Abolishing The Death Penalty In America Research Paper
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For years, the death penalty issue in American has been extremely controversial – questions abound as to whether or not the practice is a holdover from a more barbaric time that we surely have moved on from. However, many people still support the death penalty as a potential deterrent against crime, making it necessary to weigh the positives and negatives of the practice as a whole. When considering the inherent flaws of the American justice system, the immense costs in imprisonment, law enforcement and litigation, and a number of other socioeconomic factors, it becomes incredibly clear that defenses of the death penalty are not ethical or cost-effective, and are therefore indefensible. In the light of interest and support for the death penalty decreasing in recent years, as well as the threat of innocent people being put to death due to improper law enforcement work, it is clear that the death penalty should be abolished within the American justice systems, in lieu of a maximum sentence of life without parole.
Capital punishment has a number of historic roots as a normal punishment in many countries throughout the world for hundreds of years. The death penalty was historically used to punish extreme crimes like theft and treason (Banner, 2003). After some time, however, those punishments were banned following the 18th century, as writers and academics began to recognize the negative social effect the death penalty was having (Guernsey, 2009). In America, many states have no statutes allowing for the death penalty,
AP. "New Mexico governor bans death penalty." Daily News. March 18, 2009.
This news story from the Associated Press details the decision by the governor of New Mexico to abolish the death penalty in his state. This news story will be used to support the points of the waning interest and support for the death penalty in the United States, and its decreased usage in recent years.
Amnesty International. "U.S. Death Penalty Facts" Amnesty International USA. Web. April 8 2015. <http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/death-penalty/us-death-penalty-facts>.
This page offers a font of statistical and argumentative information from one of the most preeminent human rights organizations in the world on the barbaric nature of the death penalty. Statistics, trends, racial and mental health issues, and more are all provided in this page, which should provide sufficient support for many of the points made in the paper.
Baldus, DC, Woodworth, G., & Pulaski, C.A. Equal justice and the death penalty: legal and
empirical analysis. UPNE, 1990. Print.
This book explores the legal and statistical ramifications for the existing use of the death penalty, with tremendous insight into the phenomenon of racial discrimination. This provides a great deal of statistics on the historical sentencing of black inmates more than white inmates to death row, and offers substantial support for these race-based arguments against the death penalty in the paper.
Banner, S. The death penalty: an American history. Boston: Harvard University Press, 2003. Print.
This book offers a comprehensive history of the death penalty in America, tracing its roots as a punishment hundreds of years back to its European origins. This will be used in the paper to support the assertion of capital punishment’s historical relevance and the crimes it was used to punish.
Cassell, P. "In Defense of the Death Penalty." Journal of the Institute for the Advancement of
Criminal Justice, vol. 2, pp. 14-28. 2008. Print.
This text by Judge Paul Cassell provides a legal justification for the death penalty from the perspective of a lawmaker. The death penalty is established in traditional justifications for punishment, and claims failures on the part of death penalty challengers for refuting these points. This will provide much of the counterargument for the death penalty’s utility in the paper.
Garland, D., Meranze, M., & McGowen, R. America's death penalty: between past and present. New York: New York University Press, 2010. Print.
This book depicts a history of the death penalty in America through the past thirty years, linking it to historical justifications, looking at the question on both American and European contexts to determine what capital punishment means from a legal and ethical standpoint. This will be used in the paper to support the point that the death penalty can cause damage to states’ public image.
Guernsey, J.B. Death penalty: fair solution or moral failure? Twenty-First Century Books,
This book offers a comprehensive look at the death penalty debate, examining acts and statistics to evenly discuss the issue. The book does not come down on one side of the issue, but explores the positives and negatives of both. This book will be used to provide some of the statistical and logical support and opposition for the death penalty.
Newport, F. "In U.S., 64% Support Death Penalty in Cases of Murder." Gallup. Web. Nov. 8,
2010. <http://www.gallup.com/poll/144284/Support-Death-Penalty-Cases- Murder.aspx>.
This Gallup poll provides a recent barometer of Americans’ support of the death penalty, which will be used in the paper to provide empirical support for the assertion that Americans still feel the death penalty is necessary at times. This also shows that support for the death penalty is largely steady and has been for the past few years.
Noe, Randall T. "Tennessee's Capital Punishment History And Today's Merited Reprieve For Its
Death Penalty." Lincoln Memorial University Law Review 2.1 (2015): 9.
This article overviews the history of capital punishment in Tennessee, which chiefly uses it as a possible threat to bring about plea bargains. Still, the death penalty is shown here to be immensely unpopular, though arguments in the article can be used to provide counterarguments for the measure’s continued existence.
Smith, Robert J. "Geography of the Death Penalty and Its Ramifications, The." BUL Rev. 92
This article details the locations and counties which do and do not use the death penalty in the United States, as well as the consequences for doctrine, advocacy and litigation for these rates in execution. This will provide substantial data on which parts of the United States use the death penalty, and how best to target those areas for abolition advocacy strategies.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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