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Death Penalty: The Cruelty Of Capital Punishment

1405 words - 6 pages

The Cruelty of Capital Punishment

    Capital punishment is the legal infliction the death penalty. It is obviously the most severe form of criminal punishment. (Bedau1) Capital punishment is a controversial way of dealing with violent criminals. The main alternative to the death penalty is life in prison. Capital punishment has been around for thousands of years as a means of eradicating criminals. A giant debate started between supporters and opposers of execution, over the morality and effectiveness of the death penalty. The supporters claim that if you take a life you should pay with your life or "an eye for an eye". Opposers of the death penalty bring up the chance of sentencing ...view middle of the document...

Cesare drove many other philosophers, like Voltaire and Jerry Bentham, to question the validity of using capital punishment. (Bedau2) Contrary to what some may believe the process of sentencing a defendant is a very arduous and time-taking ordeal. After he has been arrested as the suspect of a crime the defendant will either tried in a state or federal court system. The lowest court that a litigant can be sent to is the Court of General jurisdiction (state level) or the US District Courts (federal level). Any time in the trial the defense may choose to appeal. Even if a suspect is sentenced to a crime the case may be appealed for a variety of reasons. The defendant's lawyer could claim that the defendant's rights were violated when he was arrested, that the defendant received an unfair trial, or new evidence that could prove the defendant's innocence has surfaced. (Guernsey,16) Next the appeal is taken to the Intermediate Appellate Courts (state) or the US Courts of Appeals (federal) who will decide if the trial court has erred in some way. If the appeal is granted In the state court system the appellate will be sent to the State Supreme Court, or in the federal system, to the supreme. From the State Supreme Court the case may be appealed again to the Supreme Court. Once the case has reached the supreme court the verdict is final. (Guernsey,15) This monotonous appealing process is the reason for the excess of inmates on death row today. An inmate can spend 6-10 years on death row during the appellate process. (Guernsey, 20) In fact only about one in 1900 prisoners (.053%) on death row have served the death penalty. ( "Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas have carried out about three-quarters of all executions since 1976." (Guernsey,22) There has been a controversy over the death penalty ever since the Quakers fought for reform in the 1700's. (Bedau1) This conflict has two sides: those in favor of capital punishment, and those who view life without parole (LWOP) as a more humane alternative.


Supporters of the death penalty rationalize executing because if a man takes a life he should pay for it with his own or "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." They also use verses from the Bible like, "Whosoever sheds a man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed" (Genesis 9:6), and Exodus 21:12 to show that Christianity supports it. They claim that executions deter other criminals from killing in fear of being executed. However, this could never been proven since it would be very difficult to link a drop in murders to knowledge of recent executions. Those who oppose the death penalty have come up with many reasons that life in prison without parole, or LWOP, is a better means of dealing with violent criminals. One reason is the risk of executing the innocent. (Bedau1) This risk is very small considering that since 1900 only 23 people, who were possibly innocent, were executed. ( Those...

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