Capital Punishment - A Complex Social Issue Essay

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Should the government abolish capital punishment? This is a question that has plagued the United States since its birth, as it is a complex social issue not easily resolved. The law, society, and many religious institutions consider life to be precious. Also, because capital punishment is irreversible, an innocent life could potentially be at stake in the pursuit of justice. Groups that are opposed to the death penalty – such as Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the majority of Christian religious institutions (Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodist, Presbyterians, and the United Church of Christ)– feel that it is an unnecessary violation of human rights. (“History of the Death…show more content…
While the history of the issue is important, there are many underlying factors that increase its complexity. THE DEATH PENALTY AS A DETERRENT Do harsh legal penalties such as death really work in deterring crime? Most studies show no conclusive evidence that capital punishment does (or does not) have this effect. (“Facts and Figures”). In fact, over 80% of criminologists agree that capital punishment is not a proven deterrent. (Radelet) The “deterrent hypothesis” is that murder rates would be higher in states without the death penalty than in states that use the death penalty. However, when murder rates were compared both before and after abolition of the death penalty in states, no substantial increase in homicides occurred. (Peterson) According to Amnesty International, “A New York Times survey, released in September 2000, found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48% to 101% higher than in states without the death penalty.” (“Death Penalty Facts”) Surprisingly, there is one study supported by pro-death groups showing that capital punishment can deter crime up to 35.7%, but here is the catch – the death penalty only deters 35.7% crime for a couple of weeks or months, and the execution has to be widely publicized. (Philips) If this is the case, then one solution to the crime problem in the U.S. could be to have at least one

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