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Is The Death Penalty Ethical Essay

2483 words - 10 pages

Is the Death Penalty Ethical?
            It is clear in our society that violent crimes, such as murder, should carry some sort of stiffer punishment than that of other, lesser crimes.  What is not clear is what that punishment should be.  One punishment that is a constant source of debate is the death penalty.  In this paper, I will examine whether the death penalty is or is not ethical.  Both sides of the issue will be explained, through examination of various aspects of it, which include religious and financial considerations, whether the death penalty is a deterrent or not, and whether or not it can be regarded as justice.  I submit that the death penalty is an ethical and equitable ...view middle of the document...

  Opponents of the death penalty include the Presbyterian Church, which states on its web site that “The use of the death penalty tends to brutalize the society that condones it.” (n.d.)  Likewise, the Lutheran Church is anti-capital punishment, but does recognize the government’s authority to use it only if failing to use it causes obvious danger to society.  The church questions whether or not it can be used in a fair manner, and says “It perpetuates cycles of violence.”(September 4, 1991).  The United States’ religious population is also made up with some more Eastern religions.  Buddhism is completely against taking or causing the taking of life.  The Islamic Qur’an states: “…and take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law (6:151).”  Even the official policies of various religions do not always reflect the views of individual members.  This sample of religious policies and teachings clearly shows that this country is split right down the middle in their views regarding the death penalty.  There must be examination of other considerations in order to evaluate the ethical correctness of capital punishment.
            Some proponents of the death penalty argue that people who are convicted of capital crimes should not live out their lives in prison at the expense of the taxpayers.  Opponents say that executions are too costly.  Others argue that it serves no purpose, especially as a deterrent.
            According to Erlich (1975), the possibility of a death penalty does not serve as any more of a deterrent than does the possibility of life-imprisonment.  In other words, if a person is considering murder, knowing that he or she would receive a capital punishment sentence rather than a sentence of life in prison makes no difference in that person’s decision.  Increasing the severity of punishment above a life sentence does not serve as any more of a deterrent (Erlich, 1975).  In a Gallop poll taken in October of 2011, sixty-one percent of the people surveyed were in favor of the death penalty (Polling Report, 2011).  Thirty-five percent were against, with four percent unsure.  Of those same people, only thirty-two percent thought that the death penalty acted as a deterrent to murder.  According to Polling (2011), sixty-four percent of the persons polled believed that the death penalty served as no deterrent, while four percent were unsure of the effect.  According to Radelet & Borg (2010), top criminologists do not see the death penalty as a deterrent.  Four hundred police chiefs and county sheriffs were randomly chosen for a 1995 survey, and of those four hundred, roughly sixty-six percent agreed that the death penalty made little difference as a deterrent, as opposed to life imprisonment.  Seventy presidents - former and current – of criminologist associations were polled in a different survey.  The associations are The American Society of Criminology, The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences,...

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