Nov. 31, 1999
We can not afford to disregard the importance of capitol punishment and the crimes that deserve it. People have used a number of arguments to support their position regarding the death penalty. Among the arguments employed have been deterrence, cost, retribution, incapacitation, rehabilitation and mistake. It has been suggested, though, that a person’s position on the issue of capital punishment is not determined by a rationale evaluation of the arguments for and against the death penalty, but is an emotionally based, moral opinion, that may be based on vengeance.
In 1972, the United States Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment, as it was then being administered, was being applied in an arbitrary and capricious manner which constituted cruel and unusual punishment. In its decision, the Court noted that the death penalty statutes were vague and ambiguous, providing little guidance to juries in deciding whether to apply the death penalty. Psychological research supports the idea that increased ambiguity in legal instructions can lead to discriminatory verdicts by mock juries. states required juries to consider the mitigating and aggravating factors of the crime before assigning a sentence of death. Other states, such as Texas, require that a jury be convinced that all three of the following requirements have been satisfied before imposing a sentence of death (1) that the defendant intended to kill the victim; (2) that it is likely that the defendant would commit other violent crimes in the future and (3) that the defendant did not commit the crime as a reasonable response to any provocation by the victim.
As a justification for capital punishment, deterrence is used to suggest that executing murderers will decrease the homicide rate by causing other potential murderers not to commit murder for fear of being executed themselves (“g…