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Capital punishment is a mode of punishment by execution or death for committing serious crimes, and one is seen as dangerous to the society. Most of the executions, since early 1800's, have been of murder cases. Convicts of serious crimes such as treason, rape, armed robbery, and kidnapping have been sentenced to the death penalty. Convicts are executed according to judicial provision when they commit capital crimes (Smith, 2003-2011) in this practice. These are crimes so serious that warrants punishment by death. Death penalty is used interchangeably with capital punishment. This is a controversial subject with some supporting while others oppose strongly.
Capital punishment in United States of America
This form of punishment was first implemented in American colonies in 1608; the victim was hanged for being a spy for the Spanish government. Between 1930 and 2002, about 4,661 persons have been executed; in addition, the government executed 135 military personnel between 1916 and 1999. The largest recorded execution in U.S. was the hanging of 38 Dakota people convicted of rape and murder during the war of 1862. In 1990's, 38 states in America had laws and regulations, which permitted the capital punishment. Supreme Court decision in 1972 influenced the enactment of these laws. The court had legalized capital punishment. It was then stipulated that it is cruel, and violates some section of the constitution (Megivern & James, 1997). However, the court gave a possibility that the punishment could be constitutional if imposed on extreme crimes and applied in a standard way. The punishment was limited to murder and violations, which could lead to a loss of innocent life. In most of these states, there was a clear or specified circumstance under which a jury or judge could implement this form of punishment.
In Georgia, Texas, and Florida, this law was upheld against three men convicted of murder. The court ruled that the death penalty for the murder was not constitutionally severe. However, it questioned and out ruled laws that make capital punishment mandatory for some crimes. These laws were also legalized under military laws or federal laws. United States is the western developed nation where the practice is still being practiced, others like United Kingdom and Canada abolished the punishment in 1969 and 1976 respectively.
The methods of implementation of punishment and the crimes subject to the punishment vary according to the jurisdiction and have diverse widely throughout time. It has been banned by others, suspended by some, and others still want to expand it applicability. In 2008, 37 executions were committed in the United States of America; this is considered the lowest number per year since 1994. This execution was done through lethal injection, which has brought heated debate in the states since its use. The execution in 2010 rose to 46.44 percent who were executed using the lethal injection. In Virginia, one was executed by electric chair and in Utah another one gone by firing squad.
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The punishment has faced opposition, with people arguing that it is cruel and takes life that should be sacred until the creator decides to terminate it. Critics believe that some mistakenly convicted prisoner might be executed unfairly. Supporters believe that he, who takes another man's life his should be taken. It is true that this form of punishment deters crime rates from rising and safeguards the society from dangerous criminals. Capital punishment has always been a contentious public issue in America; in history, a number of Americans supporting it in favor of murder has been huge, but it is gradually decreasing over time. Currently, the number of individuals supporting it has been lower than that of 1980-90's, but has been static. A 2010 poll conducted by the Gallup showed that 64% of the citizens supported this form of punishment in cases of murder while 29% were opposed to its implementation (Jones & Jeffrey, June 30, 2006). Hundreds of persons have been punished in America since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment against aggravated murder and other serious crimes. Thousands have been condemned and more are still waiting the result of legal appeals.
Reasons why it is supported in America
A society must protect its citizen, even if this call for severe punishment to protect the lives of citizens. If the state fails to execute murderers, and doing so would deter other killers, it allows the killing of a huge number of innocent victims. It is better for the authorities to execute the guilty to safeguard the innocent than to protect the criminals. The society goes through a lot of troubles if the known murderers are left unpunished or given parole after a period in jail. When the law is perceived to be ineffective, individuals normally take the law into their hands leading to mob executions.
Another reason why capital punishment is supported is that taxpayers should not be subjected to supporting criminals living in comfort for years. The alternative sentence to death punishment is always life imprisonment; this form of punishment allows the criminals who do not need taxpayers support benefit from their sweats. Living standard is very high, and subjecting innocent and even the victims of the crimes to shoulder the criminal upkeep in prison is very inappropriate (Sarah, 2007).
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This is the only severe punishment enough to deter criminals from committing major crimes. Other punishments have always encouraged criminals to continue terrorizing people since they know they can survive the punishment forms in place. Some criminals will continue to commit crimes because they know prison can serve them better than the life outside. Death penalty will make the like-minded individuals think twice and continue facing challenges of life positively. This is the only form of punishment that seems to give justice to the victims, especially if the criminal took another person life. The victims whom cannot testify to the case are serving well, and their family feels justice has taken it cause. This prevents unnecessary involvement into criminal acts by the victims to avenge.
The bible says acknowledge that any injustice should get corresponding punishment. It also confirms that whosoever shades man's blood by man his blood would be shed too (genesis chapter 9). As Christian, the bible is our moral standard reference book; with this consideration, I believe the only form of punishment for murderers is capital punishment. The Quran also agrees with these statements. Justice requires that criminals get a punishment in regard to their offences. Therefore, he who takes a life theirs should be taken.
A country reputation always comes from law system, crime rates and wealth. When crime rates are high, it means that the law system is not well constructed. When the law system is not functioning well, the business or commerce of the country will have negative effects. Capital punishment is capable of reducing criminal acts and lowers the crime rate of a country. Therefore, it is in our best interest not to abolish this form of punishment, but to keep it (Remi, 2010). The country growth is normally affected by crime rates, so we should embrace a form of punishment, which ensures that the crime rates are reduced, and crime acts are deterred as much as possible.
States in America that does not support it
Several states in America have been without the death penalty, Michigan being the earliest state not to have committed a single execution. After Michigan had attained statehood, it abolished capital punishment for minor crimes except treason. Michigan amended the constitution to avoid any future attempts to reinstate this form of punishment in 1963. Other states include Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maine, West Virginia, lowa, Vermont, and District of Colombia. Hawaii and Alaska abolished the capital punishment before statehood. Oregon abolished this punishment through overwhelming majority in a public referendum held in 1964. By March 2011, additional states that have fully abolished the death penalty are Illinois, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and New Mexico, which may still execute two convicts who were condemned prior to the abolition. Illinois abolition legislation will only take effect after July 1, 2011.
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Crimes that are subjected to the death penalty
Use of armaments of mass destruction, which can result to deaths, is a capital crime liable to capital punishment, terrorism, espionage, treason, aggravated rape, extortionate kidnapping, and certain violation of Geneva conventions. Capital punishment is applicable to control careless injustices committed against the innocent civilians or if an act goes against the requirement of the regulations.
Capital punishment is a controversial issue in United States, which has brought various public debates. Whether they are for or against capital punishment, a great population acknowledges that some crimes warrant its application. Death penalty reduces crime rates to some extent since criminals fear to be executed than going to prison. This paper explored this form of punishment as the only option that seems to give justice to the victims especially if the criminal took another person life. Death punishment requires a genuine conviction so that it does not expose the innocent to unjustly practices or punishments. This is considered because, before execution, legal proceedings and appeals are allowed. It will remain a subject of debate since Christian believes life is sanctified and should be safeguarded no matter what.