Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the execution of a convicted criminal by the state as punishment for crimes known as capital crimes or capital offences. The death penalty is an extremely controversial topic in the United States today; and has been for a number of years. The issue of whether the death penalty should be abolished or not has been widely debated for years and there are a lot of different views. It is an important issue since it concerns one of the most fundamental human rights, which is the right to live. “The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution recognizes the existence of capital punishment and outlines conditions for trying individuals accused of capital crimes. The amendment states that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law” (Capital Punishment). This amendment means that before an execution, certain legal procedures such as formal arrest, charges, and a trial must be followed.
Capital punishment is one of the oldest forms of punishment documented in history. Capital punishment has been in effect since the 1600's. However, in 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment, which was unconstitutional according to the Eighth amendment. It was public opinion that the current methods of execution, hanging, electrocution, and facing a firing squad, were too slow and painful upon the person to be executed. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed this decision when a cleaner way to bring about death was found in 1976. This cleaner way is death by lethal injection, which is quick and painless if administered right.
Most commonly, the death penalty is challenged as a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which states, that the U.S. cannot use "cruel and unusual" punishment (John McAdams.) Due to the fact that "punishment" is a legal infliction of suffering, it must be somewhat "cruel.” As for being unusual, it is anything but, due to the long history of its usage. People will scavenge, take advantage of others, and commit crimes as long as it is in their best interest to do so. The purpose of our entire criminal justice system is to protect the rights of life, liberty, and property for all its citizens. To do this, the punishment for crime must be harsh enough to stop potential criminals. Crime is a large part of society, and everyone is aware that something must be done about it. Most people know the threat of crime to their lives, but the question lies in the methods and action in which it should be dealt with.
Many death penalty supporters feel that the death penalty reduces crime because it deters people from committing murder if they know that they will receive the death penalty if they are caught. Others in favor of the death penalty feel that even if it doesn't deter others from committing crimes, it will eliminate repeat offenders. Death penalty opponents however feel that the death penalty actually leads to an increase in crime because the death penalty desensitizes people to violence, and it sends the message that violence is a suitable way to resolve conflicts. Death penalty opponents also condemn the death penalty because of the possibility of an innocent person being put to death and because it can be unfairly applied. Author John McAdams states, “If even one innocent person is executed, opponents claim, that would make the death penalty morally unacceptable”.
Death Penalty opponents would argue that the death penalty is a violation of two fundamental human rights, as found in Articles 3 and 5 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “The right to life” and “The right not to be tortured or subject to any cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment”. Human rights are for everyone, always, with no exceptions. Furthermore, there is a risk that it can be inflicted on the innocent, and an execution is final and a life cannot be taken back. Opponents also believe there is racial and economic