Capital Punishment In The United States Essay Sample
The capital punishment has caused a heated debate with the participation of a wide range of scientists, political, social and religious leaders. Many experts have discussed the admissibility of the application of the death penalty as a means of punishment and crime prevention. Even though capital punishment is only used as a form of persecution only for serious crimes, people still argue whether this form of punishment is humane.
Arguments of the Opponents
Church on Capital Punishment
Since many Americans consider themselves religious, with over 73% of the citizens claiming to be Christian , it is important to include the religious view on the topic. It is obvious that the Christian church and many religions in the world are against capital punishment, thus, Americans do not have to commit a crime, which is against their religion and beliefs. People have to choose the right way to follow the directions of the God, who said that no one has to kill anyone - it is against the human and religious nature. It is worth highlighting that the Bible is very clear on the subject of murders: “You shall not murder” . During the church assembly meeting in Orlando, FL the two-thirds of the participants voted for adoption of policy that stated: "Executions harm society by mirroring and reinforcing existing injustice. The death penalty distracts us from our work toward a just society. It deforms our response to violence at the individual, familial, institutional, and systemic levels. It perpetuates cycles of violence” A human being is not able to be completely sure of their actions, there have been cases of executing innocent and they definitely will happen in the future. The chance of making a mistake that cannot be corrected is too high. Death, as a form of punishment is different from any other form of punishment. By killing the criminal the society does not give him a chance to choose the right path and turn to God. After the vote and the discussion it can be assumed that the church’s position on the death penalty is opposing.
Lawyers on Capital Punishment
Even though it is the court that decides whether to apply death penalty or not, many lawyers oppose the capital punishment. While it may seem strange that the people who execute criminals oppose the idea of capital punishment, it can be assumed that the reason why they hesitate is that they can observe the mistakes that are being made during the executions. They are the witnesses of the cruel statistics; they see the discrimination that takes place in the American legal system. The statistics is evident: 60% of all criminals sentenced to death row are non-white. As of today, of the 3000 people on the death row more than 40% are African American, while many others are representatives of other minority groups. In the year 1972, the case of Furman vs. Georgia proved that many death row sentences were applied in a random and somewhat erratic manner. Eventually, once the Supreme Court interfered it was decided that Georgia state laws violated against Eight Amendment prohibition against cruel punishments. Also, it was discovered that the Georgia stare laws ignored the rules of equal protection and die process.
Many supporters of the death penalty claim that the chance of making a mistake is incredibly low since the court seeks undisputable evidence before sentencing a criminal to the death row. However, we can observe that this statement cannot be true. Let’s bring the State of California alone: so far there have been a total of three people who were exonerated from the death row. First: Ernest "Shujaa" Graham was exonerated in 1981, 5 years after conviction. Second: Troy Jones was exonerated in 1996, 14 years after conviction. And lastly Oscar Morris was exonerated in 2000, 17 years after conviction. This is another proof that the death penalty system does not work in the United States. When these cases were investigated, neither alleged criminal’s DNA was found. Taking into account the cases in which the execution took place, over the last five years the State of California could have saved one billion US dollars by replacing death row with a lifetime imprisonment.
Another example that highlights the risk of hurting the innocent is the case of Timothy Evans that took place in 1949. Evans was hanged for the murder of his wife and daughter. However, four years later a serial killer John Christie confessed to have committed the murder. A year later Christie was hanged and Timothy Evans was posthumously rehabilitated. Needless to say, fatal errors in the capital punishment cases are relatively common: according to the study in 1987, among all death sentences in the United States 349 were erroneous with 23 enforced.
World View on Capital Punishment
Foreign researchers question the American Legal system in regards to Capital Punishment. For instance, the opponents of the death penalty write: “Until the death penalty is retained, it is impossible to avoid the risk of incorrect execution of the sentence.” The world’s example shows that by the end of 1995 the death penalty was completely abolished in 72 countries. So far the United States is not only the country in which death penalty is still allowed, but is also one of the countries with the largest number of executions. Moreover, the United States of America is the only democratic country that still has not abolished the death penalty.
For example, most European countries are strictly against the capital punishment. European Convention on Human Rights 1950 (Art. 2) found that no one should be deprived of life intentionally except in the execution of a sentence of a court for a crime for which this penalty is provided by law. Even though abolition of the death penalty is not a condition for accession to the Council of Europe or accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, United Nations and many members of the committee are strongly against death penalty.
Polish researcher comments on the United States law in regards capital punishment: “The support towards legalized murder, no matter how motivated, is not momentary or utilitarian, and derives from powerful subliminal cultural and historical roots. This, in fact, explains the tightness of faith in the beneficence of the death penalty for the arguments of reason."
Moreover, USA is one of the most democratic countries in the world; however, it is still the only democratic country, where the capital punishment is one of the tools to punish the criminals.
20:13, E. Bible.
Ballaro, B., & Cushman, A. C. (2009). Capital Punishment Should Be Abolished. Points of Vew: Death Penalty , 1-2.
Cherry, M. (2010). International Views on the Death Penalty .
Furman v. Georgia (Georgia State Court 1972).
Karpec, I. (1989). Good or Evil? Global Tendencies.
Paszin, S. (1994). The Nature of Death Penalty.
PewResearch. (2012, October 9). “Nones” on the Rise. Retrieved from PewResearch Religion and Public Life Project: http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/
Sajid, A. (2005). Society Without the Death Penalty.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church. (1991). Churchwide Assembly Meeting.
United States Constitution (Vol. Amendment V).
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