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Death Penalty Capital punishment refers to execution of individuals found guilty of first degree mur

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Death Penalty

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Introduction

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Capital punishment refers to execution of individuals found guilty of first degree murder. A murder is considered first degree if the prosecution establishes that the accused had clear intent of carrying out the crime otherwise referred to as malicious aforethought. The methods of execution have varied overtime and from one jurisdiction to another but the most common nowadays is death by lethal injection. Crimes that are subjected to capital punishment vary from state to state, but first degree murder is a capital offence in all jurisdictions only that the level aggravation may vary. This paper will discuss about capital punishment in US in general and the challenges facing this practice

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Capital punishment dates as far back as 1608 in the British North America colonies when Captain George Kendall was executed by a firing squad for allegedly spying for the Spanish government CITATION Fre103 \l 1033 (Freedman D, 2010). Michigan State has never had capital punishment law whereas states like Hawaii, Alaska, Illinois, Maine, and Minnesota among others have recently abolished death penalty CITATION Shi15 \l 1033 (Shirley, 2015). Over the years, capital punishment has elicited reactions from social justice crusaders around the world but majority of people in the US have favored it. Those opposed to it especially religious and human rights groups cite moral issues and the sanctity of life as the reasons. Amnesty International has all along viewed capital punishment in the context of human rights violation and has advocated for its abolition. Other groups are of the opinion that the only deterrence to murder is through execution of the offenders.

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Death penalty has drawn support and criticism in equal measure. Research shows most states that still uphold the sentence do so to address the rise of violent crimes. In the last ten years studies show that violent crimes have dropped by half in US something that has brought a corresponding decline in the number of death penalty sentences. This means that death sentence has at least some influence in deterrence of new similar crimes CITATION Set61 \l 1033 (Sethuraju, SAGE Open, 6(1),).

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Capital punishment has been utilized in the United States as a sentence for prisoners who carry out crime, for example, murder and assault. On most events, inmates on death row sit in prison and wait for their sentence to be completed. This holding up period likewise incorporates the prisoner’s different interests to stay away from capital punishment for which they were condemned.

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People on death row, with a life sentences, and life sentences without the likelihood of parole, there are no reasonable choices, but to keep them secured up a cell. Because of the idea of these prisoner’s violations, they should be secured a jail cell until the point that they are regulated capital punishment acquitted by the state governor or die.

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Review of Previous Research,

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History indicates that death penalty records are traceable back to the year 1930 (Bedau, 1998). In the history of American judicial system, laws and statutes have been designed to determine cases of first-degree murder and 18 aggravating circumstances. Once such laws determine that violation of such circumstances has occurred, the aggressor is sentenced to a death penalty. An example of such circumstances is raping of a child, which constitutes to a death penalty CITATION Hoo15 \l 1033 (Hood, 2015). In other countries like Afghanistan and China, an act of adultery results to a death sentence. The history of the death penalty in the United States and in other countries indicates that capital punishment is commonly used.

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According to Gershman (2012), inmates on death row were executed by hanging. However, human rights activists complained that such a sentence was slow, painful and agonizing. By the late 19th and throughout the 20th century, the use of a firing squad became common. During the 290th century, inmates on death row were being electrocuted or subjected to a gas chamber. However, these developments have evolved to the use of a lethal injection in the recent yearsCITATION Ger05 \l 1033 (Gershman, 2012).

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According to Kocsis (2013), most of the violent criminals are usually incarcerated for the most heinous acts. Examples of such acts include robbery with violence, rape, murder and assault. Unlike other criminal offenders, violent criminals cannot be categorized as a homogenous group. Basically, violent criminals exhibit characters of depression, aggression and hostility CITATION Koc09 \l 1033 (Kocsis, 2013). In some instances, violent criminals exhibit psychopathic and tension behaviors. An in-depth analysis on violent criminals would reveal that the individuals suffer from a personality disorder or a suicidal history (Kocsis, 2013). Violent criminals have a tendency to abuse drugs and have employment-related problems. The mental ability of violent criminals is something to focus on, since they normally exhibit cognitive distortion (Kocsis, 2013).

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Some would argue against the deterrence effect of the death penalty by comparing its efficacy to life imprisonment or total abolishment. Empirical studies comparing the deterrence effect of death penalty and life imprisonment are inconclusive. Some abolitionists have therefore argued that life imprisonment could deter would-be offenders just as well as the death penalty. Other abolitionists like Jeffrey Reiman even claim that complete abolishment of the death penalty would have a civilizing impact to society, therefore there would be a deterrent effect from not executing..

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Although empirical studies regarding the death penalty’s deterrence effect are inconclusive, one cannot leap to the conclusion that life imprisonment and abolition are necessarily better deterrents. Pojman argues, “We lack strong statistical evidence that capital punishment deters. But this should not be construed as evidence against the deterrence. There is no evidence for nondeterrence either. The statistics available are simply inconclusive either way” (Pojman, 2014). Inconclusive statistics point to the inconsistencies of empirical methodology, not the ineffectiveness of death penalty as a deterrent itself. In line with the best bet argument, the death penalty should be retained because abolishing it would mean running the risk of innocent people becoming murder victims in the future. Abolishing the death penalty using inconclusive studies as evidence is not appropriate and sufficient because there is no concrete evidence for the non-deterrence of the death penalty.

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The death penalty plays an extremely important retributive and utilitarian role in society. The death penalty is a result of a civilized society’s needs for justice towards the most grievous and heinous crimes of murder CITATION Gar17 \l 1033 (Garrett, 2017). Wrongdoing results in just punishment, and for the most extreme crimes like murder, extreme punishments must follow because an innocent life has been taken. Although it is difficult to swallow, any punishment less than the death penalty would be an affront to society’s sense of justice. The death penalty as punishment in turn prevents would-be offenders from committing murders. Hence, the death penalty is necessary to keep a safe and peaceful society.

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According to Hands off Cain (1), in 2003 there were 52 executions, in 2004 38, in 2005 90, in 2006 39, in 2007 166, in 2008 102, in 2009 27, in 2010 81, and in 2012 the figure stood at 78 CITATION Cov14 \l 1033 (Covey, 2014). The statistics above show that, although the number of executions has not reduced very much, there is a slight reduction; hence, showing that this form of punishment has really helped to reduce occurrence of heinous crimes. Considering that every year the population increases, statistically, there should be a larger number of perpetrators of capital crime. Therefore, even though the figures may seem to go up in certain years, the figures point to a startling finding that indeed capital punishment is effective.

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According to Radelet and Lacock (2011), for a long time now, there have been numerous individuals who support this from of punishment, because to them there is no any better form of punishment for heinous crime perpetrators CITATION Can14 \l 1033 (Canes-Wrone, 2014). Although a good number of individuals who are found guilty of committing of heinous crimes are put on death row, most of these convictions are normally overturned for lesser forms of punishments. Before being convicted, the accused will have to first pass through the legal system of the court; whereby, they will be charged. After this, a direct review of the conviction is made to ascertain if the sentencing was fair. This is the final stage where the defendants can have their case overturned based on the judge’s final ruling.

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Effectiveness of the policy

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Some Americans still think that the death penalty is not being utilised to its capacity, since some killers actually slip through the hand of justice and are left to kill again. Most people justify the death penalty on grounds that that the convicted killer will never live to kill again, and is seen as the best deterrent to potential future murders. As per Weisberg (2012), as far as can be established, a single death sentence helps to prevent more than 18 murders; hence, this sentence is effective. The death penalty is a necessary and just form of criminal sanction CITATION Ack10 \l 1033 (Acker, 2010). When an individual commits a crime, punishment must follow to enforce justice in society. When a crime like murder is so heinous and excessive, it must follow that the punishment for these types of crimes be unlike the punishments of any other crime. In the Gregg vs. Georgia case, the Supreme Court justices state, “…capital punishment is an expression of society’s moral outrage at particularly offensive conduct…certain crimes are themselves so grievous an affront to humanity that the only adequate response may be the penalty of death”CITATION Val06 \l 1033 (Valdez, 2016) . For the most extreme of crimes, ones that result in death like murder, offenders deserve the most extreme sanction under the system of law. Anything less than that would be unjust. In this sense, the death penalty is an appropriate form of criminal sanction because it is applied to the most grievous crimes.

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Recommendation

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I recommend that death penalty to be applied in most extreme cases where a life is taken. Crimes like murder that warrant the death penalty are different from any other crime because of the nature of death. Death is final and irrevocable. Nothing can be done to bring the dead back to life. A distinction must then be made between murder and other crimes that don’t result in death. In the case of murder, punishments that otherwise would not result in the same sense of finality to the offender are insufficient because it does not give justice to the victim. The death penalty is the only punishment that warrants the same sense of finality and irrevocability to the offender’s life.

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The death penalty should also serves a utilitarian purpose in society by serving as a deterrent. Although it is not always the case, people fear death in general. Therefore, people would fear a punishment that results in death. The death penalty deters possible future offenders from committing first-degree murder. In some cases, the death penalty has served as the ultimate deterrence because a dead murderer cannot murder again. The death penalty thus benefits society because it saves innocent lives from being killed in the future.

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Conclusion

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Thus, death penalty in my view should be upheld to serve as a warning to potential offenders. This gives both closure and justice to the victim’s family and a way for repaying the bad deed to the murderer. However, before the death sentence verdict is reached, prosecution must be thorough in their investigation and evidence collection to avoid incidences of botched trials and wrong convictions. Capital punishment in the form of death penalty is wrong, as life is divine. Besides, death penalty does not prevent crime, as same offenders never commit most crimes that lead to capital punishments. In addition, death penalty for vengeance is unjustifiable according to biblical doctrine. Therefore, societies should ban capital punishments and try other ways of handling persons who commit serious offenses.

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References

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BIBLIOGRAPHY \l 1033 Acker, J. R. (2017). Scrutinizing the death penalty: State death penalty study commissions and their recommendations. In The death penalty today (pp. 45-76). CRC Press.

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Canes-Wrone, B., Clark, T. S., & Kelly, J. P. (2014). Judicial selection and death penalty decisions. American Political Science Review, 108(1), 23-39.

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Covey, R. D. (2014). Supreme failures (reviewing Most Deserving of Death? An Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Death Penalty Jurisprudence, by Kenneth Williams (Ashgate 2012)). Crime, Law and Social Change, 61(1), 113-115.

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Freedman, D., & Hemenway, D. (2000). Precursors of lethal violence: A death row sample. Social science & medicine, 50(12), 1757-1770.

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Garrett, B. (2017). End of its rope: How killing the death penalty can revive criminal justice. Harvard University Press.

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Gershman, G. P. (2005). Death penalty on trial: A handbook with cases, laws, and documents. Abc-clio.

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Hood, R., & Hoyle, C. (2015). The death penalty: A worldwide perspective. OUP Oxford.

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Kocsis, R. N. (Ed.). (2018). Applied criminal psychology: a guide to forensic behavioral sciences. Charles C Thomas Publisher.

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Sethuraju, R., Sole, J., & Oliver, B. E. (2016). Understanding death penalty support and opposition among criminal justice and law enforcement students. SAGE Open, 6(1), 2158244015624952.

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Shirley, K. E., & Gelman, A. (2015). Hierarchical models for estimating state and demographic trends in US death penalty public opinion. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (Statistics in Society), 1-28.

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Valdez, D. W. (2006). The Killing Fields: Harvest of women: The truth about Mexico’s bloody border legacy. Peace.

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