Capital Punishment, Injustice of Society

Essay by Alison BurkemanUniversity, Ph.D.B+, December 1996

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Looking out for the state of the public's satisfaction in the scheme of

capital sentencing does not constitute serving justice. Today's system of

capital punishment is frought with inequalities and injustices. The commonly

offered arguments for the death penalty are filled with holes. "It was a

deterrent. It removed killers. It was the ultimate punishment. It is

biblical. It satisfied the public's need for retribution. It relieved the

anguish of the victim's family."(Grisham 120) Realistically, imposing the

death penalty is expensive and time consuming. Retroactively, it has yet to

be proven as a deterrent. Morally, it is a continuation of the cycle of

violence and "...degrades all who are involved in its enforcement, as well as

its victim."(Stewart 1)

Perhaps the most frequent argument for capital punishment is that of

deterrence. The prevailing thought is that imposition of the death penalty

will act to dissuade other criminals from committing violent acts.


studies have been created attempting to prove this belief; however, "[a]ll

the evidence taken together makes it hard to be confident that capital

punishment deters more than long prison terms do."(Cavanagh 4) Going ever

farther, Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Montgomery based

Equal Justice Initiative, has stated that "...people are increasingly realizing

that the more we resort to killing as a legitimate response to our

frustration and anger with violence, the more violent our society becomes...We

could execute all three thousand people on death row, and most people would

not feel any safer tomorrow."(Frame 51) In addition, with the growing

humanitarianism of modern society, the number of inmates actually put to

death is substantially lower than 50 years ago. This decline creates a

situation in which the death penalty ceases to be a deterrent when the

populace begins to think that one can get away...