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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

friendship

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The Morality of the Death Penalty


One of the most controversial practices throughtout the centures has been the


death penalty. In this paper I am going to discuss and examine the morality of the death


penalty as well as show some history of this practice.


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Capital punishment has been around since ancient times. The dirst recorded laws


that included the death penalty were set up by Hammurabi, the king of Babylonia, in 17


B.C. The crimes that warranted the death penalty under his set of laws were robbery,


adultery, and murder. Depending on the crime, one could be beheaded, stoned, or even


drowned. Unlike the opportunity to reform, Ancient Babylonian criminals were expected


to suffer. In Ancient Rome, a common form of execution was crucifixtion. Jesus Christ,


who was sentenced to death by the Romans, is the best known person to be executed by


crucifixtion. Once a symbol of the lowest form of death, the cross is now the principal


holy symbol of Christianity.


During the Middle Ages after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Christian


church administered the death penalty. In 1, Pope Gregory IV established the


inquisition to supress heresy. Most people were found guilty and executed. In 1478, King


Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain established the Spanish Inquisition. They killed


Jews and Muslims living in Spain. This inquisition was more severe than the previous one.


The death penalty was not reserved just for criminals, political executions took


place as well. Anne Bolyn, Catherine Howard, and Mary Queen of Scots were English


Queens that were beheaded. In most political executions, a swordsmen was used.


Execution by swordsmen was considered the noble way to die. Lowly criminals were hung


or drawn and Quartered. The heads of common criminals were put on stakes above the


Thanes River in England.


In early France, burning at the stake and beheading by Guillotine were the most


common forms of execution. Joan of Arc, a French national heroine, was burned at the


stake on May 0, 141. Most French criminals died by Guillotine. During the French


Revolution, thousands of French were beheaded, including King Louis XVI and Marie


Antoinette.


Death in the United States was usually by hanging. The person slowly suffocates


when hanged if his kneck doesnt break first. The Puritans hanged many people because


they were not tolerant of their beliefs. In 168, in Salem Massachussetts, 5 people were


executed for witchcraft. Movements to abolish the death penalty began in the 1700s with


Montesquieu and Voltaire. They used the same arguments to abolish the death penalty


then, as are used today.


Two of the mot important occurences were the invention of the electric chair in


180, and the invention of the gas chamber in 11. These two methods offer a less cruel


way of execution. Both methods are still in use today. Althought the methods have


changed, the current status and attitudes of the death penalty has not changed much from


ancient times.


The rate of execution today is much lower than it was 50 years ago. In 1, over


000 people were sitting on death row. The chance of you being put to death depends


totally on where you live. If you commit pre meditated murder in New York, the longest


sentence you will recieve is 5 years to life imprisonment. Florida and Texas have


executed the most people since 176.


Since the death penalty was reinstated in 176, 1 of 6 states with death penalty


laws have executed criminals. Most criminals sentenced to death row, stay there for many


years before they are executed. If they plan to appeal, they must wait on an appeal process


that takes 7 to 11 years no matter where you live. Opponents to the death penalty say that


the appeals process takes too long and that innocent people can spend years getting their


sentence overturned. Opponents of the death penalty also say that criminals recieve


different penalties for the same crime. Wealth, race, gender, and location affect who gets


the death penalty. Females who committ murder rarely get capital punishment.





Some opponents of the death penalty interveiwed several police chiefs and got


their opinions of capital punishment. Of the police cheifs polled, most veiwed other


methods of controlling crime as more effective including gun control, community policing,


neighborhood crime programs, and more effective efforts against drug and youth crime.


The police chiefs rank capital punishment as less cost-effective than other methods and a


vast majority do not believe that the threat of the death penalty deters people from


committing murder. Barely half of the police chiefs that were polled support the death


penalty. It costs three times as much (more than million per inmate) to carry out the


death penalty, than keep and inmate for 40 years in prison.


Opponents of the death penalty support the passage in the Bible Thou shall not


kill. Thy believe that it is morally wrong to sentence someone to death. Supporters of the


death penalty say that society needs to get rid of savage killers and that if a person isnt put


to death, he may kill again. Supporters of the death penalty also say that they agree with


the saying from the bible Life for life, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.. Criminals


should pay for what they have done by being given equal punishments for their crimes.


Former New York State Governor, George Pataki was quoted as saying The


death penalty is a necessary tool to fight and deter crime, by causing murderers to fear


arrest and convicition, and by preventing convicted murders to kill again. In recent years,


violent crime in New York has dropped dramatically, due in part to the reinstitution of the


death penalty. Pataki also said that For too long criminals were not subject to swiff and


certain punishment and, as a result, violent criminals acts were not detered. Preventing a


crime from being committed ultimately is more important than punishing criminals after


they have shattered innocent lives. Patakis supporting statements of the death penalty


summarize the beliefs of supporters of the death penalty.


What does the future hold for the death penalty? Well, the conservative justices of


the Supreme Court show no sign of overturning the death penalty, althought opponents to


capital punishment have turned to state legislatures for change, their has been little results.


As long as the opinion of many Americans is that capital punishment is the answer to


violent crimes, the United States is likely to have a death penalty.


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