Capital Punishment: Just or Unjust?
University of Phoenix
Trish Isabella Hopkins, MFA
June 29, 2008
What comes to mind when the subject of capital punishment comes up? Is capital punishment justice or maybe vengeance? Is it torture or unjust punishment? To many people, capital punishment is just rewards for convicted felons. On the other hand others may think capital punishment is torturous and unconstitutional. The following information will provide information to show how the Bible mentions capital punishment in verse, but it may go against the Eighth Amendment and is not cost-effective.
There have been many controversies over capital punishment. Though capital punishment was supported in the 1930's, where "up to 150 people were executed yearly," the support has diminished and "the execution rate [has dropped] to near zero by 1967." "The U.S. Supreme court banned [capital punishment] in 1972" (Data and Trends, 1995, p 1).
There are many reasons people choose either to support or oppose capital punishment. Among the many reasons, this information will focus on religious beliefs, Eighth Amendment violations, and the economics of capital punishment versus life in prison. Based on these three aspects, many supporters and opponents of capital punishment find strong arguments to base their stances on.
The Bible has the earliest mention of capital punishment. The Bible has many verses to justify capital punishment. These verses, mainly described in the books Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, list crimes punishable by death. The book of Genesis also lists some crimes punishable by death. Among a few of the offenses listed are another religion, communicating with the dead, adultery, incest, and murder. These offenses were punishable by death. Although today, society would not view punishment by death for adultery or incest, the Bible listed these offenses as being worthy of the punishment. While some supporters use these verses to gain credibility, those in opposition believe "they are no longer bound by the legal codes of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the death penalty is no longer required"(Basic Reasons, 1995, p 1).
In the Bible days, capital punishment methods varied as to what methods are used today. In the Bible, punishment by death is listed as being stoned or burned alive (Death Penalty, 2005, p 1). Today, the most common methods of execution are lethal injection and electrocution (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006, Table 2). Since 1976, the number of executions by lethal injection was 937. The number of executions carried out by electrocution was 155. The other methods of execution used since 1976 were: 11 in the gas chamber, 3 by hanging, and 2 by firing squad. The states incorporating these uncommon methods have "lethal injection as an alternative method" if the "current method is found unconstitutional" (Death Penalty Information Center [DPIC], 2008, p 1).
By unconstitutional, opponents of...