Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, “is the pre-meditated and planned taking of a human life by a government in response to a crime committed by that legally convicted person” (usliberals.about.com). “Most death penalty cases involve the execution of murderers.” Capital punishment can also be “applied for treason, espionage, and other crimes” (ProCon.org "Death Penalty ProCon.org"). The death penalty is done “primarily by means of lethal injection” (ProCon.org "Death Penalty ProCon.org").
Many people are arguing whether or not capital punishment is effective and should still be used in the American system. Proponents of the death penalty argue that the death penalty deters crime. In contrast, opponents of the death penalty argue that the death penalty is cruel and goes against the “cruel and punishment” clause in the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. This is an ongoing debate because the government has the power to take someone’s life.
For most of history, the Supreme Court assumed that capital punishment was constitutionally allowed. The Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment affirmed that a life could be taken as long as the criminal is provided “due process of law.” In 1962, the “cruel and unusual clause” of the Eighth Amendment was enforced to the states in Robinson v. California. After the ruling, criminals gained confidence in challenging the judicial system. By the 1960s, the Supreme Court slowly began to analyze procedural controversies linked to the death penalty. Although, countless cases presented disputes to the constitutionality of the death penalty, the Court usually averted ruling directly on that topic. “In McGautha v. California (1971), the Court finally addressed the constitutionality of the death penalty. It held that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was not violated by a single proceeding in a capital case in which both guilt and punishment were decided” (http://issues.abc-clio.com/Analyze/Display/1528747).
With the question of constitutionality and cruelty, it is no surprise why the death penalty is a big debate in America.
1. Side 1: Proponents of the death penalty say it is an important device for protecting “law and order.”
Proponents of the death penalty cite numerous reasons for their argument; three specific reasons in favor of the death penalty are:
1. It provides closure for grieving families.
2. It helps minimize the problem of overpopulation in the prison system.
3. The death penalty helps deter crime.
Other reasons include that the death penalty helps the economy by eliminating taxpayer dollars going to support the care for these criminals and DNA testing can now effectively eliminate most suspicion as to a person's guilt or innocence (proconlists.com). Proponents argue that the death penalty will serve as a deterrent to abhorrent behavior. However, the three reasons numbered above will be the focus of this section.
To start, proponents of the death penalty reason...