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DeathPenalty:Whatconstitutescapitalpunishment? KayleighWood April13th,2014 Philosophy:EthicsandMoralProblems AlexanderIzrailevsky http://kayleighwoodeportfolio.weebly.com/

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DeathpenaltyinAmericahasalongandgruesomehistory.Crimessuchasstealing, lying,andtradingwithindianswerepunishablebydeath.Inthelate1960s,morelawswere beingpassedregardingcapitalpunishment.Theoldermethodswereunconstitutionalandwere consideredcruelandunusualpunishment,aviolationoftheEighthAmendment.Thenewlaws regulatedwhy,where,andhowexecutionswerecarriedout.In1972,afterhearingthecaseof Furmanv.Georgia,theSupremeCourtsuspendedthedeathpenaltyandruleditcrueland unusualpunishment.Fouryearslater,thedeathpenaltywasreinstated,sincethenexecution havebeencarriedouteveryyear(HistoryoftheDeathPenalty).Itisimportanttoknowthe historyofdeathpenalty,butthepresentisimportantaswell.Understandingwhatconstitutes capitalpunishment,aswellashowandwhomakemakesthedecisionisimportantaswell. InthecaseofCokerv.Georgia,1977,theSupremeCourtruledthatthecrimemustbe equaltotheconsequences.Theproportionalityrequirementstatedthatrapeofawomandoesis notanoffensepunishablebydeath(Kennedyv.Louisanna).Therefore,deathpenaltyisheld almostexclusivelyforthosewhocommitviolentmurders.Thefederalgovernment,aswellas somestates,considercrimessuchastreason,aggravatedkidnapping,drugtrafficking,airplane hijacking,andespionagepunishablebydeath.Althoughthesecrimesarepunishablebydeath penaltyincertainstates,thereareonlytwoexceptionsafter1964.RichardDavisandPatrick Kennedyweresentencedtodeathforacrimeotherthanmurder.Thecasesarefairlysimilarbut Kennedyv.Louisianain2008ismorewellknown.Kennedywassentencedtodeathforrapeof hiseightyearoldstepdaughter.ThiscasechallengedCokerv.GeorgiaandLouisianaruledthat rapeofachildundertwelveispunishablebydeath(Kennedyv.Georgia)Sincethelawswere changedinthelate1960s,thesearetheonlytwomenwhohavebeensentencedtodeathfora crimeotherthanmurder(DeathPenaltyforCrimesotherthanMurder).

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Allstateshavedifferentlawsregardingdeathpenalty,fifteenstatesdonotallowitatall.It isshockingtoviewsomeofthestatsregardingdeathpenaltybecausetheyseemtocontradict eachother.Ofallofourpresidents,80%didordonotsupportthedeathpenalty,yet85%of Americancitizenssupportit.Thepresidentsarguethatdeathpenaltyistoocostlyanddoesnot detercrime.Althoughthisistrueandexecutionshavedeclinedoverthepasttenyears,the majorityofAmericanssupportthedeathpenalty.Since1976,nearly8,000inmateshavebeen placedondeathrow,about1,300executionsweremade.About270weregivenalesser sentence,and143releasedwithproofofinnocence(DeathRowInmatesbyState). Inmostcases,thosewhoreceivethedeathpenaltyhavecommittedviolentmurders. Morethanhalfofthedeathrowpopulationiswhite,about40%black,and3%areofanother race.Malesrepresent98%ordeathrowinmates(DeathPenaltyStatistics).Thosewhoare sentencedtodeathmustundergointensiveteststoensuretheyemotionally,mentally,and physicallyhealthy. CapitalPunishmentarelengthyandcostlycasesthatrequirejuriestobecarefully prescreenedforthecase.The23memberschosenforjurymustbewillingtoconsidercapital punishmentaswellaslifeinprisonwithoutparole(DeathPenalty:AnOverview).Deathpenalty casesareveryintensiveThecasesarealsoverycostlyandtimeconsuming.Californiahas spentover$4billionondeathpenaltycasessince1978.CalculationsprovethatifCaliforniagave allinmatesondeathrowlifeinprisonwithoutparoleinstead,almost$200millionwouldbesaved eachyear.Totallingaround$5billioninsavingsin20years(TheHighCostsofDeathPenalty). Lifeinprisonwithoutparoleallowsformistakestobecorrectedandinnocentpeoplearenotput todeath.Italsosavesthetaxpayersmillionsofdollarsinthefuture.Onaverage,lifeinprison withoutparolecosts$1.25millionlessthancapitalpunishment.Studiesalsoshowthatthedeath

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penaltydoesnotdetercrime.Thesouthhasthehighestregionalmurderrateandaccountsfor eightoutoftenexecutionsintheUnitedStates(DeathRowInmatesbyState). Whendecidingifacaseconstitutescapitalpunishment,thecourtmustconsiderthree aspects.Levelofbrutalityofthecrime,considerationofhowothercriminalsaresentenced,and aconsiderationofhowsimilarcasesaresentenced.Thecrimemustalsoobeythe proportionalityrequirement.Inmoststates,anaggravationfactormustbefoundforacasetobe consideredacapitalcrime.Sincedeathpenaltycasesrequirepersonalinformationoftheinmate tobereviewedbeforeconsideringcapitalpunishment,thejuriesdonothaveaccesstoallthe evidenceduetoconfidentiality(ExpertExplainshowaJuryDecidesDeathPenalty).Sinceso manyexceptionsaremadeandsomanyfactorsplayabigpartinthesecases,manypeopleare notexecuted.Infact,thereareabout16,000homicidesonaverageperyearforthelastten years.Yetinthistenyeartimespan,55sentencesweremade(DeathRowInmatesbyState). DeathpenaltyinAmericaiscruelandunusualpunishment.Toomanyunrealisticand unfairexceptionsaremade.Ifkillingiswrong,andpunishablebylaw,deathpenaltyisalsowrong andshouldbebanned.Innocentpeoplehavebeenkilledandbillionsofdollarshasbeenspenton thesecases.Thatmoneycouldbeusedforteachingnonviolenceinschoolsandworkplaces. Thatmoneycouldhelpwithfuneralcostsforthefamilieswhohavelostalovedonetohomicide. Thesewouldbenefitsociety,unlikedeathpenalty.Deathpenaltyonlyteachesthatviolenceisin factanoption.Itteachesthathumanityfindsthegangideologyofbloodforbloodasareasonable formofrevenge.AsMartinLutherKingJr.saidinhisLetterfromaBirminghamJail,sometimes alawisjustinitsface,andunjustinitsapplication.Itmayfeelrighttowantsomeonedeadwho haskilledalovedone,butactuallykillingthemcreatesyetanothermurderandtherefore, murderer.

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WorksCited DeathPenalty:AnOverview.LegalInformationInstitute.CornellUniversityLawSchool,2014. Web.12April2014. DeathPenaltyforOffensesotherthanMurder.Deathpenaltyinfo.org.DeathPenaltyInformation Center,2014.Web.12April2014. DeathPenaltyStatistics.StatisticBrain.StatisticBrain,2014.Web.12April2014. DeathRowInmatesbyState.Deathpenaltyinfo.org.DeathPenaltyInformation Center.2014.Web.12April2014. ExpertExplainhowaJuryDecidesDeathPenalty.ABC27.com.WorldnowandWHTM,5 October2012.Web.12April2014. TheHighCostsofDeathPenalty.Deathpenalty.org.DeathPenaltyFocus,2014.Web.12April 2014. HistoryoftheDeathPenalty.Deathpenaltyinfo.org.DeathPenaltyInformationCenter,2014. Web.12April2014. Kennedyv.Louisiana.Deathpenaltyinfo.orgDeathPenaltyInformationCenter,2014.Web.12 April2014.