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Discuss the Arguments For and Against the Reintroduction of the Death Penalty For Murder

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Discuss the arguments for and against the reintroduction of the death penalty for murder The death penalty, the ultimate punishment for man some may say. There are equally valid arguments for both views. This essay will discuss the arguments for and against the reintroduction of the death penalty for murder. Capital punishment is punishment by death - hanging, electrocution, gas chamber, firing squad, lethal injection or beheading. It is normally reserved for murder although can be used in certain other exceptional circumstances (E. McLaughlin and J. Munice, 2001). "Hanging was used in England and Wales between 1016 and 1964" (E. McLaughlin and J. Munice, 2001: 24). The purpose of which seems to have been retributive as well as deterrent. After May 1868, executions took place inside the prisons as previously, when they were public affairs, spectators often used the occasion as an opportunity to commit further crime thus turning what was supposed to show the power of law into a crime spree itself (E. McLaughlin and J. Munice, 2001). "The death penalty was abolished in this country in 1965" (Davies, Croall and Tyrer, 1995: 6) although this was only for a five year trial period and was abolished officially in December 1969 (E. McLaughlin and J. Munice, 2001). It is still retained in some states in the USA and in certain African and Asian countries. ...read more.


"Two of the leading opponents of capital punishment in the United States today, Professors Hugo Adam Bedau and Michael L. Radelet, concluded in a 1987 study that 23 innocent people have been put to death in the United States since 1900" (M. Grossman, 1998: 129). In today's society, courts commit resources to avoid such miscarriages of justice to ensure that innocent people are not put to death, although even as late as 1962, James Hanratty, subsequently considered innocent, was put to death for a crime committed on an English road although another man later confessed to the offence, and in 1997 a British commission concluded that Hanratty may well have been innocent (M. Grossman, 1998). Capital punishment has always faced a lot of controversy. One of the reasons is due to the cost of actually carrying out the death penalty. Those in favour of capital punishment persistently argue that, "cost cannot be considered as part of the judicial equation when justice is being sought" (M. Grossman, 1998: 60). Those against the death penalty utilise numbers to prove their argument that it actually costs the state more to execute someone that it does to keep them in prison for the rest of their life. Margot Garey states that "because of constitutional requirements and the diligence of attorneys in capital cases, death penalty litigation is a long, expensive process" where, after conviction, appeals which usually last decades follow as courts examine the case and investigate possible legal errors that could overturn the death sentence (M. ...read more.


A report released in 1990 by the General Accounting office in the states shows indications of racial discrimination. The study concluded that, "a person accused of killing a white was 4.3 times more likely to be sentenced to death than a person accused of killing a black" (www.igc.org/africanam/archives/eh2/factsheet.html). There does not seem to be any other alternative to the death penalty except life imprisonment without parole. Punishment must be fair and in proportion to the offence committed and for the worst murderers life - meaning life - is an option. It protects the public from the risk of re-offence and allows time for rehabilitation. Most criminals are only, if at all, deterred by the thought of being caught and even the "best review of the evidence from research concludes that 'it has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment'" (N. Walker, 1991: 16). In conclusion we see that the arguments for and against capital punishment are both very strong and depending on one's situation, circumstances and beliefs the ultimate decision to support or oppose the death penalty is that of the individual. The likelihood of Britain ever reintroducing the death penalty for murder is minimal. Politically it would be extremely hard given British commitment to human rights and our membership of the EC, which itself is highly opposed to capital punishment and contains no member states that still retain the death penalty as its highest form of punishment (www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/6142/thoughts.html). 1 ...read more.

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