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The Death Penalty - Essay Example

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[Professor Name] [Course Number] [Professor Name] [Date] Death Penalty The Eighth Amendment in the Constitution of the United States is the most discussed amendment in the Bill of Rights for the issue of capital punishment. The Eighth Amendment clearly prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments…
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The Death Penalty
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The Death Penalty

Download file to see previous pages... In 2000s, Texas was ranked as the leaders in death penalties across the nation. However, it is the Eighth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution which is the centre of all debates made on capital punishment, and which makes it impossible to come to a conclusion. It is clear that the Eighth Amendment prohibits ‘cruel and unusual’ punishments, but the interpretations to this amendment are unclear and inconclusive. The courts have presented many interpretations in different cases and in general terms the word cruel means excessively brutal. This means that the punishments that are torturous come under this heading. The term unusual has a broader meaning and it refers to those punishments that are not usually associated with a common type of crime, but rather they are applied arbitrary in severe crimes. Another interpretation of this article is that punishments should be given proportionate to the seriousness of the crime committed. The article, according to some interpretations, prohibits life imprisonment for crimes such as shoplifting and theft. This is not because the punishment is cruel or unusual, but because it is not imaginable and acceptable for such a crime (Stearman 143). Under this article comes the issue of death penalty which has been addressed by the Supreme Court many times. The general definitions of the terms used in the article are considered by the Supreme Court quite often. Up till today, the court has never completely and clearly ruled out the use of death penalty as unconstitutional. The major issue regarding the amendment is the time period when it was written. The courts have often argued that the meaning of the eighth amendment can change over the time as society changes, modernization takes place and norms change. The amendment was made in 1700s and at that time whipping was considered and recognized as an acceptable punishment because of the society values. But these practises may not be applicable today due to the changes in the values and cultures. Many times the court has addressed that death penalty hold the public support and can be used as a remedy for the serious crimes (Gardner 201). The Supreme Court has considered that the death penalty is not considered to be a cruel punishment for some serious crimes, however if it is ruled off if the application is unusual. The issue here is again the proportionality of the crime committed. Cases decided in 1972 and 1976 are the two major ones about the death penalty issue. The case of Furman v. Georgia was decided in 1972 which concluded that application of death penalty by arbitration and the disproportion seen in minorities are the factors that make death penalty unusual. In response to this decision, the death penalties in row were cancelled and there were no death penalties for about four years in the U.S. Because the courts did not rule the death penalty as unconstitutional, the state legislatures were free to make statutes for death penalties (Clear 543). The critics of the death penalty have ruled that it is commonly used as discriminatory against the minorities, ethnic groups etc. They argue that death penalty should be ruled off since long in the history they have been used against the minorities. This has been observed in U.S. and in other parts of the world too where death penalty is still applied. The critics argue that this is merely unconstitutional and it infringes the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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Death Penalty
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