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Capital Punishment - Essay Example

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Summary
This essay describes the death penalty in the United States and you will discover a disagreement about where the practice is located in a map of American values and practices. Proponents of execution favor a specific and discrete conception of capital punishment…
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Capital Punishment
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Capital Punishment

Download file to see previous pages... While this is just one way in which the disputants talk past each other in the capital punishment debate, this particular disagreement helps to explain other aspects of the capital punishment dispute. Proponents of capital punishment speak the language of local option and states' rights not only because this insulates the pro-capital punishment orientation of most state governments from federal review, but also because states and localities are the levels of government that usually hold power over ordinary criminal justice decisions. State legislatures, local prosecutors and judges, and the particular values of specific communities are supposed to shape criminal justice outcomes. National government and constitutional values have little direct influence on most punishment decisions. If the availability of death as a criminal punishment were a garden-variety choice of punishment option, state and local power over them would be consistent with an important American tradition. If on the other hand, one regards capital punishment as a fundamental moral and political question, the national government and constitutional values are the appropriate vehicles for decisions. The p... ed nations and even the importance that the proponents of the penalty attach to it are powerful evidence that the death penalty is an issue of transcendent importance, one that is principally moral and political. (Gary, 783-805) There are certain reservations from some corners of public discussions as regards to the unreliable evidences that caused capital punishment but consequently proved false. It is hard to believe how prosecutors can admit evidence from unreliable sources. In some cases witnesses have later recanted or disavowed their testimonies claiming that they had only made their statements under pressure or coercion from prosecution and law enforcement. These false testimonies proved to be the condemning evidence in many cases. Lastly, most of the people charged in capital cases cannot afford defense attorneys. The appointed defense counsels in several cases have exhibited incompetence. Some of them did not even look for or missed important evidence that proved the innocence of their clients. In other instances, defense lawyers failed to conduct adequate pretrial investigations, talk to possible witnesses, obtain relevant police reports, or seek pretrial investigative funds. Michael Mello, a renowned capital punishment defense attorney in Florida from 1981-1995, has said "there is today a desperate (albeit difficult to quantify) shortage of competent capital post-conviction defense lawyers" (David, 1037-48). The Supreme Court in the Furman decision ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional because it is a "cruel and unusual" punishment. Some allusions to racial discrimination appeared in the opinions, but more evidence seems called for.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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