Essay on Summary: the Changing Nature of Death Penalty Debates.

894 Words Jun 23rd, 2012 4 Pages
In this paper, the authors examine how the death penalty argument has changed in the last 25 years in the United States. They examine six specific issues: deterrence, incapacitation, caprice and bias, cost innocence and retribution; and how public opinion has change regarding these issues. They argue that social science research is changing the way Americans view the death penalty and suggest that Americans are moving toward an eventual abolition of the death penalty.
The authors describe the history of the death penalty statues in the United States and how
“In a monumental 1972 decision by the US Supreme Court, all but a few death penalty statutes in the United States were declared unconstitutional” (Radelet & Borg, 2000
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The authors argue that recent research has modified the way the general population used to think and how now, if given the option, many would support the alternative punishment of life without parole over the death penalty.
While supporters of the death penalty thought that the death penalty could be applied without racial and class disparities, research conducted through the years have indicated that race and class disparities have shown not in isolated cases, but in many cases. The authors argue that “Public opinion on the death penalty show that while most Americans recognize the problem of race and class bias, they do not view such discrimination as a reason to oppose the death penalty” (Radelet & Borg, 2000, page 5).
Fiscal cost is another way in which death penalty argument has changed. In the past it was thought that it was cheaper to execute an inmate than to support him for the rest of his life. Research has established that death penalty system costs several times more than the punishment of life in prison without parole. “They also include the costs both the trial and for the lengthy appeals that are necessary before an execution can be authorized” (Radelet & Borg, 2000, page 5).
“Death penalty retentionists now admit that as long as we use the death penalty, innocent defendants will occasionally be executed” (Radelet & Borg, 2000, page 6). This is…

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