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Should the Death Penalty be Abolished - Essay Example

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The Death Penalty Debates: Beyond the Emotive Language The debates surrounding the use of capital punishment as a means by which criminals convicted of heinous crimes can be punished have always been emotive and with a moral dimension. The right to life, the demands of justice, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” – these are catch-phrases that can often be seen in the death penalty discourse…
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Should the Death Penalty be Abolished
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Should the Death Penalty be Abolished

Of late, therefore, advocates of the death penalty are relying on economic arguments to buttress their position that the death penalty is an appropriate and valid punishment by focusing mainly on the issue of deterrence. As the New York Times put it: “Does Death Penalty Save Lives?” (Liptak, 2007). Likewise, anti-death advocates are steering clear of emotive language and using hard statistics as well but to demonstrate non-deterrence, racial bias, judicial fallibility and the like. Analyzing the two competing positions on the death penalty, this paper’s thesis is that those arguing for capital punishment uses economics as lens of analysis and emphasises deterrence rather than retribution, and those who argue against capital punishment use an economic, legal and sociological frame. Death Penalty Advocates favour economics-based arguments In the fairly recent work of Dezhbakhsh, Rubin and Shepherd, econometrics was used to determine the deterrent effect of the death penalty and it was found that “the legal change allowing executions beginning in 1977 has been associated with significant reductions in homicide” (page 373). ...
d economist, Naci Mocan, who admitted being “personally opposed” to the death penalty (Liptak, 2007) had found that “each additional execution decreases homicides by about five, and each additional commutation increases homicides by the same amount, while an additional removal from death row generates one additional murder.” (Mocan and Gittings 453). Death Penalty Opponents use a combination of economics and sociological arguments There is, however, no shortage of critics to the argument that death penalty deters crimes, specifically homicide, and therefore saves lives. According to a paper written by Jeffrey Fagan from the Columbia Law School – Most of the studies fail to account for incarceration rates or life sentences, factors that may drive down crime rates via deterrence or incapacitation; one study that does so finds no effects of execution and a significant effect of prison conditions on crime rates. Another report shows incarceration effects that dwarf the deterrent effects of execution. Most fail to account for complex social factors such as drug epidemics that are reliable predictors of fluctuations in the murder rate over time. The studies don't look separately at the subset of murders that are eligible for the death penalty, instead lumping all homicides together. Those who are against the death penalty have also provided evidence demonstrating that racial bias has played a big role in execution sentences, with scholars like Zeisel for example demonstrating that the death penalty was administered unequally, discriminating against black offenders and against murderers of white victims. (456). Barry Scheck, who is the co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, notes the case of Claude Jones, who could have been saved from the death row ... Read More
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