15 July 2011 All crime is punishable by law and the ultimate punishment for those crimes is death. The death penalty has been used for centuries in ancient and modern society. The death penalty is often time called capital punishment. Capital punishment is sentenced for many crimes, the most common are felony murder, which includes killing for hire, killing a police officer, judge or firefighter, and killing more than one person, treason, and kidnapping. Capital punishment is the ultimate punishment if a judge or jury finds the crime to be especially cruel, horrible, or brutal. The death penalty is ethical for many reasons that are passionately debated for by those that are in favor of the death penalty. The claims for capital punishment are that it discourages criminals from a life of crime, provides closure for the victim’s family, and protects citizens from criminals under the Constitution. One of the reasons that capital punishment is ethical is because it is a deterrence factor for criminals. The theory concerning the death penalty is that the threat of death discourages criminals from a life of crime. This theory has not been proven or disproven thus far. The FBI Uniform Crime Report from 2009 showed that the highest murder rate was in the south and accounts for over 80% of executions. However, the death penalty does stop the convicted murderer from ever killing again. Advocates of the death penalty argue that would-be murderers are “not in their right mind” when they decide to take another human’s life. Therefore, most murderers do not think about the death penalty at the time the crime is committed. If murderers do not have any respect for human life that means that they really do not fear the death penalty. Limitations are place on the death penalty when it comes to criminals that are mentally disable or a juvenile. Capital punishment is also ethical because it protects citizens from criminals under the Constitution. Many would argue that capital punishment violates the eighth amendment of the U.S. Constitution in the sense that it is “cruel and unusual punishment”. In 1967 the U.S. Supreme court made a ruling that the use of capital punishment was not in accordance with the Constitution and as a result was not implemented in the U.S. for almost a decade afterwards. In 1972 the Supreme Court set standards for the death penalty as a result of the 1972 Furman v. Georgia case. The Supreme Court ruled that punishment would be “cruel and unusual” if it was too severe for the crime, if it was arbitrary, it if offended society’s sense of justice, or if was not more effective than less severe penalty.
Capital punishment was put into effect once again in 1976 referred to as the Gregg decision cooperatively because of the Supreme Court decisions in the case of Gregg v. Georgia (428 U.S. 153), Jurek v. Texas (428 U.S. 262), and Proffitt v. Florida (428 U.S. 242). The decision the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was constitutional in Georgia, Florida, and Texas and reinstated in these states (Death Penalty Information Center). The Supreme Court also ruled that the death penalty was constitutional under the eighth amendment. After this point sentencing guidelines were set and procedural reforms were approved.
The death penalty protects citizens from criminals because they are a threat to society. A responsible society would protect their citizens from criminals at any extent, even if that means killing that threat to make society safer. Capital punishment is an expression of society’s moral outrage at offensive conduct. It is essential in a society that asks citizens to uphold the laws and allow the legal system to punish wrongdoers. At the same time it provides closure for the family of the victim. The death penalty ensures justice for all for victims who died or survived.
Bruce Fein a constitutional lawyer and general counsel to the Center for Law and