Capital Punishment

Death Penalty in the United States: A Brief history

The British law helped in forming the earlier US capital punishment law. Finally, different American colonies developed their own lists of capital crimes which varied from region to region (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

Overview

Abolishing the death penalty completely in United States has been very slow and irregular. As per Paternoster (1991) “Pennsylvania termed, use of death penalty to first degree murder and banned public execution, becoming the first state to do so in 1834”. According to Bedau (1982) “In 1846, Michigan went a step further and banned capital punishment for all crimes except treason” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

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“In 1852 and 1853 respectively, Rhode Island and Wisconsin became the first two states to ban capital punishment completely. Currently, capital punishment is present in the 37 states and with the federal government” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

There were four discernable trends that led to the evolution of capital punishment in the United Sates. In most of the states, the list of capital crimes has been shortened only the first degree murder is death eligible. This was the first reason as the number and types of crimes punishable by death were very few.

The second reason had been the need to use more humane technology of execution compared to the existing cruel technology of execution. “In 1800 the most common means of execution was by hanging which was replaced by electrocution, then by lethal gas and most recently by lethal injection” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).Despite these changes, the humaneness of each method remained questionable (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The third reason was to ensure that the death penalty is imposed sensibly and justly. Still many believe that efforts have failed to produce a fair and rational system of capital punishment (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

“The fourth reason can be termed as the sanitizing of executions” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18). According to Hook & Kahn (1989) “The executions were often held as public events witnessed by hundreds of spectators in 1700’s and early 1800’s.” There was this carnival like atmosphere witnessing a number of hangings throughout the day. Generally these executions use to happen within a few days or weeks of convictions unlike today, where it takes, on an average, nearly eight years and five months (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The death Penalty Today

We can expect a sharp rise in the rate of executions over the decade because some states have reintroduced the death penalty, public support for execution and recent Supreme Court decisions. According to Haas & Inciardi (1992) “Roughly 250people are awarded death penalty each year, and in recent years, legal challenges to the death penalty has been rejected by the Supreme Court according to Acker (1993); and Haney & Logan” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The US public also favors capital punishment (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

Some experts argue that despite the current trends there will not be a surge in the executions. According to Gross (1993) there will be hardly any increase in the pace of the execution. He further adds “Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, the death penalty we have is pretty much the death penalty we want. Politicians and judges grumble about the delays, but the system does produce what the public demands: a widely available death penalty that is rarely carried out (p.92)” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The Politicians are likely to keep capital punishment in forefront as this issue can be easily exploited for the political gain, despite the rate of execution being slow. Politicians are frequently trying to expand the scope of capital punishment by bringing in a host of crimes under it (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

“The US public has deep concern over violent crimes due to the cynical manipulation of capital punishment by the politicians” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18). The discussions of the costs and benefits associated with the death penalty have been overshadowed by the Political debate (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The American Capital Punishment system

“A capital trial arises, when a person is charged with capital crime. They are different in many ways compared with the other punishment. Firstly, the jurors presiding must be ‘death qualified’. The prospective juror, in addition to regular questions, is also asked if he will be considering death sentence if the defendant is found guilty of capital crime” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The capital trials are of two types- a guilt phase and a penalty phase (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18). If in the first phase a defendant is found guilty of capital crime, than a relevant judgment is given in the penalty phase.

Jurors hear testimony pertaining to the factors that are annoying and justify the circumstances of the offence, in the first phase. In most states a death sentence is given only if the annoying factor outweighs the justified factors (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

Capital cases that result in death sentence automatically get appealed in the state supreme court. The state Supreme Court checks for any legal or constitutional errors during the trial at the lower court. The defendant can file for certiorari to the US Supreme Court if the state supreme court confirms the lower court’s decision. Unless an important constitutional issue is at stake the Supreme Court rarely grants such requests (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

“Further state and federal appeals are possible if the direct appeal is unsuccessful in the first place” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18). These appeals go beyond the trial record including new evidence, capital trial’s fairness, and neutrality by jury, ruined proof, defense counsel’s incompetency and wrongdoing by tribunal (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The Financial Cost of Death Penalty

The notion, that death penalty is cheaper to execute than the life imprisonment of the accused, is false. Though many Americans believe that capital punishment is cheaper, which is not correct, still we save years of cost associated with the maintenance (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The alternative to capital punishment is life imprisonment without parole (LWOP), the cost of LWOP is very high. “According to the estimates by Cavanaugh & Kleiman (1990) The annual cost of building and operating a high security prison is US$ 5000, where as to maintain it is US$20,000 per annum” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

“Keeping in mind, the average life expectancy of males in US, the total cost of LWOP ranges from US$ 750,000 to US$ 1.1 Million per convict” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

“The cost of capital punishment is far higher than the cost of LWOP” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).As per Magagnini (1988) “Tax payers can save $90 Million annually by abolishing the death penalty” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

Moran & Ellis (1998) further adds “Reinstating the death penalty would amount to $118 million extra per annum to the state of New York” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18). Hoppe (1992) states that “ each capital case costs Texas tax payers and average of $ 2.3 million- about three times the cost of imprisonment in a maximum security cell for 40 years (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

Why the Death Penalty is So Costly?

Capital trials are more difficult and lengthy as compared to other criminal trials. All the phases including pre-trials, jury selection, trial and appeals are very complex and time consuming. Garey (1985) estimates “that investigations in capital cases takes three to five times more than the non capital trials and takes as long as two years to complete” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The cost also escalates because of the use of services of experts like mental health professionals, polygraphs, medical experts, forensic experts and jury selection consultants (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The process of selecting jurors, for a capital trial, is also very complex and may take about five times longer to select the appropriate juror (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

The Attorneys are required to investigate and prepare charges of first degree murder and other charges that qualify for capital punishment. Generally two or more attorneys and numerous investigators are used to share the load by the defense and the prosecution. Death sentence is not given to all the offenders. The extra cost incurs, in capital trials, not only when the death sentence is issued but also when the defender is acquitted or given life imprisonment (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

“The process to appeal is very elaborate in capital cases and therefore very expensive” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).There is enough incentive to pursue an appeal as the defendant’s life is at stake and chances of success are very high.

“The state bears the cost of fighting the death sentence and life imprisonment if the appeal is successful” (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).Lastly, maintaining and operating the death rows and execution chambers are also included in the price of capital punishment (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

As the life of a person is at stake and once the death penalty is executed nothing can be done to revert it back, that is why, it has been made so complex and time consuming. This also makes sure that no innocent person gets punished for crime he has not done (An overview of the Death Penalty and Capital trials, 1994, pp1-18).

Ans 2

Capital punishment has been the highest form of punishment since ancient times. It is the lawful imposition of death as a punishment for serious crimes. In The Bible it is mentioned that a person committing grave offences like murder, kidnapping and witchcraft etc. should be given death sentence as punishment (Zimring and Hawkins, 2010).

During the post world-war period most of the countries retained capital punishment as a means of execution. This, however, reduced the number of crimes related to death penalty as well as the number of executions in many countries. This was during 1940s that the European countries started condemning death penalty as a means of punishment on the grounds of Human Rights.

“Abolition of the capital punishment was being highly demanded by almost all the European countries in 1960s and 1970s” (Zimring and Hawkins, 2010). “As per the reports of International human rights organizations in 1990’s, death penalty was ceased by half of the world’s governments” (Zimring and Hawkins, 2010).

It is essential to mention here that, though, most of the developed countries embraced the abolition of the capital punishment America and Japan retained it in their jurisprudence.

However, this scenario is of recent origin in the United States of America. During the first half of the post world war period U.S.A. too was following the footsteps of the rest of the developed countries regarding the abolition of capital punishment. Executions drastically decreased between 1950 and 1965.By 1967 the federal government had prohibited the use of executions so as to evaluate the principals and procedures of capital punishments (Zimring and Hawkins, 2010).

In 1972 the Supreme Court’s decision in Furman v Georgia case was full of ambiguity. It failed to clarify the constitutional status of capital punishment. The justices differed in their opinion about the case. Justice Brannen and Marshall considered it to be against the constitution in all instances. Other justices made it a point that the nature of capital punishment should be reconsidered keeping in view the racial discrimination in the judicial procedures (Shemtob, 2010).

The U.S. Supreme Court stated that if the state laws given to the jury do not carry clear guidelines regarding the choice between imprisonment and execution for specific cases, will be considered unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment ((Zimring and Hawkins, 2010).

In 1976, while hearing the case of Gregg v. Georgia, who was guilty of robbery and murder, the Supreme Court ruled that a jury can choose between life and death in individual cases examining the aggravating and mitigating factors the crime.

“Aggravating factors included the commission of multiple homicides, homicides during other felonies, premeditation and the personal dangerousness of the offender” (Zimring and Hawkins, 2010). Whereas youth, mental and emotional disturbance and other circumstances were considered as mitigating factors for which life imprisonment could be given instead of death penalty (Zimring and Hawkins, 2010).

There was another case of James Woodson v. North Carolina (1976),in which the guilty was automatically sentenced to death. “As per the legislation of the state of North Carolina, death penalty was mandatory for all convicted first-degree murderers. The Court stated that it was the violation of “fundamental respect for humanity” of the Eighth Amendment and that it was unconstitutional to pass such a decision on the following grounds” (The Oyez Project, 1976):

“that the law was discarded by people in the previous cases.
It did not provide any guidelines to the jury regarding their power to decide which of the first- degree murderers should live and which shall die.
It did not allow the consideration of the character and record of the convicted who is given the death sentence”(The Oyez Project, 1976).

“ McCleskey v .Kemp (in 1987) case showed the inclination of the U.S.towards the toleration of the capital punishment by the states. McCleskey, who was sentenced to death for murdering a police officer in Georgia, argued on the grounds of racial discrimination. But the Supreme Court held that McCleskey would not be excused on the basis of any statistical data. There was no discrimination in that particular trial leading to any constitutional violation” (The Oyez Project, 1976).

In the year 2002, the Atkins v. Verginia case where the argument was about the mental state of the convict, the Supreme Court held capital punishment unconstitutional for mentally retarded. “In the Roper v. Simmons case (2005), capital punishment for offenders who committed their crimes under the age of eighteen, the death penalty was barred. These cases proclaimed the victory of those who were in support of the abolition of the death penalty” (Shemtob, 2010).

“The Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed death sentence of Patrick Kennedy in 2007, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape of his 8 year old stepdaughter” (Kennedy V. Louisiana, 2010). “Of the approximately 3,350 people on death row in the U.S., only two inmates received the death penalty for this type of offense” (Kennedy V. Louisiana, 2010). “The U.S.SUPREME Court held it unconstitutional on the grounds that death penalty cannot be given to a convict of rape if it did not involve” (Kennedy V. Louisiana, 2010).

In view of the above mentioned cases it is evident that America which was on the verge of embracing the abolition of capital punishment pulled back with the series of decisions issued in 1976 by regulating the states to reinstitute capital punishment.

The elements in the present policies regarding capital punishment broadly depend on the changes that came about after 1976. By now, the United States had inclined towards the toleration of capital punishment by the states. A number of crimes were added for the limited jurisdiction of the federal government.

The number of executions increased drastically and by 2000 it reached the similar number as that in 1950 The United States reinstituted the law of capital punishment much against the trend going on the rest of the Western Democracies.

The infliction of this law is considered constitutional for the worst crimes such as murder. According to American jurisprudence imposition of death penalty is permissible if employed in a constitutionally accepted manner. It is believed that it will work as a deterrent bringing down the number of crimes (Zimring and Hawkins, 2010).

“Capital punishment permanently removes the worst criminals from society and should prove much safer for the rest of us than long term or permanent incarceration. It is self evident that dead criminals cannot commit any further crimes, either within prison or after escaping or after being released from it” (America’s Tug of War over Sanctioned Death, The U.S. History of Capital Punishment, 2009).It would be unwise to think that executions are the sole factors in reducing the crime rate.

“There has been political and economic stability and no social changes over the years and great success in reducing crime rates through the use of ‘zero tolerance’ policing policies” (America’s Tug of War over Sanctioned Death, The U.S. History of Capital Punishment, 2009).

Though the American jurisprudence allows the infliction of the death penalty, it makes it clear that only the serious crimes such as homicides will come under this law. In case of mental retardness of the convict and juvenile crimes the imposition of the death penalty is prohibited.

The rapists will not be sentenced to death if his act did not involve murder. Capital punishment should be inflicted only after an unbiased trial so as to avoid racial discrimination. It should be imposed in case of repeated commission of crimes thus stopping people to commit premeditated and planned offences (Clark, 1995).

Ans 3

As capital punishment is being used for a different variety of crimes since the old era, It is the permanent remedy for removing criminals from the society as they can no longer commit any crime after they die due to capital punishment (Clark, 1995).

“In some countries like Singapore there is a very small number of people who actually get executed every year as there seem to be less crime. This shows that the death penalty is deterrent but where execution actually takes place” (Clark, 1995).

There are many unquestionable arguments against the death penalty:

The salient one is that sometimes really innocent people are executed and due to this miscarriage of justice there is no way of their lives’ reparation. There is one more importance of this argument.

“The person charged for the murder crime may have killed the victim or just may accept his crime but at that time he does not agree that it is murder, it may be man slaughter according to him. Now at that moment the proficiency of the prosecutor and defense lawyers involved in such cases is checked whether there is a certainty of murder or manslaughter” (Clark, 1995).

The trial and sentences should be carried out with some basic equality in those special cases where the permanent approval of the death penalty is involved (Bedau, 1992). The punishment of death penalty is irreversible. Marquis de Lafayette while speaking to ‘the French Chamber of Deputies in 1830’, once said “I shall ask for the abolition of the punishment of death until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me” (Bedau, 1992).

Though some supporters speak in favor of death penalty and disagree the demerits of this kind of punishment. When they mainly look on its merits, they find it ‘worth the occasional execution of innocent people’ and some of them will be adamant that there is little probability of the innocent who are executed (Bedau, 1992).

While favoring capital punishment, we find that criminals will have marginal deterrence when committing any crime and they will fear capital punishment but the question arise when there is a risk of executing innocent people (Becker, 2006). Since 1900 this country has been having approximately four cases per year where completely an innocent person was charged with murder and then they got capital punishment. Following are some cases to describe (Bedau, 1992):

“In 1975, Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee two African-American men in Florida got released from prison after spending twelve years in the prison. They were waiting for their execution for killing two white men. Their conviction happened due to false eyewitnesses, forced confessions and useless defense counsel. Though a white man accepted his guilt, yet they had to fight a legal battle for nine years. If the execution was not delayed due to all these procedures, these innocent men would have been executed” (Bedau, 1992).
“After sometime officials in New Mexico admitted that they wrongly accused four white men and sentenced them death. They were the motorcyclists from Los angles and they were innocent. The continuous investigation of the reporters and the confession of the actual killer exposed this issue and the wrongly accused men were released after eighteen months” (Bedau, 1992).
“In 1980 in Texas, a black high school janitor named Clarence Brandley and his co-worker who was a white found the body of a fifteen year old school girl who was missing. When the police questioned them, they were told that one of them would be hung for this crime. Then the officer said to the black man as he was a nigger so he would be punished. He was sentenced to death. The proof against him was not that strong and police avoided other things so the courtroom atmosphere seemed to be affected by racism. In 1986 a volunteer group-Centurion Ministries came forward to make wrongly convicted prisoners free. Brandley’s case was also involved in this. Then the right evidence proved that another man was involved in this crime and Brandley was innocent who was waiting for the execution. Later he was released (Bedau, 1992).

“In a case in 1992, Roger Keith Coleman was sentenced to death in Virginia” Bedau, 1992). Though there were many doubts in his case whether he was guilty of the crime as other man was suspected as an accused for the same crime, this evidence was never submitted during his trial. Also, in the whole appeal process no one took his appeal seriously that he was innocent and was charged wrongly and the state was going to kill an innocent man.

“During his execution his case was marked with many other cases where he got cleared. If he would have been in the prison, his friends and lawyers would have a strong incentive to solve his case but Coleman’s death could not carry forward the fats of the crime and this whole inquiry” (Bedau, 1992)..

“Overzealous trial, wrong proofs, forced confession, the accused prior criminal record, incompetent defense counsel, community pressure for a conviction are those factors which cannot give any assurance about the right justice. In case the justice miscarries the volunteers like the news paper reporters correct such errors” (Bedau, 1992).

Ans. 4

It has been demonstrated that there was discrimination is distributing death penalty in past: compared to other equally guilty defendants, black and poor defendants were more likely to be executed. This requires correction of the distributive process. Studies have also found that “a black man who kills a white man has much higher chance to be executed than he would have, had his victim been black.” (van den Haag, Para 5)

Especially where the unalterable sanction of death penalty is drawn in, the judicial functions of trial and sentencing should be conducted with deep-seated justice. “There has been considerable proof that supports, that the courts have been capricious, racially predisposed and unjust in the way they have sentenced some persons to prison but others to death.” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 41)

The Supreme Court ruled death penalty as unconstitutional on the grounds of racial discrimination in Furman case. “Compare to the fraction of the total national population, African-American always had a disproportionately large population of people on death row. The black offenders are often executed for crimes less often receiving death penalty, as compared with the white offenders” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 42-43). Even the convictions of blacks were not reviewed by any higher court (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 42-43).

“A detailed study of racial discrimination in capital cases in Georgia showed that the odds of receiving death sentence among all indicated cases were 4.3 times higher in cases with white victims.” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 44)

According to the reports of U.S. General Accounting Office to the congress in 1990, “the result of the 28 studies shows evidence indicating racial disparities in charging, sentencing and imposing on the death penalty and that race of victim influence was found at all stages of the criminal justice system process….” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 45)

The other two discriminating factors, that determines who receives a death penalty and who is executed, are sex and socio economic class. “In between 1980 and 1990, only one percent was women from all those on death row, even though 15 percent of the crimes were done by the women. More than third of the women were guilty of killing men who had victimized them with years of violent abuse.” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 46)

Economically weaker people also face the discrimination of justice towards them. “The most common factors among the death row population are poverty, weak social roots in the community, insufficient legal representation at trials or on appeals” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 47). As Justice William O. Douglas states, “One searches our chronicles in vain for the execution of any member of the affluent strata in this society.” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 47)

The Court does not follow or restricts any actual standard that can restrict the discretion of jury on approving the death status. Putting on the decree without understanding the exposure of the perpetuity of special factors the real world can produce, no society is going to kill everybody who meets predetermined verbal requirements (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 47)

A vast pool of imaginative diplomacy remains even if the statutes were to succeed in guiding the jury’s choice of the sentence. The prosecutor’s decision to indict for a capital or lesser crime, the willingness to accept or reject a plea by the court, rather than capital punishment jury’s decision to convict for second-degree murder or manslaughter, defendant’s sanity, the governors decision on clemency, are some of the factors (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 49)

The need to lessen the severity of death penalty by narrowing its scope can be clearly seen in the history of capital punishment in American society. “The main means to this end, whether authorized by statutes or by their silence, has been, Discretion” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 50).

Discretion becomes injustice when it is used to mark the death to the poor, the friendless, the uneducated, belonging to a racial minority, and the despised (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 50).

Retribution

It is often insisted that death penalty is the only suitable retribution for the heinous crimes. Not only the death penalty but all the punishment by its nature is retributive (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 60)

Unlike many other crimes (rape, kidnapping, espionage, treason, drug kingpins) that have been made subject to death penalty, it is obvious that this punishment could be defended on narrowly retributive grounds only for the crime of murder. In any case, taking of a life is more than a punishment exacted in justice for execution (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 61).

As Camus wrote, “For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 61)

It is often argued that murderers deserve to be killed; and those opposing the death penalty violate the fundamental principle of making punishment fir of the crime (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 62)

According to the above principle justice is, the same suffering given to the offender as the crime he has committed, than this would require us to, rape the rapists, torture torturers, betray traitors and kill multiple murderers again and again, punishment impossible to execute. As all crimes can be reasonably justified with this principle, it is illogical for death punishment to be a justified punishment for murder (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 63)

The principle of just desert requires that the severity of the punishment should be proportionate to the gravity of the crime, and that the punishment should be severest for murder as it is the severest crime. Despite this, it doesn’t compel favoring death penalty (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 64)

Criminals, definitely, deserves to be punished with appropriate severity liable to the harm they have caused to the victim. “Imposed both by law and human dignity, severity of punishment also has its limits” (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 65).The use of conscious, violent killing as an instrument of social policy, is not done the government who respect these limits (Hugo Adam Bedau, 1992, Para 65).

While discussing whether the morality of capital punishment should be defined according to the characteristics of a legal case or the characteristics of a legal institution, first we will have to understand the meaning the above sentence.

“Of late, death penalty has faced much opposition. Can the death penalty possibly be a morally acceptable punishment? Is there really such an irony is capital punishment as the slogan “We kill people to show people that killing people is wrong” implies?” (Carmical, 2010, Para 1)

Word Games

“Firstly, the slogan misses an important point which is, death penalty does not punish for killing but for murder. Killing done in self-defense is justified, while, a premeditated, malicious, unlawful killing is treated as murder. The terms Kill, murder and execute are not interchangeable. The two terms are not morally equivalent just because their actions result in the same end. Had this been the case than legal confinement would be equal to kidnapping, lovemaking would be rape, self-defense would be battery, etc” (Carmical, 2010, Para 2)

Morality

“The principle of right and wrong is morality. In other words, appreciation for good deeds and punishment for the bad ones is the call for morality. The punishment must fit the crime; it may range from slap on the wrist to death. Simply incarcerating someone for murder is morally wrong. Someone who murders another human being can only be made to pay for his action by giving his own life as human life is infinitely more valuable than any material item” (Carmical, 2010, Para 3-5)

Death penalty is a means of revenge as claimed by many abolitionists, which it is not correct. In revenge, similar suffering is unleashed to the criminal as faced by the victim’s family in the same manner like killing a member of the convict’s family; executing him in the same manner he murdered the victim. Whereas, death penalty brings him to justice and does not see how much pain can be unleashed (Carmical, 2010, Para 6-7)

In conclusion the morality of the death penalty should be defined according to the characteristics of the legal case in accordance with the legal institution.

Works Cited

“America’s Tug of War over Sanctioned Death, The U.S. History of Capital Punishment”. Random History. 2009. Web. 15 December 2010.

Bedau, Hugo Adam. 1992. “The Case Against the Death Penalty”. American Civil Liberties Union National Office. Web. 15 December 2010.

Carmical, Casey.2010. “The Death Penalty: Morally Defensible?”. Casey’s Critical Thinking. Web. 15 December 2010.

Clark, Richard. 1995. “Arguments for and against Capital Punishment in the UK”. Web. 15 December 2010.

Haag, Ernest Van Den. “The Death Penalty Once More” U.C. Davis Law Review, vol. 18, no. 4 (Summer 1995), University of California. Web. 15 December 2010.

Louisiana, Kennedy V. 2010. “Death Penalty Information Center” No. 07-343. Web. 15 December 2010.

“The Oyez Project”.1976. Woodson v. North Carolina , 428 U.S. 280. Web. 15 December 2010

Zachary Baron Shemtob. 2010. “Capital Punishment on trial: Furman v. Georgia and the Death Penalty in Modern America”. Review. Department of Law and Police Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Web. 15 December 2010.

Zimring, Franklin E. and Hawkins, Gordon. 2010. Capital Punishment, The Death Penalty in Recent History., The Singular American Present., The Legal Framework. Web. 15 December 2010.

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