The Dispute Surrounding Capital Punishment

Discusses both the legal and moral aspects of capital punishment.

The paper discusses how the dispute between abolitionists and proponents of capital punishment involves both the law and morality. The paper examines the issues and arguments based on law and morality and finds that whatever the merits of the capital punishment debate, the death penalty continues to have substantial political support in the U.S. and therefore is likely to be a feature of the American criminal law system for some time to come.
“In five cases in 1976 (Greg v. Georgia, Proffitt v. Florida, Jurek v. Texas, Woodson v. North Carolina, and Roberts v. Louisiana) the Supreme Court concluded that the death penalty as a punishment for murder does not itself constitute cruel and unusual punishment (Bonnie, Coughlin, Jeffries, and Low, p. 673).
“According to authors Bonnie, Coughlin, Jeffries, and Low (pp. 673-677), while there were differences among the seven Justices in the majority on this point, they all seemed to agree that the reenactment of capital punishment statutes by 35 States precluded the Court from concluding that capital punishment was not acceptable. Rather, the Supreme Court concluded that a large proportion of American society continued to regard capital punishment as an appropriate and necessary criminal punishment. Therefore, the Supreme Court asserted that courts are not free to substitute their own judgments for the people and their elected representatives.”

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