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Death Penalty in the united States - Essay Example

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At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the position of the United States on the law and practice of capital punishment is singular. Alone among the Western democracies, state governments in the United States authorize and conduct executions as criminal punishment and show no clear indication of a willingness to stop doing so…
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Death Penalty in the united States
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Download file to see previous pages Capital punishment is essential in the legal system because punishment should be proportioned to the evil of the offense. Retribution becomes a moral obligation. The offender is to be killed by the state only because he brings death upon himself; but this dead man with a beating heart is to be treated decently right up to the point of gentle termination because he also remains a person, a rational agent of free will. Murderers had previously agreed to submit to the rule of civil authority and partake of its privileges and its responsibilities by engaging with society. Those who violate the laws have broken a trust with the citizenry, which, by exacting a penalty, seeks compensation for an act considered an affront to the purpose for which submission to civil authority was commenced (Bigel 46).
The very high ratio of condemned prisoners to executions in many states-200 to 1 rather than the 40 to 1 in many northern jurisdictions- has meant that there is no longer a clear and proximate relationship between death sentences and executions. More than seven out of ten respondents regard the removal of the threat that "the killer might kill again" as an important benefit of the death penalty, but 68 percent regret that the current system results in "mistaken executions." More than six of ten respondents are concerned about the jurisdictional differences in death sentences and executions, but six of ten also think the system provides "closure" (Colson 27). This set of profoundly mixed feelings about the death penalty suggests that public responses to death penalty surveys might vary importantly by the context and the wording of questions. By contrast, the abolitionists see the impact of executions as a statement of pervasive importance about the relationship between the government and the individual. Abolitionists in the United States view capital punishment as a fundamental political issue; proponents usually assert that the question is neither fundamental nor political.
From a Biblical view, Charles W. Colson, author of the essay The Death Penalty is Morally Just, notes that to be punished "is to be treated with dignity as human beings created in the Image of God" (Colson 62). The death penalty, as a punishment for murder, reaffirms a criminal's humanity by taking on responsibility for their actions. It is contrary to the idea that execution degrades a convict sentenced to death. According to van den Haag (1994),
"[P]hilosophers, such as Immanuel Kant and G.F.W. Hegel have insisted that, when deserved, execution, far from degrading the executed convict, affirms his humanity by affirming his rationality and his responsibility for his actions"( 257).
In spite of benefits and advantages of death penalty, there is a social pressure against this punishment. Still, the death penalty had become an exceptional punishment in all Western democracies by the start of the twentieth century, reserved for only the most serious of offenses, rarely imposed, and regarded as particularly problematic. In all the developed nations, other methods of punishment had replaced the executioner as the principal punishment for serious offenses. Executions remained a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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