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Should Death Penalty Be Abolished Us?

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Should Death Penalty be abolished in the US?

Death Penalty has always held popular support in the United States since the colonial days. The entire premise of death penalty hinges on the rationale that the perpetrators of heinous crimes must 'pay' for their crimes with their life, so that they cannot commit any more such crimes and that the punishment would serve as a deterrent to others. This essay examines whether the death penalty is an effective deterrent and should it be abolished in the US.

Till 1972, the validity of the death penalty held wide acceptance in most U.S. states. In 1967, William Henry Furman, a 26 year old black man, while committing a burglary shot at the house owner, William Joseph Micke Jr. while trying to escape. Micke died and Furman got a one day trial I, which he was sentenced to death by the State of Georgia in 1968. (AllSupremeCourt Cases.com, 2007, p.1). The case went up for appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as the landmark Furman v. Georgia (1972) case. In the case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a 5-4 vote that "state death penalty laws as they administered at the time were unconstitutional, because the states allowed judges and juries too much discretion in choosing the death sentence" (Schaefer, 2008, p. 176). For about four years, from 1972 to 1976, the death penalty remained invalidated in the U.S. as the fallout of the judgment. As a result, state judiciaries sought to revise their statue books. Based on the logic that the states had corrected their statues, the moratorium on the death penalty was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Gregg versus Georgia (1976) case. Since then, 36 U.S. states have the death penalty in their statue books (Schaefer, p.176). The operative principles of the death penalty in the U.S. have come in for considerable criticism from Human rights activists and minority groups. It has been stated that death was more likely to be imposed against black defendants than white defendants, and about "79 % of victims in death penalty cases are white even though only 50% of murder victims are white" (Schaefer, p. 177). Out of the 123 nations that allow the death penalty, only the U.S. and Iran currently sentence juvenile offenders to death (Political Research Associates, 2005, p.2).

The Death penalty has been invalidated in Europe. In 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the second optional protocol to the ICCPR, which aims at abolition of the death penalty. Human rights activists and opponents of the death penalty argue that the punishment has no salutary effect at all. They judge this by stating that despite the U.S. Executing 1099 people to date since 1976 (Schaefer, p.176), the crime rate of heinous crimes is much higher than entire Western Europe where the death penalty has been abolished. More alarmingly, according to the activists the danger of an innocent person being executed is a possibility as a number of inmates on the death row were later to have been found innocent in the US. Youth up to a certain age should be judged leniently before deciding death penalty because behavioral psychologists through neurobiological studies have found that the poor judgment performance of adolescents is attributable to "incomplete frontal cortex and cerebellum development" (Hanson, 2006, p.19). Thus the ability of youth to judge right and wrong is debatable. Since the statistics show that US death penalty enforcement has not shown any salutatory effects and that European crimes figures are much lower where death penalty has been invalidated, this essay opines that the US should abolish the Death penalty and concentrate more on better policing and interventionist programs like the Europeans.

Running head: Should Death Penalty Be Abolished US?

Should Death Penalty Be Abolished in the US?

Gregory Henderson

Introduction to Sociology

Megan Reid

September

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