Free «Death Penalty in the USA» Essay

Death Penalty in the USA

Capital punishment, or death penalty, is one of the most ancient forms of punishment. Initially, it emerged during the implementation of the retaliation principle: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Belluck). According to this principle, a just punishment for causing death to another person is the death penalty. In addition, the custom of blood revenge existing in many societies also played its role. Now this old tradition was designed to be replaced by the death penalty, carried out on behalf of the state.

In developed countries, death is always preceded by a long-term trial on different levels, thus, a defendant is given an opportunity to appeal. This often leads to the fact that years or even decades pass between sentence and its execution (or clemency of the defendant as well as death from natural causes). Only an authorized representative of the state can carry out sentence. Otherwise, the action is considered as a murder and, thus, is punishable by law (Belluck).

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In the majority of modern states, death penalty is to be executed non-public, that is, only certain legal persons (for instance, a prosecutor, a representative of a prison, who carries out executions, and a doctor) have the right to attend this procedure. In some cases, death penalty may be commuted to life imprisonment or long imprisonment by the court.

By mid-2007, 89 countries had abolished death penalty for all crimes. The other 10 countries have retained it only for certain serious crimes committed during wartime, excluding the possibility of death penalty for the so-called general criminal offenses (Washington Post). 30 countries have abolished the death penalty in practice; in other words, they have not been bringing executions for the last 10 years, and intend to continue to adhere to the moratorium, or officially declared a moratorium on executions. So far, there are 130 countries “which are abolitionist in law or in practice” (Belluck), and the other 68 countries that retain and continue to apply this measure in the world.

One of the most pressing issues being discussed today in the society is the problem of death penalty. This topic is discussed both at the state level and in conversations among people not interested in politics. Such an important topic cannot leave anyone indifferent. The proponents of maintaining such an exceptional measure of punishment, as well as its opponents, put forward many reasons and arguments. Everyone feels right and tries to bring its case. To address the question of who is right, it is necessary to understand the arguments on both sides. A lot of discussions on such matters were conducted: How effective is the death penalty? (Hastorok)

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The high degree of credibility rating lies in the argument which is supported by a vast majority of people. People do support this capital punishment, regarding that death penalty satisfies revenge heat (Hastorok). If people have been killed as a result of crime, then there remain close relatives for whom revenge is the second largest force after the grief of losing the beloved people. Even strangers feel unfair to leave those who committed a serious crime without a proper punishment. That is why, quite convincingly, a lot of people state the thesis that “death penalty is the only fair punishment for the most serious crimes” (Hastorok). Slightly less people support this statement of justice, expressing themselves in religious terms: “This is a legitimate reward for a lot of sins” (Hastorok).

It is hard to convince people in the need to cancel the penalty if a repeat offender commits a new serious crime. It might happen that an offender is in prison and commits a murder. It looks like impunity, lawlessness, and powerlessness to stop the most brazen criminals. Even people who madly oppose death penalty appear at a loss when similar arguments are presented to them. In this case, more than a half of those who generally are against this measure feel that the corporal punishment should be applied. Yet, even weighing various arguments, the opponents of death penalty hold their opinion. They are those who strongly believe that death penalty shoulld be abolished.

Their most persuasive argument is that “miscarriage of justice in death penalty can not be corrected” (Chiarito). There are many examples of this. In the press,  there was encountered a statement that till the moment a serial killer Chikatilo was arrested, two people were wrongly executed for his crimes. Judicial errors can be corrected only if a person has not been executed yet. For a civilized state, these humanistic arguments are more important. This argument is felt as the strongest one in all categories of people (Chiarito).

The opponents of death penalty justify their position, primarily anticipating a high probability of irreparable miscarriage of justice or bribery, which are possible under the conditions of imperfect legislation and ineffective judicial system. Significant impediment to capital punishment is moral or religious considerations. In this sense, there is the conviction expressed that no one can take away a person’s life, and any murder, even if it is applied to offenders, is sinful by its nature. In any case, people strongly believe that a decrease in crime cannot be achieved by increasing penalties; though, what it turns into is simply a general anger (this argument is more inclined to stress on men).

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In any case, the true purpose of punishment is the protection of society and its individuals. Protection against dangerous criminals can be done in two ways – either their complete isolation, or deprivation of their lives. However, both of them exclude the correction of a convict.

This is a controversial question of the appropriateness and legality of death penalty. It seems to last for many more years, causing controversy and disagreement. The main argument against capital punishment is the possibility of judicial error. Many judges, speaking out against the death penalty in the USA, talked about how they were not ready to take responsibility for the death of an innocent man. Finally, any trial is conducted by humans, and, therefore, it cannot be absolutely impartial and infallible.

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