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 ***** 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 hanging by the neck was frequently imposed in the U.S. well into the 20th century.

***** several Middle Eastern countries, capital pun*****hment is still imposed for such "crimes" as homosexuality; in others, including some of the wealthiest, modern, ***** so- called "moderate" Islamic nations, ***** death penalty is not *****ally sanctioned ***** law, but nevertheless condoned and rarely prosecuted as pun*****hment ***** 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 modern rules ***** procedure and due process established by the Supreme Court in ***** l*****t 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 Court in 1976. In Gregg v. Georgia the Court decided that ***** punishment is not inherently cruel or unusual provided certain precautions are maintained to ensure a hum*****ne death (Dershowitz, *****). However, evidence suggests that existing guidelines for compliance with constitutional principles are insufficient ***** eliminate the possibility of cruelty in application, even if ***** ***** sentencing (Lancet, 2008).

Beyond ***** issue ***** humane application, criminologists examining data from the second half of the 20th ***** ***** determined that capital ***** is applied disproportionately to criminal defendants who are from racial minorities as 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 ********** never committed, among them, more than a few ***** were on ***** 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, in the U.S., religious principles are not valid criteria for modifying laws; instead, the Constitution dictates ***** principles ***** defines and distinguishes appropriate and inappropriate ********** of criminal punishment (Dershowitz, 2002).

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

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

Cruel and


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