Capital punishments




In today\'s world, terrible crimes are being committed. Many believe that these crimes deserve one fate: death. Debate over the merits of capital punishment continue on a daily basis. Proponents of capital punishment defend it mainly on two grounds: death is a fitting punishment for murder, and executions maximize public safety through incapacitation and deterrence. Opponents claim that it is inhumane, does not deter crime, leaves too much room for error, and in some cases is racist and discriminatory. This discussion will center on capital punishment, focusing on three topics: 1) views of the proponents; 2) views of the opponents; and finally, 3) possible solutions and alternatives to what is a very controversial and emotional issue facing our society.
Proponent\'s View
Capital punishment supporters\' view is very simple: the death penalty works. Many base their judgment on religious principles. Regardless of their faith, they point to the Bible, Koran, Torah, or other scriptural texts that advocate an "eye for an eye" remedy for murder or other heinous crimes. However, religious faith aside, they also cite other evidence as proof of their convictions.
A recent Department of Justice study lends merit to their claim. During the 1930\'s, murders hit an all-time high. Executions also peaked in 1935. In those distant days, people were executed fairly routinely and the number of executions coincided with the number of murders.
Over the next 30 years, both the murder rate and the number of executions declined. This could be interpreted two ways: murders declined because of some external reason (the end of Prohibition) and the number of executions fell accordingly; or the high number of executions pushed down the murder rate.

But after 1963, executions ceased altogether. Not because murders had ceased, but because the U.S. Supreme Court began its review of state capital cases, imposing various exclusionary rules for confessions and search-and-seizure. Critics believe this created a lengthy and almost endless appeals process. The immediate result was that executions virtually ended after 1964. In 1971 the justices declared all existing death penalties to be unconstitutional. This ban was not lifted until 1978. Only after legislative reformulation did more than half the states impose the death penalty on murderers by the 1990\'s (Tucker, 2000).
Death-penalty proponents claim the impact on capital-punishment crimes are plain. Beginning at almost the exact point when executions ended, murder soared to unprecedented heights. The murder rate tied the 1933 record in 1973, broke it in 1974, broke it again in 1980, and peaked a third time in 1990-92. Then suddenly it plummeted, so that by 1999 we were once again back to the levels of 1966 when murder first began its upward sweep. Proponents say this proves that executions deter crime. Stop executing people, murders soar. Resume executing people, murders decline (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/exe.txt).
Death-penalty proponents also dismiss the idea that capital punishment is "state sanctioned" murder. Syndicated columnist Charley Reese made an interesting analogy. Reese states that opponents equate execution and murder, believing that if two acts have the same ending or result, then those two acts are morally equivalent. He goes on to rationalize such questions as: 1) is the legal taking of property to satisfy a debt the same as auto theft; 2) Are kidnapping and legal incarceration the same if both involve imprisonment against one\'s will; and 3) is rape and making love the same if both may result in sexual intercourse? Reese is also confounded by opponents who see no moral distinction between the slaughter of innocent people and the just execution of society\'s human rights violators (www.prodeathpenalty.com).
Opponent\'s View
This author finds it ironic and interesting that a vast majority of death penalty abolitionists also derive their opposition to capital punishment from religious beliefs, in many cases from the exact same previously mentioned scriptures. Be that as it may, opponents, like the proponents, offer practical evidence to support their position. Gilligan (2000) is an ardent abolitionist. He rationalizes that in over 20 years of psychologically examining prison inmates, that punishment does nothing to deter crime, it only serves to fester the hatred already built up inside most prisoners. Gilligan offers many studies that he claims show most criminals perpetuate violence because they have been victimized themselves, either by their personal upbringing or by society.
Racism is another