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The Moral, Legal, and Economical Aspects of Capital Punishment Essay

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Capital punishment has long been a topic for heated debate throughout the United States of America and the civilized world. For many politicians, the death penalty has been a key pillar to winning a state or election; and, to some extent, politics have been a key influence in America’s justice system. Many nations have outlawed capital punishment, with the United States included between 1972 and 1976. In the United States, there has been a renewed movement for this “eye for an eye” method, citing such arguments as “deterrence” and “victims’ rights.” This movement begs a single question – is there any economical, legal, or statistical support for the ultimate punishment? This article will strive to answer that question by evaluating several key issues (be they supporting or otherwise) concerning capital punishment – the legitimacy of ‘deterrence,’ the legality of capital punishment under the Eighth Amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause, and the cost associated with putting a man to death in relation to the cost associated with life imprisonment.

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The key phrase to examine when determining the constitutionality of capital punishment is “cruel and unusual punishments.” The question that must be answered are ‘what makes a punishment cruel and unusual’ and if or how these standards apply to capital punishment. According to Supreme Court Associate Justice William Brennan “the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause ‘must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” (Brennan 32). Judging from thi...


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...ministration of Justice. Report and Recommendations on the Administration of the Death Penalty in California. 2008. Web. 2 Mar 2011. .

Coursey, Ethan. “Death Penalty Survey.” Survey. 22 Feb 2011.

Marshall, Thurgood. United States. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153. , 1976. Web. 1 Mar 2011. .

Radelet, Michael L., and Ronald L. Akers. "Deterrence And The Death Penalty: the Views Of The Experts[*]." Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 87.1 (1996): 1. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 28 Feb. 2011.

Radelet, Michael L., and Traci L. Lacock. "Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates?: The Views of Leading Criminologists." Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 99.2 (2009): 489-508. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 28 Feb. 2011.


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