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

***** several Middle Eastern countries, capital ***** is still imposed for such "crimes" as homosexuality; in others, including some ***** the wealthiest, modern, and so- called "moderate" Islamic nations, ***** death penalty is not ********** 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 ***** impose capital punishment ***** certain crimes involving homicide, subject to ***** rules ***** procedure and due process established by ***** Supreme Court in the l*****t quarter of ***** 20th century (Schmalleger, 2007).

In the ***** States, objections to ***** ***** 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 cruel or unusual provided certain precautions are maintained to ensure a humane death (Dershowitz, *****). However, evidence suggests that existing guidelines for compliance with constitutional principles ***** insufficient ***** 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 century ***** determined that capital punishment is applied disproportionately to ***** defendants who are from racial minorities ***** well as those who ***** poor (Schmalleger, *****). Finally, the recent advent ***** advanced forensic techniques making use of DNA science have exonerated hundreds of criminal ***** serving time for ***** *****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 consider*****ble 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 ***** are not valid criteria for modifying laws; instead, ***** Constitution dictates the principles ***** defines and distinguishes appropriate and inappropriate forms ***** criminal punishment (Dershowitz, 2002).

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

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

Cruel and


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