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Capital Punishment

The American public has long been favorably disposed toward capital punishment for convicted murderers, and that support continues to grow. In a 1981 Gallup Poll, two-thirds of Americans voiced general approval of the death penalty. That support rose to 72 percent in 1985, to 76 percent in 1991, and to 80 percent in 1994. Although these poll results need to be interpreted with extreme caution, it is clear that there are few issues on which more Americans agree: in at least some circumstances, death is seen as a justifiable punishment for the worst sorts of criminal homicides.
Part of the support for capital punishment comes from the belief that the death penalty is legitimate under a theory of “just deserts.” This justification suggests that murderers should be executed for retributive reasons; “Murderers should suffer, and life imprisonment is insufficient suffering as retribution for taking a life.” While such views are important and worthy of debate, no practical research can tell us if the argument is correct or incorrect. Empirical studies cannot answer the question of what specific criminals or non-criminals deserve, or settle debates over the moral issues surrounding capital punishment.
The most widely cited argument for the death penalty is the claim that it is an effective restraint against the criminal act of murder. The argument suggests that defending one’s life against the threat of potential legal execution would override any inclinations to commit the act of murder, also assuming that the potential murderer is of the condition to make rational decisions. Capital punishment simply bears little effect on the occurrence of such crimes. Only a small proportion offirst degree murderers are sentenced to death and even fewer are executed. Death penalty states in America as a group do not have lower rates of criminal homicide than non-death penalty states.
The main reason why I really am against the death penalty is beca…

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