Death Penalty Can it Ever Be Justified Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1491 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

Death penalty cannot be equalled to murder or considered unjust. As an effective method of instilling the fear of committing crimes, capital punishment may be awarded against the worst and barbarous criminals acts. In the interest of greater well-being of the society it is permissible to award Death penalty in such situations.

Human society is based on ethical, moral and spiritual foundations. Society has always been a mixture of good and bad and the judicial system has evolved to contain the obnoxious elements. In the United States, as in any other democratic nation of the world, individual liberty and freedom of expression are the most cherished qualities. Every person who forms the fabric of the society is entitled to equal rights, protection, and justice. Death penalty, considered the highest level of punishment has been in practice for centuries. After a brief ban the Supreme Court ruling of 1976 reinstated capital punishment and last year (2005) 60 prisoners were executed. [Bureau of Justice Statistics] a discussion of capital punishment from the utilitarian as well as the deontological moral theories would help us understand the issue better.

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Term Paper on Death Penalty Can it Ever Be Justified Assignment

Death penalty is an intensely debated subject and over the last few years many countries have totally abolished it. Even in the United States many states have passed legislations or sought moratoriums banning death penalty. Currently in the U.S. there are 38 states, which have death penalty while 12 states have abolished the practice. [DPIC]the main argument against capital punishment stems from the spiritual perception. The principle of 'eye for an eye' is considered unfitting. The spiritual idea of forgivance and "love for your enemy" can at best be adhered to at a personal level, but cannot be considered ideal for a society on the whole. Of course, such high ideals are the ultimate motto of all humanity but from a collective societal perspective it would be a gross blunder to show leniency to wanton abusers. [Kenneth Cauthen]

Heinous crimes such as murders are not tolerable in a society and they need to be effectively dealt with. Edward Koch, the former mayor of New York states, "Had the death penalty been a real possibility in the minds of...murderers, they might well have stayed their hand. They might have shown moral awareness before their victims died..." [Wesley Lowe]

Utilitarian and Deontological Perspectives

The utilitarian theory of ethical philosophy judges any act as either good or bad based on their utility value. That is to say that the utility value for an act is greatest if it produces the greatest happiness or benefits for greater number of people. This is a consequentialist approach in which an act is approved for its beneficial aspects rather than its rightfulness. So under this context capital punishment will be approved and accepted as a good act for the society at large, as the elimination by way of execution of the brutal murderer or a serial killer, removes the danger for the society. That is the utilitarian thought holds that the execution of the offender improves the 'happiness factor' for the society, as it not only eliminates the wrongdoer and prevents a repetition of such horrific incident, but also serves as a warning for the would be criminals.

Recent studies have attested the fact that capital punishments tend to decrease the recurrence of cruel crimes. A study by Joanna Shepherd and Paul Rubin from the university of Emory analysed criminal data from 3,054 U.S. counties over a period of twenty years (1977-1996) and found a positive relation between capital punishment and crime rate. Professor Shepherd states, "our results suggest that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect. An increase in any of the probabilities -- arrest, sentencing or execution -- tends to reduce the crime rate. In particular, each execution results, on average, in eighteen fewer murders -- with a margin of error of plus or minus 10." [Dudley Sharp]. Another separate statistical study by Naci Mocan, from the University of Colorado that analysed more than 6,143 criminal records nationwide (between 1977 and 1997) has also confirmed that every execution reduces the incidence of homicides by 5 to 6. [Dudley Sharp]. However, these results are not in concordance with FBI's data, which indicate that the Southern states that constitute 80% of the executions have the highest murder rates. [DPIC]

The question as to whether other alternative forms of punishment (such as long-term imprisonment) would produce the desired results ("happiness factor") and also reduce the harm… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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