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Is Capital Punishment Ethical? Essay

2392 words - 10 pages

Capital punishment is a difficult subject for a lot of people because many question whether or not it is ethical to kill a convicted criminal. In order to critically analyze whether or not it is ethical, I will look at the issue using a utilitarianism approach because in order to get a good grasp of this topic we need to look at how the decision will impact us in the future. The utilitarianism approach will help us to examine this issue and see what some of the consequences are with this topic of capital punishment. For years, capital punishment has been used against criminals and continues to be used today, but lately this type of punishment has come into question because of the ethical question.
On the one hand, people who oppose the death penalty make a very strong point, in that, there have been several cases that the so-called criminal was actually a case of mistaken identity and wrongful conviction. They also believe that the threat of the death penalty ultimately is not a deterrent for criminal behavior. People will commit crimes regardless of the death penalty. Often, criminal behavior is committed with the sense that they will not get caught. So, in essence, they have no reason to be afraid of the death penalty.
On the other side of the debate, there are those that believe that the death penalty is a deterrent. For most criminals, they are aware of the fact that if they get caught, they will be sent to prison. However, other than being sent to prison, there are not really any other repercussions for committing a crime. They argue that if a person were to be presented with the possibility of the death penalty, they would more than likely think twice about their actions and realize that there are more risks than just imprisonment. They also argue that in the case of other crimes committed like rape and robbery, the death penalty would actually save a life because when a death penalty is carried out, there are actually fewer crimes committed.
Clarify Concepts
Before jumping right into the topic, it is important to clarify a few key concepts and words that are often used when discussing capital punishment. Capital punishment refers to the concept of ending a suspected criminals life, and the methods that are typically used are: lethal injection, gas chamber, and the electric chair. The two most commonly used are lethal injection and the gas chamber. Neither act is considered better or worse, because ultimately they end with the same result. However, the alternative to these types of punishment is long-term imprisonment. Many anti-death penalty advocates argue that long-term imprisonment is by far the best course of action, because it allows for the possibility that if a mistake was made in the conviction of the suspect, they would be able to correct it without ending the life of an innocent person.
Identify the Problem
Now, in order to truly look at the topic at hand, I feel that it is necessary to examine a few different...

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