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Capital punishment the United States - Essay Example

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Capital punishment also known as the 'Death Penalty' is a sentence punishable by death. It is a punishment for offences that are considered vitally or fatally harmful (David, R.D. & Mark, D 5). In the United States of America 38 states, the millitary and the Federal government authorize capital punishment.
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Download file to see previous pages 36]. Other capital offenses include treason, aggravated rape, espionage, large scale drug trafficking and aggravated kidnapping among others. Capital punishment has been a subject of much debate in recent times. The reasons that form the basis of this debate are crosscutting and include moral, religious, practical, philosophical and emotional. Proponents of capital punishment argue that it acts as a deterrent to crime, purges dangerous criminals from the society and that it is definitely more economical to execute than to keep criminals in prison [Megivern, James J 93].
Opponents of capital punishment argue that it does not deter crime, cheapens human life and discriminates along racial and social lines [Lane, Brian and Wilfred Gregg 12]. Others have argued that killing a person for killing another is hypocritical since it brings the state to the same level as the criminal. However, previous research as well as the statistics on crime tends not to support the argument that capital punishment deters criminal activity. On the contrary studies have shown that incidences of homicide are lower in states that do not sanction capital punishment than those that do [Harries KD 22]. This paper examines the practice, the effects and whether or not capital punishment serves as a deterrent to crime.
According to the SP file there have been about 15,000 capital punishment exec...
The military courts executed 160 errant officers between 1930 and 1961. A massive mass execution occurred on December 1862 where 38 people were killed by hanging in Mankato, Minnesota. Out of the 38 states that sanction capital punishment, Texas has had the largest number of executions - 378 since 1979 to November 2006 [Amnesty International-1997 Executions]: The Federal government has reported less activity in regard to executions and has executed only 3 people for the last 27 years.
The Legal Process
Once an offender is convicted of a crime that qualifies for the death penalty, the legal course involves four stages: -
1. Sentencing - involves trial like proceeding where a jury decides on the appropriate sentence though it's the judge's discretion to make the final decision [Kerr, Norbert L. and Robert M 33-75].
2. Direct review. After the sentencing stage the case moves to the direct review level. Here the process is similar to that of an appeal. This court evaluates the decision of the sentencing court to establish the validity of the judgment. If this court does not find fault with the previous judgment from the sentencing hearing, then it ratifies the judgment. If it does find fault then it can void the judgment and/or order a repeat haring. The decision by the court is considered final.
3. The Collateral review. This is the only way that a judgment by the direct review court can be upset. Most states have this form of review. The purpose of collateral review1 is to allow the defendant to dispute the previous decisions on grounds of previously unavailable evidence.
4. Federal habeas corpus. This is the fourth level and is the only exclusive way that a state capital defendant can challenge a death penalty in a Federal court. It exists for the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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