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What You Don't Know About Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment, otherwise known as the death penalty, is the practice of putting a convicted criminal to death as a result of crimes committed. The death penalty has been an issue that has undergone rabid deliberation, both on the parts of its proponents, as well as its opposition.

On one hand, arguments in protest of both the legal, as well as the ethical, implications of the death penalty have been known to include a range of sources, including Biblical passages - ‘Thou shalt not kill’ - to legislative documentation, such as references to the 8th Amendment, which prohibits the practice of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’. On the other hand, arguments in support of capital punishment have cited sources akin to those of their opponents, including Biblical passages - ‘An eye for an eye’ - in addition to the 8th Amendment, which states ‘Let the punishment fit the crime’. Yet, the establishment of a process regarding the death penalty reveals its inherent complexity as both sides of the argument are forced to consider the unavoidable ideology of one human being relinquishing the right to life from another.

The earliest reference to capital punishment in American history was in 1764, when the Pennsylvania State Legislature ruled that capital punishment was only permissible in the case of murder in the first degree. In 1846, the State of Michigan forbade the use of capital punishment within its State Legislature.

Internationally, Venezuela was the first sovereign country to completely eradicate the death penalty within their borders, doing so in 1863. However, such decisive legislative action in regards to the ruling of capital punishment is still very rare, both in the United States and abroad.

Since the penning of the phrase, ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness’ in Article 13 of the Constitution, the debate over the legality of the death penalty has existed. The aforementioned statement presents a circumstantial dilemma riddled with ambiguity. Legislators are forced to consider whether or not one who deprives another of the freedoms listed in Article 13 is entitled to those same freedoms.

Due to the inalienable rights allowed to all citizens of the United States in the text of the Constitution, there exists a heavy reliance on both interpretation, as well as prioritization in the process of establishing a clear-cut, legal stance on capital punishment. On account that Article 13 of the Constitution is not considered to be any more important than the 8th Amendment, value assigned to each of the respective texts would be resigned to the subjectivity of interpretation. Yet, the enforcement of the death penalty is an implicit offense to the autonomous agency guaranteed to every citizen.

In 2004, the Kansas Audit Report stated that the cost of an average execution, as a result of a conviction deemed worthy of capital punishment, is approximately 1.26 million dollars. This figure included court costs, salaries, and the maintenance and operation of the execution apparatus. Yet, the report also listed the cost of life imprisonment of a felon convicted of the same crime as $740,000.

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