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Why The Death Penalty Should Be Terminated

3128 words - 13 pages

    "Death is a unique punishment in the United States. In a society that so strongly affirms the sanctity of life, not surprisingly the common view is that death is the ultimate sanction... There has been no national debate about punishment in general or by imprisonment, comparable to the debate about the punishment of death" (Brennan).

     Indeed, the issue of capital punishment is one that has been widely debated and for which many persuasive arguments of distinctly opposing viewpoints are available. The issue at hand is and always has been about whether or not we, as a society, should presume to enforce a penalty that by definition irrevocably extinguishes the existence of another autonomous human being. Is it a responsible and mature decision to implement a penalty of such resounding finality merely because the convicted offender has been found to be guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt?" It has long been argued that an appropriate term of imprisonment should be the maximum available penalty for a violent offense. This argument has been supported by the fact that our legal system, though highly evolved and altogether expedient, is far from infallible, and in recognition of this the penalties imposed under it should be both reversible and humane. The imposition of the penalty of death should no longer be exercised in the United States of America. A socially mature and morally established country should refrain from taking the lives of any of its citizens.

     The death penalty is indefensible on three distinct and specific grounds: pragmatic, legal, and moral. The penalty of death is not economically efficient, and is indeed a drain upon the financial resources of our country. Also, it can be proven that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to violent crime. The death penalty inherently violates both the eighth and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution and should therefore be declared illegal in practice. Finally, the death penalty is an altogether unethical and immoral violation of fundamental human rights under any and all circumstances.

     Proponents of the current system of capital punishment defend this system as beneficial to society on these same grounds. It is argued that putting prisoners to death saves money over the alternative option of imprisoning them for a formidable amount of time, and acts as a deterrent to violent crime. It is further argued that the death penalty is in perfect accordance with all principles and protections set forth in the Constitution. Finally, the contention is offered that the death penalty is morally acceptable and permissible in that a violent offender has forfeited his or her right to life in the commission of his crime. Through the use of evidence consisting of both statistics and expert opinions on all three of the aforementioned grounds it can be clearly shown that the death penalty should be abolished once and for all.

     The cost benefit...

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