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

In several Middle Eastern countries, capital punishment is 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 punishment for female adultery (Dershowitz, 2002). In the contemporary U.S., a large majority of states ***** impose capital punishment for certain ***** involving homicide, subject to ***** rules of procedure and due process established by ***** Supreme Court in the last quarter of ***** 20th century (Schmalleger, 2007).

In the United States, objections to ***** 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 ***** Court decided that ***** punishment is not inherently ***** or unusual provided certain precautions are maintained ***** ensure a hum*****ne death (Dershowitz, 2002). However, evidence suggests ***** existing guidelines for compliance with constitutional principles ***** insufficient to eliminate the possibility of cruelty in application, even if ***** ***** sentencing (Lancet, 2008).

Beyond the issue of humane application, criminologists examining data from the second half of the 20th ***** ***** determined that capital punishment is applied disproportionately to ***** defendants who are ***** racial minorities as well ***** those who are poor (Schmalleger, *****). 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 ***** were on death row awaiting execution (Schmalleger, 2007).

Moral Objections and Constitutional Issues:

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

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

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

Cruel and


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