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Capital Punishment, Should We Kill It?

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Capital Punishment, Should We Kill It?

Ty Miller

Tarleton State University

English 1302.050

Ms. Miller

November 16, 2016

Capital Punishment Should We Kill It?


Capital punishment is a useful resource that is used at the discretion of our United States Justice Department to help keep us safe from people who were convicted of crimes, and managed to escape our justice system. Some argue that the death penalty is ethical and those that who commit a crime should pay for the wrongdoing that they have committed. Whereas, those who are against it argue their position from a standpoint of how it is unethical to kill those who may not be in their right mind, or argue that the Eighth Amendment states that cruel and unusual punishment should be forbidden as Pearlman (1998) states in his article. The history on this topic goes all the way back to ancient times, but as time passes by it seems that we could find a better fitting punishment for the crime.


The first recorded capital punishment law dates back to the fifth century B.C.’s Roman law of the twelve tablets. During the Roman time period, death sentences were carried out through many ways such as crucifixion, drowning, beating to death, burning alive, and impalement. Since the ancient times to modern society the crimes for the death penalty have fluctuated greatly because as time goes by people see that crimes that are not severe shouldn’t be punished with death. During the 5th-7th centuries, the death penalty was the punishment for all of the crimes that were committed during the roman rule. One Roman Punishment is for the crime of killing a parent which the criminal is drowned in a sack with a dog, a rooster, a viper, and an ape (Reggio, 1997). The first recorded death by capital punishment in America was Captain George Kendall being hanged for the capital offense of treason. Today with all the great advances in technology there are a few more humane ways for capital punishment to be enforced without the inmate suffering like lethal injection, but if they can’t get the drugs they can use in some states, electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, or a firing squad. Lethal Injection is the injection of one or more drugs injected into a person for the purpose of death. The same drugs are used to euthanize or help with physician assisted suicide: barbiturate, paralytic, and potassium solution it starts with the breathing, and heart.

States Views on the Death Penalty

Many states have decided to abolish the death penalty; they include: New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Alaska, Hawaii, many of the previously stated states have decided that the cost of capital punishment outweighs the positives that come with it also.  While some states instead of abolishing the death penalty have just placed a governor-imposed moratorium which is just a suspension of the activity while the governor is in office. The other states not mentioned in this section still believe that the death penalty is still a good way to carry out justice. Around 6 out of 10 Americans favor the death penalty for convicted murderers; they believe that it is a good way to prevent more deaths.

        The way studies factor in the deterrence rate is the difference between the states that have death penalty and the states that have abolished it. States that have the death penalty tend to have a slightly lower crime rate than states without it. Fagan (2016) states that the deterrent effects range from 3 to 32 murders are deterred by each execution.

Deciding whether to keep Capital punishment, or to find a more fitting punishment to replace capital punishment, is a major topic of discussion among lawmakers. The questions still remain of if an alternative punishment will deter crimes like the death penalty does and whether it would be just as effective, also how capital punishment gives families closure. Finally, the question of how capital punishment is applied in relationship to race and the injustices that are with it will be answered.

Racial inequality with the Death Penalty

        It has been proven that race plays a big role in capital punishment since the legalization of the death penalty. The groups that are targeted are usually the poor minorities that cannot defend themselves in a court trial. African Americans are the main victims of people who are wrongly convicted when it comes to the death penalty. It is because of the attitudes that are displayed by African Americans why whites typically favor the death penalty because, it is almost never used against whites, but it mainly is aimed at minority groups. This shows why minority groups tend to be more violent because they are targeted by the law that is meant to protect them from these injustices. The death penalty would be a far more effective punishment if it did not target minority groups, because it would be a more equal punishment for everyon inc the death penalty is used more in the punishment of those minorities who are imprisoned or involved in capital crimes. The effectiveness of this punishment should not be focused on race, but on the crime.

In their  Picket et al. (2014) state that young black juveniles have increased the crime rates over the past few decades, and it will continue to rise because of the racial history of prejudices when children are growing up. The mid 1980’s and 1990’s there was a large spike in youth violence mainly occurred in young black males. They compared the crime rates from a couple of decades before during the 1960’s and 1970’s the found that the rates were lower during this time mainly because it was a rougher time period for blacks. Since the lower rates were mainly because blacks were being suppressed during the civil rights movements. Today, African Americans are able to express themselves in different ways than they are used to, so they choose to express it in a violent behavior learning it from their parents and grandparents.        

This article gives a prime example why whites discriminate against African Americans. Some African Americans decide it is a good idea to act out in violent ways, and it also is because all of the racial tension between the two groups of people. Most whites see it as a social threat when African Americans rise up just like during the civil rights movement, so people who pose a threat will be locked up without the protection of the Justice system. This does not help that the Justice System is mainly dominated by conservative republicans who believe that nothing should be changed. The death penalty is a good punishment, but it is being used to target certain minorities rather than whites. Minorities are targeted mainly because of all the racial tension that is between all of the groups. If the punishment was not racially biased it would help with this problem.



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