capital punishment in Justice System in America

Capital punishment has been a form of “disciplining” since 1750 B.C., when it was part of the code of Hammarabi.  The bible itself, also prescribes death as a penalty for any of thirty crimes committed. The crimes ranged from any between murder and fornication.  In the 18thcentury more than two hundred capital crimes were recognized, and as a result over one thousand people a year were faced with the sentence of death.

While Capital Punishment has been one of the most feared things of our time, it is still being questioned if it is unconstitutional.  The Death Penalty is being enforced in more than 100 countries in the world and is usually used in politically related cases.  Although it has been the case in many countries throughout the world it has been said that the Death Penalty is “cruel and unusual punishment” which is a direct violation to the Bill of Rights. Capital Punishment is a certain copy of the earliest days of slavery, when you had no rights or any different opinion, and like then, executions have no place in our civilized society.  The Death Penalty, throughout its years of existence, has always been against the views of the people, either because of its brutality or because of its lack of effectiveness. The Death Penalty has been opposed by the people since the beginning of its era, which was around 1976, when the United States Supreme Court declared that the death penalty was not against the Constitution.  But if read directly the Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “prohibits cruel and unusual punishments” and not only that but abolitionists also think that Capital Punishment ensures Americans equality for all.

When Capital Punishment is put into a case and the person has been killed there is no way to get back from that if they are later found to have been innocent.  If a person is sentenced to life without parole and is later found to be innocent, that person can still be released, but if the person was put to death there is no way of giving life back to someone who’s been executed. For example, a man about 5 years ago was set free after he was in jail for 12 years and after he was 72 hours from being executed.  In his case, the prosecutors used perjured testimony and suppressed evidence, which imprisoned him.  The witness that set him free was a sixteen year old who while imprisoned for a separate murder conviction, confessed to killing the officer whom Randall Adams was in jail for killing (“The Case”1).  For us to kill those people who have acted outside the boundaries of acceptable human behavior puts us in the same position-we become killers.  Executions give society the unmistakable message that human life no longer deserves respect; they are also irrevocable and can be inflicted upon the innocent.  Why did the U.S. Supreme Court change their minds about the Death Penalty? In 1972, the Supreme Court declared that under the existing laws “the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty…constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth and Fourteenth Amendments” This was found to be “constitutionally unacceptable.”  Then in 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is not unconstitutional.  “The court ruled that these new statutes contained “objective standards to guide, regularize, and make rationally reviewable the process for imposing the sentence of death.”

This leads us to another question, what do we do with juvenile delinquents? The notion of separate treatment for children under criminal law goes back to a very early English law.  Children under seven years of age were legally incapable of committing a crime, and children between seven and fourteen were presumed incapable, this concept being based upon a child’s inability to have a guilty mind, or mensrea.  Thus, from almost the beginning children have been treated differently from adults who commit the same acts.

The function of the juvenile court system is to take a somewhat fatherly and protective attitude toward children, whether to offer humanitarian assistance or parental punishment.  Juvenile court was primarily established however by a desire to avoid prisons for children by establishing special juvenile court which would not send children to prison.  The juvenile court is also used to somewhat scare the young offender with its dark wooden atmosphere and flags to represent how alive the government is.  The courts main function however is to find the best rehabilitation method for that individual.  Should it be community service, a curfew or counseling, these are just a few options the court has in sentencing a young offender.

Parents play a big role in the Juvenile Court System.  With the parents at the court hearing, the court can find out if the parent is providing a good home for the juvenile delinquent.  The parents also help out in making the decision of rehabilitation; with they’re past experiences that they bring to the court about the juvenile.  Parents can also help out in supervision of the juvenile while he or she is on orders from the court.  Most of all, parents are there for moral support of their children and help them get through this difficult run in with the law.   The best treatment for many offenders, diversion supporters argue, is little or no treatment.  This is the case when an offender is young and charged with nothing more than serious than a status or minor property offense.  For these types of youthful offenders and perhaps others, diversion away from the juvenile justice system is thought to be the most effective method of controlling delinquency.  This way the juvenile does not get a delinquent self-image and stigmatize them in the eyes of significant others  Although some of the law imposing the administration and regulation of capital punishment might be in violation of the constitution.  Hugo Adams Budeau best quoted this idea:”Opposition to the Death Penalty does not arisefrom misplace sympathy for convicted murderers.On the contrary, murder demonstrates a lack ofrespect for human life.  For this very reason, murder is abhorrent, and any policy of state authorized killings is

So is our Supreme Court trying to “get rid” of human lives, is this why the government proved the death penalty to not be unconstitutional?  Scholars against the death sentence assure that all doctrines of religion, ethics, and morality are clear that “human beings must not harm one another, nor should they do to others what they would not have other due to them” (“Taling” 2).  The Death Penalty would be put into a court case based on the appeal and the jurisdiction of the judge.

The Death Penalty is ultimately cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment and violates the right to life.  Abolitionists believe that this society cannot mirror the brutality of the crime committed by the convicted person because it is judicial murder.  Capital Punishment is a brutal act that does not enhance respect for human life and essentially cheapens and degrades human life. Abolitionists also believe that “the state is a teacher and when it kills, it teaches vengeance and hatred.  If the “barbaric practice of execution has been abolished in most major industrial countries, even in south Africa, so can the United States (“Death”2).  “An execution is a dramatic, public spectacle of official, violent homicide that teaches the permissibility of killing people to solve social problems–the worst possible example to set for society” Will society put money into schools, rehabilitation, community services, and jobs, or will it bankrupt itself with more prisons and more victims?  The death penalty is no solution to violence.

 

 

Works Cited

“The Case Against Capital Punishment”. Prodigy-World Wide Web-Software.

Computer Software, Sept.1995. (http://www.bdt.com/home/mwood/deathpen.html).

 

“The Death Penalty”. Prodigy-World Wide Web-Software. Computer Software, Sept.1995.

(http://www.peacenet.org/prisons/pubs/out-of-time/sept95/dp.html).

Little, Michael (1990). Young men in prison. Vermont: Dartmouth. Lundman, Richard J.

(1993). Prevention and control of juvenile delinquency.  New York: Oxford University

Press.

Handouts

 

Thompson, Carol Y. “Is the Criminal Justice System Biased?”

 

“The Death Penalty”

 


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