The capital punishment is the punishment of a law breaker by death. The sentencing by a court of law to capital punishment or what is commonly referred to as the capital punishment is called the death sentence. The crimes leading to sentencing to death are called capital punishments or the capital offenses. The word ‘capital’ came from a Latin word ‘capitalis’ that referred to the beheading of an individual (Bakken, 17). The capital punishment has been practiced by a large number of societies in different states globally as a punishment for given crimes or religious and political rebels. Historically, the carrying out of the death sentence was often accompanied by torture before the execution. The execution was public in most cases with the public cheering along. Some regions used the guillotine, others used hanging, and later some countries like the United States gave the options of an electric chair and lethal injections. The capital punishment has over time been faced with sharp criticism and the question of its legality as at times it led to the infringement of fundamental human rights of individuals. Some regions of the world also have the capital punishment for minor crimes that may seem unnecessary for such measures. There are others that have carried out the capital punishments even on individuals that below the age of 18 years (Hartnett, 56). The death sentence is no justice at all and is a violation of the fundamental human right to life of the victim as provided for in the Constitution. Therefore, capital punishment should be abolished in the United States.
Constitutionally, the capital punishment is subject to a series of debate and uncertainty and, therefore, lacks the full backing of the law to term it as constitutional or otherwise. Its irreversibility makes it unethical since the law may sway on its abolishment, but then those that suffered its brutality can never be redeemed (Death Penalty Information Center). It is an arbitrary law and hence needs to be abolished. In a landmark case of landmark case Furman v. Georgia (408 U.S. 238), the arbitrariness issue of the capital punishment was presented before the Supreme Court in 1972 (Bedau, 110). Furman argued that the capital cases led to the arbitrary and erratic sentencing of individuals. The Furman case brought the challenge under the Eighth Amendment. The decision of the Court set the standard that a punishment would be “cruel and unusual” as a result of its severity as compared to the crime committed, if it was found to be arbitrary, offended the sense of justice of the society or if it was more efficient than a less severe penalty (Bessler, 102). The court, therefore, stated that in Georgia’s death penalty statute that gave the Jury complete discretion for sentencing left room for arbitrary sentencing. Therefore, the scheme of the punishment under such a law was cruel and unusual leading to a violation of the Eighth Amendment. It marked the suspension of the death penalty in the United States leading to and commuting 629 death row inmates. It was because; the statutes on death penalty held by 40 states were no longer valid and further indicate the need to abolish the capital punishment (Bessler, 102).
The United States of America is a major leader in the world in terms of policies, economically and is taken as a model of democracy, it has, however, overlooked the need to abolish the capital punishments due to their cruelty and unconstitutionality and also because the United Nations General Assembly view on the need to abolish the executions. Abolishing the death penalty is also a universally accepted issue with the majority of countries abolishing or controlling it over the recent past (Death Penalty Information Center). Globally, just over 36 countries actively practice the capital punishment to date with the US being one of them. However, 103 other countries have completely abolished it for all crimes, and about six states abolished it for simple offenses maintaining it for crimes such as the war crimes. Fifty other countries have abolished the crimes de facto in that they have not used it in the past ten years. In the United States alone, there are 31 states with the death penalty while only 19 other states have abolished the capital punishment. Since its reinstatement in 1976, 36 states have engaged in executions (Bedau, 100). There is, therefore, the need for the federal government to come up with laws that control the executions by passing legislations that abolish the punishment.
Historically, the death penalty has indications of violence, contravening of fundamental human rights and was also a tool for suppressing democracy in a country and hence the US should alienate itself from such a past since what happened in history may happen or may be happening to date in the contemporary society (Death Penalty Information Center). The capital punishment has a historical connotation of violence and also its inhumanity and is the brutality involved in the punishment is no different from the slavery laws that existed in America before their abolishment later. Historically, the death sentence has faced abject opposition and support from some individuals. Moreover, the historical accounts indicate the inhumane nature of the sentence and the possible loopholes for wastage of human life based on trivial matters if the law allows for the penalty. Some leaders employed it to control the people others just to intimidate those that would want to challenge the leadership of the day. Moreover, the brutality of the sentence is against the laws prohibiting torture of anyone including the capital offenders and therefore should not be left open for usage by any member state in the United States (Garland, 49).
Opposition to the death penalty does not by any chance indicate a lack of sympathy and for the murder victims as the supporter of the laws would argue. It is imperative to realize that any laws are meant to lead to justice and not revenge or vindictive manner as the capital punishment tend to point towards. Any form of murder whether by individual or state points to the inherent lack of respect for the human life at any given time because it is irrevocable yet life is precious and a fundamental human right under the 8th Amendments Act (Garland, 49). Punishing an individual with death is the epitome of the tragic and inefficiency of the law since it adds brutality rather than reason as it tries to solve social problems. In fact, a majority of the victims may not be willing to support the state to sponsor a violence or violence in the name of bestowing justice to them.
The pro-capital punishment asserts that having the punishment would dissuade the more criminals from engaging in such capital crimes, but there is increased evidence that it is not changing anything at all. Even with the existence of the death penalty, some criminals continue to commit the crimes with impunity and in fact, the rate of murders in the United States remain at a record high despite the danger that the criminals face of being killed as well (Stuart, 70). It is because death to some of the criminal is no longer a punishment and to some of the individuals they are not afraid of death since to them it is a leeway to ending the suffering they may be going through or hardships faced in their life (Stuart, 83). Therefore, the presence of the capital punishment does not serve any purpose in society but is just a form of violence that leads to no deterrence to the crimes hence should be abolished.
Those who argue that the punishment is a way to provide an opportunity for closure for the victim’s family are hypocritical by all means since that is like a rule of the jungle. It is counterproductive and also hypocritical at the same time to have individuals run to the state and the laws enforcers to commit the murder of the person that murdered their loved ones (Bessler, 112). It is also ironical that the government uses the same act that they prohibit as a means of punishing those that commit the crime. It would also mean that those that commit other offences such as assault should be assaulted as well or those that engaged in rape be raped as well if the murderers are murdered. The death penalty is clearly a hypocritical law that needs to be eliminated from the public realm of justice.
In conclusion, the capital punishment is subject to major controversy and debate not only in the United Sates but also globally. The United Nations General Assembly has also made efforts to curb the corporal punishment, and there is the majority of nations in the world that have banned the use of death penalty. The capital punishment has been proven ineffective at dissuading potential criminals from committing capital offenses and has also been subject to debate on its constitutionality. It has also proved to be arbitrary as it contravenes with certain sections of the US Constitution. Those who argue for it's also continued have indications of hypocrisy since it is like using the law in pursuit of vengeance and is no justice at all. Moreover, if a wrongful sentencing is used, then there is no going back since death is irreversible. Therefore, the capital punishment should be banned in its entirety in the United States of America.
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