I've always kind of wanted to do a post about the Death Penalty, but it does kind of seem like a topic for a bad argumentative paper in High School. However, the events that happened in Georgia last night have put this issue into the national consciousness.
I believe that there is only one reasonable argument one can make in favor of the Death Penalty is that it serves as a deterrent. Capital crime didn't stop when the death penalty was ruled constitutional in 1974. It clearly does not act as a deterrent. Therefore, I believe it is morally indefensible.
The 7th Amendment to the United States constitution rather famously forbids "cruel and unusual punishments." I think there can be executions that are not excessively* cruel**. The more important language in the modern argument is "unusual." The Death Penalty has obviously become very unusual with our International peers in that it is totally abolished in all other nations with similar value systems. There has been some precedent in recent years for the Supreme Court to take International standards into consideration, but there is still a terrible streak of isolationism there as well. It is also slowly growing closer to being uncommon amongst the states as well.
Executing prisoners is a terrible burden to put on the men and women who work in Prisons, juries who convict people, judges and really on society as a whole. Our justice system strives to be perfect, but it can never be. Eyewitnesses are unreliable, scientific advances can provide new evidence and judges and juries can fall victim to the emotion of the moment. The Death Penalty makes it so mistakes cannot be undone. Executing an innocent man makes the State a murderer and makes those who work in our justice system bear a terrible and unnecessary guilt.
I believe that the State should be able to prosecute from a standing of morality and justice. However, an execution of an innocent makes that impossible. Once a State has done that it can only prosecute from its power. The State has the police force, so as it says goes should not be the basis of the justice system. An execution of a prisoner prevents the rectifying of any potential wrongs and makes the system less just.
Then, the death penalty is simply barbaric. An eye-for-an-eye should not be the basis for any justice system in a civilized country. We don't need to kill some one for killing another. Imprisonment doesn't stoop to the criminals level. He is removed from society as to prevent harm and can live out the rest of his life in prison.
I'm very opposed to the use of capital punishment in the criminal justice system. I think its constitutional standing is weak and is harmful to the pursuit of justice.
Thanks for reading and please comment
*I think that is the best way to interpret the language of the Amendment, because one could argue that any punishment is cruel.
**Regardless of that, what happened in Georgia last night was cruel.