The Death Penalty: Right Or Wrong?

2252 words - 9 pages

This essay will discuss the various views regarding the death penalty and its current status in the United States. It can be said that almost all of us are familiar with the saying “An eye for an eye” and for most people that is how the death penalty is viewed. In most people’s eyes, if a person is convicted without a doubt of murdering someone, it is believed that he/she should pay for that crime with their own life. However, there are some people who believe that enforcing the death penalty makes society look just as guilty as the convicted. Still, the death penalty diminishes the possibility of a convicted murderer to achieve the freedom needed to commit a crime again; it can also be seen as a violation of the convicted person’s rights going against the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Eighth Amendment was ratified on December 15, 1791 and it states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” (Rossum & Tarr, 2009). However, since the latter part of the 1970’s the United States has proceeded with the execution of 1277 convicted felons (Death Penalty Information Center, 2011). To many people these executions represent a violation of the felon’s constitutional rights and should not have been allowed. On the other hand, if we take an in-depth look, we can see that death caused by electrocution or lethal injection recognizably would not be considered immoral or unjustified provided that the felon was granted a fair trial in a court of law (Bedau, Cassell, 2004).
Looking closer, it would seem as if the very ground on which the United States was founded on seems to be shaken by the continuance of the death penalty in over 37 of its 50 states. Most people who wish to abolish the death penalty regard it as a strong tradition of a vigilante style approach at solving problems. Abolitionists question the issue of how it is determined if the accused felon actually committed the crime or whether the rights of these individuals were breached and as a result they have been wrongly accused (Zimring, 2004).
The vigilante style approach may seem unappealing to many, yet it is how the U.S. continues to prosecute convicted felons. While the truth of the matter remains; there will always be someone killing innocent victims, sometimes for reasons unknown. Instead of seeking to abolish the death penalty completely, it seems we should turn our focus in to proving the convicted felons guilt or innocence before sentencing them to death.
It is hard to imagine that a murderer could possess any moral standards or even a level of self-consciousness. From a retributivist’s standpoint, a person who is capable of taking the life of another human being possesses neither moral standards or any type of self-consciousness and for that reason forfeits their right to live (Bedau, Cassell, 2004)
From a retributivist’s view, there are three propositions; the first being...

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