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The Abolition of Capital Punishment in New Zealand - Research Proposal Example

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The Abolition of Capital Punishment in New Zealand

This brings into focus the need that people feel for the death penalty but the unwillingness to actually execute them. The aim of this research project to analyse the abolition of the death penalty in New Zealand, as well as to look at the different arguments that are put forward by various political factions and theorists. These arguments exist both in favour of and against the abolition of capital punishment, and so an analysis is necessary of the validity of each side. This research is focusing on the arguments for and against the death penalty that originally caused it to be abolished in New Zealand, and then analysing these arguments to see if they are still valid today. Extensive research of this type does not yet exist. New Zealand abolished the death penalty as a way of punishing murder in 1961. In 1989, it completely abolished the death penalty and treason too was not punishable by death anymore. Clearly, however, it had not been in common use prior to being abolished, as the last person to be executed by the New Zealand government was Walter Bolton, in 1957 (New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 2010). The reasoning behind why the death penalty was not in use even prior to its abolishing is also important in an analysis of this debate. These reasons are moral, religious, and legal, and are all very relevant. Literature Review The death penalty has always been around, as a method of punishment and as a way for the state to display its power. The use of capital punishment dates even to Biblical writings (Pojman, 1998). Some theorists point to the emergence of modern liberal democracies as one of the major reasons for its removal (Garland 30, 2011). This issue has been explored by writers like Isaac Ehlrich (1973) and James McCafferty (2010). Some believe that the death penalty deters crime, while others like Alan Marzilli (2008) counter this argument. They point out that while the state itself conducts homicide of a certain kind, it produces a devaluation of human life which encourages the people of the state to perpetrate violence on others. This theory is known as the “Brutalization theory” and is often used as a reason to abolish capital punishment (Marzilli, 2008). This theory can be applied to New Zealand, where the number of recorded crimes went up following the abolition, however then fell drastically over a period of time. Some claim that this is due to the change in punishments, while others argue that other factors are the primary cause (Potas & Walker, 1987). The legal aspects of the death penalty are not the only issue to be considered; the beliefs of some social groups can be equally as important. Historically, religious texts favour the death penalty. Both the law in the Christian Old Testament under Moses and some of the sayings of the Christian Messiah Jesus support the death penalty, especially for murderers and other violent criminals (Reagan, n.d.). While religious groups are also among the strongest detractors from the criminal punishment argument, for reasons of poorly-articulated “morality”, some do still support these historical standpoints. This can be infered from the electoral defeat of the Christian. Heritage Party, which had the reinstatement of the death penalty as a major promise in its manifesto. These examples further illustrate differences in opinion regarding the role of the death penalty as a deterrent to further crime in society. Some oppose the system of capital ...Show more
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Summary

The Abolition of Capital Punishment in New Zealand Introduction A debate rages on the necessity of capital punishment in much of the world. Many countries have abolished it, while others, including such powerful nations as the United States of America, still use it…
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