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Capital Punishment

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Essay title: Capital Punishment

A strong case can be made in principle for and against capital punishment. The argument in favor of capital punishment should be based on justice and the nature of a moral community; this is the definition of a just action. People who commit the act of first-degree murder should be brought to justice. Being brought to justice requires that each person respect the life and liberty of others. Respecting the life and liberty of others means that we as United Sates citizens have freedom of thought and expression and equality before others. Those who commit vicious crimes can destroy the basis on which a moral community rests, and should have the fear of forfeiting their rights to citizenship and even life itself.

Capital punishment in the United Sates is a just action in our criminal justice system. Many people who support capital punishment believe that the general public should be urged for capital punishment to be used more frequently. Michael Tonry explains a brief history of capital punishment in the United States of America. Approximately 20,000 executions have taken place since the settlement of the Europeans in the United States and Americans colonies, and more than 7,000 people have been executed in the United States since the year 1900.

Between the years of 1967 and 1976 capital punishment was used not only for first-degree murder, but also rape. It was modified in 1976 that a criminal who committed rape would not receive capital punishment. At this time there are more than three thousand people on death row in the United States (Tonry 744).

First-degree murder is the killing of an individual without lawful justification, in which the person intends to do great bodily harm to the individual, knows that such acts will cause death, or is committing a felony at the time of murder. The other types of murders are second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and reckless homicide. These types of murder may have been performed by an accident or under sudden or intense passion. This is the reason why the death penalty is only issued for first-degree murder.

There are several different methods or ideas behind the use of capital punishment. One of Tonry’s excellent examples of why capital punishment is a just action is the deterrence factor. A major purpose of criminal punishment is to conclude future criminal conduct. The deterrence theory suggests that a rational person will avoid criminal behavior if the severity of the punishment outweighs the benefits of the illegal conduct. Many criminals that commit crimes often weigh the alternatives before committing a crime. It is believed that fear of death “deters” people from committing a crime. Most criminals would think twice before committing murder if they knew their own lives were at stake. When attached to certain crimes, the penalty of death exerts a positive moral influence, placing a stigma on certain crimes like first-degree murder, which results in attitudes of horror to such acts.

Studies of the deterrent effect of the death penalty have been conducted for several years. Most studies have failed to produce evidence that the death penalty deterred murderers more effectively then the

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