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Capital Punishment
Samuel Hall
October 17, 2016
Weber State University
Professor. Lee

Why Capital Punishment Is No Punishment At All is a study that delves into the

ever so popular topic among the criminal justice community, capital punishment. The

research was conducted and written by Mr. Jason Luliano. Luliano, a current research

scholar at the Yale School of Law and PH.D. The topic of capital punishment has always

been a testy subject when it comes to the political spectrum. The main question that is up

for debate is whether or not capital punishment actually deters crime. The stance taken in

this research is that capital punishment and the power it potentially holds over criminals

is not enough and shouldnt be considered the worst punishment or a punishment at all.

Arguments that deal with the prospects of death and the death penalty are

particularly flammable in a sense, referring to the idea that death is the worst type of

punishment that can be handed out by the Supreme Court. The study reveals the

underlying issue behind capital punishment is a moral battle of whether or not capital

punishment is humane or not. Death has been referred to as the most severe form of

retribution that a person can be condemned to, reportedly for as long as the idea of capital

punishment has been around. Without any fact checking, research or questioning the

death penalty has been referred to as the ultimate punishment, but is it really? The

research and statistics that follow seek to dismantle the notion that the capital punishment

is as severe of a punishment as it thought to be.

According to the Deterrence Theory, a punishment should be set fourth to

discourage others from committing crimes. Many scholars have analyzed the deterrent

effect of the death penalty, and the overwhelming majority of them have concluded that

capital punishment does not deter crime. Only a small number of economists have found

a correlation between the number of executions and the homicide rate (Luliano, 2015).

Research showed that based on the research there is little or no evidence that supports the

deterrence effect of the death penalty. A common thought as to why death penalty is so

highly favored among American people is because of confirmation bias, which confirms

their beliefs prior to the question at hand. Despite the overwhelming evidence and

general consensus among scholars that the death penalty does not lower the murder rate,

most Americans still support capital punishment (Luliano, 2015).

Retribution is an integral component of the criminal justice system and at the

forefront of the capital punishment argument. In the end, the death penalty is the ultimate

form of revenge or retribution. The argument that contests the idea of capital punishment

is that it may not be the worst punishment of the land, instead quite possibly a break. The

research consensus is that capital punishment isnt a punishment at all. The three major

forms of how a punishment is observed are intrinsically bad, instrumentally bad, and

comparatively bad. Pain is a great example for something that would be viewed as

intrinsically bad (Luliano, 2015). It is considered intrinsic because the simple human

nature to avoid pain, or something of extremely unpleasant nature. In order for

punishment to be considered instrumentally bad; a key point to whether or not something

can be considered instrumental would be for example if one were to lose their

employment and in turn their income and in doing so not being able to provide for

yourself through, food and shelter, thus being considered an instrumental punishment.

The third and final component of Bad according to the research is comparatively bad,

which varies from person to person when comparing an action and result based on the

consequence of the result. All three of these outcomes (intrinsic, instrumental and

comparative) demonstrate way in which the death penalty could be bad for a person

(Luliano, 2015). When a lethal injection is administered correctly, the criminal

experiences neither pain nor suffering (luliano, 2015). According to a scientific study of

the success rate of proper painless lethal injections, nearly ninety-five percent are

successfully administered, which in turn reveals and refutes the idea of an intrinsically

bad punishment. The research also disputed the fact that capital punishment is neither

instrumentally bad nor comparatively bad.

There are several components as to why LWOP (life without parole) is worse than

death itself. The illusion of the chance you could be pardoned at some point in your life

is just that, illusion. To be brief, there is little known chance of being pardoned from an

executive authority and even if the this unlikely reality came to pass it would be to die at

home with what is left of your family. The conditions, conditions described in the

research are terrible. One LWOP inmate who has already served more than thirty years

behind bars wrote that these prisons "are bad in ways the average citizen cannot really

comprehend . . . . Violence, both from other prisoners and at the hands of guards, is

rampant. Sexual assault is commonplace, tolerated and built right into the macho culture

of prison (Luliano, 2015). Loneliness and isolation are flowing through the veins of the

prison cells. The interviews conducted in this research demonstrate a common trend,

people who are in prison for life with no chance of parole are feel a deep feeling of regret

and anger towards the day they were sentenced to LWOP instead of sentenced to death.

Those who are confronted with this choice frequently opt for death. They do so because

they view life without parole as a far worse fate. To them, death "seems way more real

and promising than living LWOP sentence." Simply put, execution provides "an escape

from punishment" an escape from the torment that is life without parole (Luliano, 2015).

To conclude this study the idea is that the death penalty is a bad thing, but the in a

comparison argument life in prison without parole is far worse punishment to deter crime.

The research literature concludes that the ultimate punishment is life without chance of


In an opposing research conducted by Peter Brian Barry Capital Punishment as a

Response to Evil; published in 2013 states that combating an evil act such as first-degree

felonies like murder, rape, and sodomy with retribution that meets the corresponding

punishment that the state sees fit. In the state of Florida, which had historically been a

red state that supports capital punishment was questioning their stance on combating evil

with another act of evil known as the death penalty (Barry, 2013).

The argument that the author takes is that morally the death penalty is suitable

towards the act in which it is attempting to deter, murder. Many that disagreed with the

power of deterrence of capital punishment and deemed it morally impermissible coined

the death penalty unconstitutional. Adhering to the recommended death penalty is the

ideals that the research supports in this study even though most deem it not morally

sound. Barry argues that the most heinous punishment available is capital punishment (

Barry, 2013).

Comparing and contrasting both articles, the common thought is that capital

punishment is viewed as a serious punishment that instills the ultimate form of

retributions and deterrence. Where the two researches deviate is the extent of what

capital punishment entails. Capital punishment is a break; it is a free pass. If the two

options are life without parole and the death penalty, there is no comparison. To sit and

rot in prison An inmate who has already served fifteen years summed it up as follows:

"There's no more doing what you want, no waking up in your own bed at home. There's

no anything, just four walls staring back at you and a stranger sleeping either below you

or above. Your existence is as a number, a bed space (Luliano, 2015).

I agree with both studies to an extent, I agree with Why Capital Punishment Is No

Punishment At All at a greater level because it is taken further than Capital Punishment

as a response to evil. The research shown in Lulianos study was taken deeper and

demonstrates through personal account and interview the torment that proceeds being

sentenced to LWOP. Another argument that was hit on the head in the study was the

time frame in which it takes to put someone to death, those who choose to fight the death

penalty are allowed to appeal the decision as many times as possible costing the tax

payers loads of money. Sure, the idea of keeping someone in prison for life without

parole is also an extremely costly expense, but not compared to the cost of endless

appeals. According to the research the death penalty doesnt deter any astounding number

of murders. An issue that neither research delved into was the cost effectiveness of

putting someone to death, or keeping them alive with LWOP. Through the research I

conducted I found that the entire premise of the death penalty was ignored in my mind by

the two researchers, the cost to keep someone on death row. According to a conducted

by the Michigan Journal of race and Law it costs more than double to house someone on

death row than it does to house them in LWOP housing (Sherzer, 2010).

After reviewing the research I have come to my own conclusion as to the issue

behind capital punishment and LWOP. Capital punishment would be nice and possibly

the best options if it actually worked, but the system it broken. Inmates sent to death row

are not being put to death, instead theyre piling up tax payer debt in a comfortable cell

awaiting appeals and new trails. Im for the death penalty, but Im for a death penalty that

works. According to the research I have reviewed there are two main arguments that

prove that LWOP is worse than death row and capital punishment. Understanding that a

life of misery is a far worse and less of a financial burden than the more expansive death

row and capital punishment; therefore following that train of thought I am no longer for

the death penalty because it exploits the taxpayer and is nothing short of ineffective.

Work Cited


American University Law Review, 64(6), 1377-1441.

Barry, P. B. (2015). Capital punishment as a response to evil. Criminal Law and

Philosophy, 9(2), 245-264.



DECENCY". Michigan Journal of Race & Law, 15(1), 223-265.