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 fe*****ture of human social justice since before recorded history. Generally, civilized societies reserve the ultimate form of punishment for ***** most serious crimes, such as the murder of another, 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 ********** the 20th century.

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

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

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

***** Objections and Constitutional Issues:

Religious principles generate a considerable amount of opposition to capital punishment in modern times, despite biblical references to death as an appropriate form of punishment. However, in the U.S., religious ***** are not valid criteria for modifying laws; instead, the Constitution dictates ***** principles that defines and distinguishes ***** and inappropriate forms ***** criminal punishment (Dershowitz, 2002).

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

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

Cruel and


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