In the current essay I would like to consider the death penalty within the U.S. and in Texas in particular. To begin with, it can be said that death penalty – is allowed by law homicide capital punishment. In developed countries, death is always preceded by a long trial at different levels and as usual accused person has opportunity to appeal the sentence. As a rule, this leads to the fact that between sentencing and execution it takes years or even decades. In some cases the death penalty could be commuted to life imprisonment. Sentenced to death by a court may also be pardoned by the highest official of state or governor.
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The death penalty – is one of the most ancient punishments, which is known to mankind. According to the most common version in the legal literature, this punishment arose from the custom of blood feud. The death penalty as punishment was used before any criminal law in the modern sense of this word. U.S. federal criminal law provides 70 offenses, for which a person can be sentenced to the death penalty. In overwhelming majority of them are different kinds of murder or other crimes associated with causing death. In addition, the death penalty is provided for spying, kidnapping and treason, as described in The Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty.
Today, in the United States death penalty is allowed in 38 states. In 12 states and District of Columbia, the death penalty was abolished. Supporters of the death penalty in the United States put forward arguments such as deterrence and retribution. Opponents argue that the risk of executing an innocent person outweighs the desirability of the death penalty and also questioned the fairness of its application. The most common methods of death penalty execution in the United States are lethal injection and electric chair (is most often used in Texas). As a rule, each state’s law governs and the way of death penalty execution. Most frequently it is used injection, electric chair – in 32 states, gas chamber – in 7 states, hanging out – in 4 states, and the shooting – only in 3 states. A number of states do not limit its arsenal of some one way, in some states convicts are allowed to choose how the death penalty would be executed.
As a matter of fact, I am against death penalty and further I would like to provide and consider main arguments against death penalty in the U.S. in general and in Texas in particular, among them are:
The possibility of a miscarriage of justice;
The absence of the deterrent effect;
The absence of struggle with the cause;
Expensiveness in comparison with life imprisonment.
As a fact, miscarriage of justice considers that justice system within the U.S. can make mistakes and as a result, authorities can execute innocent people. It should be noted that errors in capital cases are relatively common. According to different studies, from 1978 to 2007 in the United States has been acquitted on 126 individuals previously sentenced to death, when considering the 2/3 of cases in this category were allowed substantial miscarriage of justice, in 82% of cases when the death penalty was originally prescribed, retrial court opted for a lighter penalty, as stated in Does Death Penalty Save Lives? A New Debate.
The second argument is the absence of deterrent effect on potential criminals. It can be said that in most cases the offender expects to avoid punishment, because the death penalty does not provide adequate deterrent effect. In addition, a person commits the crime, which is punished by death and pursued by the justice may consider that in this situation he has “nothing to lose”, and commits new crimes. Moreover, the death penalty is ineffective against one of the most dangerous categories of modern criminals – terrorists, as well as committing crimes and extremist political reasons, because many of them risk for their lives in the course of committing the crime.
The third argument is the absence of struggle with the cause. Also, the death penalty does not guarantee the reduction of crimes. Death penalty creates the illusion that society is “clear” and the life of its members became more secure. As a fact, death penalty creates the atmosphere of brutality and bloodthirsty ruthlessness in society, which is legitimized by the state that uses the death penalty and creates new opportunities and favorable conditions for an even more terrible and violent crimes. Everybody knows that the death penalty has been used for millennia, but despite this fact, crime has not diminished. From ancient times, many countries have used the death penalty frequently and hoped to scare potential criminals and prevent crime. But, history shows that such hopes were in vain. Cruelty became the norm in society, only engendering even more ugly and disgusting manifestation of the dead, ferocity and bloodlust among the population.
Moreover, it should be noted that death penalty is more expensive in comparison with life imprisonment. As a rule, death penalty is more expensive and in average cost is nearly $ 2 000 000 each, while imprisoning for 40 years in average costs over $ 500 000 (Minnesota has the lowest indicator – $ 345 000 for 40 years of imprisoning). Statistics says that U.S. spends on death penalty over $243 million annually. As a fact, it characterizes that death penalty is much more expensive for taxpayers than life imprisonment, as described in Death in Texas.
To sum it up I would like to say that death penalty – is allowed by law homicide capital punishment. In developed countries, death is always preceded by a long trial at different levels and as usual accused person has opportunity to appeal the sentence. I am against death penalty and there are following main arguments against death penalty in the U.S. in general and in Texas in particular: the possibility of a miscarriage of justice; the absence of the deterrent effect; the absence of struggle with the cause; expensiveness in comparison with life imprisonment.
Personally I think that death penalty dehumanizes our society. All major religions of the world are focused on such moral qualities as humanism, kindness and compassion. As a fact, these moral qualities most clearly distinguish people from animals, even the most developed. The death penalty, as an institution, is contrary to these moral qualities and has dehumanizing effect on people. Death penalty is counterproductive and not limited to its dehumanizing effect on society. It also diverts the attention of officials (and citizens) to the measures that needed to achieve real results in fighting against crime. I believe that the death penalty uses the principle of retaliation, which gives rise to legal nihilism. In addition, it is known that the death penalty by the state undermines this fundamental principle of public morality and integrity. As a fact, full human life justifies killing in the public mind, cast the highest value – human life, on the level of volition.