Issues/Capital Punishment History term paper 5400

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In 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, ie.

organized crime, knowing very well that the punishments for their

crime, whether it be 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. 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. 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 crimes such as treason or the

murder 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 has 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 a ever rising

crime rate.

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?

What about segregation? 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

retribute 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, 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 raise the crime rate further with people

running around on private vendettas.

Even with these facts and arguments, the federal government

refuses to restore the death penalty. 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 before they

realize what a mistake they made in 1976 by totally abolishing

capital punishment.

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