Punishment and the Death Penalty
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PUNISHMENT AND THE DEATH PENALTY
The nature of legal punishment
Designed to hurt
If something is gladly accepted or enjoyed, then it’s not punishment.
Imprisonment, fines or community service.
Authorized by a legal entity.
A penalty for doing what the law forbids.
The deterrence argument
Purpose of legal punishment.
To prevent people from breaking the law.
A system of legal punishment is worthwhile if it works for the great majority.
If a punishment system isn't working, then it's not morally justifiable.
If punishment involves suffering, it must be justified.
The suffering must be outweighed by the good to be achieved by it.
The retributivist argument
A retributivist might say that when someone harms another, it’s only just that he/she suffer similarly to the harm or pain he/she caused.
Natural law approach.
It's only fair for a criminal to pay for what he/she has damaged.
We ought to punish people who do wrong because they deserve to be punished.
It would be wrong not to punish criminals, since failing to punish them would give them less than what they deserve.
Payment must be made in some way that is equivalent to the crime.
Pay back something identical or almost identical to what was taken.
Punishment must be proportional to the degree of the seriousness of the crime.
The death penalty
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia don’t have the death penalty.
Justice system must ensure that people are never wrongfully executed for crimes they did not commit.
Racial bias and fairness
An issue is the evidence of racial bias in death penalty sentencing.
There are racial disparities in the number of prisoners executed.
Death penalty cases are expensives.
John Stuart Mill
Death penalty works to minimize pain.
Promoting the greatest happiness.
Death penalty is justified because it gives a murderer what he/she deserves according to retributive justice.
We should respect the human dignity of a prisoner awaiting execution and not torture or abuse him/her.
Mercy and restorative justice
Opponents of the death penalty.
maintain that if it does not work to deter crime it causes unnecessary and unjustifiable pain.
Death penalty is not the best way for murder victims to find closure.
Three chemicals are used in a lethal injection.
Several states suspended lethal injection out of the concern that the practice wasn't humane.
People incarcerated - Causes
Drug crimes, an increase in three strikes violations, and laws that lessen prisoners released early.
Black and Hispanic males are imprisoned at higher rates .
Restoration and rehabilitation
Prison system ought to be replaced with a system that is focused on principles of reparation, restoration, and rehabilitation.
Punishment and responsibility
There have been standards for describing responsibility and guilt.
Sometimes people conclude that the person committing the crime must be mentally diseased.
It implies that the person isn't responsable.