The Abolishment of Capital Punishment
Capital punishment has been part of the criminal justice system since the earliest of times. But opponents have argued that the death penalty is racist, economically unjustified, and in violation of the United States Constitution as "...cruel and unusual punishment" (“Chronology”). However, today much of the debate over capital punishment is about whether it is morally right to sentence a person who has committed a serious crime to death. This paper will address the moral issues in the controversy over whether capital punishment should be abolished.
The death penalty has been part of most of the world’s justice system since the beginning of civilization. The Hammed code stated, "an eye for and eye." In the Old Testament there are many cases in which God commands the use of capital punishment. One example is the flood of Noah in Genesis 6-8. God destroyed all human and animal life except that which was on the ark. Another example is Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18-19, where God destroys two cities because of the heinous sin of the inhabitants. Although many Christians argue that capital punishment does not apply to the New Testament, there is evidence to show that the New Testament scripts reinforce the principles of capital punishment (Anderson). Romans 13:1-7, for example, teaches that God ordains human government and that civil magistrate is a minister of God (Anderson). Although laws governing the application of the death penalty have undergone many changes since biblical times, the punishment endures.
Common execution methods have included crucifixion, boiling in oil, burning at the stake, stoning, and being thrown from a cliff, among others (“Background”). The methods of execution were commonly carried out on the condemned in public (“Background”).
Capital punishment has been used as a way to punish criminals for illegal acts of all types. The laws were stricter in the past; a person could be executed for things such as stealing or being accused of being a witch. The ancient Hebrews inflicted death on any person found guilty of denying the true God or cursing their parents (“Background”). For centuries, England punished by death those found guilty of pickpocketing and petty theft (“Background”).
In 1845, the founding of the American Society for the Abolition of Capital Punishment gave movement to a nationwide anti-death-penalty campaign (“Background”). But this abolition movement did not reach peak strength until the end of the century. Between 1897 and 1917, 10 states repealed death penalty statutes, influenced in part by the reformist sentiments of the progressives (“Background”). During this period, executions occurred far more frequently than they do today (“Background”). Capital punishment has been a continued controversy in the public opinion forum, in state legislatures, and most recently in the courts. In 1972, the case of Furman vs. Georgia involving capital punishment reached...