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Capital Punishment, is it an effective or ineffective deterrent?

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Introduction

Capital Punishment, is it an effective or ineffective deterrent? This is a very emotive subject; there are strong arguments both for and against the death penalty. "No one has the right to condemn another human being to death, if the death penalty were a truly effective deterrent, and then theoretically, there would be no violent crime where it is in place, which simply is not the case. Capital punishment is described as an unfair form of retributive justice, because it could wrongfully target innocents or the insane, therefore, this deterrent should be abolished".1 Since ancient times, capital punishment has been used around the world as a lawful punishment tool, Its use has been advocated throughout history from the eighth century Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon, to the Roman law of the Twelve Tablets, to medieval Europe, to the forefathers of America2. The death penalty or capital punishment is lawful killing carried out by the state as a punishment and since ancient times it has been used for a wide variety of offences. In ancient time the most popular form of punishment was crucifixion, death would then occur normally through exhaustion or heart failure. This from of execution was stopped in the west around 400AD, but it continued in Japan until the latter part of the 19th century.3 The Bible prescribed death for murder and many other crimes, including kidnapping and witchcraft. The first Divine pronouncement which seems to sanction the death penalty is: "Whosoever shall shed man's blood, his blood shall be shed; for man was made to the image of God."4 When the ancient Israelites had departed from Egypt and were sojourning in the Sinaitic Peninsula, they received from the Lord a code of legislation wherein the death penalty was prescribed for many offences. ...read more.

Middle

Lethal injection is becoming almost universal in America as it is considered to be a 'clean' method of execution, if there ever could be such a thing. Oklahoma was the first state to introduce this so-called 'clean' method of execution, there are approximately 25 other states in America also using this method, five of these offer the prisoner a choice of execution mode.23 This is also the method used in the Philippines and Guatemala. In some Islamic countries, stoning for sexual offences including adultery occurs. China with a quarter of the world's population carries out the most executions, mostly by shooting, for a wide variety of offences. Often these are trivial offences. In May 2000 China executed 91 people24. In January 2003 China executed 9 people for various offences ranging from bombing to poisoning, 6 of the executions were for unknown offences25. Since 1998 China has been experimenting with lethal injection and like Thailand plans to make it the sole form of execution in the next few years26. Although lethal injection is claimed to cause less severe pain than any other form of execution, there have been problems with the administering of the drugs this probably caused the prisoner considerable distress.27 It can take up to 45 minutes from the time the condemned person enters the execution chamber until death has occurred. In 2002 the number of people executed worldwide was1,526, these were from 31 different countries, China, accounting for 1,060 of them, Iran with 113 and America with 71. 67 countries had 3,248 under sentence of death28. In America alone during 2002, 71 persons in 13 States were executed; 33 were carried out 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. ...read more.

Conclusion

Swiss-French tax collector, philanthropist and enlightenment philosopher 17 Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Br�de (1689-1755) French political philosopher, 18 John Locke (1632-1704) English Philosopher 19 Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) English philosopher and jurist 20 Norval Morris - Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Criminology at the University of Chicago. He is the editor of The Oxford History of the Prison and the author of The Brothel Boy and Other Parables of the Law. In 2000, he received both the American Society of Criminology's Edwin E. Sutherland Award and the National Council of Crime and Delinquency's Donald Cressey Award. 21 See, Time Magazine account (May 23, 1994) of the execution of John Wayne Gacy, "A Twist Before Dying" by David Seideman 22 Executioner by Albert Pierrepoint 23 Montana and Washington for example offer the choice of lethal injection or hanging 24 Amnesty International Death Penalty News Statistics 25 Ibid 24 26 Ibid 24 27 See Thomas O. Finks, 'Lethal Injection: An Uneasy Alliance of Law and Medicine'. J. of Legal Medicine, 4, (1983) pp. 383-403; Ronald Bayer, 'Lethal Injections and Capital Punishment: Medicine in the Service of the State' J. of Prison and Jail Health,4(1), (1984), pp 7_15; W.J. Curran and W. Cascells, 'The Ethics of Medical Participation in Capital Punishment by Intravenous Drug Injection', New England J. of Medicine, 302, (1980), pp. 226-30; and W.Cascells et al., 'Doctors, the Death Penalty and Lethal Injections', New England J. of Medicine, 307, (1982), pp, 1532-3. See the report of the execution of John Wayne Gacy in Chicago in The Times,11 May 1994. 28 http://web.amnesty.org/ 29 US Bureau of Justice Statistics November 2003 30 United Nations, Capital Punishment, (1962), para. 14, p11. 31 according to Home Office statistics 32 ibid 31 33 Hanging in the Balance Brian P. Block and John Hostettler, Lord Callaghan writing in the forward. - 1 - ...read more.

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