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 s*****ce before recorded history. Generally, civilized societies reserve the ultimate form ***** punishment for the 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 hang*****g by the neck was frequently imposed in the U.S. well ********** the 20th century.

***** several Middle Eastern countries, capital ***** ***** still imposed for ***** "crimes" as homosexuality; in others, including some of the wealthiest, modern, ***** so- called "moderate" Islamic nations, the death penalty is not ********** 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 still impose capital punishment for certain ***** involving homicide, subject to modern rules of procedure and due process established ***** ***** Supreme Court in the last quarter of ***** ***** 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 be*****e the Supreme ***** in 1976. In Gregg v. Georgia the Court decided that ***** punishment is not inherently cruel or unusual provided certain precautions are maintained ***** ensure a humane death (Dershowitz, 2002). However, evidence suggests ***** existing guidelines for compliance with constitutional principles are insufficient to eliminate the possibility of *****ty in application, even if ***** ***** sentencing (Lancet, 2008).

Beyond the issue of humane application, criminologists examining data from the second half ***** the 20th century have determined that capital ***** is applied disproportionately to ***** defendants who are from racial minorities as well as those who ***** poor (Schmalleger, 2007). Finally, the recent advent of advanced forensic techniques making use of DNA science ***** exonerated hundreds of criminal ***** serving time for crimes they 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 to capital punishment in modern times, despite biblical references to ***** as an appropriate *****m of punishment. However, in the U.S., religious principles are not valid criteria for modifying laws; instead, ***** Constitution dictates the principles that defines ***** distinguishes ***** and inappropriate ********** of ***** punishment (Dershowitz, 2002).

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

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

Cruel and


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