In support of capital punishment
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

In support of capital punishment



Undergrad Senior Thesis on: Support for Capital Punishment. Includes philosophical view points as well as contemporary arguments in favor of the practice supported by statistical data. Woks Cited ...

Undergrad Senior Thesis on: Support for Capital Punishment. Includes philosophical view points as well as contemporary arguments in favor of the practice supported by statistical data. Woks Cited Included.



Total Views
Views on SlideShare
Embed Views



0 Embeds 0

No embeds



Upload Details

Uploaded via as Microsoft Word

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
Post Comment
Edit your comment

In support of capital punishment In support of capital punishment Document Transcript

  • Mohammad 1 In Support of Capital Punishment Luis Mohammad CSULA Spring 2014 Quarter
  • Mohammad 2 June 10, 2014 Dr. G. Culbert Political Science 498: Senior Capstone – Justice Table of Contents Justice and Capital Punishment Pg. 3 A Historical Context: Retribution and Deterrence Pg. 4 A Philosophical Perspective on Justice and Capital Punishment Pg. 7 Contemporary Arguments in Support for Capital Punishment Pg. 13 Anti-Death Penalty Movement Pg. 14 Arguments for the Miscarriage of Justice Pg. 16 Conclusion Pg. 18 Works Cited Pg. 20
  • Mohammad 3 Justice and Capital Punishment People have disagreed as to the justification behind the use of capital punishment (Gallup Poll, 2010). At first glance the practice seems outdated, cruel, and unusual. Individuals who are opposed, however, have failed to see that its justification is based on a conception of justice which holds that: justice is a system of moral values and a product of the social institutions that originate in society (, 2007). The death penalty is a just punishment because it offers retribution for the victims, deters more crime, and protects the life and liberties of individuals. The death penalty is a proper punishment when it serves to repay the victim(s) of the most atrocious crimes known to society (Finkelstein, 2002). Individual perceptions as to what these may be differ, but it is clear that most individuals agree that crimes deserve a punishment in proportion to the severity and nature of the crime. The death penalty is necessary in order to preserve the values of the institutions in society which amongst other things regard life with utmost importance to the well-being of society (Greenberg, 2008).
  • Mohammad 4 Because justice is known to be a virtue of society, it requires a reciprocal protection between its people and institutions. Social Justice refers to a moral assessment of the way in which wealth, jobs, opportunities and other goods are distributed amongst different persons or social classes within a society (Robinson, 2010). Under social justice theories, the death penalty is just when it reflects the greater good of the community. The death penalty is just given that it serves to justify the inequalities which crime entails. Capital punishment ensures that the values of the institutions of society held to a high degree of importance. To ensure that the rights and liberties of the individual in due jeopardy of the law facing a death sentence, states adhere to strict protocols which formulate proper sentences. Under such guidelines criminals are given the proper punishment for their crime (McGovern, 1994). In the event that this becomes a question of justice, it goes to further review by more corrections officials, state officials, state judges, and legal representatives. Any misjudgments will be evaluated and determine whether these uphold or are overturned. This ensures that under the legal system individuals are given proper representation under the law and given the opportunity to prove their innocence. The death penalty is given to criminals whose crimes are of gruesome and heinous nature. The motives behind the crimes are regarded as importance when administering sentences to individuals eligible for the death penalty (Tufts, 2000). On some occasions the nature of the crime determines whether individuals are eligible to receive the maximum form of punishment. Not all crimes are equal in nature given that some are more gruesome than
  • Mohammad 5 others. The death penalty is administered to individuals whose crimes suggest cruelty and torture to the victim(s) and or relatives. Around the world support for Capital Punishment is varied. In 2013 the countries with the highest amounts of executions were China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the United States Throughout the world most commonly capital punishment is given for crimes involving terrorism, homicide, forceful rape, and harm to children. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, thirty-eight state in the US authorize the use of capital punishment. In 2013, there was a total of 39 executions in the US amounting to a total of 1359 since the Supreme Court reestablished it as Constitutional in 1976. A Historical Context: Retribution and Deterrence Justice can be characterized as that which is just, fair, distributive, constructive, absolute, and ensures the overall well-being of society. Laws dating back to the 18th Century and later 14th Century reveal that an “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” holds a valid representation of justice. This is known from ancient writing found in the Stele of Hammurabi as well as later in the Hittite Tablets (Veenhof, 1995). Throughout time the death penalty has ensured that justice be extended to the victim(s) of crime(s), relatives, friends, and undoubtedly to society. History has revealed that the use of capital punishment has been acceptable in retribution to crimes similar in proportion. During the 7th Century, practice of the death penalty became widespread throughout Athens. Under the law of Draco, hence the term Draconian, executions became more common when individuals were perceived as threatening to the virtues of society (Gallia, 2004). In the
  • Mohammad 6 5th Century there was a more repressed use of capital punishment by the Roman Empire except in times of war. Under Roman law, a series of crimes were punishable by death, and often in the most cruel and unusual of ways (Britannica). Drowning, burning, boiling in oil, quartering, stoning, cutting, hanging, asphyxiation, and the like were some of the methods used to execute individuals. In most cases the method of execution has been dependent on the nature of the crime. Moreover the use of capital punishment has also been observed in the traditions of early monotheistic religions. Early examples of this are evident from Judeo-Christian texts like the Dead Sea Scrolls (Steffen, 2007). The bible also suggests in Genesis 9:6 that death is proper when it serves as a suitable punishment. In addition, Islamic religion, as noted in the Quran, preaches that death can be imposed when it serves to provide the relatives of a victim(s) with consolation, retribution, and justice (Al-Shalhoub, B., 1997). The core ideologies in these religions differs but it is clear that in religion, capital punishment is acceptable when it is used to serve justice. The texts express that when someone disregards the life of another individual by murdering them, by virtue of their actions, are entitled to equivalent retribution. The first recorded execution in the United States was that of former Captain George Kendall a council member from Jamestown Virginia in 1609. He was executed for being a spy to the Kingdom of Spain and conspiring to revolt against the British colony. This was the first time in which capital punishment was used to justify a potential crime against the state in the newly settled areas. His execution was justified on grounds that he was conspiring along with
  • Mohammad 7 the enemy (Spain) to overthrow the local government in place. His execution was meant to serve as a deterrent to anyone who might otherwise contemplate revolting against the British. The firs forms of executions in the US took place in public for people to witness. Large groups of people would gather at public locations to see individuals be put to death. Hanging was the preferred method in most of such cases (Banner). Public executions were justified because they served the purpose of expressing societies distaste with crime. Inclusively it also served the purpose of deterring others in engaging in crimes where the consequences might lead to similar outcomes for society as a whole to witness. Across the spectrum of history, the justification of the death penalty entail similarities for when the sentence is administered. In most cases punishment has been proportional to the nature of the crime. Although there are some extreme cases in the legal systems around the world (like in North Korea which executes people just for simply being a relative of the perpetrator), people who are executed tend to have committed atrocious crimes. On some occasions death is seen as the most suitable punishment as retribution to heinous crimes by the victim(s) and remaining relatives (Budziszewski). It also serves to provide assurance that individual rights and liberties are regarded with utmost importance to society. Concurrently, the consistencies revealed throughout time expose that capital punishment is imposed based on individual conceptions of justice grounded on the cultural values and political ideals of a particular society. Human rational and perceptions on society are derived based on the large overarching social institutions which exist as a product of
  • Mohammad 8 society. Accordingly, it is to the best interests of society to uphold individual rights and liberty as a virtue of society. Conclusively not entering in to social contracts would entail life as similar to being in a state of nature. Thomas Hobbes has been noted for describing such state as “continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Orbell, 1973) Social contracts promote the best interests of society as a whole. The death penalty represents the best interests of society when the criminals in question pose a threat to the overall good of all people alike. A Philosophical Perspective on Justice and Capital Punishment Socrates described justice as a matter of understanding and adhering to a set of rules which enables for society to act in common. By doing so it is possible that individuals can live in harmony with one another (McLaughlin, 1976). Socrates believed that justice is derived as a virtue of the human soul, it is essential for its well-being, and justice (as a virtue) is reciprocally beneficial to the soul. Capital punishment is just under this argument when applied to individuals that disrupt the harmony of society. Moreover, Plato, described Justice as harmony in a society that is structured in a political manner. He described that for justice to exist there needed to be a fair balance of power between the workers (the people), military, and government. Although, the military may not always be an actor in capital punishment cases, it does provide contrast to the overarching institutions which influence individual rationale. Social roles are determined by the interactions that occur amongst groups of the like (Cai, 1999). Individuals according to
  • Mohammad 9 Plato, ought to fulfill their roles by not interfering with others. By killing someone, criminals will have undoubtedly interfered and caused an unquestionable loss to society. In addition, the ethics behind the use of the death penalty involve arguments that put in to question the morality behind the death penalty. Choosing to take someone’s life as punishment is also a question of ethics in Western philosophy. Plato argued that these depended on the (political, social, economic, psychological, metaphysical, and other) virtues of the individuals involved amongst other things (Plato’s Ethics, 1998). When all of these ideas are taken in to account in cases of the death penalty, ethics becomes a matter of evaluating each set of ideologies as it relates to imbalances that resulted from the nature of the crime. Executing a criminal in extreme cases is just because their crime results in harm to the overall balance of social life in the community. Aristotle professed that ethics are derived from how people understand conceptions of morality and not from a concept of rules, consequences, or political structures (Schaefer, 1988). Individuals seek to be ethical because it promotes happiness. Under this argument is it then moral to kill someone? – Clearly there are cases where it is a clear yes, like to war criminals, those who do harm to children, and extreme cases that are violent and heinous in nature like terrorism. In contrast, it also evident that such a punishment may not always necessary when under the circumstances the crime was not violent or heinous, for instance, a case involving unintentional medical malpractice resulting in the death of the patient (Arawi, 2012). Under this rationale individuals are eligible for death when this serves to promote the overall
  • Mohammad 10 satisfaction of the majority. It would not be ethical to execute someone if their crime is truly unintentional as this does not promote the overall satisfaction of the community. Aristotle is noted for proclaiming that anger is connected to the anger. Accordingly, anger results when justice is in question. Retribution is demanded by those who experience anger as a result of crime (Berns, 1980). Punishment serves to reward anger and teach society to cohabitate in a lawful manner while regarding human life with utmost respect. In order for individuals to appreciate life, capital punishment serves to inspire appreciation for the overall well-being of society. It communicates that crimes like murder are deplorable and entails heavy consequences in order to appease anger. John Stuart Mills is credited for modern arguments regarding utilitarianism. He was in particularly interested in the practical application of utilitarianism to evaluate any moral quality of an action. He devised a strategy in which he quantitated the outcomes in terms of pleasure and duration. He suggest that there is not only a difference in quantitative pleasures but amongst these some are also qualitative. Some pleasures are higher than other and by their nature better. Murder, however, can be negatively quantified equating to no pleasures for the community. Under this argument, society is just in executing an individual when it serves to bring about pleasure in the community. On a speech given to the house of common on April 21, 1968. Mill’s discusses the death penalty in detail. He states that society has evolved for the greater good and developed just and important principles… “Aggravated murder is currently the only crime that is punishable by death.” Accordingly in the security of life it is indispensable to have a death
  • Mohammad 11 penalty for the greater benefit of all. Further, “…to deter by suffering from inflicting suffering is not only possible, but the very purpose of penal justice”. This means that justice is regarded as that which is fair and maintains the most number of people satisfied. It is also grounded on principles of equality although these may not always be possible given potential biases that are natural in society. Maintaining Mill’s perspective, it is safe to assume that utilitarianism is that which describes actions as being good when the most people involved are happy. To better understand this ideology, he explains this concept using five points: First, it is important to acknowledge that it is unfair to deprive someone of their personal liberty. Laws should exist to protect the freedom of people. Second, some laws are not good. Just because a law exists does not mean that it is a good law or that is fair to all. Third, it is just for all to acknowledge that good actions deserve good reactions, bad ones deserve negative consequences. People should get what they deserve according to their actions. Fourth, when someone trusts you, it is wrong to violate this trust by acting in a manner which is deceiving. Deception entails losses. Fifth, it is wrong to use the law in order to give some preferential treatment over others. The laws should apply equally and fairly to all individuals. The death penalty can be evaluated by examining the position which the victims of a crime occupy and that of the offender. As higher intellectual-beings, individuals demand more pleasure in order to attain happiness. There is great spiritual and emotional pain experienced when individuals experience the loss of a relative. The pain of losing a relative can be much
  • Mohammad 12 higher than physical pain and equates to no pleasure. When individuals suffer from a loss, attaining pleasure and happiness has a great value to their overall well-being. Similarly, when something possesses a price it can be successfully exchanged for a good of equal value. Dignity, however, cannot be exchanged, it simply cannot be priced. Mills asserts that our happiness is attained by the pursuit of higher pleasures. These are characterized by Moral duty consists not only on seeking bodily pleasures but those that are most appropriate for our human existence and therefore those that would make the most number of people happiest. David Hume, claims in “Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals” (1751) that justice translates to that which results in the greatest public good. He adds to such arguments that justice as a whole operates similar to a merit system. This is because Justice can be achieved in a similar vein to merit. In “A Treatise of Human Nature” (1939) – Justice to a large extent is also concerned with the idea of private property. He claims that because people have an affinity for personal gains the rules of justice are observed. Private property in this view is regarded as a catalyst which can inspire certain behaviors. It is because people have an affinity towards material gains that rules are observed. To clarify, he uses a thought experiment to exemplify his argument. In his thought experiment, Hume places individuals in a state of nature where resources are extremely scarce and inaccessible to many. Under such conditions the primary interest for individuals would undoubtedly be survival through what so ever means necessary. Laws would not serve to protect society for these would not be able to extend protection to
  • Mohammad 13 private property. The primary objective of individuals would be to survive. Justice would equate to whatever kept the individual alive. Murdering someone under such conditions would not be a violation of the law but rather a necessity. Capital punishment in the logic of Hume’s argument would entail justice. The public as a whole would benefit given that one individual is removed from the population which is vying for resources. Because other individuals are primarily concerned with their own survival, they would likely not be opposed to having less individuals. The death penalty in this view provides a gain for society given that a consumer is removed from the equation. Following the same logic, this would be just because society would likely redistribute such resources. John B Rawls, presents a conception of justice in “A Theory of Justice” and “Justice as Fairness” that generalizes and enhances social contract theories. “Justice is the first virtue of society” – His political philosophy reflects ideas on how to a well-ordered society functions. He conceived two principles in justice. The first being that all individuals are entitled to basic freedoms. Second, the difference principle. Basic freedoms are things like freedom of speech, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as well political liberties. All individuals similarly should have the same opportunities regardless of their social class. The difference principle holds that inequalities in society are good so long as they do not discriminate against the least fortunate members of society. Inequalities are meant to help society as a whole, these serve to structure society in a way in which individuals are rewarded according to their efforts.
  • Mohammad 14 Rawls created a thought experiment to represent his principles. He called this the ‘original position’. In this position, individuals place themselves behind a ‘veil of ignorance’. The veil represents that individuals will not know their position in society as to whether they are – rich or poor – smart or dumb. If one were to be behind the veil of ignorance they would choose those principles which are fairest to all. Under the veil of ignorance the death penalty is appropriate when it is applied in a fair and just manner. First, the individual liberties in question must be evaluated for both the victim and the accused. In murder cases the liberties of individuals are undoubtedly terminated. For the individual in jeopardy of the law, individual liberties should be extended to promote concepts of fairness and equality. The use of capital punishment is justified when it is determined to be a fair punishment under the veil of ignorance. It would seem the most fair to all. In addition, social contracts allow for individuals to determine the nature of social arrangements. Rawls claims that individuals are ‘blind’ at birth, and are unaware of anything. The environment or society which the individual resides will influence how their ideology is shaped. Individuals accordingly have multiple vulnerabilities as part of being human. These vulnerabilities push individuals in to entering social contracts in order to safeguard their best interests. Individuals all have different interests in life and will pursue them according to what seems most feasibly possible. In the pursuit of personal interests, individuals learn to distance themselves from becoming entangled in the interests of others. This allows for social cooperation to exist amongst individuals.
  • Mohammad 15 Rawls claims that individuals will learn to reason based on what is socially acceptable. This implies that individuals interpret their environment based on the ideas of others who pass on information and knowledge on to them. Accordingly this will also result in individuals developing an idea of fairness. Because we as humans must all share common resources we enter in to social contracts in order to assure that we can all achieve a fair share. Justice in this sense translates in to what is fair. This can have variations depending on the geographic location of individuals. But this essentially translates to making a fair distribution of resources. Furthermore Rawls described nature as neither just nor unjust, in the same way that it is neither just nor unjust to be born in to a determinate social position. Birth is an act of nature and individuals have no control over this. What can be just or unjust about it is the way in which social institutions uphold and value individual rights and liberties. Given that justice and injustice are concepts which apply to human agency. The institutions within a society must determine what constitutes as just or unjust. When individual rights and liberties are regarded with utmost importance in society – it is said to be just. Contemporary Arguments in Support for Capital Punishment During the presidential campaign in 2008, candidates were asked about their views on capital punishment. Barak Obama, gave his opinion in regards and stated: “I believe the death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances, where there is extraordinarily heinous crimes like terrorism and harm of children”. It makes a compelling argument and it immediately expresses support for the punishment under certain circumstances. At the same time his
  • Mohammad 16 opinion clarifies that the crimes must follow in to a category that makes them particularly heinous. The two examples given not only fall in to such category but also appeals to individual conceptions of justice. Punishing terrorists and people who harm children is undoubtedly just. According to an article in from the Heritage Foundation, “The Death Penalty Deters Crime and Saves Lives”. David Muhlhausen Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst, studied the effects of capital punishment on society. He argues that a correlation exists between the use of capital punishment and the number of murders. For every execution there were three to eighteen less homicides. In addition, it has been observed by criminologists that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on crime. Existing data indicates that individuals are less likely to engage in atrocious crimes when the consequences may result on the punishment being imposed on them. According for Justice for All in Texas - Ever since the practice was reinstituted by the Supreme Court in 1976 the rate of homicides has decreased 72%. The contrary holds true when less people are execute under a death sentence. Given the dire condition of overcrowding throughout America’s prisons, killing the most violent criminals prevents them from occupying scare resources. The cost of keeping an inmate in prison vs killing them is substantial. According to Dudley Sharp Director of Death Penalty Resources at Justice for all states “Life without parole cases cost $1.2 million to $3.6 million more than death penalty cases”. The use of this form of punishment also contributes to the reduction of the prison population. Through capital punishment crimes that would ultimately place individuals in jail are prevented.
  • Mohammad 17 According to Marquette University/Political Scientist –John McAdams, the consequences of a worldwide ban on death penalty would entail the loss of lives. "If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call." (BBC News, 2014)The claim being made is that regardless of whether capital punishment serves to deter lives or not, eliminating it altogether is of high risk for the safety of society. Anti-Death Penalty Movement Not surprisingly, not everyone believes the death penalty to be a just form of punishment. Counter arguments hold that professed moral objection to capital punishment are seen as a product of political philosophy from which it derives an unwillingness to use equal punishment for a crime (Berns, 1980). In this regard the death penalty lacks a significant purpose for it does the very thing that it is supposed to prevent – taking someone’s life. The idea of killing an individual because he has killed seems counterproductive (Beccaria). It also raises the question of – is the death penalty really necessary? Seemingly, despite opposition there is evidence to suggest that people are not opposed to particularly heinous crimes. The United Nations has expressed distaste in utilizing the death penalty as highlighted in resolution (62/149). It calls upon member states to consider the abolition of its practice (2005/59). It expresses deep concern regarding the continuation of capital punishment in contemporary legal systems (63/168). It insists that it violates the UN’s Declaration on
  • Mohammad 18 Human Rights. The UN is convinced that criminals should be restricted to the minimum standards of justice outlined in resolution (1984/50) which reiterates distaste in capital punishment. Most of the member states, however, are states which do not practice this form of punishment. Noting with grave concern – is the fact that many of the member states who are opposed have been unable to extend universal human rights to all people alike. It truly exposes a paradox in the nature of international diplomacy. Amnesty International is an organization that also advocates in favor of universal human rights. AI expresses support for the UN Declaration on Human Rights (Resolution 217- III-of 10 December 1948). AI claims that all individuals are entitled to “the recognition of the inherent dignity and of equal and inalienable rights” which it considers “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. One of the fronts which it campaigns against is the mistreatment and abuse of “Prisoners of Conscience” (Thompson, 1973). These are prisoners whose have been imprisoned for holding political or religious views that conflict with government. The organization is particularly concerned when such prisoners are facing the death penalty. Clearly such prisoners are of utmost concern to the global community. However, this is not to say that having opposing views to the government does not always entail consequences. In light of the Arab Spring, politically ‘conscious’ activists contributed to violent protests which resulted in the deaths of thousands. One can see that the intentions of many activists was not for people to die, but many did die. On some cases, the protests where ineffective in creating any change (Collins, 2014). In addition critics of organizations like the UN and AI believe the organization operates under a political bias which
  • Mohammad 19 is malleable and may not be opposed to capital punishment for crimes involving torture and or harm of children. In these cases IGO’s have expressed no interests in advocating against the death penalty for such individuals. It truly does make it a contradiction, to say the least, that the death penalty is a violation on human rights when the criminals have violated that of its victims. Additionally the Constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishments has put in to question its practice on various occasions. Critics of the death penalty believe that by nature the death penalty is cruel and unusual (Mannheimer, 2006). On many occasions individuals who are sentenced to capital punishment have been reported to experience high levels of distress and anxiety. In addition some executions have complications which result in painful death for the individual. Counterarguments, however, hold that the amount of pain experienced by the victim’s during their murder is comparable in pain (Eddlem, 2002). Also, the nature of some of the crimes for which individuals have been sentenced to death was unquestionably painful and cruel to the victim(s) and relatives. Arguments for the Miscarriage of Justice The chances of being put to death for killing someone are paltry according to data from Death Penalty Information Center. Amongst criminals convicted of homicide, the chances of being assigned the death penalty are less than 1%. This figure is relatively small and complements arguments in defense of due process of the law. Given such a low figure it is safe to say the legal proceedings in the justice system are nearly error proof. Although, one can never fully dismiss the potential for error, it is highly unlikely that innocent individuals be
  • Mohammad 20 put to death. The legal system calls for extensive revisions to be made in death penalty cases. On several occasions the evidence is meticulously examined before an individual can be assigned a death penalty. According the statistics from the DPIC capital punishment does not discriminate against minorities. Most of the people who have been executed have been of Caucasian background. Since 1976, 1379 executions have taken place in the US, of these: 56% have been Caucasian, 34% African American, and 8% of Latino decent. Amongst the number of executions which have taken place in the United States 55.93% are of Caucasian background compared to 44.08% of (Blacks, Latinos, and Others). Whites account for the highest number of people executed compared to all other ethnic groups. Moreover, the data also suggest that when the victim is of Caucasian background the defendants are more likely to receive a death penalty 76.3% of the time compared to 14.9% for African Americans, 6.5% for Latinos, and 2.5% for other races. These statistics suggest that amongst a collection of individuals, whites are more likely to be executed compared to other races. Executions accordingly are more likely when the victim is white. The statistics also reveal that only 68.3% of the cases involve only one victim, amongst a total of 2020 victims, Caucasians represent 76.33% compared to 23.66% (African American, Latino, and Others). Given a 3:1 ratio of white victims compared to other ethnicities the punishment is applied fairly. Despite perceptions that it discriminates against minorities, the evidence disproves it. Further evidence from the Death Penalty Information Center suggests that the federal government is yet to kill someone for a non-homicidal case (2007). Although, there has been
  • Mohammad 21 convictions made on grounds of forceful sexual assault on children. No one has been executed under such circumstances since its reception by the Supreme Court in 1976. This goes to show that even though an individual has been sentenced to death it does not imply that the execution will indeed be carried out. This dismisses arguments that the punishment is misused under such circumstances. In addition, the death penalty has been reversed for individuals who are of questionable mental stability. On one such occasion involving a man sentenced to death, the sentence was dismissed given that prosecutors had not conducted an extensive review of the subject’s background including family and early childhood history (Developments in Mental Health Law, 2004). This goes to show that courts in the US uphold with utmost care and concern the mental health of all criminals facing a potential death sentence. It also demonstrates adhesion to the 14th Amendment which states that citizens are to be extended the utmost protection of the law. Criminals are not treated cruelly before their executions and are allowed things like: last meal requests (contingent on the prison-state policies), visitation with the family, telephone access, and a visit with a chaplain or spiritual leader. Just because an individual has been sentenced to death does not imply that he should be treated unfairly. According to a Death Penalty Documentary “Death Row – The Final 24 Hours” (2012) the individual undergoes a series of preparations leading to execution. Prior to the execution the individual goes through a lengthy process which prepares the individual to accept his or her ultimate fate (Lowe). Only when individuals refuse to accept their faith is force used against them.
  • Mohammad 22 In addition, according to an article from the Wall Street Journal “Capital Punishment Works” (2007). The claim here supports arguments that the death penalty has been an outstanding deterrent in the number of homicides in society. Citing data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the article claims that there is a strong correlation between executions and the number of homicides in society. The article further suggests that each execution results in about 71 less homicides during the same year. Undoubtedly this portrays a substantial decrease in the number of murders following the execution of criminals responsible for heinous crimes. Conclusion The death penalty is a just form of punishment because it provides retribution to the victims, extends safety to individuals, and provides a strong deterrent to potential criminals. The practice of capital punishment has transcended across history and civilization. Conceptions of Justice hold that justice is a system of moral values derived from the social institutions of society. The death penalty in neither cruel nor unjust. It serves to provide the overall well-being of the vast majority of the population. Without a death penalty in place, evidence suggest that a spike in the amount of crimes may ensue. The philosophical arguments in regards to capital punishment hold that executions are just when these serve justice in to the victim(s), relatives, community, and to those who value life with utmost care and concern.
  • Mohammad 23 Works Cited
  • Mohammad 24 1. "Death Penalty Reversed Because Counsel Did Not Conduct 'Reasonable' Investigation of Defendant's Childhood History."Developments in Mental Health Law, 23.1 (2004): 24. 2. "Death Penalty." Gallup.Com. Gallup Survey, 2010. Web. 02 June 2014. 3. "Death Row: The Final 24 Hours." IMDb., 2012. Web. 23 May 2014. 4. "Death Sentences and Executions 2013." Amnesty International USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2014. 5. "Does the Death Penalty Cost Less Than Life in Prison without Parole? - Death Penalty -" Does the Death Penalty Cost Less Than Life in Prison without Parole? - Death Penalty., n.d. Web. 02 June 2014. 6. "John Stuart Mill, Speech in Favor of Capital Punishment." John Stuart Mill, Speech in Favor of Capital Punishment. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2014. 7. "Plato's 'Ethics'." The Classical World, 91.4 (1998): 309. 8. "Race and the Death Penalty." DPIC. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2014. 9. "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR, Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Declaration, Human Rights Charter, The Un and Human Rights." UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 02 June 2014. 10. Al-Shalhoub, B. Capital Punishment and Islam. n.p.: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 1997.
  • Mohammad 25 11. Arawi, Thalia, and Philip M Rosoff. "Competing Duties: Medical Educators, Underperforming Students, and Social Accountability." Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 9.2 (2012): 135-147. 12. BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. 13. Berns, Walter. "Defending the Death Penalty." Crime & Delinquency, 26.4 (1980): 503-511. 14. Cai, Zong-qi. "In Quest of Harmony: Plato and Confucius on Poetry." Philosophy East and West, 49.3 (1999): 317. 15. Eddlem, Thomas R. "Ten Anti-death Penalty Fallacies." The New American, 18.11 (2002): 23. 16. Finkelstein, Claire. "Death and Retribution."Criminal Justice Ethics, 21.2 (2002): 12- 21. 17. Greenberg, David F, and Valerie West. "Siting the Death Penalty Internationally." Law & Social Inquiry, 33.2 (2008): 295-343 18. Greenberg, David F, and Valerie West. "Siting the Death Penalty Internationally." Law & Social Inquiry, 33.2 (2008): 295-343. 19. Hood, Roger. "Capital Punishment (law)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 26 May 2014. 20. Hume, David, and Tom L. Beauchamp. An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. Print.
  • Mohammad 26 21. Hume, David, L. A. Selby-Bigge, and P. H. Nidditch. A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford: Clarendon, 1978. Print. 22. John McAdams - Marquette University/Department of Political Science, on deterrence 23. Litton, Paul. "Physician Participation in Executions, the Morality of Capital Punishment, and the Practical Implications of Their Relationship." The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 41.1 (2013): 333-352. 24. Lowe, Wesley. “Pro Death Penalty Webpage.” Web. 30 March 2013. <> 25. Mannheimer, Michael J. Zydney. "When the Federal Death Penalty is 'Cruel and Unusual'." University of Cincinnati Law Review, 74.3 (2006): 819. 26. McGovern, David, William Rowley, III, Nicholas Jenkins, and Patricia Ryan. "IV. Sentencing: Sentencing Guidelines." Georgetown Law Journal, 82 (1994): 1153-2571. 27. McLaughlin, Robert J. "Socrates on Political Disobedience." Phronesis: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy, 21.3 (1976): 185. 28. Mill, John Stuart, and Oskar Piest. Utilitarianism. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1957. Print. 29. Miller, Seumas. "Social Institutions." Stanford University. Stanford University, 04 Jan. 2007. Web. 26 May 2014. 30. Orbell, John M, and Brent M Rutherford. "Can Leviathan Make the Life of Man Less Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish and Short?." British Journal of Political Science, 3.4 (1973): 383-407.
  • Mohammad 27 31. Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard UP, 1971. Print. 32. Rawls, John. Justice as Fairness. New York: Irvington, 1958. Print. 33. Robinson, Matthew. "Assessing Criminal Justice Practice Using Social Justice Theory."Social Justice Research, 23.1 (2010): 77-97. 34. Solomon, Robert C., and Mark C. Murphy. What Is Justice?: Classic and Contemporary Readings. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. Print. 35. Steffen, Lloyd. "Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty – by Judith W. Kay."Religious Studies Review, 33.3 (2007): 227. 36. Thompson, Andrew S. "Beyond Expression: Amnesty International's Decision to Oppose Capital Punishment, 1973." Journal of Human Rights, 7.4 (2008): 327-340 37. Tufts, Jennifer. Understanding Public Attitudes Toward Sentencing. n.p.: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2000. 38. "What's New." DPIC. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2014.