Death Penalty Essay

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Death Penalty Essay

Death penalty essay is argumentative in its essence.  However, your teacher may ask you to review the relevant laws objectively, without arguing in favor or against death penalty.  Alternatively, death penalty can be presented from historical standpoint.  Please read the below sample of death penalty essay with an overview on laws.

…The most striking development of constitutional doctrine in this area has been Furman v. Georgia, in which a divided Supreme Court held unconstitutional the imposition of the death penalty on a number of diverging grounds, with four justices sharply dissenting. The main arguments proposed by the majority are of two kinds. First, arguments focus on the extreme discretion implicit in the imposition of the death penalty under current law and the evidence that this discretion is either irrationally exercised (with no difference of substance between those condemned to death and those not) or is exercised on constitutionally suspect grounds (against, for example, racial minorities and the poor). Second, the argument elaborated by Justice Brennan focuses on principled objections to the death penalty per se. Thus, Justice Brennan argues that a convergence of considerations justifies the judgment that the death penalty is an unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. Among such considerations are the unusual severity of the death penalty, the growing public distaste for it, the meager evidence of deterrent effect, and the evidence of arbitrary enforcement. In particular, Brennan rejects arguments of deterrent effect that rest on possibilities that cannot be verified; and he rejects retributive arguments that urge that a specific punishment is deserved for a certain kind of offense. Such arguments, he urges, are given proper weight in adjusting penalties to the moral gravity of offenses; they are misapplied in requiring a certain kind of punishment.

Chief Justice Burger, in dissent, argues that there is no evidence that society in general presently finds the death penalty morally abhorrent, as is shown by the many statutes which allow it. He urges that the consequence of the majority's decision will be a removal of discretion in the imposition of the death penalty, resulting in mandatory imposition of death for certain crimes. Such mandatory requirements are, Burger argues, socially retrogressive, running in the face of progressive penal reform seeking to make punishments more individualized.

Furman left unclear whether or in what form the imposition of the death penalty was constitutionally permissible. Three options were possible: (1) that the death penalty was in principle a cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment; (2) that the death penalty was constitutionally permissible only if it were imposed mandatorily for the commission of certain crimes regardless of the particular person on whom it would be imposed; or (3) that the death penalty was constitutionally permissible only if the discretion as to its imposition on particular persons was appropriately limited and circumscribed by applicable legal standards, special procedural safeguards, and appellate review…

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