The U.S. is one of the countries that continues to impose the death penalty on people who have committed serious crimes. On the other hand, most European countries have abolished the death penalty. Therefore, European countries term the U.S. as a barbaric society for condoning the death penalty. Strongly religious individuals abhor the death penalty, as they perceive the soul to the moral and just. Therefore, nobody has the right to kill an individual. The death penalty is one of the most hotly debated political issues. The topic of whether the death penalty is a deterrent to serious crime attracts heated debate (Sarat & Martschukat, 2011). During the 1970s, the U.S. abolished the death penalty temporarily by terming it as extremely unconstitutional. The 2001 executions of Timothy McVeigh, a terrorist responsible for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and Juan Raul Garza, a murderer and drug trafficker, have increased the debate on this topic. Supporters of the death penalty believe that is the most effective method of deterring the occurrence of serious crimes. On other hand, abolitionists believe that life imprisonment is just as effective as the death penalty. Therefore, the death penalty should be abolished. Abolitionists present stronger arguments on the abolition of the death penalty. They discredit the claim by supporters of the death sentences that statistics show that death sentence is the most effective deterrent to serious crimes. They highlight the fact that the studies on the effectiveness of death sentence on reducing rates of crime are not conclusive.
Murder is one of the crimes that attracts the death sentence. Supporters of the death penalty believe that murders should face the death sentence, as it would deter potential criminals from killing innocent people. However, there is no evidence to prove that death sentence actually deters potential criminals from killing innocent people. A vast amount of evidence on the topic is generally inconclusive. Despite the lack of evidence, supporters of the death sentence claim that death sentence would show the public that crime does not pay. If an individual kills innocent people the price the individual would have to pay for the crimes would be very high (Bedau & Cassell, 2005).
Supporters of the death penalty base their theory on several factors. The first factor is that what people fear the most is what usually deters them from engaging in criminal activities. Secondly, all people fear death. Therefore, using death as a form of punishment would deter people from engaging in criminal activities. Thirdly, death is a more humane form of punishment than torture. Therefore, despite the fact that torture would deter people from engaging in criminal activities, authorities should not use this method as it is not a humane form of punishment. This make them conclude that death penalty is the most effective method of deterring potential criminals from engaging in criminal activities (Pojman & Reiman, 1998). However, certain lethal injection protocols are not a humane form of punishment. Lack of involvement of physicians may during the development and administration of the lethal injections may expose the criminals to cruel punishments that violate their Eight Amendment rights (Denno, 2007)
Supporters of the death penalty highlight the fact that most people who are sentenced to death do everything possible to postpone or reduce their sentences as proof that people fear death than lengthy sentences. They claim that lengthy sentences only deny an individual the right to freedom. On the other hand, death sentence imposes a more severe loss, the loss of the life of the criminal. Therefore, it is the best deterrent to crime (Pojman & Reiman, 1998).
A certain proportion of the supporters of the death sentence believe that there should be televised executions to deter potential criminals from engaging in serious crimes, as it is difficult to intimidate criminals using an invisible threat. This is because people usually react to what they see instead of what they imagine. Therefore, witnessing of the death sentence would instill fear among criminals. The fear would deter them from engaging in criminal activities, thereby, helping to protect the society (Sanders, Young & Burton, 2010). Colonial Americans used various enhancements during executions to deter people from engaging in serious crimes. The authorities would hang criminals and place “the corpse in a ‘gibbet’ – an iron cage with bars that permitted easy viewing – and hang it in a public place, subjecting it to weather, insects and birds of prey” (Bohm, 2011, p. 125). The death sentence and enhancements were terrified people, thereby, deterring them from engaging in criminal activities.
Supporters of the death penalty highlight several situations where the death penalty had reduced crime in various jurisdictions. New York and Texas are some of the states that highlight the impact of the death sentence on deterring crime. The reinstatement of the death penalty by the New York governor in 1994, when he took office led to 22% reduction in assaults and 33% reduction in murders in the state. The reinstatement of the death sentence in Texas also led to a significant reduction in the murder rates in the state. Despite the fact that statistics show that murder rates reduced after the reinstatement of the death penalty, the data may not be conclusive. The death penalty was not the only measure that the states used to deter crime. Therefore, the reduction in the crime rates may be due to combination of several factors. Death penalty and improved crime control measures are the major factors that reduced the crime rates in the states. Therefore, it impossible to isolate one factor and claim that it was solely responsible for the reduction in the crime rates in the states (Baumgartner, Boef & Boydstun, 2008).
Abolitionists to the death penalty highlight several limitations of statistics that supporters of the death sentence rely on. According to the abolitionists, the statistics only show correlations between death sentence and crime rates. They do not show the cause and effect relationship between death penalty and criminal activities. This is vital in determining the deterrent value of the death penalty. Records show that people who live in states that prohibit the death penalty do not have a higher risk of being victims of murderers that people who live in states that have the death penalty (Bedau & Cassell, 2005).
A research conducted by the New York Times in 2000, showed that the homicide rates in 10 out of the 12 states that did not have the death penalty was lower than the national average. On the other hand, the homicide rates of half of the states that had the death penalty was higher than the national average. Abolitionists use this to push for the abolition of the death penalty. However, supporters of the death penalty also use the results of the research to support their views. They claim that higher homicide rates increase the need for death penalty as a deterrent to the crimes (Hood & Hoyle, 2008). A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, showed that states that execute offenders have not experienced greater reduction in homicide rates than states that do not have the death penalty (MacKinnon & Fiala, 2014).
It is a fact that the various faults of the judicial system may lead to wrongful conviction. Baldus et al. (2012) conducted a research that proved that there is racial prejudice in the administration of the death penalty. The study showed that there was an increased in the probability of administration of death sentences in minority-accused/white victim cases that in other cases. Racial prejudice increase the inequalities in the societies. There have been several cases highly publicized stories on people who have wrongfully convicted and thereafter set free. ‘The Exonerated’ highlights this judicial malpractice. People who are convicted to lengthy sentences may have the opportunity to regain their freedom due to the surfacing of new evidence that exonerates them. However, if the individuals are sentenced to death, it may too late to exonerate them. Wrongful death sentencing is the ultimate form of violation of an individual’s rights due to failures of the judicial system. It is a fact that several people have been executed for crimes they did not commit (Haney, 2005). The risks of wrongful executions have led to moratorium on executions in several states. These include Nebraska, Illinois, and Maryland. Abolitionists use the above facts to support their claim that the government should abolish the death penalty to reduce the potential impact of wrongful convictions.
Supporters of the death penalty usually claim that the fear of death would stop potential criminals from engaging in serious crimes. However, abolitionists claim that this theory does not deter potential criminals, as murders do not think about the consequences of their activities when committing crimes. In addition, they do not think that they will be apprehended. Most murders do not undertake a critical analysis of the possibility that they would be apprehended and sentenced to death. This is because most murders are mentally disturbed and are therefore, not in a position to analyze the consequences of their actions objectively. Therefore, the death sentence would not deter them from killing (Hodgkinson & Schabas, 2009).
Abolitionists present stronger arguments that the supporters of the death sentence. Supporters of the death sentence use various statistics to support their stand. However, the statistics are not conclusive. They do not show the cause and effect relationship between death penalty and criminal activities. In addition, they do not show the deterrent value of the death penalty. Research shows that the death sentence does not reduce the occurrence of heinous crimes. In addition, the risks of wrongful executions necessitate relevant authorities to abolish the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment. Life imprisonment would deny criminals the right to freedom during their lifetime. Therefore, the criminals would slowly, but painfully, pay for the crimes they committed. This would act as a severe punishment that would deter criminals from engaging in serious crimes.
Baldus, D.C., Grosso, C.M., Woodworth, G. & Newell, R. (2012). Racial Discrimination in the Administration of the Death Penalty: The Experience of the United States Armed Forces (1984-2005). The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 101(4), 1227-1336.
The article is a research of racial discrimination in the administration of the death penalty. The authors use data from military prosecutions between 1984 and 2005. In the study, military personnel were the victims of serious crimes. The results of the study reveal that there are significant racial disparities in the administration of the death penalty. The study showed that there was an increase in the probability of administration of death sentences in minority-accused/white victim cases. The study revealed that the minority-accused disparities were much higher than the levels witnessed in the state court systems. The significant length of time that the authors used to conduct the research increases the validity of the findings of the research. Racial discrimination is widespread in the criminal justice system. Therefore, it was vital for the researchers to determine whether it extends to the administration of the death penalty. The findings of the research proved the research hypothesis that racial prejudice exists in the administration of the death penalty. This is vital in the formulation of policies that strive the address the various limitations of the death penalty.
Baumgartner, F.R., Boef, S.L. & Boydstun, A.E. (2008). The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence. NY: Cambridge University Press.
The book provides a historical analysis of the prevalence of the death sentence in the U.S. Since the second late 1990s, there has been a significant reduction in the number of death sentences. This has reversed the historical traditional acceptance of the death penalty among Americans. According to the authors, courts give more weight to the existence of fatal mistakes that make people commit serious crimes. This has increased the courts’ perception of the innocence of defendants who commit serious crimes. The discovery of innocence has led to a significant reduction in the number of death penalties. This trend may lead to the ultimate abolition of the death penalty in the U.S. The authors analyze the death penalty debate from a historical perspective. This helps in determining certain trends that may have an impact on the future of the death penalty. The historical analysis increases the relevance of the book on the contemporary debate on the death penalty.
Bedau, H. & Cassell, P. (2005). Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? NY: Oxford University Press.
The book provides the arguments of several experts, who include judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and philosophers, on the issue of the death penalty. The experts present their reasons for supporting or opposing the death sentence. The author allocates each expert a chapter to express his or her views. This enables the book to provide a clear illustration on why supporters and abolitionists of the death penalty are so passionate about their cause. Including the views of experts improves the quality of the content of the book. The experts provide their views from different perspectives enabling the reader to understand their positions on the death penalty. In addition, the contributors use a language that is simple to understand. The contributors provide various examples that support their views on the death penalty. The book was published in 2005. This makes the content be relevant to the contemporary raging debate on the death penalty.
Bohm, R.M. (2011). DeathQuest: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States. NY: Elsevier.
The book provides a comprehensive view of the issues on capital punishment. The book begins with a historical analysis of the death penalty from colonial period to modern times. It then analyses the moral and legal arguments that support and oppose the death sentence. The book also highlights major Supreme Court decisions that relate to the death penalty. The book provides a critical review of the latest developments on the death penalty law and procedures. The author tries to understand the motivation behind the large support of the death penalty by the public. A critical analysis of the issues on death penalty enables the reader to make informed opinions on the death sentence. The book uses contemporary data on costs. The book also provides an analysis of the results of current research on the effectiveness of death penalty on deterrence. In addition, it tackles the issue of death penalty using different perspectives. This improves its quality. This makes it relevant to the current debate on death penalty.
Denno, D.W. (2007). The Lethal Injection Quandary: How Medicine Has Dismantled the Death Penalty. Fordham Law Review, 76(3), 49-128.
The article analyses the lethal injection protocols of various states. It is vital for various jurisdictions to ensure that the protocols are constitutional. Medical participation is critical in ensuring the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocols. A study by the author revealed that lack of medical or scientific testing of the lethal injections is rampant in various states. The medical society are reluctant to associate themselves with the testing of the lethal injections. The author discusses the developments that led to the increase in the lethal injection lawsuits and the impacts of the lawsuits on several relevant parties. The author proposes a nationwide study by qualified personnel to determine proper lethal injection protocols. The study would ensure that various jurisdictions conduct lethal injections in a humane manner. Supporters of the death punishment claim that it is more humane punishment than torture. Therefore, it is vital to determine factors that ensure that it does violent the Eighth Amendment rights, which protects Americans from cruel and unusual punishments. The author studied the injection protocols of various jurisdictions. Comparison of the protocols helped in identifying certain flaws in the protocols of certain states. This improves the validity of the conclusions of the article.
Haney, S.C. (2005). Death by Design: Capital Punishment As a Social Psychological System: Capital Punishment As a Social Psychological System. NY: Oxford University Press. Written by research psychologist Craig Haney, the book provides an analysis of the death sentence from a psychologist’s perspective. The author attempts to explain the social psychological forces that make members of the judiciary issue death penalties to criminals, a task that they would not undertake under normal circumstances. The author claims that a complex social psychological system helps members of the judiciary to disengage from the real impact of their tasks. The author claims that the social psychological forces may reduce the authenticity of the sentencing process, thereby, reducing the fairness of the sentences. The author uses the findings of several studies to propose several measures that may help in increasing the reliability and authenticity of the death sentencing process. The book helps in understanding some of the shortcomings of the criminal justice system from a psychological perspective that may have a negative impact on death sentencing.
Hodgkinson, P. & Schabas, W.A. (2009). Capital Punishment: Strategies for Abolition. NY: Cambridge University Press.
The book provides an analysis of the death penalty in different jurisdictions from a historical perspective. It also analyses the impact of the death penalty in various regions. The authors describe that facilitate or hinder the implementation of the death penalty in various regions. A critical review of the factors help in determining how countries may manage their abolition efforts by overcoming certain barriers that are inherent in the judicial or cultural setting of the region. Critical analysis of factors from different regions enables the author to appreciate various factors that make certain people or regions support or oppose the death penalty. This improves the quality of the book. The book supports efforts to abolish the death penalty. However, the authors provide a detailed analysis of the factors that make them be inclined to support the abolition of the death penalty.
Hood, R.G. & Hoyle, C. (2008). The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective. NY: Oxford University Press.
The book examines the developments of various countries to review the death penalty. It also examines legal challenges to various forms of executions. The book shows that most countries have undertaken moves to abolish the death penalty. International organizations and human rights treaties have played a key role in eliminating the death penalty in many countries. In addition, the treaties and organizations have helped in securing the protection of people face the death penalty among countries that have not abolished the death penalty. The book also highlights the role and influence of victim’s families and various movements on the death penalty. The book also provides latest arguments on how the death sentence deters crime. The authors support the abolition of the death sentence. The book uses conducts a critical analysis of research on the impact of the death penalty in deterring crime. The global perspective of the book enables the reader to understand the views of different regions on capital punishment. This provides the reader with a clear understanding of the factors that motivate people to oppose or support capital punishments. In addition, the inclusion of relevant research makes the book be relate to the current issues on the death penalty.
MacKinnon, B. & Fiala, A. (2014). Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
The book outlines the major perspectives in ethical theory and introduces various contemporary moral debates. The ethical theories covered in the book include religion and global ethics, natural law ethics, and utilitarianism and deontological ethics. The book also covers some of the current moral issues, which include euthanasia, war, violence, death penalty, and sexual morality. The book provides an analysis of the issues relating to the death penalty from an ethical perspective. The authors highlight the costs and impacts of the death penalty on deterrence. According to the authors, cases involving the death penalty are usually more expensive than other cases. The authors also highlight various ethical theories that support or oppose the death penalty. They explain complex philosophical concepts in a comprehensible manner. This improves the quality of the book. Since the book was published in 2014, it incorporates the most recent issues on the death penalty.
Pojman, L.P. & Reiman, J. (1998). The Death Penalty: For and Against. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
The book presents the arguments of the authors, two renowned social and political philosophers. They take opposing positions on death penalty. Louis P. Pojman uses the principle of retribution to justify his support of the death sentence. He claims that people deserve to receive rewards or punishments according to their actions. The death penalty deters potential murdering other people. Therefore, failure to sentence murders to death would put the lives of innocent people at risk of being the victims of the murderers. On the other hand, Jeffrey Reiman argues that despite the fact that death sentence is a fair punishment for murder, relevant authorities should not execute the murders. He claims that there is no conclusive evidence to prove that death sentence is an effective deterrence to potential criminals. Therefore, civilized societies should show intolerance to cruelty by abolishing the death sentence. The authors provide their arguments in a captivating manner. They use different cases to highlight the pros and cons of the death sentence. This improves the quality of the content of the book. The book provides a philosophical perspective of the death penalty. This increases its relevance on the topic of death sentence in the cotemporary world.
Sanders, A., Young, R. & Burton, M. (2010). Criminal Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The book presents a broad analysis of the criminal justice system in England and Wales. In addition, the book provides insights on how to change system to improve its efficiency. The book undertake a critical analysis of various procedures in the criminal justice system. The authors use relevant legislation and contemporary research findings to undertake a socio-legal analysis of the judicial system. The book also includes several issues that are critical in the modern criminal justice system, which include terrorism. The book presents the ideas in a systematic manner. It analyses various sequential processes within the criminal justice system. This improves the reader’s knowledge of the criminal justice system of England and Wales. Despite the fact that the book focuses on the criminal justice system of England and Wales, it is applicable to the criminal justice system of other jurisdictions. The processes and limitations of the judicial system may be similar to that of other jurisdictions. The processes that take place in the criminal justice system ultimately lead to the death sentence verdict for serious criminals. Therefore, it is vital to analyze the processes to determine their effects on the ultimate verdict. The book draws its conclusion from current research. This makes it be relevant to the death sentence debate.
Sarat, A. & Martschukat, J. (2011). Is the Death Penalty Dying?: European and American Perspectives. NY: Cambridge University Press.
The book provides an analysis of the historical and political factors that helped in defining the views on death penalty between Europe and America from the end of the Second World War to the 21st century. The authors examine what the U.S. may learn from the European views on the death sentence. The authors use comparative sociology and history to show how the death penalty systems work and how to dissolve them. The book shows that the U.S. is very close to abolishing the death penalty. However, certain institutional barriers hinder the rapid abolition of the death penalty. The authors also show the role the death penalty has played in defining the unique cultural and political identities of the U.S. and European countries. The book shows the declining trend of death penalties. It helps vital in determining the barriers of abolition of the death penalty. Comparative analysis improves the quality of the discussions of the authors making the book relevant to discussions on death penalty in the contemporar
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