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Death penalty: does the U.S. really need capital punishment?

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  1. Advocates of the death penalty and their arguments
  2. Those against the death penalty and their arguments

Capital punishment, which is the act of killing a criminal for a terrible crime, is a controversial subject in the United States. Over the course of history, public opinion has wavered on whether or not the death penalty should be administered. Decades ago in the 1970's, for example, public opinion was against the death penalty and it was even ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (Mitchell 23). This decision was overturned, however, and today many Americans agree that the death penalty is justified. Advocates for capital punishment believe that it helps deter criminals from committing murder, and those against it believe that this effect does not exist and that capital punishment is costly and ineffective. In order to more fully grasp the questions surrounding the death penalty, it is worth looking at both sides of the debate. Once both sides are properly analyzed, an individual will quickly realize that the death penalty is cruel and immoral, and that it should be abolished.

[...] Advocates for the death penalty argue that it is important for the government to act forcefully and demonstrate to families that it is concerned over the death of loved ones and is willing to administer the most serious form of punishment. Those who are not in favor of the death penalty also have many strong arguments for their case. The question of whether it is worth putting an innocent person to death for the sake of applying the death penalty to others is a major issue that should be addressed. [...]


[...] Changing Nature of Death Penalty Debates.? Annual Review of Sociology 26 (2000): 43-61. Rapaport, Elizabeth. Death Penalty and Gender Discrimination.? Law & Society Review (1991): 367-383. Stubbs, A.L. Clemency, The Future of the Death Penalty. New York: Clemency Books Williams, Mary. Capital Punishment. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc, 2000. [...]


[...] Decades ago when the electric chair was used, many considered the punishment to be cruel and unusual, which is against our Constitution (Stubbs 45). Today, however, other more ?civilized? methods are used such as lethal injection. Lethal injection, which is currently used in most states that administer the death penalty, puts the individual to sleep before it kills him. Although no one can say this with certainty, most people believe that this sort of death is painless and much more ?civilized? than the previous methods of firing squads, electric chairs, and hanging. [...]


[...] States rather than the federal government decide whether or not they will allow capital punishment. Some states such as Texas are very much in favor of capital punishment and use it often, while others almost never apply the death penalty, even when it is allowed according to state law. There are many groups that fight strongly to ban or administer capital punishment in their state and there are often trials over this issue. Many states, especially those located in the south such as Texas and Georgia, are in favor of capital punishment. [...]


[...] Another major reason why many wish to ban the death penalty is its cost. According to Williams, ?Putting a criminal to death after a number of appeals have been made and fought over is a major drain on the economy? (Williams 62). Often, in a death penalty case, the lawyers of the person being tried appeal to the courts. Often, the appeal process is very long and prisoners are on death row for years. Some people have even died while waiting to be put to death on death row (Williams 66). [...]

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