Capital Punishment Throughout History Essay

1668 words - 7 pages

Murder is an undeniably common occurrence in our society; its perpetration can only be prevented or punished. Since biblical times, the law of equivalent exchange has been interpreted as an “eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Capital punishment is a form of retribution for the loved ones of a victim and can be construed as a deterrence to homicide. Because all men have an inherent moral code and the ability to control their own fate, capital punishment should be continued in the United States.
From the moment a man enacts violence against an innocent person, he has denounced the principle of individual rights. He chooses to no longer act as a rational being, but rather a predator among men, to harm and destroy those around him. Rationality is the human reasoning and the source of human rights. Those who contradict rationality are detrimental to society and have no rights. Sensibility dictates, when opposed by a subsequently harmful influence it should in turn be dealt with as an act of justice, or greater good (Laundauer, Rowlands).
The most complicated aspect of justice is the proportionality of the offense. When a thief takes another person’s property they can be charged with petty theft and be sentenced to a few months of incarceration, this is how the justice system equalizes the robber’s actions. If instead the thief kills the property owner in cold blood and assumes possession in this manner he then deserves a far more severe punishment, but what kind of punishment is equal to that of a human life? To properly proportion a brutal murder to even a substantial sentence such as life imprisonment does not quite suffice because the victim was not afforded the same option. The right to life cannot be dismissed in such a way and go unpunished by our justice system, that is why capital punishment is still used in these more clear cut judicial capacities.
Questions surround the ethics of the death penalty as to the fairness in deciding who and why they are executed. Considerations and details of the legality of the death penalty are referred to the Constitution. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments both impart direct references to capital punishment. The Fifth Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand jury…” It and the Fourteenth go on to state that no person shall “… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” With this indisputable proof that the Constitution theorized the high probability of the use of capital punishment (Riley).
Retribution is commonly confused as a form of revenge when in fact it is merely the simple idea of seeing someone who has committed a great offense compensate for their actions. If a crime is heinous or grotesque enough the death penalty has to be considered. Nothing is certain as to the length of an inmate’s sentence or what technicalities could benefit their situation. The...

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