The morality of Capital Punishment

Essay by cowgurlincaliCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2006

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In 1965, Robert Massie murdered mother of two Mildred Weiss in San Gabriel, Calif., during a follow-home robbery. Hours before execution, a stay was issued so Massie could testify against his accomplice. Massie's sentence was commuted to life when the Supreme Court halted executions in 1972. Receiving an undeserved second chance, Massie was paroled, but eight months later robbed and murdered businessman Boris Naumoff in San Francisco. (Pro-Death

In the scope of this paper, I offer a summary of the article "Capital Punishment" by Hugo Adam Bedau. Bedau's article argues against capital punishment and talks about the two main principles of retributive justice that relate to the controversy of capital punishment. I will refute Bedau's claims and offer my arguments for the morality of capital punishment, including how capital punishment is a crime deterrent and how it keeps murderers from being released back onto the streets.

Lastly, I will refute any possible counterarguments against my position.

As stated above, Bedau believes that "there are two leading principles of retributive justice relevant to the capital punishment controversy. One is the principle that crimes should be punished. The other is the principle that the severity of a punishment should be proportional to the gravity of the offense" (Bedau 1). His first point that crimes should be punished is further explained by pointing out that, whether one is for or against capital punishment, it is agreeable to all to state that all crime must be punished. Now is the time to figure out how crime should be punished. Retributive justice, retaliation, or lex talionis, make it seem like murderers ought to be put to death. However, Bedau's overall argument is not that murderers should not be put to death, but how the courts decide which murderers should or should...