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Capital Punishment and Deterrence

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Essay title: Capital Punishment and Deterrence

Capital Punishment and Deterrence

Abstract

Capitol Punishment has been around since the beginning of mankind; eye for an eye and

tooth for a tooth. Since then the public have debated for or against capital punishment

revolving around issues of deterrence, retribution, discrimination and Irreversibility.

Leaving us with the responsibility to analyze the factors surrounding capital punishment.

A number of studies have also been done specifically on the deterrent effects of capital

punishment. Many officials believes that capital punishment not only prevent s the

offender from committing additional crimes but deters others as well. The research of

Franklin E. Zimring and Gordon J. Hawkins demonstrated that punishment is an effective

deterrent for those who are criminally inclined. Another research has been to examine

murder rates in given areas both before and after an execution. Clear and cole(2000) have

examined more than 200 studies evaluating the effectiveness of the death penalty in

deterring crime. A recent study found that a significant deterrent effect is associated with

the increased use of capital punishment since 1977 ( Dezhbakhsh, Rubin and Shepherd,

2001).

Michael Radelet and Ronald Akers attempted to determine if having the Death Penalty

indeed act as a deterrent on criminal homicide. Is the theory of “Just Deserts” (Bedau,

1978; Finckenenauer, 1998) in anyway credible? It is also often argued that death is what

murderers deserve, making criminals reap what they sow. Most believe that in order to

assure deserts, the punishment should always fit the crime. It would require us to rape

rapists, torture torturers, and inflict other horrible and degrading punishment on

offenders. It would require us to betray traitors and kill multiple murderers again and

again, punishments impossible to inflict. ( Bedau 1978).

However the principle of just deserts is understood to require that the severity of

punishments must be proportional to the gravity of the crime, and that murder being the

gravest crime deserves the severest punishment, then the principle is no doubt sound. But

it does not compel support for the death penalty. What it does require is that crimes other

than murder be punished with terms of imprisonment or other deprivations less severe

than those used in the punishment of murder. Criminals no doubt deserve to be punished,

and punished with severity appropriate to their culpability and the harm they have caused

to the innocent. But severity of punishment has its limits -- imposed both by justice and

our common human dignity. Some whose loved one was a murder victim believe that

they cannot rest until the murderer is executed.

Many people oppose capital punishment because they feel it is discriminatory. Studies

show that most criminals that have been executed in the last decade are white rather than

black although a higher percentage of minorities are on death row. An increasingly

controversial issue is whether racial class influences who receives a death sentence and

who is executed. As a recent justice department reported that in nearly

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