime may be internalized, but the cost is not. There are ways to internalize the cost of a prisoner, but he has to stay alive in order to do it. Eliminate the death penalty and implement life imprisonment without parole, because it has already been said that there is little proof that it deters capital crimes anyway. This will cut down on appeals, thus costing the taxpayers less. Let these prisoners work off the court cost and perform some sort of retribution for the family of the victim. If these prisoners refuse to do this, then inflict some sort of penalty, such as confinement until he decides to do as he is told.

The one, and most important reason for abolishing the death penalty, would have to be its degree of accuracy. It has been seen in several court cases where appeals have set people free that were on death row. With the new use of DNA, and its users getting more proficient

Capital Punishment


everyday, it has been found that 23 innocent people have died in the past under the death penalty.( One was too many.

With all these things considered, how can today’s society not do away with this cruel and unusual act of putting people, sometimes innocent people, to death. There are many people who think that the government, judges, and juries have the authority, a right if you will, to decide whether a person, a living breathing human being, should live or die. There is only one true judge, he is fair and just and never convicts the wrong person. He and only he has the right to decide if a person should live or die…GOD.



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Northern Illinois University Department of Sociology

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Word Count: 935


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