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Capital Punishment misc1

November 4, 2018 0 Comment

Capital Punishment: Injustice of Society
Looking out for the state of the publics satisfaction in the scheme of capital
sentencing does not constitute serving justice. Todays system of capital punishment is
frought with inequalities and injustices. The commonly offered arguments for the death
penalty are filled with holes. It was a deterrent. It removed killers. It was the ultimate
punishment. It is biblical. It satisfied the publics need for retribution. It relieved the
anguish of the victims family.(Grisham 120) Realistically, imposing the death penalty is
expensive and time consuming. Retroactively, it has yet to be proven as a deterrent.

Morally, it is a continuation of the cycle of violence and …degrades all who are involved
in its enforcement, as well as its victim.(Stewart 1) Perhaps the most frequent argument
for capital punishment is that of deterrence. The prevailing thought is that imposition of
the death penalty will act to dissuade other criminals from committing violent acts.

Numerous studies have been created attempting to prove this belief; however, all the
evidence taken together makes it hard to be confident that capital punishment deters more
than long prison terms do.(Cavanagh 4) Going ever farther, Bryan Stevenson, the
executive director of the Montgomery based Equal Justice Initiative, has stated that
people are increasingly realizing that the more we resort to killing as a legitimate
response to our frustration and anger with violence, the more violent our society
becomesWe could execute all three thousand people on death row, and most people
would not feel any safer tomorrow.(Frame 51) In addition, with the growing
humanitarianism of modern society, the number of inmates actually put to death is
substantially lower than 50 years ago. This decline creates a situation in which the death
penalty ceases to be a deterrent when the populace begins to think that one can get away
with a crime and go unpunished. Also, the less that the death sentence is used, the more it
becomes unusual, thus coming in conflict with the eighth amendment. This is essentially
a paradox, in which the less the death penalty is used, the less society can legally use it.

The end result is a punishment that ceases to deter any crime at all. The key part of the
death penalty is that it involves death — something which is rather permanent for humans,
due to the concept of mortality. This creates a major problem when there continue to
be many instances of innocent people being sentenced to death.(Tabak 38) In our legal
system, there exist numerous ways in which justice might be poorly served for a recipient
of the death sentence. Foremost is in the handling of his own defense counsel. In the
event that a defendant is without counsel, a lawyer will be provided. Attorneys
appointed to represent indigent capital defendants frequently lack the qualities necessary
to provide a competent defense and sometimes have exhibited such poor character that
they have subsequently been disbarred.(Tabak 37). With payment caps or court
determined sums of, for example, $5 an hour, there is not much incentive for a lawyer to
spend a great deal of time representing a capital defendant. When you compare this to the
prosecution, aided by the police, other law enforcement agencies, crime labs, state
mental hospitals, various other scientific resources, prosecutors experienced in
successfully handling capital cases, compulsory process, and grand juries(Tabak 37),
the defense that the court appointed counsel can offer is puny. If, in fact, a defendant has
a valid case to offer, what chance has he to offer it and have it properly recognized.

Furthermore, why should he be punished for a misjustice that was created by the court
itself when it appointed the incapable lawyer. Even if a defendant has proper legal
counsel, there is still the matter of impartiality of judges. The Supreme Court has
steadily reduced the availability of habeas corpus review of capital convictions, placing
its confidence in the notion that state judges, who take the same oath of office as federal
judges to uphold the Constitution, can be trusted to enforce it.(Bright 768) This makes
for the biased trying of a defendants appeals, given the overwhelming pressure on
elected state judges to heed, and perhaps even lead to, the popular cries for the death of
criminal defendants.(Bright 769) Thirty two of the states that impose the death penalty
also employ the popular election of judges, and several of these even have judges run
with party affiliations. This creates a deeply political justice system — the words alone are
a paradox. Can society simply brush off mistaken execution as an incidental cost in the
greater scheme of putting a criminal to death? Revenge is an unworthy motive for our
society to pursue.(Whittier 1) In our society, there is a great expectation placed on the
family of a victim to pursue vengeance to the highest degree — the death penalty. Pat
Bane, executive director of the Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation (MVFR),
stated, One parent told me that people made her feel like she was betraying her son
because she did not want to kill the person who murdered him.(Frame 50) This creates a
dilemma of morality. If anything, by forcing families to seek the death penalty, their own
consciences will be burdened by the death of the killer. Furthermore, killing him will
not bring back your sons.(Grisham 402). At some point, man must stop the violence.

Seeking temporary gratification is not a logical basis for whether the death penalty should
be imposed. Granted, revenge is easily confused with retribution, and most would agree
that the punishment should fit the crime, but can society really justify murdering someone
else simply on the basis that they deserved it? Government has the right and duty to
protect the greater good against people who jeopardize the welfare of society, but a killer
can be sentenced to life without chance of parole, and society will be just as safe as if he
had been executed. A vast misconception concerning the death penalty is that it saves
society the costs of keeping inmates imprisoned for long periods. In the act of preserving
due process of justice, the court appeals involved with the death penalty becomes a long,
drawn-out and very expensive process. The average time between sentencing and
execution for the 31 prisoners put on death row in 1992 was 114 months, or nine and a
half years.(Stewart 50) Criminal justice process expenses, trial court costs, appellate
and post-conviction costs, and prison costs perhaps including years served on death row
awaiting execution… all told, the extra costs per death penalty imposed in over a quarter
million dollars, and per execution exceeds $2 million. (Cavanagh 4) When you compare
this to the average costs for a twenty year prison term for first degree murder (roughly
$330 thousand), the cost of putting someone away for life is a deal. Is it really worth the
hassle and money to kill a criminal, when we can put them away for life for less money
with a great deal more ease? In earlier times–where capital punishment was common, the
value of life was less, and societies were more barbaric–capital punishment was probably
quite acceptable. However, in todays society, which is becoming ever more increasingly
humanitarian, and individual rights and due process of justice are held in high accord, the
death penalty is becoming an unrealistic form of punishment. Also, with the ever present
possibility of mistaken execution, there will remain the question of innocence of those put
to death. Finally, man is not a divine being. He does not have the right to inflict mortal
punishment in the name of societys welfare, when there are suitable substitutes that
require fewer resources. I ask society, …why dont we stop the killing?(Grisham 404)
Bibliography Bright, Steven B., and Patrick J. Keenan. Judges and the Politics of Death:
Deciding Between the Bill of Rights and the Next Election in Capital Cases. Boston
University Law Review 75 (1995): 768-69. Cavanagh, Suzanne, and David Teasley.

Capital Punishment: A Brief Overview. CRS Report For Congress 95-505GOV (1995):
4. Frame, Randy. A Matter Of Life and Death. Christianity Today 14 Aug. 1995: 50
Grisham, John. The Chamber. New York: Island Books, 1994. Stewart, David O.

Dealing with Death. American Bar Association Journal 80.11 (1994): 50 Tabak,
Ronald J. Report: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel and Lack of Due Process in Death
Penalty Cases. Human Rights 22.Winter (1995): 36 Whittier, Charles H. Moral
Arguments For and Against Capital Punishment. CRS Report For Congress (1996): 1
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