Death Penalty in the U.S Essay

The legal systems in the United States and around the worlds are designed to promote the rights and freedoms of individuals and the entire population. Violations of the laws that constitute these systems attract punishments that are basically a means of serving justice to the offended parties. Among the punishments outlined in legal systems and laws governing the U.S is capital punishment (Bedau 63). The death penalty is not a new thing in the American history. In the 1600s punishment by death was incepted (Ogletree & Sarat 43). The law and practice of the United States has observed death penalty from since then to the present day. Across the globe, the same practice continues to be observed, dating its inception to hundreds of years ago for countries that undertake the death penalty practice.

By the end of the first quarter of the year 2008, up to 37 states in the U.S had embraced the death penalty practice, with 13 states and the District of Columbia remaining without this penalty (Mauer, Ryan & Malcolm 117). This practice was also upheld by the U.S military, and crowned by the fact that the federal government authorized its practice. Amid this pursuit, the ways through which the penalty is implemented remains diverse and dynamic over time. For the states in the U.S that uphold death penalty, the mechanisms used to actualize this penalty range from lethal injections to electric chairs (Campbell 78). Arguments for and against this practice remains evident, with the primary concern being human rights for the prisoners set for the capital punishment (Marquis 95).

Around the globe different countries observe this form of punishment while others do not. There are countries that previously observed death penalty, but later revised their legal systems to alleviate the practice (Anckar 152). On the same note, there are countries that initially did not have capital punishment as a form of punishment according to their laws, but went ahead to formulate and implement legal provisions that allowed death penalty (Hodgkinson & Schabas 169-185). This implies that the global population remains divided for and against death penalty. This is the reason why there are countries that execute prisoners under the death provisions, while others fail to do so.

In the U.S and the globe at large, decades ago realized exacerbating executions in accordance with death penalty laws. With the rising issues and agencies that promote human rights at all aspects, many countries, U.S included have embarked on a reform trail in relation to capital offence and capital punishment laws. In many of the 37 states of America, many prisoners continue to be held for life imprisonment, although they are actually on death row. This implies that executions have declined over the 21st century (Roger 30-35). This is the same scenario with many countries around the globe. However, there are instances that prisoners on the death row have been executed, not only in the U.S, but also around the world.

The death penalty is a critical issue to effectively account for, prior to the evaluation and assessment of all underlying interests. Death penalty in most cases is the result of capital offences. While human rights for both civilians and prisoners remain a pertinent issue, serving justice to the offended or to those whose rights have been violated through capital offences remains fundamental (Johnson & Zimring 109). It is, therefore important to address the underlying issues in such a way that equally satisfies all involved parties in relation to capital offences and capital punishments (Roger & Hoyle 34). The underlying issues at both U.S and global context can be solved by harmonizing laws to ensure that offenders are adequately dealt with, and that the offended parties are satisfied with the punishment s imposed on criminals. Holding the offenders for life imprisonment should be replaced with death penalty, since its actualization continues to be declared unconstitutional in the U.S and beyond in the context of right to life.

Local Sources: Annotated Bibliography

Bedau, Adam. “Abolishing the Death Penalty Even for the Worst Murderers.” The Politics of

State Killing. (Excerpt from Sarat, Austin, ed. The Killing State: Capital Punishment in Law, Politics and Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

This source looks into the issues surrounding death penalty. It outlines arguments for and against the penalty, while putting into consideration the interests of the state and those of the people in general.

Campbell, Ward. “Critique of DPIC List: Presentation: ‘The Truth About Actual Innocence’,”

Annual Conference of the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation, July 25, 2002.

There have been instances where the executed prisoners have been innocent. Such situations have raised questions on the operational basis of death penalty, with the underlying risks of executing innocent people exacerbating over time. This source provides and insight into this matter, outlining probable loopholes in the system.

Marquis, Joshua. “Symposium: Innocence in Capital Sentencing: Article: The Myth of

Innocence.” 95 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 501, Northwestern School of Law, 2005.

This text complements and expounds on the issues covered in Campbell’s text. That is, innocence in the context of execution under the provisions of death penalty.

Mauer, Marc., Ryan, King & Malcolm, Young. “The Meaning of ‘Life’: Long Prison Sentences

in Context.” May 2004.

The continuing replacement of death penalties by life imprisonment is captured in this text. Death penalties in the United States are captured, and trends in execution of prisoners are highlighted for over a long period of time.

Ogletree, Charles & Sarat, Austin. From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death

Penalty in America. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

This text is further insight into death penalty pursuits in the U.S. This text is a good source since it considers the significant changes that have encompassed the American legal system, providing or alleviating death penalties in the pursuit of justice and observance of human rights and freedoms.

Global Sources: Annotated Bibliography

Anckar, Carsten. Determinants of the Death Penalty: A Comparative Study of the World.

London: Routledge, 2004.

The globe has also been put into focus in the death penalty debate. This text presents a comparative study into various countries around the globe, giving an insight into how forms of punishment have evolved to encompass death penalties. This text makes a good source due to the fact that it accounts for global death penalty pursuits.

Hodgkinson, Peter & Schabas, William. Capital Punishment, Strategies for Abolition.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Many nations around the world are pursuing abolishment of capital punishment. They are designing new forms of punishment that are meant to replace death penalty. This source outlines the strategies that are being employed by presenting the contribution of various countries of the world into capital punishment reforms.

Johnson, David & Zimring, Franklin. The Next Frontier: National Development, Political

Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

This text takes into account political drive in the practice of death penalties in Asia. The interest herein is to link execution of prisoners to national development. It argues that death penalties cost the state substantial amounts of money compared to long sentencing. In the pursuit of political change, the source evaluates the viability of death penalties in the social, political and economic context.

Roger, Hood. ‘Capital Punishment: The Commonwealth in World Perspective’, The

Commonwealth Lawyer, 17(3), 2008, pp. 30-35.

This source presents the views of commonwealth countries in relation to death penalty. The views therein more or less speak for the global context with regard to capital punishment, making a good source to account for global practice of death penalty.

Roger, Hood & Hoyle, Carolyn. The death penalty: a worldwide perspective. Oxford: Oxford

University Press, 2008.

This further complements the commonwealth countries’ pursuits. It is an evaluation of the various standpoints and perspectives of the world in relation to death penalty. Roger compares state by state mode of implementing death penalties, and highlights the underlying differences and similarities, and the actions being taken in that regard.

Works Cited

Anckar, Carsten. Determinants of the Death Penalty: A Comparative Study of the World.

London: Routledge, 2004.

Bedau, Adam. “Abolishing the Death Penalty Even for the Worst Murderers.” The Politics of

State Killing. (Excerpt from Sarat, Austin, ed. The Killing State: Capital Punishment in Law, Politics and Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Campbell, Ward. “Critique of DPIC List: Presentation: ‘The Truth About Actual Innocence’,”

Annual Conference of the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation, July 25, 2002.

Hodgkinson, Peter & Schabas, William. Capital Punishment, Strategies for Abolition.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Johnson, David & Zimring, Franklin. The Next Frontier: National Development, Political

Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Marquis, Joshua. “Symposium: Innocence in Capital Sentencing: Article: The Myth of

Innocence.” 95 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 501, Northwestern School of Law, 2005.

Mauer, Marc., Ryan, King & Malcolm, Young. “The Meaning of ‘Life’: Long Prison Sentences

in Context.” May 2004.

Ogletree, Charles & Sarat, Austin. From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death

Penalty in America. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

Roger, Hood & Hoyle, Carolyn. The death penalty: a worldwide perspective. Oxford: Oxford

University Press, 2008.

Roger, Hood. ‘Capital Punishment: The Commonwealth in World Perspective’, The

Commonwealth Lawyer, 17(3), 2008, pp. 30-35.