Death Penalty

Death Penalty

Table of contents
1. Introduction
2. History of Death Penalty
3. Advantages and disadvantages of the death penalty
4. Immorality of the death penalty
5. Conclusion

ntroduction
Death penalty is the cruelest punishment in the modern world. Human life is highest treasure and there are still a lot of doubts if people can decide who should live and who should die by their consideration.
In this paper I will bring arguments pro and contra death penalty. I will also describe the history of the capital punishment in the US in general and in the state of Florida in particular. Personally I agree with those who state that human race has reached the state when death penalty should be prohibited. There is a proverb, which states that it’s better to let free the guilty person than to punish an innocent one. I believe that this proved is especially try in the cases when it comes to death penalty.
In the United States every year about 250 people are sentenced to death every year. 35 people are executed. There are two phases each death sentence goes through before it comes to action (Randa). During the first phase judge and juries bring their verdict. After that the sentence is served during the second phase. Death sentence doesn’t give the opportunity for.
There different forms of execution. This history of execution is long and contained a lot of forms and methods of execution but the most widespread kind of execution applied nowadays is lethal injection. Despite it was invented not long ago it quickly became the most widespread one. Invention of this injection renewed the death penalty in the US from 1972 to 1976 because it let to overcome the contradiction to the eighth Amendment.
History of Death Penalty
The debates about the legitimacy of the death penalty lasted for several centuries but great change in the attitude occurred only in the 60s of the last century. During this time the very legality of the death penalty became the question of the doubts and arguments. The Fifth, Eighth and Fourteen Amendments of the Constitution, which were interpreted as ones which legalized the death penalty. This was doubted in the 1960s. The death penalty was regarded as cruel and unusual and in this way as the one, which contradicted the Eighth Amendment. In 1958 The Supreme Court stated that the Eighth Amendment was “an evolving standard of decency that marked the progress of a maturing society.” (Bohm, 1999) this was announced during the hearings of Trop v. Dulles case. Despite this case wasn’t the death penalty one, the logic expressed during this hearings was later applied to the death penalty cases. That gave the reasons to think that the U.S. has reached the level, where death penalty can not be applied any more. During several next years the debates were centered around the way the death penalty was administrated. In several cases the defense expressed an idea that the death penalty should have been applied only after the recommendation of a jury. In the case U.S. v. Jackson in 1968 the court was introduced an argument, which stated that death penalty should have been imposed only after the recommendation of the jury. The proposition was declined by the Court because it was afraid that such practice would let defense address to jury in order to escape the death sentence. In the case called Witherspoon v. Illinois in 1968 the question about the right of the jury to decide the question of the death penalty was stated again. Next time this question was raised again was the case Crampton v. Ohio. The defense proclaimed the violation of the Fourteenth Amendment when the juries had the right to decide if the person should live or die. The Court rejected these arguments.
Several years later, in 1972 the issue about the arbitrariness of the death sentence was doubted again during the Furman v. Georgia. “With the Furman decision the Supreme Court set the standard that a punishment would be “cruel and unusual” if it was too severe for the crime, if it was arbitrary, if it offended society’s sense of justice, or it if was not more effective than a less severe penalty.” (Bedau, 154) This led to the decision of the Court, which admitted that according to Georgia death penalty statute giving the jury complete right to bring death sentence could cause arbitrary sentencing. It also admitted that this scheme of punishment applied according to this statute was cruel and unusual and violated the Eighth Amendment. This gave the Supreme Court the right to cancel 40 death statues, recognizing them as unconstitutional. Very soon Justices Brennan and Marshall found the way to reinstate the death penalty. They addressed the argument from the Furman case where it was stated that not the death penalty itself was unconstitutional but the specific statutes. Such an argument let the states reinstate the death penalty by rewriting death sentence statutes. Those, who advocated the capital punishment, rewrote statutes in order to escape problems, named in Furman. Florida became the leader of this movement of the reinstating of the death penalty. This state rewrote its death penalty statute only several months later after the Furman case. Soon 34 another states joined Florida by enacting new death penalty status. In some states the problem of jury discretion was resolved by applying the capital punishment for all the cases of capital crimes. Such a policy was recognized as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1976. In some other states the juries and the judge were provided by direct sentencing guidelines in order to escape discretion. Very detailed guidelines took into account all possible aggravating and mitigating factors and let to avoid discretion among juries. Such discretion statutes were approved by the Supreme Court in 1976 in Gregg v. Georgia and soon was enacted in Florida, Georgia and Texas. Such discretion statute was referred as Gregg decision. This decision led to reinstate the death penalty in these three states. During the same process the Court recognized the death penalty as the constitutional one and the one which didn’t contradict the Eighth Amendment. The Court in Gregg gave the opportunity to approve several other procedural reforms. The first was applied to bifurcated trial, where there are different deliberations for the guilt and penalty phases during the trial. In this kind of trials only after the defendant was recognized guilty the second trial was hold in order to determine if the death sentence must have been applied in this case. Automatic appellate review of convictions and sentence became another reform introduced by the Court in Gregg. The last reform implied after the Court in Gregg was proportionality review. This practice helped to identify and eliminate sentencing disparities. “Through this process, the state appellate court can compare the sentence in the case being reviewed with other cases within the state, to see if it is disproportionate” (Peter). All these reforms were accepted by the Supreme Court and some states included them to their death penalty statues in order to reinstate the death penalty despite they were not obligatory for these states.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Death Penalty
Opinion of those, who support the death penalty, can be logically proved. Their point of view is proved by a number of arguments. The number of murders and hard crimes is lower in those countries where the capital punishment is an official penalty. The fear of death for crimes reduces such crimes. The level of the order in such countries is very high, as it’s based on fear and intimidation. People also say that the death penalty puts something like moral bounds due to special crimes such as murder, ravishment, etc and crossing these bounds people lose all their morality and the it’s only left to kill them. Another aspect is that dead person who was a multiple murderer isn’t able to kill anybody when his term of imprisonment will come to the end or if he escapes.
All these facts must be taken into consideration but there is another aspect that, to my mind, is the most important and can cross out all the others. This aspect is called morality and humanity.
First of all let’s correlate the death penalty with ten tables from the Bible. By Christianity killing a person is a great sin. Death penalty is the same killing even if it’s aimed to punish the murderer. Christians think that God placed every person on the Earth for the exact aim that should be realized. Killing a person deprives him of his right to carry out his mission. Execution is not the natural death. Some Christian sources say that only natural death can lead to Heavens, all other deaths leave people in the realm of shadows with no way out. Christians couldn’t accept the death penalty in any case.
10 tables of the Bible are norms of every society. They form the morality of every civilization. Jesus taught people to forgive those who have made you harm you and return good for evil. We will never exterminate the evil if we do evil for evil. In such a case the evil would only double on the Earth. How differs action of the murderer from the person who gives a lethal injection? Won’t this person accuse himself of killing during all his further life? These both actions are murders and all the other circumstances are not very important.
The death penalty for some crimes intimidate other people, the fear of death doesn’t allow people to commit a crime. The organization of the society is based on intimidation, but is it a healthy society. Does this society is able to give a possibility for the development of high-organized, independent individuality with free thoughts and intentions? I am completely sure that it is not. The fear of anything can bring up only slaves. People see that the value of the life isn’t high in the society. If one person can be killed even if he needs the highest punishment, then one day this punishment can become acceptable even for less serious crimes. The person realizes that if the death penalty exists it can threaten himself even if he doesn’t commit a crime. This fear can exist in subconsciousness.
Another aspect of the capital punishment is the possibility to execute an innocent person. Jury and judges are ordinary people, so they can make mistakes. Death sentence can become an error that will cost someone’s life. Who will be responsible for the death of an innocent person? Of course, that judge who pronounced sentence on death would be put into prison or have another kind of responsibility, but who will be able to return the life of the innocent person? Nobody and it’s the main point in the question of the death penalty. Human factor doesn’t give us a possibility to pass 100% fair sentences. Human life is sacred even if this person has killed another person. This murder will lie on his conscience and he’ll answer for all his crimes. Nobody has a right to encroach on the sanctity of human life, even the state.
In the history of the United States of America two death penalties that were fulfilled then were found incorrect. The two persons were found innocent but they were already killed. It happened in 1918 and 1949. Those who stand for the death penalty affirm that such a miserable number in a rather long time span isn’t so bad, but such arguments loose all their power when we speak about human life.
The main aim of the person on the Earth is to reach progress and develop capabilities. All the persons can make mistakes and then have a possibility to correct them. The capital punishment doesn’t give such a possibility to condemned persons who committed a blunder. To die is sometimes easier then to live with you sins and realize what you have done.
There is an opinion that the existence of the death penalty decreases the number of crimes but at the same time another statistics show reverse result.
The number of criminals sentenced to death represented by the mentally ill people, male, poor and minorities are met more often than other sections of population. Women are sentenced to the death penalty very rarely, it’s more men’s fate. If you try to come to know the particulars of the condemned person you’ll see that he was abused during his childhood, came through sufferings and unfairness. Of course, the murder couldn’t be warrant in any case, but we can understand what made him the murder.
It goes without saying that alive can do more than dead. The criminals work and the payment of their work goes to the society, to the victim’s family for example. There is a number of examples when people sentenced to life imprisonment invented something and made their contributions in the society. In 1924 two nineteen-year-old boys killed a boy. They were sentenced not to death but to life imprisonment. Their behavior in prison was an example for other prisoners, they worked in prison hospitals, taught them to read, created a school in prison and wrote a grammar book. Their asset in the improvement of the life of prisoners is priceless.
Another argument against execution is that it’s the cruelest punishment not suitable for the civilized society. The Eighth Amendment of the American Constitution tried to fight against death penalty and even succeeded in it in the 1970s but its success didn’t last long. Eternal struggle for or against the capital punishment moved away them from the punishment itself. When the Constitution was just in project, the question of death penalty wasn’t even discussed, it wasn’t thought abnormal and more over immoral. Most creators of the Constitution approved such kind of punishment. The laws of the state form people’s morality and show what is good and permitted. The possibility to kill even if it’s a kind of punishment can lead the using of this method among ordinary people.
Immorality of the death penalty
“Capital punishment is a barbaric remnant of an uncivilized society. It is immoral in principle, and unfair and discriminatory in practice. It assures the execution of some innocent people. As a remedy for crime, it has no purpose and no effect” (American Civil Liberties Union National Office). Couple of sentences exposes all immoral and inhumane roots of the death penalty.
All in all the moral argument is the strongest among all the arguments against the death penalty. Human rights must be protected by the state but not all the methods are admissible and possible. Even the state can’t avoid crossing all the bounds. The death penalty is a kind of punishment, which supposes deprivation of human life. Even if the number of executions is brought to minimum and death penalty is used only to the cruelest murders and in particular cases, it’s killing and give any change for the improvement of civilized society.
Penalty death is unnatural action as any kind of killing. It’s wrong morally, it’s against all principles of the humanity. It’s even against the laws of nature and I won’t even mention The Bible and its interpretation. Taking human life is inhumane, we live among people, not animals, and we must be guided by human laws. Capital punishment is just another formulation of killing to avoid calling names in their real names. It’s God’s privilege and no one even the state can take such responsibility and administer justice and mete out punishment.
“The death penalty is irrevocable. “In case of a mistake, the executed prisoner cannot be given another chance. Justice can miscarry. In the last hundred years there have been more that 75 documented cases of wrongful conviction of criminal homicide. The death sentence was carried out in eight of these cases” (Draper 47). Even if the person gets to know that the sentenced was passed wrongly and he is free, what can he do and is he capable to perceive all the world adequate after years spent in prison waiting for the death every day? Is it moral to break person’s life?
Conclusion
The death penalty is the cruelest punishment, which can be used in a number of cases in some countries. Some people support such kind of punishment and think that only such severe actions can keep the society in safety and provide security. People believe that seeing sure punishment another people would be afraid to commit crimes. It’s only one point of view, there is another that is absolutely opposite and to my mind it’s more suitable for the civilized society with principles of humanity and tolerance.
The actions of the state are the example of the behavior for all the other people. Using the death penalty as a punishment the state pulls down the moral norms. Life is a gift given by God, so only God can take it away. Death doesn’t correct the mistake, it can only neutralize the murderer, but soon appear new criminals. The murderer must realize his crime and punishment of it. Way of the mankind should reach peace and stability and deaths on its way are not admissible.


References:
1. Amari Jane, Is crime coverage out of Balance? Research shows a Need for More Reporting of Context, Perspective, Consequences, Risk Factors, NEWS WATCH, (Garnett New Network), March 12, 1999, available at http://gannett.com/go/newswatch//99/march/nw032-.htm
2. Amnesty International, “List of Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries,” Report ACT 50/01/99, April 1999
3. Baker D. “A Descriptive Profile and Socio-Historical Analysis of Female Executions in the United States: 1632-1997”; 10(3) Women and Criminal Justice 57 (1999)
4. Bedau H. “The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies,” Oxford University Press, 1997.
5. Bohm. R. “Deathquest: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States,” Anderson Publishing, 1999.
6. Ehrlich Isaac, “Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts,” Journal of Political Economy, 1977.
7. Layson Stephen, “Homicide and Deterrence: Another View of the Canadian Time-Series Evidence,” Canadian Journal of Economics, February 1983.
8. Liebman James et al., A Broken System, Part II: Why There Is So Much Error in Capital Cases, and What Can be Done About It? (Feb. 11, 2002), available at http://www2.law.columbia.edu/brokensystem2/index2.html.
9. O’Shea K., “Women and the Death Penalty in the United States, 1900-1998,” Praeger 1999.
10. Randa L., “Society’s Final Solution: A History and Discussion of the Death Penalty,” University Press of America, 1997.
11. Schabas W., “The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law,” Cambridge University Press, second edition, 1997.
12. Vila, Bryan and Cynthia Morris. Capital Punishment in the United States: A Documentary History. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1997.
13. Streib V., “Death Penalty For Female Offenders January 1973 to December 2002,” Ohio Northern University, 2003.
14. “Capital Punishment.” Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice. Vol. 1. 1983.
15. Farrington, Karen. History of Punishment & Torture: A Journey Through the Darkside of Justice. New York: Hamlyn, 2000.