The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment

The authorized execution of a person as a form of retribution for a significant crime they have committed is known as capital punishment. The death penalty or sentence is another name for the concept of capital punishment. Only when the court of law agrees to execute a criminal on the grounds that it is a just punishment given the gravity of the offense is the death penalty used. Serious debates over whether the death penalty is an appropriate form of retribution have been sparked by its application. In order to discourage future murders, according to advocates of the death penalty, it is appropriate to execute the guilty criminal. However, the opponents of the death sentence call upon respect to human life and assert that only the Creator of human life has the right to take it away (Cohen and Wellman). In some countries and States, capital punishment has been abolished by declaring it unconstitutional. Nevertheless, a majority of the countries around the globe approve the use of capital punishment against murderers. Undoubtedly, the use of death penalty raises concerns to any individual who values life. Is death the only form of punishment for murderers or criminals who have committed more serious crimes? It is a question asked by many who seek to propose alternative means of punishing murder or equally similar crimes (Kennedy). Capital punishment is never justified since it is not possible to bring back the killed convict and therefore alternative means of punishing serious crimes should be adopted.

Capital punishment serves as a deterrent to other criminals who may contemplate committing murder or any other similar offence. The court making the verdict wishes to pass a message to the members of the society that anyone who kills will be subjected to death too. The death penalty is meant to instil fear amongst members of the public to avoid committing crimes such as murder. However, there is no prove that use of death penalty ever deters criminals from committing murder. The opponents of capital punishment claim that crimes such as murder are not pre-meditated and are each committed under different circumstances (Cohen and Wellman). Those against death penalty assert that the circumstances under which the murder was committed should be the main focus in the case against the defendant. Since one murder incidence will occur under different circumstances from another and at different points in time, the death penalty cannot be an effective deterrent to murder. One set of conditions under which murder is committed may not apply to another murder incidence and therefore there is no point of using capital punishment to deter serious crimes such as murder. According to Flanders (2013), it is surprising to find no academic defenders for the death penalty although capital punishment was philosophically justified in the traditional forms of punishment (602).Besides, no evidence has been presented to prove that use of death penalty makes the members of the community safe from murderers. If then there is tangible evidence that capital punishment deters murder crimes, then it is prudent not to use it.

The use of death penalty does not lead to the rehabilitation of the convicted individual. The main purpose of punishment is to make the convicted person become a better person in the society. Punishment is meant to transform the offender through correction and granting them the chance of transformation to individuals with acceptable morals. When capital punishment is used as a form of punishment, the convicted individual seizes to exist after he is killed. Therefore, the punishment accorded to criminal fails to transform or rehabilitate them but instead removes life out of them. Steiker and Steiker (2012) states that capital punishment does not fulfil the purposes of a typical punishment and therefore it is unjustified. The reason behind a murder crime may not be the willingness to take out life and may not be justifiable either. The idea that murders would fear death sentence and fail to commit the crime has not been backed by substantial evidence to support the claim (Charles and Durlauf). Since capital punishment fails to accomplish its objective of causing transformation in the lives of the accused then it should be abolished.

Human beings and the systems they make contains errors that lead to the conviction of an innocent person. Errors are bound to happen and murder may have come by accident during a fight or disagreement between two individuals. Imposing a death sentence of the defendant does not mean that they had the intention to kill. The verdict to issue a death penalty may have been influenced by a false witness on grounds of malice or hatred. Basing arguments and decision on a false witness or inadequate evidence makes the criminal justice system erroneous (Cohen and Wellman). Witnesses in a case may fail to present all the necessary information required in the case and cause the judge to make a verdict that convicts an innocent person. Also, each person has the right to life and many countries around the world have captured the human right to life in their constitutions. Capital punishment fails to offer equal protection to all members of the society since the decision is biased and influenced by different human factors including discrimination. A defendant may be sentenced to death since they are people of color and the judge making the final verdict has some sentiments of racial discrimination (Unnever and Cullen). The decision made by a human being are sometimes subjective depending on the factors influencing the individual's thinking and principles of life.

Another way punishment by death is not justified is the biasedness of the process. For instance, the defendant may lack the necessary resources to afford a lawyer who can defend them. The accused may be innocent but their plea is not heard since they do not have a lawyer to legally represent them (Sullivan). It is given that citizens other than those who have studied law may inappropriately present their case since they have limited understanding of the correct terms and representation in a court of law (Canes-Wrone et al.). The presence of a lawyer ensures that the defendant's claims are well-represented to ensure a fair trial in court. If the defendant is poor and needs to hire a lawyer then it is not possible even when the court's judge requests they find on. In such a case, the fate of the defendant largely depends on the judge and witnesses in the case. Should by judge feel obliged to issue a death penalty, then the fate of the defendant is sealed since they are defenceless. Further, when the witnesses in the case gang up against the defendant then there are high chances that the ruling of the case will be out of favor for the defendant. Imposing a capital punishment when the defendant in unrepresented by a lawyer may be unfair and the death of the convicted person may be unjustified (Sullivan). Not all defendants are can afford a lawyer to represent them in court to ensure a fair trial and therefore if the State cannot provide lawyers for the accused, then capital punishment should not be imposed as it will be unjustified.

It is believed that capital punishment is effective in discouraging and deterring other forms of criminal activities. However, few studies have mentioned punishment by death as an effective method for controlling crimes such as drug and substance abuse (Donohue). Criminal activities are supported by different factors and therefore one form of punishment such as sentencing the offenders to death may not work to control crime rates. No evidence has been provided by police departments in different states showing that the use of capital punishment helped in lowering the rates of criminal activities. Capital punishment is currently used in different countries around the world and despite its use, the crime rates in those States have remained high (Donohue). Criminals who engage in drug trafficking and substance abuse have not stopped carrying out their activities since their country is able to issue a death penalty on convicted individuals.

However, abolishing the use of capital punishment does not mean supporting murder crimes. Use of death penalty has resulted in a reduction of the rates of homicides in different countries. The threat of capital punishment is believed to prevent individuals from murdering others at home hence the rate of homicides has decreased. The countries where capital punishment is issued to murder criminals has witnessed lower incidences of homicides that countries or States that do not support the death penalty. Manski and Pepper (2013) carried a research which revealed that use of capital punishment deterred cases of homicides in the society (130). If capital punishment can lead to decreased rates of homicides, then it can be used as a means of deterring members of the society from murdering each other from their homes.

In conclusion, human life is sacred and punishments that authorize killing should be abolished. Every person has the right to live and most countries have constitutions that protect the right to life. Capital punishment should be abolished because it has not worked to deter murder criminals from committing more crimes. The argument is that murder cases are not the same and they occur under different circumstances. The death penalty has failed to deter other forms of crime in the society and therefore it is deemed an ineffective form of punishment. At times, the decision to issue death penalty may be influenced by factors such as racial discrimination and the inability of the defendant to hire a lawyer due to poverty (Unnever and Cullen). Lack of proper representation of the defendant's plea in court due to limited understanding of court proceedings may affect the final verdict when deciding to issue capital punishment or not. Besides, human beings are prone to error and so do the criminal justice system. There is no defined way to fix human errors that occur in the court proceedings that lead to the issuance of the death penalty and the form of punishment is unjustified. Despite the numerous efforts to abolish it, capital punishment has resulted in decreased rates of homicides in different countries around the globe. However, the disadvantages of using capital punishment surpass the advantages hence it should be abolished.

Works Cited

Charles, Kerwin Kofi, and Steven N. Durlauf. "Pitfalls in the use of time series methods to study deterrence and capital punishment." Journal of Quantitative Criminology 29.1 (2013): 45-66.

Cohen, Andrew I., and Christopher Heath Wellman, eds. Contemporary debates in applied ethics. John Wiley & Sons, (2014): 108-121.

Donohue, John J. "There's no evidence that death penalty is a deterrent against crime." The Conversation (2015): 1-5.

Canes-Wrone, Brandice, Tom S. Clark, and Jason P. Kelly. "Judicial selection and death penalty decisions." American Political Science Review 108.01 (2014): 23-39.

Flanders, Chad. "The Case Against the Case Against the Death Penalty." New Criminal Law Review: In International and Interdisciplinary Journal 16.4 (2013): 595-620.

Kennedy, Becky. "Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment." (2016): 100-100.

Manski, Charles F., and John V. Pepper. "Deterrence and the death penalty: partial identification analysis using repeated cross sections." Journal of Quantitative Criminology 29.1 (2013): 123-141.

Steiker, Carol S., and Jordan M. Steiker. "Entrenchment and/or Destabilization? Reflections on (Another) Two Decades of Constitutional Regulation of Capital Punishment." (2012).

Sullivan, Rachel S. "Evolving Standards of Decency: The Intersection of Death Penalty Theory and Supreme Court Jurisprudence." (2016).

Unnever, James D., and Francis T. Cullen. "White perceptions of whether African Americans and Hispanics are prone to violence and support for the death penalty." Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 49.4 (2012): 519-544.

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