Good Research Paper About Death Penalty For Sexual Violence In America

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Crime, Criminal Justice, Punishment, Death, Death Penalty, Penalty, Supreme Court, Sexual Abuse

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/11/09

In order to understand if it is appropriate to apply death penalty for sexual violence that was aimed at women or that was aimed at kids when the crime did not result in death of the victim, it is very important to take into account historical background and full understanding of the term «death penalty.» In United States of America death penalty is rather controversial issue, legal acts of some of the states do not find death penalty to be fair punishment in any case, other states apply death penalty within all their history.
In practice, in the United States of America the death penalty is applied only when the murder was committed with the aggravating circumstances. Methods that are used for the performance of death penalty are different in each state. Legally, the death penalty is based on the criminal law of the state. Provisions of federal laws that provide death penalty as a punishment for the most serious crimes, are hardly used. Each state determines its own circle of persons to whom it may be applied and cases when death penalty can take place, the purpose and methods of capital punishment.
Authority to grant clemency of those who were sentenced to death penalty belongs to Governor of the State, and the cassation and supervisory review of such sentences is the prerogative of the State Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court.(Reggio, 2015)
At present time, the death penalty is applied in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah. In addition, the death penalty can also be imposed by the federal government and the US military tribunal.(Streib, 1993)
And this is the list of States that do not apply the death penalty in the United States: Iowa (1965), Alaska (1957), Vermont (1964), Wisconsin (1853), Hawaii (1948), West Virginia (1965) Maine (since 1887), MA (1984), Michigan (1846), Minnesota (1911), New Jersey (2007), New Mexico (since 2009), New York (2007), North Dakota (1973), Rhode Island (1984), as well as the District of Columbia.(Streib, 1993)
The first case of capital punishment in the United States of America took place in 1608, when a Captain George Kendall was sentenced to death in Jamestown that was a colony of Virginia. He was hanged for spying for Spain.(Reggio, 2015)
The most popular destination of the death penalty is the case when 38 people were sentenced to death for murder and rape during the war in Dakota in 1862. They were all hanged at the same time on December 26, 1862. The second most mass hanging was carried out over 13 African-American soldiers who participated in the rebellion of Houston in 1917. The largest non-military capital punishment was applied to 26 pirates who were sentenced to execution in 1723 in Newport, Rhode Island.(Reggio, 2015)
United States Bill of Rights that includes the Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution makes the death penalty to be even more controversial issue. The Amendment says: «Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.»(, 2015)
The appropriateness of the death penalty and its application is discussed within the United States with varying degrees of activity for many years. In the early 70s, this debate has affected the country's Supreme Court. In 1972, the Supreme Court considered the appeal in the case Furman v. Georgia, where two persons were sentenced to death, by five votes to four the Supreme Court held that "the death penalty in these cases constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, contrary to the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution." It should be noted that, originally one of the appellants was sentenced to death for murder and two others were sentenced to death penalty for rape without causing physical injuries or death of the victim.(Reggio, 2015)
The Supreme Court decision was not indisputable, as a comparative analysis of the three (V, VIII and XIV) amendments to the constitution indicates that its creators goal was to abolish the death penalty as the type of punishment, but only to decide in which cases and according to what crimes it can be applied. Realizing this, the state legislature, however, were forced to respond. More than 30 states have passed laws which clearly identified the factors that were considered in the imposition of the death sentence. Thus were somewhat limited scopes of judicial discretion. For example, the law of the State of Florida gave list of aggravating and mitigating circumstances and pointed out that the death penalty may be imposed under aggravating, unless outweighs extenuating circumstances are established. It is clear that these innovations contributed little to address the problem of strict regulation.(Streib, 1993)
The situation became even more complicated by subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court. Thus, in 1976, the Supreme Court decided on the case of Gregg v. Georgia, that the death penalty itself does not violate the Constitution, and in the case of Woodson v. North Carolina said that death penalty as a mandatory punishment is contrary to the Constitution. In 1977 the Supreme Court considered that in the cases when rape takes place without murder of the victim the death penalty can not be applied. It was the case of Coker v. Georgia when the Supreme Court took the decision that death penalty can not be applied if the rapist didn’t kill and had no intent to kill his victim.(Streib, 1993)
In addition, the position of judges is widely influenced by legislators and politicians, as well as they influence public opinion. It is, according to surveys, shows that since 1972 the majority, and in recent years the vast majority of Americans are supporters of the death penalty.(Persily, Citrin & Egan, 2008)
Practice shows a lot of cases where the establishment of the death penalty for a certain crime did not lead to a decrease in its performance, but also gave the opposite result, or causes to commit more serious crimes. There are plenty of situations when the death penalty was applied for the murder, as the result there was a rise in the number of murders committed due to the fact that the criminals tried to reduce the likelihood of accountability, began to kill not only the victims but also the witnesses of their actions. When the death penalty was applied for sexual violence that did not result in death of the victim, criminals started to kill their victims after the act of raping. As the death penalty was applied in both cases, for both raping and raping and killing, the rapist chose to kill his victim in order not to leave a witness.(Persily, Citrin & Egan, 2008)
In the case of Kennedy v. Louisiana the Supreme Court of United States has banned the execution of criminals convicted of raping children. Five votes to four jury found unconstitutional the death penalty to be the fair punishment for pedophiles in Louisiana. This decision of the Supreme Court extends to all judicial practice.(Persily, Citrin & Egan, 2008)
The Supreme Court considered the complaint 43-year-old Patrick Kennedy, who in 2003 was sentenced to death for raping 8-year-old stepdaughter in Louisiana. Kennedy is one of two US citizens who had been sentenced to death for rape, not resulting in death of the victim. Both are residents of Louisiana sentenced. The Supreme Court has imposed a ban on the death penalty for rape in 1977, but then the victim was an adult woman.(Persily, Citrin & Egan, 2008)
45 states have banned the death penalty for all crimes of a sexual nature, but in five states - Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas - the highest measure was allowed as a punishment for the rape of children, but only if the attacker was sentenced for a similar crime before and if he is a repeat offender.(Bohm, 2008)
Kennedy was sentenced to death for the sexual abuse of his stepdaughter in her bed. Rape provoked internal injuries and bleeding, because of which the child had to have surgery. The girl was so frightened that she firstly accused the neighborhood boy in the abuse of her, but a month later she changed her testimony.(Bohm, 2008)
In other words, judges have taken another step forward after the abolition in 2002 of executions in respect of persons with mental retardation, after the cancellation of the 2005 executions of condemned who have committed crimes as minors, it was right to cancel death penalty as a punishment for rapists.

References,. (2015). Bill of Rights Transcript Text. Retrieved 12 February 2015, from
Bohm, R. (2008). The death penalty today. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press.
Persily, N., Citrin, J., & Egan, P. (2008). Public opinion and constitutional controversy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Reggio, M. (2015). Readings - History Of The Death Penalty | The Execution | FRONTLINE | PBS. Retrieved 12 February 2015, from
Streib, V. (1993). A Capital punishment anthology. [Cincinnati]: Anderson Pub. Co.

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