Captial Punishment




The American government operates in the fashion of an indirect democracy. Citizens live under a social contract whereby individuals agree to forfeit certain rights for the good of the whole. Punishments for crimes against the state are carried out via due process, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The use of capital punishment is decided by the state, which is legal in thirty-seven states. It is a moral imperative to protect the states\' rights to decide their own position on the use of capital punishment.
Capital punishment is a method of retributive punishment as old as civilization itself. Both the Greeks and the Romans invoked the death penalty for a wide variety of offenses. Socrates and Jesus were perhaps the most famous people ever condemned for a capital crime in the ancient period. Hammurabi\'s Code, a code of laws developed by the king of one of the first empires, dates back from the third or second millennium before Christ. This code claims that retribution, an eye for an eye and a life for a life, is justice. In Anglo-American law the death penalty has been a customary response to certain kinds of offenses. The movement in America to have the death penalty declared unconstitutional received paramount attention during the landmark case of \'Furman v. Georgia,\' rendered on June 29, 1972, which declared the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment. No executions took place between 1967 and 1977. However, after a supreme court decision in 1975 \'Gregg v. Georgia\', which stated capital punishment did not violate the Eighth Amendment, executions commenced again under state supervision. Should capital punishment be continued? Retribution is a justification for capital punishment because it is an injustice to tolerate criminal behavior such as murder.
The case for capital punishment can best be understood by examining the opposition\'s arguments against capital punishment. Opponents of capital punishment say the death penalty does not deter crime and is cruel and unusual. Opponents may also argue that capital punishment is a blood thirsty judicial homicide that benefits no one. Are they right to believe a murderer is entitled to our sympathy?
The first argument that I shall contend with is that capital punishment does not deter crime. Opponents of capital punishment say the death penalty is not necessary. Other countries that no longer have the death penalty have not experienced an increase in the number of murders. The idea is that the death penalty does not deter crime. Countries such as Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, and Belgium have not carried out executions since the early part of the century, yet these countries have not experienced a rise in crimr rates. However, deterrence is not the question when you are looking at the retributive value of capital punishment. In short, deterrence can only work if the threat of punishment is combined with the conviction that the forbidden acts are not only illegal and therefore punishable but immoral. Without the conviction of morality, the easily frightened will not break the law, but the fearless will break the law, the irrational will break the law, and all others will break the law.
Apparently certain sections of this society have been desensitized to the point that human life has no value whatsoever. To that section of the population nothing will hold deterrent value. These people do not think about the consequences of their actions. Lack of foresight and morals, however, cannot be used as an excuse for the toleration of crime. Capital punishment is a retributive justice, and no direct correlation to murder rates can be logically applied with respect to the death penalty\'s deterrent value. Actual statistics about the deterrent value of capital punishment are not available because it is impossible to know who may have been deterred from a committing a crime.
Opponents of capital punishment also suggest that capital punishment is judicial homicide, a murder sanctioned by the state. If the sovereign state says that taking a life is wrong, how can the state in effect do the same thing to punish the taking of a life? The problem with this argument is that it assumes an individual in society has the same rights as the government in power and in charge of enforcing laws. The citizens of an indirect democracy willingly give up