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Capital Punishment



Capital punishment is a practice marred by a lot of controversies due to the consequences of abolishing or enforcing its use. The crimes punishable by the sentence are ****** and **** among others though the process takes long before the actual execution. The paper discusses both sides of the issues surrounding capital punishment using supporting information from the literature. It is evident that the practice is gradually having difficulties in its execution since some States support and others are against it. The research shows the importance of the topic under discussion to the criminal justice system in which everyone has the right to justice.

Introduction and Background to the Problem
            The main purpose of acquiring knowledge on the topics discussed in the syllabus is to a basis for understanding the issues that affect the society and the state at Large. Most of the information acquired is applicable in day to day activities as well as in decision making. Capital punishment is a controversial issue in many states since some are for it, and other are against it. The basic issue is having an understanding of the purported impact of using capital punishment in criminal justice. The topic under discussion is relevant to the course syllabus since it touches on the core issues in the criminal justice system.

            A discussion about capital punishment must have justice at its core since there are many issues to consider before exploring the option of capital punishment to a victim. In essence, the criminal justice system has the legal responsibility of ensuring that justice prevails in all the prosecutions and that there is no violation of the law. Capital punishment ensures that the persons convicted of certain crimes will never again step foot in the streets to engage in any activity.

            The topic of capital punishment has a close association with criminal justice. It’s important to consider the dignity of human life before deciding to punish a criminal through the method. Also, the idea of not using the punishment for certain types of crimes requires a deeper consideration depending on the magnitude of the crimes committed. It is a win-win situation in which each side of the decision made has consequences. The abolition of capital punishment may give freedom to criminals to continue with their activities without fear. On the other hand, the use of capital punishment raised the questions of the violation of human rights and the dignity of life.


            A research about Capital punishment is important since it helps in having a deeper understating of the issues that affect the society. It helps in shedding light on the issues raised about capital punishment either in favor or against it. It is an important issue in criminal justice system since it has an impact on the entire system. The States that condemn it have significant reasons for their decision, and the same is the case for those using it. Thus, the topic is important to the lawyers, magistrates, judges, the society, the law enforcers, and human rights activists, among others. Each of the groups outlined has a critical role in the criminal justice system.

            The research paper intends to have a practical impact on the real life issues that people face. Since it’s informative, every concerned party will acquire the right information about the issue. For practical applications, the paper provides information that can guide decision making process about the use of capital punishment. The paper brings to light the circumstances under which a criminal is liable to capital punishment. To the many innocent people sentenced to capital punishment, the paper acts a voice to the policy makers to reconsider their decisions.

Delimitations and Scope

The study can only inform the public and all the concerned parties about capital punishment in details. It relies upon the research conducted in different studies in gathering information. Thus, the paper has limitations that bound it since the issues discussed are not out of actual research conducted by the criminal justice system. Therefore, it cannot serve as a basis for any evidence in a criminal justice process. The paper cannot also facilitate any change of policy in capital punishment since it’s only informative and not action oriented.



            Capital punishment is the death penalty in punishing a range of different offenses in some States. It is not a new issue in the criminal justice system since it has been in existence for many years. It was legal in the United States until 1972 when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in a case of Furman v. Georgia (Johnson, 2011). The ruling relied on the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution terming it as a cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court reversed the decision in 1976 and upheld the death penalty. The ruling was not welcome in all the States since some do not practice it.

            Capital punishment is a diverse issue that has two sides of the discussion, for or against it. It is paramount for every criminal to get justice, but the approach of Justice differs among American Citizens. The main issue in capital punishment is whether the executions have justification for the serious crimes. There are many states that uphold it as a form of punishment, but few have a record of using it in the last ten years. Capital punishment finds most of its use when dealing with murderers and rapists in which it rarely happens. The debate lies in whether the criminals should perish through death or spend their lives in jail forever. The issue of capital punishment should go beyond having a basis on different viewpoints, morality, ethics, and values from one state to another.

Review of the Literature

            There is an increase in the body of research that evaluates why some people support the death penalty, and others oppose it. According to Andre and Velasquez (2014), the human rights advocates and civil libertarians have a call of denouncing the immorality of State-Sanctioned killing in the United States. It is the only western industrialized country that uses the death penalty as a form of punishment. The issue that arises is whether the practice is moral. However, there are many reasons towards the defense of capital punishment. The society has a moral obligation of protecting the safety and the welfare of all the citizens. Thus, the acts of punishing murderers by death ensure that the convicted criminals do not **** again. The people against it argue that ****** is wrong since it has a dangerous risk of punishing the innocent. They term it as unethical, barbaric, and not an effective method of deterring crime in comparison to the life in prison (Roy, 2014).

            Capital punishment is an irreparable crime that States perpetrate without considering the consequences. Humans are prone to error, but the errors in a death penalty are a dangerous risk (Roy, 2014). Some people lose their lives innocently on the basis of capital punishment. According to Amnesty International, “death penalty legitimizes an act of violence by the state and is likely to claim innocent lives” (Amnesty International, 2006). The process may be erroneous, and the accused does not have a chance of proving innocence that is a violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

            The death penalty violates the right to life. It contradicts the moral beliefs and the considerations of a fair and just criminal justice process (Olivia & Oneida, 2015). The U.S government should have a concerted effort in joining other nations in Europe, Russia, South Africa, and most of the Latin America in abolishing the death penalty. The reason is that the death penalty makes ****** wrong, but in reality it is government hypocrisy. It undermines any crime deterrence capital punishment intended for use by the criminals.

            The issue of supporting capital punishment has the basis that the society has a role in protecting human life and not taking it. There are certain circumstances under which ****** is a necessary condition. The process should achieve the greatest balance between good and evil for all parties. There is an obligation to minimize pain and suffering on the victim where possible, and thus calls for a less severe alternative to death penalty (Cushing, & Haslet-Davis, 2015).

            There is limited evidence in the support of the claims that the death penalty is more effective in deterring violent crime than life imprisonment. Most of the statistical studies conducted reveal that ****** rates have no relationship to whether the death penalty is in force or not (Olivia & Oneida, 2015). The numbers of the murders committed in places with the death penalty are similar those without. Thus, unless there is supportive evidence that the death penalty alone can deter crimes of ******; then it’s necessary to stop imposing it when there are alternatives (Radelet, Michael & Akers, 2006).

            Death Penalty is not necessary for achieving the benefit of protecting the public from murderers who have a likelihood of striking again. The alternative to locking the murderers for life imprisonments can as well achieve the same goal without taking their lives. The death penalty does not have the assurance that criminal get justice. True justice does not require that murderers get punishment through death. The requirement is that the gravest crimes require the most severe punishment that the moral principles allow (Christ, 2015). Thus, imposing death penalty goes against the rights of the victims of the criminal justice system.

            According to Andre and Velasquez (2014), life imprisonment is an effective substitute for the death penalty. The method is cheaper than the expenses involved before death penalty takes effect. The use of life imprisonment would free up the States funds that can help in other effective models of crime prevention. Most of the people convicted of the capital crimes have limited education and information regarding the possibility of detection and condemnation. Thus, the restraining effect of the issue might be very little. The process wastes resources that would imprison such people to life. The decision to finalize a punishment by death requires taking all the procedural precautions through the stages of the death penalty. It helps to minimize error. In the long run, the execution of one capital case may cost approximately three times as much as it costs to keep the person under life imprisonment.

            Despite the reasons given against the use of capital punishment, there are those who are for the practice and have supportive information. According to Potter and Gary (2000), death penalty leads to the incapacitation of the criminal. The execution separates the criminals permanently from the society. The practice also makes it safe for the prison guards, other inmates, and the society if the murderers plan an escape. The underlying evidence is that their elimination from the society renders them fully unable to perpetrate any form of crime. There are many inmates who serve jail terms and after release or escape, end up committing the same offenses they had initially.

            The cost of life imprisonment is less than that of executing someone. The process has endless appeals in which the case may extend up to 16 years before the conclusion. However, the estimates given for supporting life imprisonment for the convicted persons does not mostly include the appeals and increasing costs of healthcare as they age (Potter & Gary, 2000). Thus, the State can spend the resources in a better way on the old, young, and the sick rather than considering the long-term life imprisonment.

            Retribution is a major reason given for the death penalty. Capital punishment is not a form of rehabilitative treatment. The criminal suffers in a measure that is proportional to the offense committed. Retribution is a reason for many families of the ****** victims to favor the death penalty. It gives them a reason for witnessing the execution of the ****** or ****** thereby providing a closure for them. Many of the anti-capital punishment activists claim that the practice does not give room for justice. The use of capital punishment is the ultimate warning to other persons who engage in ****** or ****. The understanding that a criminal will face a death penalty renders many of them less inclined to commit ****** (Bohm, 1992). The opponents of the idea argue that ****** still happens despite the knowledge since many do it in compromised conditions under the influence of substance abuse. However, to a large extent; capital punishment helps to deter criminals from engaging in activities that would them to execution.

Synopsis of the Literature Review

            From the literature gathered about capital punishment, it is evident that the issue has controversy in various aspects. There is no agreement among various researchers as to whether the execution of ****** serves as the best way of punishing capital crimes. The other issue spelled out is the use of capital punishment as a deterrent. The people against the practice claim that, it is against the right to life and that it leads to permanent loss if there are errors in the conviction. The common errors arise as a result of innocent individuals facing the death penalty. They propose life imprisonment as the best alternative to capital punishment.

            On the contrary, the supporters of the death penalty argue that it leads to incapacitation such that the convict can no longer commit the capital crimes. Capital punishment is a good way of retribution. The practice brings a total closure to them, and the crimes committed. The costs involved in life imprisonment are also an issue for consideration. The literature review shows that there have been very few successful executions despite the sentences, within a period of ten years. It reveals more of the difficulties involved.

Theoretical Framework

            The research has a basis on a descriptive model about capital punishment using the information available from literature either in support or against the practice. Every discussion on capital punishment raises the question of morality, humanitarian, and philosophical points of view. The three issues lead to three different theories. According to the deterrent theory, if the consequence of committing a crime is more than the benefits of the crime, then the individual is deterred from committing the crime. The reformative theory has a basis on reforming a person through punishment and then makes them law abiding citizens. On the other hand, according to the retributive theory, the main aim of punishment is to enable the accused understand that they have to suffer for their wrongdoing. From the information gathered from literature, the research on capital punishment will follow the deterrent theory. The theory leads to the understanding that capital punishment is a deterrent to committing the capital crimes since the consequences of committing the crime are way above the benefits (Summerfield & Morgan, 2006). The research takes an approach in which violent crime rates will reduce on the basis of the fear of suffering the consequences of such crimes.
Practical Implications

            There are challenges in the implementation of the capital punishment due to the morality issues raised by different activists. They term the practice as unethical and having a potential of denying justice to the accused person. Also, capital punishment does not serve as a guarantee to deterrence. It is not an assurance that the other potential criminals will fear or stop engaging in ****** or **** cases (Cushing, & Haslet-Davis, 2015). On the other hand, the failure of using capital punishment for the crimes of ****** and **** raises an issue of the safety. The safety issues touch on the society, the other inmates, and the State at large because the convicts can escape. Thus, in either way; the capital punishment has consequences that require careful consideration.


            The use of capital punishment has certain guidelines that govern it. In most cases, people justify its use as a way of dealing with crimes committed against the State. Justice has a high regard in the society and also in politics. In the judicial system, crime and punishment are critical issues that depend on the administration of justice. However, in some occasions, victims do not get the justice they deserve and end up suffering from the same criminal justice system. Capital punishment finds most of its use when dealing with murderers and rapists in which it rarely happens. The debate lies in whether the criminals should perish through death or spend their lives in jail forever.

            From the information gathered, capital punishment does not have a unanimous acceptance in all the States. There are some who term it illegal and hence, not practiced. The people for the practice argue that it is the surest way of imposing deterrence, incapacitation, and retribution. However, those against the practice view it as a violation of human rights and an unnecessary experience since there is an alternative. They value life imprisonment as the severest method of dealing with the severest crimes on the land. Capital punishment is an issue that requires further research to ascertain the views raised by each side.


Amnesty International (2006) Facts and Figures on the Death Penalty;

Bohm, R. M. (1992). Retribution and Capital Punishment: Toward a better understanding of the death penalty opinion. Journal of Criminal Justice, 20,227-236

C. Andre & M. Velasquez (2014) Capital Punishment: Our Duty or Our Doom? Issues in Ethics   Vol. 1(3)

Christ, B. (2015). Capital Punishment and the Citizen-Subject: American Literary History, 27(1), 114-127.

Cushing, R., & Haslet-Davis, A. (2015) Should the death penalty live? Time, 185(21), 30-31.

Gargi Roy (2014) Is Capital Punishment Acceptable? International Journal of Humanities and      Social Science; vol. 4 (2) 95-99

Johnson, D. T. (2011) American Capital Punishment in Comparative Perspective: Law & Social    Inquiry, 36(4), 1033-1061. DOI:10.1111/j.1747-4469.2011.01260.x

Lepyoshkina, O. I. (2015). The capital punishment in the United States: the trend towards            abolition: Russian Juridical Journal 100(1), 78-85.

Olivia H. & Oneida (2015) Capital Punishment is Dead Wrong: Teen Ink Magazine, Website &    books

Potter, Gary W. (Jan. 2000) Cost, Deterrence, Incapacitation, Brutalization and the Death Penalty            the Scientific Evidence: Statement before the Joint Interim Health and Welfare             Committee: The Advocate. Vol. 22(1)

Radelet, Michael and Ronald Akers (2006) Deterrence and the Death Penalty: The View of          Experts: The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 87: 1-16

Summerfield & Morgan (2006) Evolution of Deterrence Crime Theory

The Death Penalty Information Center (2001) History of the death penalty and public opinion      about the death penalty;

U.S.Death Penalty Facts/Amnesty International USA: Not Making Us Safer Crime, Public Safety and the Death Penalty, Amnesty International.

Carolyn Morgan is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in legitimate essay writing service. If you need a similar paper you can place your order from research paper services.

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