Death Penalty Research Paper

Submitted By duckattack
Words: 1688
Pages: 7

Donald McCrimmon
PHI 103
Instructor: Robert Gala
February 17, 2013

United States Death Penalty
[Whether] it be juveniles or a child, someone on medication or plain accidental death, must be taken in consideration when the death penalty is imposed. This has been a great debate for several years, and no pertinent answers have been agreed upon as yet. Taking the life of a human being, whether via lethal injection, or the electric chair, is something that needs addressing, and proper solutions remedied. Although, some crimes are committed with malice, not everyone should be given the death penalty. ( Although some states abolished the death penalty in the mid -Nineteenth Century, it was actually the first half of the Twentieth Century that marked the beginning of the “Progressive Period” of the reform in the United States. From 1907 to1917, six states completely outlawed the death penalty and three limited it to the rarely committed crimes of treason and first degree murder of a law enforcement official. However, this reform was short lived. There was frenzied atmosphere in the U. S. as citizens began to panic about the threat of revolution in the wake of the Russian Revolution). ( Bohm, R., 1999)
(The 1960s brought challenges to the fundamental legality of the death penalty. Before then, the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments were interpreted as permitting the death penalty. However, in the early 1960s, it was suggested that the death penalty was ‘cruel and unusual punishment,” and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.) (Amnesty International Report, 1999)
(During the late 1960”s, the Supreme Court began “fine tuning” the way the death penalty was administered. To this effect the Court heard two cases in 1968 dealing with the discretion given to the prosecutor and the jury in capital cases. The first was U. S.- vs- Jackson (390 U. S. 570), where the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding a provision of the Federal kidnapping statute requiring that the death penalty be imposed only upon recommendation of a jury. The Court held that this practice was unconstitutional because it encouraged defendants to waive their right to a jury trial to ensure they would not receive a death sentence. The other 1968 case was Witherspoon-vs- Illinois (391 U. S. 510). I n this case, the Supreme Court held that a potential juror’s mere reservations about the death penalty were insufficient grounds to prevent that person from serving on the jury in a death penalty case. Jurors could be disqualified only if prosecutors could show that the juror’s attitude toward capital punishment would prevent him or her from making an impartial decision about the punishment). (Amnesty International Report, 1999) (Moreover, a case heard in Supreme Court in 1986, Ford-vs- Wainwright (477 U. S. 399), banned the execution of insane persons and required an adversarial process for determining mental competency. In a 1989 case involving Penry-vs-Lynaugh (492 U. S. 584), the Court held that executing persons with mental defects was not a violation of the Eighth Amendment. As time went on, yet another case was brought before the Supreme Court Atkins-v-Virginia, (536 U. S. 304), the court held that a national consensus had evolved against the execution of the mentally disturbed, and concluded that such a punishment indeed violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.) (Bohm, R., 1999)
(In the late 1980’s, the Supreme Court also decided on whether juveniles were to be executed if their crime warranted the death penalty. Three cases were heard, Thompson-vs-Oklahoma (487 U. S. 815), Four Justices held that the execution of offenders aged fifteen and younger at the time of their crimes was unconstitutional. The fifth vote was Justice O’Connors concurrence, which restricted Thompson only to states without a specific minimum age limit in their death penalty statute. The combined