Criminology Essays - Death Penalty Capital

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Death Penalty Capital

In today’s society many believe that the death penalty is a proper way to punish individuals sentence of capital crimes. Since the beginning of time this has been a controversial subject because each individual feels and believes a certain way towards this process. Many have lost loved ones who suffered and feel the death penalty is the righteous punishment, best form of revenge, or even type of closure. However, theirs those who argue that this is a process that is time consuming, expensive, ineffective, and morally wrong. Also the fact that the death penalty can lead to the deaths of innocent people is the number one cause of mistrust of the legal system (Ruddell, 2000). Capital punishment is important and vital to our society because it’s something that affects and shapes our legal system. Our legal system is what keeps our society and way of life in control and organized. As this system is mistrusted or flawed our society with each case is affected in their confidence, morals, and reliance towards our legal system. The inconsistencies that have emerged are what make this a subject widely discussed and so controversial. Capital punishment is an unnecessary punishment that is faulty and ineffective and must be changed.

In the study “Political Culture and The Death Penalty” Fisher conducts research in effort to understand why the death penalty varies among the fifty states. He investigates if political culture is a determinate of states adopting capital punishment. The results indicate that there is a strong relationship between political culture and the death penalty (Fisher, 2006). Also that political culture does affect the existence of the death penalty in each state and the frequency of sentences. He goes on to explain that not all states adopt the death penalty in efforts to deter crime but rather to maintain social order within society (Fisher, 2006).

The minority threat hypothesis is introduced in the study “ Social disruption, state priorities, and minority threat”. This hypothesis purposes that, as there is a change in size the minority group competes for economic and political power, which becomes a threat (Ruddell, 2000). In response to this threat politically powerful groups support the control of minorities to maintain their own position (Ruddell, 2000). This hypothesis expresses that this is why many of those who are incarcerated and subjected to sever punishments are minorities. This hypothesis attempts to explain why our political leaders today support the death penalty and are against abolishing it through out our legal system. That this is a way of control rather then a way of deterring crime.

The death penalty is labeled flawed because of different reasons, but in a study conducted by Stauffer titled “The interaction between victim, race, and gender on sentencing outcomes in capital murder trial” its many vital reasons that come into affect. In this study the researcher examines numerous cases within the North Carolina prison system and the overall distribution of sentences. The results show that in cases where the victim is female the death sentence is 57.5% verse 42.5% male victim cases (Stauffer, 2006, p. 64). In all the cases and combination of cases it’s shown that there is a difference in sentencing when it comes to race, gender, and status. This confirms the existence of discrimination within death penalty sentences, that just one circumstance could change the outcome.

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During the end of 1999 the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 3,527 inmates where under death sentences which equals to a 2% increase in just a year (Rein, 2002, p. 102). In the 3,527 inmates 528 were executed, 205 died while waiting to be executed, and 2,193 had their sentences overturned (Rein, 2002, p. 120). In the United States from 1973 to 2000 137 women were executed which is a considerable gap verses 99% (3,663) of males inmates who were under death sentences (Rein, 2002, p. 78). When exploring race 46% of all death row inmates were white, and 43% were black (Bedau, 1997, p. 37). In 2005 the murder rate in death penalty states was 5.87 verses the non-death penalty states 4.03, which is a forty six percent difference (Williams, 2002, p. 169). This proves that adopting the death penalty does not deter or decrease crime in any give area (Henningfeld, 2006, p. 2). In these brief statistics it’s clear the system is not only not deterring crime, but the opposite is happening each year as crime and incidents are rising.

Another studied conducted by Thorsten Sellin in 1959 supports that the death penalty is not effective to American society (Winters, 1997, p. 100). Sellin conducted an extensive study of capital punishment within the United States. He measured social structure, history, and economy of each state. As he compared each time he found the death penalty had no affect on the homicide rate of that particular state (Winters, 1997, p. 101). Sellins work has been replicated numerous times and with each replication his findings were confirmed (Winters, 1997, p. 101).

The death penalty is the ultimate act that is irreversible and a denial of human rights and liberties. This practice has not been applied fairly in the past and even now in the present. The death penalty should be eliminated and laws that support it should be changed. The death penalty is a premature way to accomplish justice and should be a process that is changed to better our society. Our system does not promote rehabilitation and when rehabilitation is accomplished still they are executed. Stanley Tookie Williams was executed by lethal injection in December of 2005 even after he had changed his behavior and applied positive goals towards life and helping the youth. The best way to accomplish justice is to change the laws of capital punishment. This will ensure innocent individuals from being executed, preserve the costs, and help society find true justice by sentencing capital offenders to serve a life sentence. The Women’s Bar Association of New York argues for the change and abolishment of capital punishment. They express that the laws should be changed because an error-free death penalty could never exist, that the death penalty discriminates, that the death penalty does not deter crime, and that the public does not support the death penalty (Williams, 2002, p. 170).

The death penalty will always generate opposing views and controversy because it’s a process within our society that each individual feels differently towards. Each year innocent individuals are executed and justice is not reached with these inconsistencies and ineffective ways. Our justice system needs to apply major change to our laws dealing with the death penalty because this process is only working against our efforts to deter crime. This process has not help society solve the crime rate and it’s only sending the wrong message into the community. The research shows that comprehensive investigation proves that this process is unsuccessful, which also confirms that the death penalty is form of revenge, control, and closure to those that feel it’s vital to our system and humanity.


Bedau, H. (1997). The Death Penalty in America:

Current Controversies. New York: Oxford University


Fisher, P. (2006). Political Culture and The Death

Penalty. Criminal Justice Policy, 17 (1), 48-60.

Henningfeld, D. (2006). The Death Penalty: opposing view

points. New York: Greenhaven Press.

Rein, M.(2002). Capital Punishment: Curel And Unusual?.

New York: Routledge.

Ruddell, R (2000). Social disruption, state priorities, and

minority threat. Punishment and Society, 7(1), 7-28.

Stauffer, A. (2006). The interaction between victim, race,

and gender on sentencing outcomes in capital murder

trial, 10 (2), 98-177.

Williams, M. (2002). The Death Penalty: opposing view

points. New York: Greenhaven Press.

Winters, P. (1997) The Death Penalty: opposing view points.

New York: Greenhaven Press.