Essay for and against death penalty


Arguments for

Others defend capital punishment on the grounds that it has important benefits for society. This essay surveys both types of arguments and critical responses. The idea that punishments should be equal in severity to their crimes underlies retributivist defenses of capital punishment.

Arguments against

Retributivists argue that execution is justified because it matches the badness or wrongness of murder—i. How is proportionality established?

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Because being murdered prevents the victim from having any valuable experiences, murderers are punished too lightly if they can enjoy even the limited goods life in prison allows. Some argue for a duty to purge exceptionally evil offenders from society by executing them. Execution dissolves that responsibility. Many defend the death penalty not as a response to criminals for their past evil deeds, but by arguing that executing murderers produces better overall social consequences than not doing so.

The Death Penalty

Common sense suggests that the fear of being executed prevents, or deters , potential murderers from killing. For deterrent justifications of capital punishment, the beneficial consequences of executions—innocent lives saved—outweigh the costs to the legal system and the executed person. Deterrence is about reducing murder rates overall. Proportionality-based retributivism also faces challenges.

Capital punishment is sometimes judged to be disproportionately harsh because murderers suffer from prison time, from knowing their execution date, and from losing their lives, whereas murder victims only lose their lives. Execution must deter murder better than imprisonment for its costs to be justified. But deterrence theories could allow executing the innocent: if executing an innocent person would prevent future murders and authorities could keep her innocence secret, the benefits would plausibly outweigh the costs and deterrence theories would support killing her.

Death penalty abolitionists raise a number of general objections to capital punishment. Advocates respond that offenders forfeit their right to life by committing murder. And assertions of an absolute right to life have the implausible consequence of prohibiting killing in justified self-defense. Dignity arguments against capital punishment focus on whatever basic human capacity e. Actions that violate dignity, like torture, are widely condemned. Abolitionists argue that because execution destroys the capacity for dignity, it violates dignity and is thus immoral.

Advocates question whether eliminating the condition of some valuable feature actually offends against that feature: e. Capital punishment is often rejected on account of flaws in the legal procedures leading to death sentences. Some reject the death penalty in practice for these procedural reasons, even though they believe it is justified in theory. In the U.

Why Abolish The Death Penalty?

There is little consistency in who is sentenced to death and who is sent to prison, and so the death penalty is condemned as being intolerably arbitrary. One pattern in capital sentencing is that those who murder white people are more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murder black people blacks who murder whites are the most likely to face execution. Death penalty advocates respond by insisting that what an individual murderer deserves is unaffected by how other murderers are treated. They add that arbitrariness and discrimination are reasons to reform , not abolish, sentencing procedures.

If someone is wrongly executed—either because she is innocent, or subject to procedural injustice at trial—there is no way to right the wrong. Retributivist justifications dominate contemporary politics, but have recently suffered some recent legislative defeats to proceduralist arguments.

Death Penalty Essay

State and federal death rows are populated solely by murderers and accomplices to murder. The death penalty is heartless to humans and a cruel punishment. We say do not kill, but we are doing the same thing.


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A form in which a human life is being taken by execution is merciless. Many prisoners reform while they are in prison. Criminals have committed some unspeakable crimes, but they do not deserve to have their life to end. The US has changed the meaning of Human Rights Bill to justify our system settling of scores against another. In , 48 nations has abolish the death penalty. Fourth, the death penalty has executed people who are not guilty.

If we continue the Death penalty, not guilty people will die. The problem with the death penalty is that innocent people is killed. The system makes mistakes and do not always have the evidence when convicting people. Many prisoners spend years serving time for a crime they did not do. There is no justice for them or their families. Justice system do not question how many not guilty has died.

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We can punish them end other ways beside the death penalty. They argue that the death penalty executing those that are guilty. Capital punishment takes many steps to assure that fewer mistakes is made. In support of their side it is true that criminals get a fair trial in the legal system. Our system assures that lives will be save by execution, just the opposite there little evidence to prove that the death penalty saves lives.

Retribution for a crime means the justice system is going to get even for the crime you committed. Retribution it is a cruel way for our justice system justifying what they are doing. Taking the life of the people who has killed, we are doing the same crime. Of course, another popular argument used to defend the death penalty is the idea that it is just retribution for a heinous act. Once again, this traces back to the ancient notion of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth being the only fair and just punishment to be meted out for the taking of a life. But once again, the fact remains that not all murders are punished by death in the US and the ways in which the death penalty is enforced vary considerably based upon the state where the trial takes place and the racial identity of the criminal versus the victim.

Furthermore, given the presumption that murder is the most evil action which can be performed, the potentiality of the state taking the life of an innocent person, which is a very real possibility, argues against the notion that the death penalty is in any way just. Opponents of the death penalty also argue that it is irrelevant if other nations, including most industrialized European nations, have prohibited the death penalty.

They argue that it is important for the United States to take a stand for its own moral values. However, given that the United States wishes to take a bold stand in favor of human rights, it cannot afford to disregard what other nations do and the standards other moral nations have set regarding how criminals are treated within their justice systems. The US is in a poor position to criticize other nations when it carries out similar policies in regards to its prisoners.

The United States should stand as a beacon of moral light to other nations in regards to its policies versus engage in troubling practices in terms of the ways in which it treats its own prisoners. The history of executing prisoners has had a long and troubling history throughout civilization since the ancient world, but particularly in the United States, which espouses the value of freedom and democratic values.

Today, the tide of public opinion is increasingly against the idea that capital punishment is aligned with the principles of the United States. There has been increasing attention drawn to notable cases of individuals who were exonerated after languishing for years on death row.

The potential failures of the justice system suggest that wielding a permanent punishment is unwise, unjust, and cruel and unusual. The US Supreme Court has increasingly restricted the ability of state legislators to execute criminals, even though it has drawn the line against declaring the death penalty itself to be cruel and unusual.

Finally, the fact that the death penalty has been disproportionately used against persons of color and historically-discriminated against minorities, versus in a fair and just fashion, further underlines the need to abolish the death penalty. Furman v. Capital Punishment in Context. Death penalty. The death penalty and deterrence.

Amnesty International. Death penalty statistics by country. The Guardian. Dieter, R.

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Death Penalty Information Center. Gregg v. Bill of Rights Institute. Levy, P.

One in 25 sentenced to death in the US is innocent, study claims. Love, D. Racial bias of the US death penalty. Oliphant, B. Support for death penalty lowest in more than four decades.

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