According to a number of sources capital punishment, which is sometimes used interchangeably with the death penalty, is defined as the legal authorized killing of another as punishment for a crime. This scope was widely employed in case matters such as murder and treason but not limited to. In the United States the federal government and roughly three-fourths of the states retain the use of capital punishment. States such as Connecticut, Maryland, and New Mexico have abolished the practice all together before this issue became a national issuer. Thirty two states have laws on the books legalizing capital punishment. Capital punishment in the 21 century is a subject that should be revisited and revised. Sense it foundation to recent years, much debate has stirred regarding the validity under the law, the effects on our society and the morally of capital punishment.
Those that are pro-capital punishment/ death penalty make the argument that it is vital and necessary in today's world, stating claims that it is in fact an effective deterrent to criminal behavior. Those that stand against the use of capital punishment often question the constitutionality of the practice and also state the case that capital punishment is not effective and severely flawed, mostly targeting low income individuals and minorities.
Debates have gone on for years questioning the constitutional validity of capital punishment, whether or not this practice violates certain rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, such as the 5th, 8th, as well as the 14th Amendments. Opponent's such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sight these rights are being violated in capital punishment cases. The ACLU goes on to state where they stand on the issue by stating,' The capital punishment system is discriminatory and arbitrary and inherently violated the Constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment.'
U.S District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Southern District of New York stated in his July 1, 2002 ruling United States v. Quinones that the death penalty violated the due process clause of the 5th Amendment. He states that the Federal Death Penalty Act cut off the opportunity for exoneration, denies due process and, indeed, is tantamount to foreseeable, state sponsored murder of innocent human beings. The 5th Amendment clearly speaks to due process and it can be interpreted that with newly-developed techniques. The 8th Amendment, ratified in 1791 goes on to address another violation of capital punishment, 'Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.' Opponents point to the cruel and unusual clause of the 8th Amendment, stating this as a violation to human beings. 'Death is not only an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality, and in its enormity, but it serves no penal purpose more effectively than a less severe punishment,' William J. Brennan, JD Justice of the United States Supreme Court July 2, 1976 dissenting opinion in Gregg v. Georgia. It was July 2, 1976 that the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed in Gregg v. Georgia of the court's acceptance of capital punishment here in the United States. U.S Supreme Court Justice Marshall also expressed his views in the Gregg v. Georgia case in which he articulated, 'Capital punishment does not deter crime and that our society has evolved to the point that it is no longer an appropriate vehicle for expressing retribution.' During an October 2010 interview U.S Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens remarked that his vote in the decision was regrettable, this is in fact a growing trend among many Americans today for a host of reasons. Another thing we must look into is the cost it has on our economy and the toll it has on the family.
Capital Punishment takes a toll on us all, from the smallest unit, the family, to our national government. Professor of Law & Public Health Jeffrey Fagan published an essay titled, 'Capital Punishment: Deterrent Effects & Capital Cost.' Professor Fagan goes on to state the cost of each execution can cost taxpayers anywhere between 2.5 to 5 million dollars, and he goes on to ask whether this money can better serve the community in another capacity, after all there are alternatives to the death penalty. Life behind bars without the possibility of parole is only one example of an alternative that could be used in place there of the death penalty. The 52nd Governor of New York Mario Cuomo a strong advocate to abolish the death penalty addressed this issue in an October 2 2011 article title, 'Death Penalty is dead wrong: It's time to outlaw capital punishment in America- completely'. Governor Cuomo of New York mentioned, 'True life imprisonment is a more effective deterrent than capital punishment.' He goes on to state,' to most inmates, the thought of living a lifetime behind bars only to die in a cell, is worse than the quick, final termination of the electric chair or lethal injection.'
Another factor to keep in mind is that capital punishment trials and the appeals that are sure to follow can be somewhat lengthy and leaving taxpayers to bear the cost.
Families suffer the most in capital punishment cases, leaving kids to fill the void of a missing parent and loving mothers and fathers to cope with the fact of their child possibly facing death.
American support of capital punishment has been on the decline in recent years and this hold especially true among church goers. During 2001- 2004 a Gallop Poll titled, 'Who Supports the Death Penalty' revealed that those who attend religious service regularly are less likely to endorse capital punishment. March 21, 2005 a Zogby Poll revealed a third of Catholics who once supported capital punishment now oppose it, citing respect of life. Younger Catholics are among those who least likely to support capital punishment according to the march 21, 2005 Zogby Poll.
According to Death Penalty Information (DPIC) today more than two-thirds of the world, countries and mostly all of Europe have abandoned capital punishment. Also, since 1976, at least 142 inmates have been freed row death row after evidence of their innocence emerged Lack of an effective attorney, execution methods and above all executing the innocent are all reasons why this poor public policy should be at the very least reconsidered for repeal or revised.
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