Capital Punishment in the United States Essay

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The death penalty is a controversial topic in the United States today and has been for a number of years. The death penalty is currently legal in 38 states and two federal jurisdictions (Winters 97). The death penalty statutes were overturned and then reinstated in the United States during the 1970's due to questions concerning its fairness (Flanders 50). The death penalty began to be reinstated slowly, but the rate of executions has increased during the 1990's (Winters103-107). There are a number of arguments in favor of the death penalty. Many death penalty proponents feel that the death penalty reduces crime because it deters people from committing murder if they know that they will receive the death penalty if they are caught. Others …show more content…
From 1968 until 1991, there were no executions. In the period from 1952 to 1967 the murder rate was double that of the murder rate in the years from 1968 to 1991. Also the average murder rate in states with the death penalty is 8%, whereas in states without the death penalty the murder rate is only 4.4%. Another argument that death penalty opponents point to is the fact that states that abolish and then reintroduce the death penalty do not seem to have any change in their murder rates.
Death penalty opponents also point to the fact that over half of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty, including all other major industrialized, democratic nations (Flanders 35). In the five countries with the highest homicide rates that do not impose the death penalty, the murder rate is 21.6 murders per 100,000 people. In the five countries with the highest homicide rates that do impose the death penalty, the murder rate is 41.6 murders per 100,000 people. Furthermore, the United States has the highest crime and murder rates of any of the other major democratic nations, all of which have abandoned the death penalty. In 1965, Great Britain called for a five-year moratorium on executions following a recent decline in the imposition of the death penalty and growing anti- death penalty sentiments in the country. In 1969, the government abolished the death penalty
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