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As much as any controversy, capital punishment is a major issue in American politics.

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Introduction

As much as any controversy, capital punishment is a major issue in American politics. In 2002, 71 persons in 13 States were executed -- 33 in Texas; 7 in Oklahoma, 6 in Missouri; 4 each in Georgia and Virginia, 3 each in Florida, South Carolina, and Ohio; 2 each in Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina; and 1 each in Louisiana and California. In 2003, 65 inmates were executed, 6 fewer than in 2002. The death penalty has become a topic of serious controversy in recent years. In particular, debate has been made over whether or not the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for severe crimes such as murder. ...read more.

Middle

The second justification is utilitarian. Under this theory, punishment is justified because it makes society better off in some way, perhaps by deterring potential criminals, protecting society by segregating criminals, or by reforming the criminal such that he/she can one day rejoin society. I don't believe either of these justifications for criminal punishment supports the use of the death penalty. To take the utilitarian view first, I would argue that capital punishment is an unsuccessful deterrent. People still commit the crimes and figures of serious crime haven't gone down Secondly, I don't think capital punishment is necessary to segregate offenders and thereby protect society. ...read more.

Conclusion

The risk of error is unacceptably high, and excessively shouldered by certain groups. I don't believe that the retributive justification for punishment requires the death penalty either. I don't disagree with the retributivists-I do believe we should punish capital offenders severely, not just because it is good for society, but because what they have done is wrong. But why is the death penalty necessary to accomplish this? It seems to me that life imprisonment is sufficient punishment. The death penalty is the taking of a life, no matter how little value society places on that life (like in Extreme measures) To justify this act, supporters of the death penalty must prove that there is a far more important good to be served by ending a life than by preserving it. ...read more.

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