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 ***** 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 France, and hang*****g by the neck was frequently imposed in the U.S. well into the 20th century.

***** several Middle Eastern countries, capital ***** ***** still imposed for ***** "crimes" as homosexuality; in others, including some ***** the wealthiest, modern, and so- called "moderate" Islamic nations, the death penalty is not formally sanctioned ***** law, ***** nevertheless condoned and rarely prosecuted as pun*****hment for female adultery (Dershowitz, 2002). In the contemporary U.S., a large majority of states still impose capital punishment for certain crimes involving homicide, subject to ***** rules of procedure and due process established by 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 ***** or unusual provided certain precautions are maintained to ensure a humane ***** (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 ***** issue of humane application, criminologists examining data from the second half of the 20th century ***** determined ***** capital ***** is applied disproportionately to criminal defendants who are 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 ***** ********** never committed, among them, more than a few who were on death row awaiting execution (Schmalleger, 2007).

Moral Objections and Constitutional Issues:

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

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

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

Cruel *****


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