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Sang Won Lee
Death Penalty: Unconstitutional, but Legalized Murder
Punishment for a crime has the purpose of deterring future criminality. Death as a penalty, has been given to serious criminals without solid evidence of its effectiveness to deter serious offenses. Actually, the crime rate is decreasing in Europe where the death penalty is not imposed, in the United States, on the other hand, where the death penalty is imposed, the crime rate is increasing. The death penalty is one of the most controversial practices in the modern world, and raises ethical, religious, social, and political debate. My stance on this controversy is that the death penalty should be abolished.
The first reason to oppose the death penalty is that it is absolutely unconstitutional. The death penalty has been used since the origin of history. Sometimes it was in the name of God, sometimes in the name of the king, and nowadays, in the name of justice.
The problem is that justice is not an absolute value but a relative value; judgment could be different depending on the time, a region, political interests, and personality of the people who make judgments. Therefore, the death penalty should be based on the constitution like all other penalties. However, the constitution of America does not support the death penalty. In July 2002, United States District Judge Jed Rakoff declared the Federal Death Penalty Act unconstitutional, citing "an undue risk of executing innocent people" (Shapiro 14). His declaration demonstrates that nobody has the legal right to give the death penalty to anybody. It is a contradiction that an unconstitutional death penalty is still executed by the law in America.
Here the important question is raised: who decides to give the death penalty? Apparently, judges or jurors seem to have...