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Capital Punishment: Justice for All?

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Capital Punishment: Justice for All? Capital punishment, also called the death penalty, is "death by execution" as stated in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. The death penalty is a sentence given to criminals charged with first degree murder, although most often than not, the majority of inmates on death row live years in a state penitentiary before their execution takes place. There are many historical changes, religious beliefs, and opposing view points held with the subject of capital punishment. The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the reign of King Hammaurabi in the eighteenth century B.C. There were as many as twenty-five different crimes all punishable by execution. Death sentences were performed by drowning, burning alive, stoning, crucifixion, impalement, and being beaten to death. Approximately 900 A.D., hanging lawbreakers became a much more popular method of the death sentence. The death penalty in America was introduced when European settlers came to the New World in the early 1600's. Specific crimes would sometimes guarantee a death sentence: suspected witchcraft, atheism, heresy, and homosexuality. However, present day governments worldwide have developed laws requiring quick and fair trials preceding the execution, dissimilar from the past when such orders were dealt with on- the-spot. The methods used currently differ greatly from earlier periods of history. The most common method of execution favored by most countries is lethal injection; other legal options available also include the electric chair, gas chambers, hanging, or a firing squad. ...read more.


These statistics represent an intolerable risk of executing the innocent. If an automobile manufacturer operated with similar failure rates, it would be run out of business. Our capital punishment system is unreliable. A recent study by Columbia University Law School found that "two thirds of all capital trials contained serious errors" (UCLS). When the cases were retried, over 80% of the defendants were not sentenced to death and 7% were completely acquitted. Many of the releases of innocent defendants from death row came about as a result of factors outside of the justice system. Recently, journalism students were assigned to investigate the case of a man who was scheduled to be executed, after the system of appeals had rejected his legal claims. The students discovered that one witness had lied at the original trial, and they were able to find the true killer, who confessed to the crime on videotape. The innocent man who was released was very fortunate, but he was spared because of the informal efforts of concerned citizens, not because of the justice system. In other cases, DNA testing has exonerated death row inmates. Here, too, the justice system had concluded that these defendants were guilty and deserving of the death penalty. DNA testing became available only in the early 1990s, due to advancements in science. If this testing had not been discovered until ten years later, many of these inmates would have been executed. ...read more.


The only condition is that the justice system needs to enforce life sentences - with no parole. The criminal should not get a second chance at life and freedom; their victim doesn't. Prison is a much more effective punishment than death. The guilt which a murderer must endure while in prison is far more difficult to handle than a painless death. Execution is not the solution to murder. Why then should the death penalty be acceptable? It too takes away a human life. By employing the death penalty as punishment for murder, society is further allowing itself to be corrupted by the violence and murder which threaten the well-being of our nation. The death penalty sends a message which says that murder is suitable under certain circumstances. Those who advocate capital punishment are attempting to justify the very thing they are struggling to punish: murder. Just as a murderer is wrong and immoral for taking someone's life, to kill the offender would only be returning the immorality. No one has the right to take away life, which includes the US government. "An eye for an eye" is not the philosophy this country was built upon. If we want to go about making improvements in this country, instituting the death penalty is not the way. To take another's life is wrong under any circumstance and we must change for the better by acting positively for the good of all society. Annastasia Zenner English 101 Professor Monticelli December 2004 ...read more.

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