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The Death Penalty ­ Not Just A Moral Issue

1879 words - 8 pages

"The question with which we must deal is not whether a substantial proportion of American citizens would today, if polled, opine that capital punishment is barbarously cruel, but whether they would find it to be so in light of all information presently available."
-Justice Thurgood Marshall

In general, death is something none of us want, in fact it is something we don't even like to think about. When death takes place naturally, it is a process beyond our control to stop, but where death is willfully and deliberately brought about, it is very unfortunate. Of course, within our legal systems there are said to be certain reasons and purposes for employing the death penalty. It is ...view middle of the document...

This is indicative of how misguided we have become. Conflict theorists would argue that the same minority of people who control a society’s ideological hegemony are the same people who rationalize and instigate the killing of people who generally come from opposite backgrounds.
U.S. Senator Ross Feingold recently introduced a bill to abolish the federal death penalty and called on all states that impose the death penalty to cease the practice. He said that it is time for America to leave the death penalty behind with the 20th century and take a hard look at our justice system, declaring: "With each new death penalty statue enacted and each execution carried out, our executive, judicial, and legislative branches at both the state and federal level add to a culture of violence and killing." Human beings are not violent by nature. Unlike lions and tigers, they are not naturally equipped to kill with sharp teeth and claws. The basic nature of every sentient being is pure, that the deeper nature of mind is something pure. Human beings become violent because of negative thoughts, which arise as a result of their environment and circumstances.
Legal executions came early to America, when British soldiers hanged Nathan Hale in 1776 for spying during the Revolutionary War. After colonists gained independence, pioneers ventured west and the tradition of executions traveled with them, but they soon took on a new meaning. Revenge and justice became a necessity to early settlers loo
ing for order in a nation of disarray. Two hundred years later, in a more civilized and refined era, emotional opposition to the death penalty flourished, and in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state executions were unconstitutional. A moratorium on capital punishment began, but it was short-lived as the American cry for justice persuaded legislators to lift the ban in 1976. Since 1973, 95 people in 22 states have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. But more innocent, as well as guilty are being killed by a government that is still uncertain with the righteousness and aptness of execution. A long struggle with the death penalty continues as the voices of abolitionists scream to be heard.
There is much for abolitionists to argue these days, and some political figures, like Illinois’ Governor George Ryan through his recent moratorium, are listening. Most indigent defendants suffer from grossly inadequate legal representation. The US. General Accounting Office has found a pattern of evidence indicating racial disparities in charging, sentencing and imposition of the death penalty (General Accounting Office Report, February 1990). Many states continue to execute people who are either mentally ill or mentally retarded or who were under age 18 at the time of their crimes or both. And it is important to remember; sentencing a person to death is not cheap. Texas, with over 430 people on death row, spends an estimated...

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