Essay - Criminal Justice - Systematic Problem the Problem with Capital Punishment...

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Criminal Justice - Systematic Problem


The Problem of Capital Punishment in the United States:

***** punishment has been a feature of human social justice since before recorded history. Generally, civilized societies reserve the ultimate form of punishment for the most serious crimes, such as the murder of ano*****r, but that is not always the case.

The Guillotine played a highly publicized role throughout the 18th century in Fr*****nce, and hanging by the neck was frequently imposed in the U.S. well *****to the 20th century.

In several Middle Eastern countries, capital ***** ***** still imposed for ***** "crimes" as homosexuality; in others, including some of the wealthiest, modern, and so- called "moderate" Islamic nations, ***** death penalty is not ********** sanctioned by law, but nevertheless condoned and rarely prosecuted as punishment for female adultery (Dershowitz, 2002). In the contemporary U.S., a large majority of states ***** impose capital punishment ***** certain crimes involving homicide, subject to ***** rules of procedure and due process established by ***** Supreme Court in the last quarter of ***** ***** century (Schmalleger, 2007).

In the United States, objections ***** ***** ***** penalty as a criminal punishment have centered around constitutional definitions of "cruel and unusual" and culminated in arguments before the Supreme Court in 1976. In Gregg v. Georgia the Court decided that capital punishment is not inherently ***** or unusual provided certain precautions are maintained to ensure a humane death (Dershowitz, 2002). However, evidence suggests that existing guidelines for compliance with constitutional principles ***** insufficient ***** eliminate the possibility of cruelty in application, even if not in sentencing (Lancet, 2008).

Beyond ***** issue of humane application, criminologists examining data from the second half of the 20th century ***** determined that capital punishment is applied disproportionately to ***** defendants who are from racial minorities as well ***** those who ***** poor (Schmalleger, 2007). Finally, the recent advent of advanced forensic techniques making use of DNA science have exonerated hundreds of criminal ***** serving time for ***** *****y never committed, among them, more than a few ***** were on ***** row awaiting execution (Schmalleger, *****).

Moral Objections and Constitutional Issues:

Religious principles generate a consider*****ble amount of opposition ***** capital punishment in modern times, despite biblical references to death as an appropriate *****m of punishment. However, in the U.S., religious principles are ***** valid criteria for modifying laws; instead, the Constitution dictates ***** principles that defines ***** distinguishes appropriate and inappropriate forms ***** ***** punishment (Dershowitz, 2002).

***** that regard, there ***** two fundamental constitutional problems with capital punishment, at least in the form currently employed within the criminal justice system.

*****, the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits criminal sanctions that are cruel ***** unusual punishment (Zalman, *****). Second, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (in conjunction with Fifth Amendment due process applied ***** the federal government) ***** unequal treatment under the law, particularly as a function ***** suspect cl*****sses, *****cluding race (Friedman, 2005; Zalman, 2008).

Cruel and


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