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Capital punishment

In contemporary society there are a handful of issues that remain highly controversial, including abortion, gun control, and capital punishment. When someone is sentenced to the death penalty and executed, the official cause of death on the death certificate is listed as homicide. While many oppose state-sanctioned homicide, many others argue that certain kinds of crimes merit capital punishment as the only means of exacting justice for victims and protecting society. The use of capital punishment has grown since the 1960s. As Price reports, “The number of prisoners on death row is at its highest since 1965” (15A). However, the death penalty has become even more controversial in recent years because of alleged racial discrimination in its use. The most important fact referred to in the debate over capital punishment is that an unusually large percentage of individuals sentenced to die in this manner are poor, male and black while very few are white or wealthy. Further, the arbitrary use of the death penalty appears to be based on a higher valuation of white life than black life. For these reasons, a proposal to resolve the present injustices in the use of the death penalty will be offered in the conclusion.

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution bars cruel and unusual punishment. Many argue that the death penalty violates this constitutional right, particularly because the vast majority of all individuals who die by execution tend to be poor and black or members of other racial and ethnic minority groups. The death penalty is cruel and unusual in that it is inherently discriminatory and is not meted out universally. Any public policy that discriminates is inherently cruel and unusual. Even at the federal level it appears the death penalty involves racial discrimination in its application. According to reporter Scott Baldauf, the federal death penalty is grossly biased: “Of all the cases that federal prose...

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Capital punishment. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:04, June 19, 2019, from