The Death Penalty Pros And Cons Philosophy Essay

4726 words (19 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Philosophy Reference this

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Death penalty has been a topic of concern throughout the world by large. Different countries and different societal communities have reservations or have believed that death penalty is just (acceptable). Many authors have published books on the debate on death penalty in the light of law and order. Death penalty which is often hailed as “Capital Punishment,” is a thought-out and designed execution of human life by government in reaction to a crime done by that convict. There has been an ongoing argument debating this matter, such as Amnesty International considers that “The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. It violates the right to life; it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. There can never be any justification for torture or for cruel treatment”.

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In an opposing argument to the above statement for death penalty, the Clark County Indiana Prosecuting Attorney says that “there are some defendants who have earned the ultimate punishment our society has to offer by committing murder with aggravating circumstances present. I believe life is sacred. It cheapens the life of an innocent murder victim to say that society has no rights to keep the murderer from ever killing again. In my view, society has not only the right, but the duty to act in self defense to protect the innocent.”

“Murdering Myths: the Story behind the Death Penalty” a book by Judith W. Kay, focuses on debate that Americans contributes to a counteract-dynamism idea of justice, i.e. punishment corrects bad behavior. Sufferings disburse for wrong actions, and a victim’s wish for vengeance is quiet understandable and usual. She had an interview with both victims and convict, and she concluded that how this credence harms executors, victims and society and calls for a latest plot that identifies humanity in all of us. The narrative about the bad guys becomes joined with at first reluctantly, and later carelessly, contribution in various disciplinary practices, which together put the carry out of punishment afar balanced debate.

Two unremitting deformations in image seem to be made, one by liberals and another by conservatives. Liberals be apt to see offenders as victims of bad society. Vicious persecution certainly is frequently the practice of murder­ers. Liberals, though, make a mistake in seeing the humanity of the criminal without seeing the enduring effects of such brutalization. Liberals tend to under­play the murderer’s resulting in brutal and risky habits, frankly assuming that an better environment will be satisfactory for the murderer’s rehabili­tation. Because liberals see the community as at least partially accountable for producing violent criminals, liberals tend to get into the idea that criminals are “victims too.” Liberals fall short to see the culprit’s possible cleverness and in­tegrity as well as his addition to his brutal habits. They go wrong by letting mur­derers get away with “Twinkie defenses,” failing to grasp treacherous people guilty for their crimes. Liberals, with their single focal point, are scorned as “bleeding hearts” and “soft on crime.” Liberals are blamed of supporting the untimely release of treacherous criminals, turning a blind eye to the pain of vic­tims and their families.

Another mistake is made by conservatives, who lessen the criminals to embodiments of the most terrible things they ever did; misdeeds become uniqueness. Despite of merely disapproving evil behavior, conservatives criticize certain people as basically evil by underplaying the community’s accountability for infusing people with the same disciplinary, revengeful, and brutal motives that force the criminal justice system. Unwilling to name and criticize the dehu­manizing social experiences that formed a human with the nature to devastate and kill, they blame persons as if their difficulties leaped from nowhere. Conservatives are blamed of being naive, classifying different hu­mans as either entirely fine or wicked.

The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies by Hugo Adam Bedau; is the most detailed book that focuses on the death penalty, discussing its pros and cons which gets a massive attention of the world. Considering this volume, one view can emerge that undeniably, criminals who commit dreadful offenses deserve to be a contender of capital punishment. There should be no disagreement there. In one’s observation, child molesters, killers and rapists have lost their lawful right to live in our society. It should be worried that a horrible deed must not be warranted under any situation; if a criminal has had a hard youth, this cannot justify. Let alone give reason for his actions. This is unquestionable, as is renowned, mentally ill are usually cunning, dangerous, scheming, self-absorbed and amiable. Moreover, they are unable to feel guiltiness and regret. Psychoanalysis is effectual in some cases but in most cases it does not work. Disreputable criminals are recognized for their deterioration into felony upon discharge. Criminals can often mislead their psychiatrists because they are calculative and astute. Consequently, capital punishment is the most positive punishment next to life sentence.

Several problems can occur with the capital punishment, such as ethical matters and guiltless lives being put to death, which possibly shouldn’t. For instance, there is much more that requires to be completed prior to the preliminary action happens. This explains that there are steps that need to be apparent and proper evident on the suspect in accusation. For that reason, the new expertise that has been offered to people, for instance, DNA test system, a lot of faults must not be made in these critical verdicts. New expertise must be worn as a definite approach that the judgment to capital punishment is correct.

Many people think that the capital punishment is honorably incorrect since they believe that only God ought to have the ultimate authority in death penalty. This brings up that the death penalty is only a type of brutal and unusual punishment. Consequently, they consider that the convict must not be penalized with death, still however; the verdicts had no leniency on their victim. For instance, in mid-summer of 1999, Allan Lee Davis was electrocuted in the Florida electric chair. Throughout the moment in time of his execution he undergone a blood loss and snapshots were sent all over the Internet. This illustrated and helped ones against death penalty, proving it to be a form of cruel and unusual punishment. In recent times the Supreme Court has decided to evaluate all electric chairs to observe whether or not it is a type of physical brutality, defacement, and or suffering.

At the moment there are continually somewhat a small number of types of urbane forms to execute. There are poisonous injection, electric chair, gas, hanged execution, and gunfire. The majority of people think poisonous injection must be the only type of death penalty. In general, death penalty looks like the single way to guarantee convicts that the justice method is bona fide. This will permit the convicts to see the penalty of ending the lives of innocents. This technique will guarantee that they will not commit murder again.

Is the Death Penalty Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

One can consider the death penalty to be is too harsh in some case; however the U.S. do consent the Capital punishment in various cases. Whether the capital punishment will be obligated is reliant on the state in which one lives, since a large number of convicted cases are tried footed on state bylaws. For some cases so as to make it to the federal level there are unusual examples where the capital punishment can be forced.

One of the cases is Daryl Reynard Atkins, who went on track that leads to death pit on the date of August 16, 1996. He and his friend William Jones make off with Eric Nesbitt and robbed him with a semi-automatic pistol. Atkins and Jones took all the cash Nesbitt had on his self, and then drove him off to an automated teller machine (ATM). At the same time as there, they were caught on camera pushing him off to withdraw more cash. Later than receiving the further cash, they drove Nesbitt to a remote locality and murdered him by bursting off eight shots of gunfire on him.

Atkins was convicted of abduction, robbery by aimed weapon, and capital kill and was concluded to the judgment of capital punishment. Both Jones and Atkins bear out in the guiltiness phase of the Atkins’ trial. They each confirmed the event, but varied on whom really shot and murdered Nesbitt. Jones, whose statement was more reasoned and convincing to the panel of judges than the psychologically retarded Atkins, allowed the jury to criminalize Atkins and blame him for the killing.

For the duration of the punishment stage of the trial, the state brought in the victim-impact proof and verified two infuriating situations to press on for the capital punishment. The state proved to the board of judges that Atkins posed a future risk for the reason that of his preceding crime convictions. Additionally, the state called four victims of previous robberies and physical attacks to give evidence against Atkins. In addition, the state proved the “vileness of the offense” by spotting to the films of the deceased’s body and the autopsy report, which were element of the early trial testimony.

Dr. Evan Nelson, a forensic psychologist, gave evidence in the punishment phase that based on his assessment of Atkins, he was “mildly mentally retarded.” He testified that after evaluating Atkins school and court records and additionally administering a typical intelligence test, Atkins had a full scale IQ of 59 and was working anywhere between the ages of 9 and 12.

Founded on this testimony, the jury sentenced Atkins to Capital punishment, but the Virginia Supreme Court ordered a subsequent sentencing trial because the trial court used a deceptive judgment form. At the following sentencing trial, the similar forensic psychologist gave evidence, but extra proof was added for the state by specialist observer Dr. Stanton Samenow, who said that Atkins was not mentally retarded, but was of “average intelligence, at slightest” and diagnosable as having disruptive character disorder. The panel of judges again sentenced Atkins to death.

Subsequent to the second sentencing trial, the Virginia Supreme Court confirmed the imposition of the capital punishment. Atkins did not debate facing the Virginia Supreme Court that his sentence was inconsistent to penalties forced for comparable crimes in Virginia, but he did assert “he is mentally retarded and thus cannot be sentenced to death.”

The Virginia Supreme Court refused his petition, saying it was “not willing to commute Atkins’ verdict of death to life sentence simply for the reason that of his IQ score.” Two Virginia justices dissented; saying that they casted off Dr. Samenow’s view that Atkins possesses usual aptitude as “incredulous as a matter of law,” and accomplished that “the imposition of the sentence of death upon a criminal defendant who has the mental age of a child between the ages of 9 and 12 is excessive.” In their disagreement, they said “it is indefensible to conclude that individuals who are mentally retarded are not to some degree less culpable for their criminal acts. By definition, such individuals have substantial limitations not shared by the general population. A moral and civilized society diminishes itself if its system of justice does not afford recognition and consideration of those limitations in a meaningful way.”

Whereas in a 1989 trial, Penry v. Lynaugh, the United States Supreme Court did regulated that people with psychological retardation could be penalized to capital punishment, numerous states have in view of the fact that distorted their laws on this matter. The United States Supreme Court decided to take notice of Atkins’ appeal in 2002 given that of the dramatic change in the situation of state legislatures during the preceding 13 years.

Throughout the years, the United States Supreme Court has detained that judging whether penalty is extreme is not based on principles that succeeded when the Bill of Rights was approved, but somewhat by those that at present overcome. Consequently, in influencing whether penalties are “cruel and unusual” the Supreme Court looks to present day standards placed by current legislatures.

In 1989, while the Supreme Court last looked at the matter of ruling mentally retarded people to death penalty, the majority states did permit that. In 2002, when the Supreme Court determined to re-examine the matter, the political winds had distorted and state legislatures were deciding not in favor of the death penalty in cases relating people with mental retardation. So the justices upturned Penry and ruled in favor of Atkins, upturned the Virginia Supreme Court, and remanded the case back to the subordinate courts for more verdicts.

The 6 to 3 decision that the capital punishment for Atkins was “cruel and unusual punishment,” was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who was coupled by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy, O’Connor, and Souter. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote a dissenting view and was joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas. Scalia also wrote a dissenting judgment and was joined by Rehnquist and Thomas. In writing for the Court, Stevens said:

“Those mentally retarded persons who meet the law’s requirements for criminal responsibility should be tried and punished when they commit crimes. Because of their disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgment, and control of their impulses, however, they do not act with the level of moral culpability that characterizes the most serious adult criminal conduct. Moreover, their impairments can jeopardize the reliability and fairness of capital proceedings against mentally retarded defendants. Presumably for these reasons, in the 13 years since we decided Penry v. Lynaugh, (1989), the American public, legislators, scholars, and judges have deliberated over the question whether the death penalty should ever be imposed on a mentally retarded criminal. The consensus reflected in those deliberations informs our answer to the question presented by this case: whether such executions are “cruel and unusual punishments” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.”

In writing his dissent, Chief Justice Rehnquist said:

“There are strong reasons for limiting our inquiry into what constitutes an evolving standard of decency under the Eighth Amendment to the laws passed by legislatures and the practices of sentencing juries in America. Here, the Court goes beyond these well-established objective indicators of contemporary values. It finds ‘further support to [its] conclusion’ that a national consensus has developed against imposing the death penalty on all mentally retarded defendants in international opinion, the views of professional and religious organizations, and opinion polls not demonstrated to be reliable … Believing this view to be seriously mistaken, I dissent.”

Justice Scalia added in his dissent, “This newest innovation promises to be more effective than any of the others in turning the process of capital trial into a game.” How this competition will be played out will be seen in upcoming capital punishment cases that determine their way to the Supreme Court.

Should the Death Penalty exist?

At present the argument on the legitimacy of the Capital punishment continues. Current court decisions have ruled that a “death sentence for rape and kidnapping as it was excessive for the crime and thus unconstitutional” (Everheart v. Georgia 1977). The Court has in addition alleged it was unlawful to put to death the insane (Ford v. Wainright, 1986), however it was lawful to put to death the mentally retarded (Penry v. Lynaugh, 1989) and it is unlawful to put to death an criminal who was 15 or younger when the crime was committed (Thompson v. Oklahoma, 1988), but the Constitution does not bar the capital punishment for 16-year-olds who commit murder (Stanford v. Kentucky, 1989). The court will certainly carry on refining its policy in the upcoming years. Public support for death penalty remains high. A 1994 Gallop poll found that 80% of Americans keep on supporting the death penalty in theory; though that figure had dropped to 62% by 2000 according to a NBC News poll.

Justice is not at all times to be unwavering by view census and lawful pattern conversely. Individual have to think that the civil law of men ought to be hindered to a standard exterior of itself in order to decide if it is just or unfair. This is the natural law viewpoint. This viewpoint holds that the natural law is the groundwork of all human law in to the extent that it ordains that man shall survive in society, and society for its foundation requires the survival of an influence, which shall hold the moral power essential to organize the members and direct them to the widespread good. A full argument of the inside and obligations of the natural law is outside of the range of this thesis. On the other hand suffice it to say, according to this viewpoint, that human laws are legal and reasonable only in up to now as they communicate with, and put into effect or supplement the natural law; they are null and void when they conflict with it.

The natural law is distinct as man’s contribution in the heavenly law thru the light of natural reason. This means, certainly, that human law is resulting from an accepting of God. A dialogue of the novel understanding of “separation of church and state” that has evolved in the United States and somewhere else in the West more than the past 40 years is also exterior of the capacity of this thesis. As a reality of history the Western legal tradition is derived from Christian beliefs. The mass of theological conjecture is derived from the Catholic belief.

Catholic religion and social philosophy rests on a chord of authority:

1) Sacred Scripture – the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments

2) Sacred Tradition – that which is always been taught and held to be factual whether on paper or unwritten

3) The Magisterium – the teaching office the Church which consists of all the Bishops in the world in unity with the Pope in Rome.

It is the Magisterium that is approved to understand Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, also called the Deposit of Faith, to address contemporary questions.

The huge bulk of theological conjecture on the topic of capital punishment remains in the monarchy of confidentially held opinions which may be held or unnoticed according to the sense of right and wrong of the individual.

Canon law forbids clergy to shed human blood and consequently the Church does not and has never carried out capital punishment. on the other hand, it has long been held that the state may utilize capital punishment. In the middle ages the Church was asked to occupy her know-how adjudicating crimes such as dissent and profanity. In these cases it was the only apprehension of the inquisitional body to decide the legitimacy of the offense charged, not to resolve or carry out the suitable punishment.

The association among the modern Catholic Church and liberal democratic states is not as close as in the earlier period. The Church seeks to educate the faithful and to give confidence to them to contribute in the supporting life of the secular state. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1997, in paragraph 2267 states:

“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

This is in fact a slight reformulation of the customary teaching; in this declaration it would appear that the lone explanation for capital punishment is explicit avoidance i.e. to get rid of the likelihood that a murderer will murder yet again. Preceding catechetical credentials such as the Baltimore Catechism, published in 1898 or the Roman Catechism published in 1566 make no bring up of capital punishment.

Conventional Catholics are more liable to refer to the past writings of diverse theologians and Doctors of the Church which are constantly more constructive towards the utilizing of capital punishment. Avery Cardinal Dulles writing for the traditional Catholic periodical First Things summarized the whole of Catholic teaching on capital punishment in 10 points.

1) The purpose of punishment in secular courts is fourfold: the rehabilitation of the criminal, the protection of society from the criminal, the deterrence of other potential criminals, and retributive justice.

2) Just retribution, which seeks to establish the right order of things, should not be confused with vindictiveness, which is reprehensible.

3) Punishment may and should be administered with respect and love for the person punished.

4) The person who does evil may deserve death. According to the biblical accounts, God sometimes administers the penalty himself and sometimes directs others to do so.

5) Individuals and private groups may not take it upon themselves to inflict death as a penalty.

6) The State has the right, in principle, to inflict capital punishment in cases where there is no doubt about the gravity of the offense and the guilt of the accused.

7) The death penalty should not be imposed if the purposes of punishment can be equally well or better achieved by bloodless means, such as imprisonment.

8) The sentence of death may be improper if it has serious negative effects on society, such as miscarriages of justice, the increase of vindictiveness, or disrespect for the value of innocent human life.

9) Persons who specially represent the Church, such as clergy and religious, in view of their specific vocation, should abstain from pronouncing or executing the sentence of death.

10) Catholics, in seeking to form their judgment as to whether the death penalty is to be supported as a general policy, or in a given situation, should be attentive to the guidance of the pope and the bishops. Current Catholic teaching should be understood, as I have sought to understand it, in continuity with Scripture and tradition.

In this observation the condition which is agreed upon its authority by God acts His agent and consequently possesses the authority to perform justice.

In this thesis to address these following questions are chosen to be addressed concerning Death Penalty:

1) Is the capital punishment in itself neutrally morally wrong?

2) Does the state own the authority to make use of capital punishment?

The answers to these questions can be:

1) No, Death penalty is not in itself morally wrong and is actually required to display the essential value of human life.

2) Yes, the state as a mediator of divine authority does own the authority to govern capital punishment for certain crimes.

Certain questions aren’t addressed resulting from a useful viewpoint such as does the nuisance of the death penalty have a common prevention value. It could not be believed that issues suitably addressed from a practical viewpoint. The American justice structure frequently appears to function completely from this utilitarian perspective; this reflects the deep pressure of Jeremy Bentham who called death penalty “useless annihilation”. Agnostic utilitarian viewpoint regards death as the ultimate evil as a substitute of a stage on the way to eternal life. It can be agreed with Avery Cardinal Dulles when he states that “While this change [the abolition of the death penalty in Europe] may be viewed as moral progress, it is probably due, in part, to the evaporation of the sense of sin, guilt, and retributive justice, all of which are essential to biblical religion and Catholic faith. The abolition of the death penalty in formerly Christian countries may owe more to secular humanism than to deeper penetration into the gospel.”

Work Cited

Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty; by Judith W. Kay.

The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies; by Hugo Adam Bedau. ISBN: 9780195122862. Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Supreme Court; by Lita Epstein, J.D.

Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer’s Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty; by attorney and author Scott Turow.

Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment?; Edited by Hugo Bedau and Paul Cassel.

Tears from Heaven: Voices from Hell; by Diane Robertson. ISBN: 9780595215720

Espy, M. Watt, and John Ortiz Smykla (2002) “Executions in the United States, 1608-1987: The ESPY File”, (online), 7/31/05. http://users.bestweb.net/~rg/execution.html

Smith, Sharon C. (1999). “Capital Punishment in the United States.” (Online), 7/31/05. http://www.closeup.org/punish.html

Quixote Center (N.D.). Equal Justice USA (Online), 7/31/05 http://www.quixote.org/ej/states/maryland/2003_bill_dies.html

Aquinas, St. Thomas Summa Theologica II, Q) 95, a) 2 (online). Catholic Encyclopedia , 7/31/05. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/209502.html

Aquinas, St. Thomas Summa Theologica II, Q) 91, a) 2 (online). Catholic Encyclopedia , 7/31/05. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/209102.htm

Catechism of the Catholic Church (online), 7/31/05. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2267.htm

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (ND). USCCB Statement, 1980. (online) 7/31/05 http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/criminal/death/uscc80.htm

Dulles, Avery (April 2001) “Catholicism and Capital Punishment” (online), 7/31/05. First Things 112: 30-35 http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0104/articles/dulles.html

Scalia, Antonin (May 2002). “God’s Justice and Ours” (online), 7/31/05 First Things 123:17-21. http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0205/articles/scalia.html

Kant, Immanuel (1965) The Metaphysical Elements of Justice New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co. Inc.

Demetrius B. Zema & Gerald G. Walsh trans., (1950).Augustine, The City of God Book I, ch. 21, reprinted in 8 The Fathers of the Church 17, 53

URL Citations

http://www.infoplease.com/cig/supreme-court/death-penalty-cruel-unusual-punishment.html

http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Death_penalty

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,905684-2,00.html

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/books-death-penalty-critiques

Death penalty has been a topic of concern throughout the world by large. Different countries and different societal communities have reservations or have believed that death penalty is just (acceptable). Many authors have published books on the debate on death penalty in the light of law and order. Death penalty which is often hailed as “Capital Punishment,” is a thought-out and designed execution of human life by government in reaction to a crime done by that convict. There has been an ongoing argument debating this matter, such as Amnesty International considers that “The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. It violates the right to life; it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. There can never be any justification for torture or for cruel treatment”.

In an opposing argument to the above statement for death penalty, the Clark County Indiana Prosecuting Attorney says that “there are some defendants who have earned the ultimate punishment our society has to offer by committing murder with aggravating circumstances present. I believe life is sacred. It cheapens the life of an innocent murder victim to say that society has no rights to keep the murderer from ever killing again. In my view, society has not only the right, but the duty to act in self defense to protect the innocent.”

“Murdering Myths: the Story behind the Death Penalty” a book by Judith W. Kay, focuses on debate that Americans contributes to a counteract-dynamism idea of justice, i.e. punishment corrects bad behavior. Sufferings disburse for wrong actions, and a victim’s wish for vengeance is quiet understandable and usual. She had an interview with both victims and convict, and she concluded that how this credence harms executors, victims and society and calls for a latest plot that identifies humanity in all of us. The narrative about the bad guys becomes joined with at first reluctantly, and later carelessly, contribution in various disciplinary practices, which together put the carry out of punishment afar balanced debate.

Two unremitting deformations in image seem to be made, one by liberals and another by conservatives. Liberals be apt to see offenders as victims of bad society. Vicious persecution certainly is frequently the practice of murder­ers. Liberals, though, make a mistake in seeing the humanity of the criminal without seeing the enduring effects of such brutalization. Liberals tend to under­play the murderer’s resulting in brutal and risky habits, frankly assuming that an better environment will be satisfactory for the murderer’s rehabili­tation. Because liberals see the community as at least partially accountable for producing violent criminals, liberals tend to get into the idea that criminals are “victims too.” Liberals fall short to see the culprit’s possible cleverness and in­tegrity as well as his addition to his brutal habits. They go wrong by letting mur­derers get away with “Twinkie defenses,” failing to grasp treacherous people guilty for their crimes. Liberals, with their single focal point, are scorned as “bleeding hearts” and “soft on crime.” Liberals are blamed of supporting the untimely release of treacherous criminals, turning a blind eye to the pain of vic­tims and their families.

Another mistake is made by conservatives, who lessen the criminals to embodiments of the most terrible things they ever did; misdeeds become uniqueness. Despite of merely disapproving evil behavior, conservatives criticize certain people as basically evil by underplaying the community’s accountability for infusing people with the same disciplinary, revengeful, and brutal motives that force the criminal justice system. Unwilling to name and criticize the dehu­manizing social experiences that formed a human with the nature to devastate and kill, they blame persons as if their difficulties leaped from nowhere. Conservatives are blamed of being naive, classifying different hu­mans as either entirely fine or wicked.

The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies by Hugo Adam Bedau; is the most detailed book that focuses on the death penalty, discussing its pros and cons which gets a massive attention of the world. Considering this volume, one view can emerge that undeniably, criminals who commit dreadful offenses deserve to be a contender of capital punishment. There should be no disagreement there. In one’s observation, child molesters, killers and rapists have lost their lawful right to live in our society. It should be worried that a horrible deed must not be warranted under any situation; if a criminal has had a hard youth, this cannot justify. Let alone give reason for his actions. This is unquestionable, as is renowned, mentally ill are usually cunning, dangerous, scheming, self-absorbed and amiable. Moreover, they are unable to feel guiltiness and regret. Psychoanalysis is effectual in some cases but in most cases it does not work. Disreputable criminals are recognized for their deterioration into felony upon discharge. Criminals can often mislead their psychiatrists because they are calculative and astute. Consequently, capital punishment is the most positive punishment next to life sentence.

Several problems can occur with the capital punishment, such as ethical matters and guiltless lives being put to death, which possibly shouldn’t. For instance, there is much more that requires to be completed prior to the preliminary action happens. This explains that there are steps that need to be apparent and proper evident on the suspect in accusation. For that reason, the new expertise that has been offered to people, for instance, DNA test system, a lot of faults must not be made in these critical verdicts. New expertise must be worn as a definite approach that the judgment to capital punishment is correct.

Many people think that the capital punishment is honorably incorrect since they believe that only God ought to have the ultimate authority in death penalty. This brings up that the death penalty is only a type of brutal and unusual punishment. Consequently, they consider that the convict must not be penalized with death, still however; the verdicts had no leniency on their victim. For instance, in mid-summer of 1999, Allan Lee Davis was electrocuted in the Florida electric chair. Throughout the moment in time of his execution he undergone a blood loss and snapshots were sent all over the Internet. This illustrated and helped ones against death penalty, proving it to be a form of cruel and unusual punishment. In recent times the Supreme Court has decided to evaluate all electric chairs to observe whether or not it is a type of physical brutality, defacement, and or suffering.

At the moment there are continually somewhat a small number of types of urbane forms to execute. There are poisonous injection, electric chair, gas, hanged execution, and gunfire. The majority of people think poisonous injection must be the only type of death penalty. In general, death penalty looks like the single way to guarantee convicts that the justice method is bona fide. This will permit the convicts to see the penalty of ending the lives of innocents. This technique will guarantee that they will not commit murder again.

Is the Death Penalty Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

One can consider the death penalty to be is too harsh in some case; however the U.S. do consent the Capital punishment in various cases. Whether the capital punishment will be obligated is reliant on the state in which one lives, since a large number of convicted cases are tried footed on state bylaws. For some cases so as to make it to the federal level there are unusual examples where the capital punishment can be forced.

One of the cases is Daryl Reynard Atkins, who went on track that leads to death pit on the date of August 16, 1996. He and his friend William Jones make off with Eric Nesbitt and robbed him with a semi-automatic pistol. Atkins and Jones took all the cash Nesbitt had on his self, and then drove him off to an automated teller machine (ATM). At the same time as there, they were caught on camera pushing him off to withdraw more cash. Later than receiving the further cash, they drove Nesbitt to a remote locality and murdered him by bursting off eight shots of gunfire on him.

Atkins was convicted of abduction, robbery by aimed weapon, and capital kill and was concluded to the judgment of capital punishment. Both Jones and Atkins bear out in the guiltiness phase of the Atkins’ trial. They each confirmed the event, but varied on whom really shot and murdered Nesbitt. Jones, whose statement was more reasoned and convincing to the panel of judges than the psychologically retarded Atkins, allowed the jury to criminalize Atkins and blame him for the killing.

For the duration of the punishment stage of the trial, the state brought in the victim-impact proof and verified two infuriating situations to press on for the capital punishment. The state proved to the board of judges that Atkins posed a future risk for the reason that of his preceding crime convictions. Additionally, the state called four victims of previous robberies and physical attacks to give evidence against Atkins. In addition, the state proved the “vileness of the offense” by spotting to the films of the deceased’s body and the autopsy report, which were element of the early trial testimony.

Dr. Evan Nelson, a forensic psychologist, gave evidence in the punishment phase that based on his assessment of Atkins, he was “mildly mentally retarded.” He testified that after evaluating Atkins school and court records and additionally administering a typical intelligence test, Atkins had a full scale IQ of 59 and was working anywhere between the ages of 9 and 12.

Founded on this testimony, the jury sentenced Atkins to Capital punishment, but the Virginia Supreme Court ordered a subsequent sentencing trial because the trial court used a deceptive judgment form. At the following sentencing trial, the similar forensic psychologist gave evidence, but extra proof was added for the state by specialist observer Dr. Stanton Samenow, who said that Atkins was not mentally retarded, but was of “average intelligence, at slightest” and diagnosable as having disruptive character disorder. The panel of judges again sentenced Atkins to death.

Subsequent to the second sentencing trial, the Virginia Supreme Court confirmed the imposition of the capital punishment. Atkins did not debate facing the Virginia Supreme Court that his sentence was inconsistent to penalties forced for comparable crimes in Virginia, but he did assert “he is mentally retarded and thus cannot be sentenced to death.”

The Virginia Supreme Court refused his petition, saying it was “not willing to commute Atkins’ verdict of death to life sentence simply for the reason that of his IQ score.” Two Virginia justices dissented; saying that they casted off Dr. Samenow’s view that Atkins possesses usual aptitude as “incredulous as a matter of law,” and accomplished that “the imposition of the sentence of death upon a criminal defendant who has the mental age of a child between the ages of 9 and 12 is excessive.” In their disagreement, they said “it is indefensible to conclude that individuals who are mentally retarded are not to some degree less culpable for their criminal acts. By definition, such individuals have substantial limitations not shared by the general population. A moral and civilized society diminishes itself if its system of justice does not afford recognition and consideration of those limitations in a meaningful way.”

Whereas in a 1989 trial, Penry v. Lynaugh, the United States Supreme Court did regulated that people with psychological retardation could be penalized to capital punishment, numerous states have in view of the fact that distorted their laws on this matter. The United States Supreme Court decided to take notice of Atkins’ appeal in 2002 given that of the dramatic change in the situation of state legislatures during the preceding 13 years.

Throughout the years, the United States Supreme Court has detained that judging whether penalty is extreme is not based on principles that succeeded when the Bill of Rights was approved, but somewhat by those that at present overcome. Consequently, in influencing whether penalties are “cruel and unusual” the Supreme Court looks to present day standards placed by current legislatures.

In 1989, while the Supreme Court last looked at the matter of ruling mentally retarded people to death penalty, the majority states did permit that. In 2002, when the Supreme Court determined to re-examine the matter, the political winds had distorted and state legislatures were deciding not in favor of the death penalty in cases relating people with mental retardation. So the justices upturned Penry and ruled in favor of Atkins, upturned the Virginia Supreme Court, and remanded the case back to the subordinate courts for more verdicts.

The 6 to 3 decision that the capital punishment for Atkins was “cruel and unusual punishment,” was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who was coupled by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy, O’Connor, and Souter. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote a dissenting view and was joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas. Scalia also wrote a dissenting judgment and was joined by Rehnquist and Thomas. In writing for the Court, Stevens said:

“Those mentally retarded persons who meet the law’s requirements for criminal responsibility should be tried and punished when they commit crimes. Because of their disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgment, and control of their impulses, however, they do not act with the level of moral culpability that characterizes the most serious adult criminal conduct. Moreover, their impairments can jeopardize the reliability and fairness of capital proceedings against mentally retarded defendants. Presumably for these reasons, in the 13 years since we decided Penry v. Lynaugh, (1989), the American public, legislators, scholars, and judges have deliberated over the question whether the death penalty should ever be imposed on a mentally retarded criminal. The consensus reflected in those deliberations informs our answer to the question presented by this case: whether such executions are “cruel and unusual punishments” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.”

In writing his dissent, Chief Justice Rehnquist said:

“There are strong reasons for limiting our inquiry into what constitutes an evolving standard of decency under the Eighth Amendment to the laws passed by legislatures and the practices of sentencing juries in America. Here, the Court goes beyond these well-established objective indicators of contemporary values. It finds ‘further support to [its] conclusion’ that a national consensus has developed against imposing the death penalty on all mentally retarded defendants in international opinion, the views of professional and religious organizations, and opinion polls not demonstrated to be reliable … Believing this view to be seriously mistaken, I dissent.”

Justice Scalia added in his dissent, “This newest innovation promises to be more effective than any of the others in turning the process of capital trial into a game.” How this competition will be played out will be seen in upcoming capital punishment cases that determine their way to the Supreme Court.

Should the Death Penalty exist?

At present the argument on the legitimacy of the Capital punishment continues. Current court decisions have ruled that a “death sentence for rape and kidnapping as it was excessive for the crime and thus unconstitutional” (Everheart v. Georgia 1977). The Court has in addition alleged it was unlawful to put to death the insane (Ford v. Wainright, 1986), however it was lawful to put to death the mentally retarded (Penry v. Lynaugh, 1989) and it is unlawful to put to death an criminal who was 15 or younger when the crime was committed (Thompson v. Oklahoma, 1988), but the Constitution does not bar the capital punishment for 16-year-olds who commit murder (Stanford v. Kentucky, 1989). The court will certainly carry on refining its policy in the upcoming years. Public support for death penalty remains high. A 1994 Gallop poll found that 80% of Americans keep on supporting the death penalty in theory; though that figure had dropped to 62% by 2000 according to a NBC News poll.

Justice is not at all times to be unwavering by view census and lawful pattern conversely. Individual have to think that the civil law of men ought to be hindered to a standard exterior of itself in order to decide if it is just or unfair. This is the natural law viewpoint. This viewpoint holds that the natural law is the groundwork of all human law in to the extent that it ordains that man shall survive in society, and society for its foundation requires the survival of an influence, which shall hold the moral power essential to organize the members and direct them to the widespread good. A full argument of the inside and obligations of the natural law is outside of the range of this thesis. On the other hand suffice it to say, according to this viewpoint, that human laws are legal and reasonable only in up to now as they communicate with, and put into effect or supplement the natural law; they are null and void when they conflict with it.

The natural law is distinct as man’s contribution in the heavenly law thru the light of natural reason. This means, certainly, that human law is resulting from an accepting of God. A dialogue of the novel understanding of “separation of church and state” that has evolved in the United States and somewhere else in the West more than the past 40 years is also exterior of the capacity of this thesis. As a reality of history the Western legal tradition is derived from Christian beliefs. The mass of theological conjecture is derived from the Catholic belief.

Catholic religion and social philosophy rests on a chord of authority:

1) Sacred Scripture – the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments

2) Sacred Tradition – that which is always been taught and held to be factual whether on paper or unwritten

3) The Magisterium – the teaching office the Church which consists of all the Bishops in the world in unity with the Pope in Rome.

It is the Magisterium that is approved to understand Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, also called the Deposit of Faith, to address contemporary questions.

The huge bulk of theological conjecture on the topic of capital punishment remains in the monarchy of confidentially held opinions which may be held or unnoticed according to the sense of right and wrong of the individual.

Canon law forbids clergy to shed human blood and consequently the Church does not and has never carried out capital punishment. on the other hand, it has long been held that the state may utilize capital punishment. In the middle ages the Church was asked to occupy her know-how adjudicating crimes such as dissent and profanity. In these cases it was the only apprehension of the inquisitional body to decide the legitimacy of the offense charged, not to resolve or carry out the suitable punishment.

The association among the modern Catholic Church and liberal democratic states is not as close as in the earlier period. The Church seeks to educate the faithful and to give confidence to them to contribute in the supporting life of the secular state. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1997, in paragraph 2267 states:

“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

This is in fact a slight reformulation of the customary teaching; in this declaration it would appear that the lone explanation for capital punishment is explicit avoidance i.e. to get rid of the likelihood that a murderer will murder yet again. Preceding catechetical credentials such as the Baltimore Catechism, published in 1898 or the Roman Catechism published in 1566 make no bring up of capital punishment.

Conventional Catholics are more liable to refer to the past writings of diverse theologians and Doctors of the Church which are constantly more constructive towards the utilizing of capital punishment. Avery Cardinal Dulles writing for the traditional Catholic periodical First Things summarized the whole of Catholic teaching on capital punishment in 10 points.

1) The purpose of punishment in secular courts is fourfold: the rehabilitation of the criminal, the protection of society from the criminal, the deterrence of other potential criminals, and retributive justice.

2) Just retribution, which seeks to establish the right order of things, should not be confused with vindictiveness, which is reprehensible.

3) Punishment may and should be administered with respect and love for the person punished.

4) The person who does evil may deserve death. According to the biblical accounts, God sometimes administers the penalty himself and sometimes directs others to do so.

5) Individuals and private groups may not take it upon themselves to inflict death as a penalty.

6) The State has the right, in principle, to inflict capital punishment in cases where there is no doubt about the gravity of the offense and the guilt of the accused.

7) The death penalty should not be imposed if the purposes of punishment can be equally well or better achieved by bloodless means, such as imprisonment.

8) The sentence of death may be improper if it has serious negative effects on society, such as miscarriages of justice, the increase of vindictiveness, or disrespect for the value of innocent human life.

9) Persons who specially represent the Church, such as clergy and religious, in view of their specific vocation, should abstain from pronouncing or executing the sentence of death.

10) Catholics, in seeking to form their judgment as to whether the death penalty is to be supported as a general policy, or in a given situation, should be attentive to the guidance of the pope and the bishops. Current Catholic teaching should be understood, as I have sought to understand it, in continuity with Scripture and tradition.

In this observation the condition which is agreed upon its authority by God acts His agent and consequently possesses the authority to perform justice.

In this thesis to address these following questions are chosen to be addressed concerning Death Penalty:

1) Is the capital punishment in itself neutrally morally wrong?

2) Does the state own the authority to make use of capital punishment?

The answers to these questions can be:

1) No, Death penalty is not in itself morally wrong and is actually required to display the essential value of human life.

2) Yes, the state as a mediator of divine authority does own the authority to govern capital punishment for certain crimes.

Certain questions aren’t addressed resulting from a useful viewpoint such as does the nuisance of the death penalty have a common prevention value. It could not be believed that issues suitably addressed from a practical viewpoint. The American justice structure frequently appears to function completely from this utilitarian perspective; this reflects the deep pressure of Jeremy Bentham who called death penalty “useless annihilation”. Agnostic utilitarian viewpoint regards death as the ultimate evil as a substitute of a stage on the way to eternal life. It can be agreed with Avery Cardinal Dulles when he states that “While this change [the abolition of the death penalty in Europe] may be viewed as moral progress, it is probably due, in part, to the evaporation of the sense of sin, guilt, and retributive justice, all of which are essential to biblical religion and Catholic faith. The abolition of the death penalty in formerly Christian countries may owe more to secular humanism than to deeper penetration into the gospel.”

Work Cited

Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty; by Judith W. Kay.

The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies; by Hugo Adam Bedau. ISBN: 9780195122862. Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Supreme Court; by Lita Epstein, J.D.

Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer’s Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty; by attorney and author Scott Turow.

Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment?; Edited by Hugo Bedau and Paul Cassel.

Tears from Heaven: Voices from Hell; by Diane Robertson. ISBN: 9780595215720

Espy, M. Watt, and John Ortiz Smykla (2002) “Executions in the United States, 1608-1987: The ESPY File”, (online), 7/31/05. http://users.bestweb.net/~rg/execution.html

Smith, Sharon C. (1999). “Capital Punishment in the United States.” (Online), 7/31/05. http://www.closeup.org/punish.html

Quixote Center (N.D.). Equal Justice USA (Online), 7/31/05 http://www.quixote.org/ej/states/maryland/2003_bill_dies.html

Aquinas, St. Thomas Summa Theologica II, Q) 95, a) 2 (online). Catholic Encyclopedia , 7/31/05. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/209502.html

Aquinas, St. Thomas Summa Theologica II, Q) 91, a) 2 (online). Catholic Encyclopedia , 7/31/05. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/209102.htm

Catechism of the Catholic Church (online), 7/31/05. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2267.htm

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (ND). USCCB Statement, 1980. (online) 7/31/05 http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/criminal/death/uscc80.htm

Dulles, Avery (April 2001) “Catholicism and Capital Punishment” (online), 7/31/05. First Things 112: 30-35 http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0104/articles/dulles.html

Scalia, Antonin (May 2002). “God’s Justice and Ours” (online), 7/31/05 First Things 123:17-21. http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0205/articles/scalia.html

Kant, Immanuel (1965) The Metaphysical Elements of Justice New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co. Inc.

Demetrius B. Zema & Gerald G. Walsh trans., (1950).Augustine, The City of God Book I, ch. 21, reprinted in 8 The Fathers of the Church 17, 53

URL Citations

http://www.infoplease.com/cig/supreme-court/death-penalty-cruel-unusual-punishment.html

http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Death_penalty

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,905684-2,00.html

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/books-death-penalty-critiques

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