Abolish The Death Penalty Essay Research Paper

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Abolish The Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper Death Penalty The death penalty is a major issue that brings up a lot of arguments in our society. The most important question concerning the death penalty is whether it should be abolished or not. I think that the death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. Race, social and economic status, location of crime, and pure chance may be deciding factors in death sentencing. In addition, prosecutors seek the death penalty far more frequently when the victim of the homicide is white than when the victim is black. The actual cost of an execution is substantially higher than the

cost of imprisoning a person for life. Death was formerly the penalty for all felonies in English law. In practice the death penalty was never applied as widely as the law provided, as a variety of procedures were adopted to decrease the harshness of the law. Many offenders who committed capital crimes were pardoned, usually on condition that they agreed to be transported to what were then the American colonies; others were allowed what was known as benefit of clergy(Ploski 2). The beginning of benefit of clergy was that offenders who were established priests were subject to trial by the church courts rather than the non-religious courts. If the offender convicted of a felony could show that he had be ordained, he was allowed to go free, subject to the possibility of being

punished by the ecclesiastical courts. In medieval times the only proof of ordination was literacy, and it became the custom by the 17th century to allow anyone convicted of a felony to escape the death sentence by giving proof of literacy(Ploski 4). In 18th-century England concern with rising crime led to many statutes either extending the number of offenses punishable with death or doing away with benefit of clergy for existing felonies, which as a result became capital(Black 2). By the end of the 18th-century English criminal law contained about 200 capital offenses. Many offenders who were convicted of capital crimes escaped the gallows as a result of reprieves and royal pardons, usually on condition of transportation, and many others who were charged with capital crimes were

acquitted against the evidence, because the jury was unwilling to see the death penalty applied in a minor case(Black 5). The unpredictable application of the death penalty in the late 18th and early 19th centuries led to demands for humanitarian reform. Between 1820 and 1840 most capital statutes were repealed, and by 1861 only murder, treason, arson in a royal dockyard, and piracy with violence retained the death penalty. Until the mid-19th century executions in England were public, and throughout the 18th century great crowds attended the regular executions in London and other cities(Ploski 6). Often an execution was followed by scenes of violence and disorder in the crowd. Public opinion eventually turned against the idea of executions as spectacles, and after 1868 executions

were carried out in private prisons( Black 7). The earliest recorded execution committed in the U.S. under state authority was in 1864. During 1864-1890, 57 persons were executed under state authority( Kasper 8). Since the 1960?s, 100% of the executions performed under civil authority have been state executions(Mello 7). The power for local governments to perform executions, however, greatly dropped during this century. Perhaps the transfer of death penalty power from local to state governments was partially due to increased technology. Improved communications made it easier to centralize the decision-making about executions with state governments(Black 9). The legal killing of a criminal by carrying out a death sentence is a type of punishment called ?capital punishment?. By