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Home : Moral Issues  : Capital Punishment : Capital Punishment -- An Analysis From A Legal Perspective
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT : Capital Punishment -- An Analysis From A Legal Perspective

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Capital Punishment -

An Analysis From A Legal Perspective

In the past, people have invariably felt that if they had been wronged in some way, it was his or her right to take vengeance on the person that had wronged them. This mentality still exists, even today, but in a lesser form because the law has now outlined a person's rights and developed punishments that conform to those rights, yet allow for the retribution for their crime. However, some feel that those laws and punishments are too lax and criminals of today take advantage of them, ie. organized crime, knowing very well that the punishments for their crime, whether it be murder, theft, or any other number of criminal activities, will be so negligible that it may be well worth their risk.

Although in the past, the number of crimes that were subjected to capital punishment, defined simply as the death penalty for a crime, were outrageous. Amendments were made to reflect the changes in the society's views on the morality of capital punishment. That resulted in the narrowing down of the list of one hundred crimes to twelve, punishable by the death penalty in 1833, and in 1869 it was cut down yet again to just three: treason, rape, and murder because of violent nature of these crimes. These crimes, even today, are still viewed as violent and should be punished with the highest degree of discipline available to achieve justice.

After much public pressure, capital punishment was suspended on a trial run in 1967. This proved to be ineffective, because even though the law stipulated that crimes such as treason or the murder of law enforcement agents, were still to be subjected to the death penalty, the federal cabinet continued to commute those criminals from death to life sentences, hence the law was not being followed and justice was not being served. This soon was followed with capital punishment's abolishment in 1976, as a formal declaration of what was already happening or rather what was not happening. It is felt that because of this and the fact that there has not been an execution since 1967, that today's current form of punishments are no longer a sufficient deterrent for such serious crimes and have contributed to a ever rising crime rate. So, this is where the real issue of whether or not capital punishment should exist begins and such a controversial issue could be best understood if we looked at capital punishment in a perspective of how it fulfils or does not fulfil society's ideas of punishment:

Is not one of the four fundamental objectives behind punishment retribution? The sentencing objective based on the principle of "an-eye-for-an-eye", which means that what one person has done to another should also be done to that person in return. Is that not justified, especially in cases of premeditated murder of another human begin, another life?

Does capital punishment not act as a deterrent? Does it not threaten with an imposition of a penalty for the commission of an act considered wrong by society?

What about segregation? Does capital punishment remove criminals from society so that they cannot repeat their offence or commit other offences against society?

Doesn't capital punishment follow the above three objectives well?? Most people would say it does. But then, of course, people who support the abolishment of capital punishment would ask about rehabilitation, the re-training of prisoners with an employable skill for use when they are released. Not only is it expensive to re-train and house criminals, but with some, it is just not possible, because they are hardened criminals and will not change. For those people, it is just not worth the effort and the taxpayers' money to even attempt to reform them.

Also, another point to consider is that today prison terms are not enough. Many people are allowed out early on parole and/or remission resulting in criminals just serving one third of their prison terms and being released back into society. This type of quick release cannot adequately retribute someone's death nor deter others strongly enough from repeating the same offence that the criminals already have.

As you can see, capital punishment fulfils our society's "checklist" of what a punishment should do, especially the objective of retribution.

Many people who want capital punishment restored, have also clearly stated that without a suitable punishments for crimes, justice will never truly be served to those that have suffered damages or losses. People will think less and less of the law and start resorting to "private law and order". This would not only create chaos but raise the crime rate further with people running around on private vendettas.

Even with these facts and arguments, the federal government refuses to restore the death penalty. So all we can do now is protest to the government, wait, and hope that it will not take a high crime rate and the loss of many innocent lives before they realize what a mistake they made in 1976 by totally abolishing capital punishment.



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