Effectiveness of Death Penalty Among Industrialized Nations Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1979 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … crimes receive the death penalty?

Usually only the most severe crimes are punished by death. However, the definition of severe crimes varies with the historical time, the culture of the country applying it, its economical situation etc. However, people often see this issue very differently, depending on their character. For instance, "The governor of Massachusetts has announced his intention to restore the death penalty. He has set up a commission to devise legislation that would guard against any possibility of executing an innocent defendant. He would recommend capital punishment for only three types of crime: those associated with terrorism; those involving the killing of police officers, prosecutors, judges, or trial witnesses; and "heinous" crimes, defined as multiple killings or murders done with extreme brutality." (The Fight to Kill)

Countries commonly apply this penalty for extremely serious civil crimes (first degree murders or multiple killings for instance), political crimes or terrorism.

What does the international community say about death penalty?

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The international community doesn't support, in its majority, the death penalty. There are several international treaties, culminating with those under the authority of the UN, who prohibit the application of the capital punishment. Still, there are several countries in the world where the death sentence is still pronounced. The Unites States or China are relevant examples (Isn't is ironic that the U.S. often blame China for not respecting human rights"?) "According to the latest available data issued by Amnesty International, more than half of the world's states have abolished the death penalty. A total of 112 countries have stopped applying the death penalty, in law or practice." (Use of the Death Penalty Worldwide)

Term Paper on Effectiveness of Death Penalty Among Industrialized Nations Assignment

There are states where the law prohibits the death sentence for particular crimes or for all of them. "Out of these, Seventy six-countries and territories have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, sixteen have abolished the death penalty for all but exceptional crimes, such as war time crimes, and twenty countries can be considered abolitionist in practice. They retain the death penalty in law but have not carried out executions for the past ten years or more and are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions. Eighty-three other countries retain and use the death penalty, but the number of countries that actually execute prisoners is much smaller." (Use of the Death Penalty Worldwide)

As for the situation in the United States, "From 1976, when the United States Supreme Court allowed the reinstatement of the death penalty after a four-year moratorium, to the end of last year 820 people have been executed in this country. (Some 3,700 others are on death row, waiting to be executed.) Only three nations -- China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia -- are known to have executed more people than the United States did in 2001, the most recent year for which global comparisons are available. And 2001 was actually a slow year for executions in this country: the number of people executed -- sixty-six -- was the lowest since 1996." (Moral Justice)

Is the death penalty an effective deterrent?

The use of the death sentence is not considered an effective deterrent. The fact that crimes continue to exist and the high costs of applying this penalty are solid arguments, not to mention the moral and religious aspects of this penalty. "But use of the most severe sanction is not without controversy. Opponents rightly question its moral soundness and the uneven way it is applied. A small number of states, led by Texas, account for the bulk of executions. A fresh round of debate was touched off by passage, in 1996, of a federal law that restricts a condemned person's ability to file habeas corpus appeals. "(Death Penalty Vigil)

Papers of the Church are quite clear when it comes to the death penalty. "The best way to resolve the controversy would be to put this form of punishment on the shelf of history, as most other modern democracies have. State-sanctioned killing is at odds with the need to reduce the level of violence in society. Its value as a deterrent is, at best, questionable. And it is irreversible should evidence of innocence later emerge. " (Death Penalty Vigil)

The civil society, expressing its view through the voice of its members, is even more against the death penalty. "The death penalty is not an effective deterrent and, in fact, creates an atmosphere that encourages and fosters violence. Studies comparing homicide rates in death penalty states with those in other states show that the death penalty does not lower the murder rate. And the number of police, prison guards, and in mates killed is higher in death penalty states. We continue to have shockingly higher rates of murder than do Western European nations, none of which practice capital punishment. " (Not in My Name")

Are minorities the ones who commit crimes in those countries?

Minorities have been traditionally considered the common source of death row inmates. However, this opinion needs to be discussed and reevaluated. Could the poor, for instance, be considered a minority? "Capital punishment discriminates against the poor. Although murderers come from all classes, those on death row are almost without exception poor and were living in poverty at the time they were arrested. The majority of death row inmates were or are represented by court appointed public defenders -- and the state is not obligated to provide an attorney at all for appeals beyond the state level. "(Not in My Name")

If not, is there data on what types of people commit violent crimes? Or race?

The view on whether there is a race issue on applying the death penalty is controversial. However, the controversy is all about whether the race of the criminal or the race of the victim determines the outcome of the judges decision. "Execution rates also vary widely according to race -- not the race of the criminal but, rather, the race of the victim. Whereas only 51% of murder victims over the past twenty-five years were white, more than 80% of those executed during that time period had been convicted of killing whites. And whereas African-Americans were the victims in 46% of all homicides, only 14% of the criminals executed in the past twenty-five years had been convicted of killing black people. (Moral Justice)"

The traditional view is still dependant on the race issue. Particularly African-Americans are seen as the most common "beneficiaries" of the death penalty. "The application of capital punishment is racist. About 40% of death row inmates are black, whereas only 8 per cent of the population as a whole are black. In cases with white victims, black defendants were four to six times more likely to receive death sentences than white defendants who had similar criminal histories. Studies show that the chance for a death sentence is five to 10 times greater in cases with white victims than with black victims. In the criminal-justice system, the life of a white person is worth more than the life of a black person." (Not in My Name")

Is it proportionate to the population?

Since racial prejudices still exist and since states such as Texas apply predominantly the death penalty, there can be no discussion about the proportionality of the death penalty application. None, whatsoever.

Is there an effective alternative to the death penalty the U.S. can adapt?

Well, this is a difficult question. Some say that there are no effective alternatives. "Why execute anyone? Why not avoid the risk of miscarriages of justice by abolishing capital punishment altogether? Simply because there are no fully satisfactory alternatives. Life imprisonment is not necessarily lifelong; life imprisonment without parole still allows governors to pardon prisoners. The finality of death is both the weakness and the strength of capital punishment. We are not ready to do without it, yet hesitate to use it: There are many convicts on death row, but only a few are actually executed. Between 1973 and 1995, 5,760 death sentences were imposed; as of 1995, only 313 had been executed, and only some 400 have been executed since. Gary Graham, executed in June 2000, spent 19 years on death row exhausting his appeals, which were reviewed by more than 30 different judges. His case is far from exceptional." (The Ultimate Penalty)

Still, I would say that life imprisonment is the best alternative solution and is the only one that can actually be applied. Ideas such as deporting people on the moon or similar thoughts are beyond the scope of this paper. The solution must be effective and easy to apply. After all, general social security is at stake.

Are there any theoretical alternative solutions to the death penalty and will they work?

Obviously, there are many solutions to this problem. The most appropriate is long-term imprisonment. This is the most common solution authors provide. "Crime could be punishable by means of non-lethal penalties, such as long-term of life imprisonment." (Use of the Death Penalty Worldwide) Even when the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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