Capitalistic punishment

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Capitalistic Punishment "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" says the Old Testament of the Judeo-Christian Bible. Throughout history, different societies have incorporated this principle into their legal and cultural lives. In today's context in the United States, this traditional form of retributional theory has taken the form of state-sponsored capital punishment. The infamous "death penalty," legalized nationally in 1976 by Supreme Court decision, has resulted in the execution of over five hundred convicted (rightly and wrongly) murderers in the past quarter century. In the minds of advocates, the ultimate penalty has swiftly and justly incapacitated killers as well as effectively deterred future murderers. On the contrary, both common sense and empirical evidence reveal capital punishment to be inefficient, ineffective, and unjust; therefore, the death penalty should be abolished in the United States.

Most of those who espouse capital punishment laud it for its supposed deterrence effect; that is, its alleged ability to intimidate would-be criminals into abstaining from murder for fear of the fatal penalty.

According to statistics, however, no such effect is apparent. "Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, the number of executions and the size of death row have substantially increased. Yet during this same period of time, the FBI Uniform Crime Reports show virtually no change in the national murder rate" (). Moreover, some sociologists like Hugo Adam Bedau in his book The Death Penalty in America suggest that these very executions intended to deter crime, may, in fact, incite crime through a "brutalization" effect, whereby a cycle of violence and murder is only intensified by government-approved homicide. Common sense backs up this empirical evidence. First, one can classify homicides into two categories for practical purposes: pre-meditated and non-premeditated. Obviously, those who plan to murder either plan to get...