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 ***** murder of another, but that is not always the case.

The Guillotine played a highly publicized role throughout the 18th century in France, and hang*****g by the neck was frequently imposed in the U.S. well into the 20th century.

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

In the 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 Court in 1976. In Gregg v. Georgia ***** Court decided that capital punishment is not inherently cruel or ***** provided certain precautions are maintained to ensure a hum*****ne ***** (Dershowitz, *****). However, evidence suggests that existing guidelines for compliance with constitutional principles are insufficient ***** eliminate the possibility of cruelty in application, even if not ***** sentencing (Lancet, 2008).

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

***** Objections and Constitutional Issues:

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

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

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

Cruel and


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