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Should the Death Penalty Be Legal?

Kiara Grover

Criminal Justice 1010

Salt Lake Community College

October 9, 2017

The Death Penalty, also known as Capital Punishment is what I am going to be writing

my first paper on. This is, the punishment of execution, administered to someone legally

convicted of a crime. The Death Penalty is something that is a huge controversy in society today.

Many people agree in saying it is ethical and if someone commits a crime that puts them up to

capital punishment then they deserve it, while others are saying that even if they did commit a

crime it is still cruel and an unneeded action. Throughout this essay, I will be stating my beliefs

on this argument, and then I will also be talking about the conversation that is taking place in the

world today about the Death Penalty.

The first thing that usually gets brought up when talking about the Death Penalty and if it

is ethical or not, is morality. Using morality, you can see both sides of this argument, both the

pros and the cons. Constitutional Lawyer, Bruce Fein said, the pros being, Abolitionists may

contend that the death penalty is inherently immoral because governments should never take

human life, no matter what the provocation. But that is an article of faith, not of fact. The death

penalty honors human dignity by treating the defendant as a free moral actor able to control his

own destiny for good or for ill; it does not treat him as an animal with no moral sense" (Fein).

Disagreeing with Fein, Professor Bryan Stevenson believes that, Death sentences are imposed

in a criminal justice system that treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor

and innocent. This is an immoral condition that makes rejecting the death penalty on moral

grounds not only defensible but necessary for those who refuse to accept unequal or unjust

administration of punishment" (Stevenson). These are the pros and cons of capital punishment

when looking at it through a morality point of view. This is just the beginning of the different

ways people can look at this controversy.


The next thing that gets looked at and questioned with the death penalty is

constitutionality. Author Baze Rees states, Simply because an execution method may result in

pain, either by accident or as an inescapable consequence of death, does not establish the sort of

'objectively intolerable risk of harm' that qualifies as cruel and unusual... Kentucky has adopted a

method of execution believed to be the most humane available, one it shares with 35 other

States... Kentucky's decision to adhere to its protocol cannot be viewed as probative of the

wanton infliction of pain under the Eighth Amendment... Throughout our history, whenever a

method of execution has been challenged in this Court as cruel and unusual, the Court has

rejected the challenge. Our society has nonetheless steadily moved to more humane methods of

carrying out capital punishment" (Rees). Rees sees the positive in Capital Punishment.

While William Brennan believes, the other side saying, Death is... an unusually severe

punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality, and in its enormity... The fatal constitutional

infirmity in the punishment of death is that it treats 'members of the human race as nonhumans,

as objects to be toyed with and discarded (Brennan). These are both two very hard arguments to

be able to choose one and side with it. I can honestly see both sides and agree with a couple of

things in which they are both talking about. This is where you really need to know your stance

and what you believe.

This is a topic that is such a debate right now because it is still legal in the United States

and some believe that it should not be because it is unethical. The third thing that will often get

brought up in this conversation is irrevocable mistakes. Attorney Steven Stewart states, No

system of justice can produce results which are 100% certain all the time. Mistakes will be made

in any system which relies upon human testimony for proof. We should be vigilant to uncover

and avoid such mistakes. Our system of justice rightfully demands a higher standard for death

penalty cases. However, the risk of making a mistake with the extraordinary due process applied

in death penalty cases is very small, and there is no credible evidence to show that any innocent

persons have been executed at least since the death penalty was reactivated in 1976. The

inevitability of a mistake should not serve as grounds to eliminate the death penalty any more

than the risk of having a fatal wreck should make automobiles illegal (Stewart). Mistakes are

going to happen, but the death penalty is the right way to handle different situations like this.

On the other hand Russ Feingold does not agree that the death penalty is at all okay, he

goes on to say, Since the reinstatement of the modern death penalty, 87 people have been freed

from death row because they were later proven innocent. That is a demonstrated error rate of 1

innocent person for every 7 persons executed. When the consequences are life and death, we

need to demand the same standard for our system of justice as we would for our airlines... It is a

central pillar of our criminal justice system that it is better that many guilty people go free than

that one innocent should suffer... Let us reflect to ensure that we are being just. Let us pause to

be certain we do not kill a single innocent person. This is not too much to ask for a civilized

society (Feingold). I thought that this was more of the conversation that we hear today with the

death penalty. They are always taking a chance that the person did not really do that, so what if

they get executed and then proven that they did not commit the crime? This is where the problem

comes in.

Death Penalty is a serious act and should be handled in a serious manner. In order to have

the death penalty come to play the reasons and the actions by a certain individual must succeed

the limits in which it can be classified as a serious crime. Many people do not trust the death

penalty because they try to believe everyone is innocent and is free spirited and wouldnt do such

a thing to anyone. When truth be told not all people are good there is some evil in humans. Some

shine brighter than others in the evil and acting out department. There will always be some rotten

apples who will fall from the tree.

I personally believe that after all the perspectives and views of other people that the death

penalty is a good way to handle certain situations and it is a good thing it is used in the United

States the law has to put their foot down at some point and with nobody standing up to the

challenge there would be more and more deaths because we could not handle or address the

situation to our best ability by executing the instigator. The death penalty is not taken lightly it

must be understood that if you are willing to take others lives, for instance like 9,11 the tourists

who caused the incident ended up being executed with their plan. In that case though what if they

would have made it and just been held in prison I truly believe that they deserve to loose their

lives because they took so many others for no good reason.

The answer that I have come to after researching this topic, is that Capital Punishment is

the right answer when people commit those serious crimes. I got my information from the

internet on a couple of different websites. There is in fact more than one conclusion, but I believe

that I picked the right one from facts and data. I believe that the death penalty is ethical and our

criminal justice system is handling situations just as they should be. I do not believe that people

should be able to commit serious crimes and be able to get off the hook that easy. Capital

Punishment is in all rights, fair and the right answer.


Works Cited