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Capital Punishment; the Ultimate Sentence.

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Capital Punishment has been part of the criminal justice

system since the earliest of times. The Babylonian Hammurabi Code (ca.

1700 BC) decreed death for crimes as minor as the fraudulent sale of

beer (Flanders 3). Egyptians could be put to death for disclosing the

location of sacred burial sites (Flanders 3). However, in recent times

opponents have shown the death penalty to be racist, barbaric, and in

violation with the United States Constitution. Today's system of

capital punishment is diligent 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 public's need for retribution. It relieved the

anguish of the victim's family" (Grisham 120). Thus, 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, “the

evidence taken together makes it hard to be confident that capital

punishment deters more than long prison terms do"(Cavanagh 4). Going over

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 becomes we

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. Furthermore, 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

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