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Death Penalty

Essay by   •  March 30, 2012  •  Essay  •  837 Words (4 Pages)  •  860 Views

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The death penalty, or capital punishment is a penalty allocated to people of society who have committed a capital crime. Deterrence is to punish somebody as an example and to create fear in other people for the punishment. In this paper I will discuss the death penalty and reference my opinion with Ernest Van Den Haag's belief.

"The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the Eighteenth Century B.C. Death sentences were carried out by such means as crucifixion, drowning, beating to death, burning alive, and impalement." (Death Penalty Information Center , 2012). The death penalty is an extreme punishment and is thought out carefully before the judicial system finalizes its decision. The death penalty is not for every person who commits a crime, but getting the accused the right punishment is very important. Ernest Van Den Haag, a Professor of Jurisprudence at Fordham University believes that even though statistics do not prove his deterrence theory he remains convinced that capital punishment should stay in effect because it's the best way to deter people for they fear death more than anything else.

Deterrence and retribution play the biggest role in Haag's theory. "I would favor retention of the death penalty as retribution even if it were shown that the threat of execution could not deter prospective murderers not already deterred by the threat of imprisonment. Still, I believe the death penalty, because of its finality, is more feared than imprisonment, and deters some prospective murderers not deterred by the thought of imprisonment. We threaten punishments in order to deter crime. We impose them not only to make the threats credible but also as retribution for the crimes that were not deterred. Threats and punishments are necessary to deter and deterrence is a sufficient practical justification for them. Retribution is an independent moral justification. Although penalties can be unwise, repulsive, or inappropriate, and those punished can be pitiable, in a sense the infliction of legal punishment on a guilty person cannot be unjust." (Ernest Van Den Haag, 1986). Haag argues that none of the objections to capital punishment is compelling, but that the need for justice outweighs any possible objections.

The crime must fit the punishment. People who have committed a capital crime have made their decision not to abide by natural law and therefore should not be able to participate in social because they have shown proof that they have no social purpose. Not all crimes are capital, but when the court has determined an act to be capital then the person who committed the crime should be punished accordingly. The death penalty is in place for people who commit these crimes through egoism and not through utilitarianism. There are special circumstances in which killings are in self-defense and adequate, but this for the court to determine not the public.

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