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Running Head Capital Punishment
Is Capital Punishment Justified?
Ed G. Weathersbee
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Capital Punishment is the extreme penalty for crime. Such methods as drowning, stoning, hanging, and beheading have been used to carry out execution of criminals for a great variety of offenses. Modern executions are usually done by means of electrocution, the gas chamber, or a lethal injection of a drug. Hanging is still used in some places, as is execution by firing squad. The question is not how one personally feels about capital punishment, but whether or not capital punishment is justified. I say that that is a justification reserved only for one person…God.
The main reason for combating crime and enforcing punishment is to prevent the disintegration of society. In other words, the preamble to the United States Constitution uses the phrase “to insure domestic Tranquillity” to describe this goal. Over the years, different reasons have been used as justification for punishment.
Revenge is the most natural motive people have had for wanting to inflict punishment. The argument is simple, the person that has harmed someone should have harm inflicted upon him. Is this the society that we are today in modern society? Revenge is still the most common motive for the use of punishment, especially as a response to the most brutal and senseless crimes. But the revenge motive, of course, is usually left on the curb a long way from the courthouse.
The justification used in the courthouse is deterrence. Deterrence is the notion that the threat of punishment will prevent criminal activity. It presumes that individuals act rationally in their own interests and therefore will seek to escape the pain that punishment brings. Deterrence was intended for the law-abiding individual as well as those prone to criminal behavior. Evidence that it has served to diminish the extent of crime in society is minimal. If punishments do not serve to deter crime, they should be abolished.(www.sun.coci.niu.edu)
As pointed out by the American Civil Liberties Union, the death penalty inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantee of due process of law and the equal protection of the laws. This in itself is justification enough not to use this sort of punishment. Just break the phrase down. Cruel, yes, this is an act that even if someone were to get caught doing to an animal such as a dog or cat, would be put in prison for. Unusual, oh yeah, it isn’t very often a person gets in a chair with electricity hooked up to it or gets a shot that is going to kill him.
The moral reasons against capital punishment should be enough to do away with it, but lets look for a second at the cost. Anyone who does not know the facts about capital punishment will argue why keep someone in jail that is going to have be fed and sheltered by the tax payers, when he can be put to death, and out of the taxpayers hair. The fact is with the many trials and court appeals, putting someone to death cost extremely more that keeping him in jail for the rest of his life. Life imprisonment without parole cost an average of $750,000 to $1 million total for a maximum-security cell for 40 years. A capital punishment trial cost an average of $2.3 million in Texas and $3.2 million in Florida.(www.students.ou.edu) With capital punishment trials costing six times more that other murder trials in California taxpayers in California could save $90 million by abolishing capital punishment.
It is argued that capital punishment is a way to internalize cost, it doesn’t. They are able to appeal which cost double the original judicial process. Death row prisoners are commonly defended by public defenders that are paid for by the public. Once executed the accountability of capital crime may be internalized, but the cost is not. There are ways to internalize the cost of a prisoner, but he has to stay alive in order to do it. Eliminate the death penalty and implement life imprisonment without parole, because it has already been said that there is little proof that it deters capital crimes