How justice changed through 200 years

Composed of intricate twists and turns, the precise implications of justice have been rather inconsistent and skewered throughout the path of time. As civilizations throughout our history shape themselves in accordance to the demands of each passing generation, the effects of carrying out a deed that resolves to be ill-received by the general populous has changed whether it be a place of detention, a fine of currency, humiliation, or a decree to exile. But none is more burdening to righteousness and holds more weight than the practice of capital punishment; the be-all and end-all of consequential retribution. The penalty of death, a legally permitted practice by the state in which the defendant is put to death for their crimes, globally began to noticeably decrease in the 1800s with the United States in particular seeing a resurgence in the 1990s. However, its method for justice has wavered for decades and now ironically stands for trial in the twenty-first century. The complete abolishment of the death penalty in all countries in the western hemisphere(barring the United States) and the majority of developed nations in the rest of the world has not simply occurred without rhyme or reason. Nonetheless, a prominent number of individuals are unremitting to cease for its abolishment, for which common lines of reasoning suggest capital punishment is in place due to its effectiveness in deterring the most reprehensible of crimes as well as the overall misdemeanor crime rate. Not only used for its enforcement values, the death penalty is viewed by many advocators to be the most morally acceptable system to provide justice for the unfortunate victim whose life has been eternally extinguished and the lives of his/her friends and families for which have been dramatically affected. But as seen after delving under the superficial aspects of criminal justice utilizing execution, capital punishment affects the lives of American citizens to a degree more impactful than what often meets the eye. Nowadays with so many civil rights laws and cultural progression leaning towards the preservation and pursuit of happiness in human lives, capital punishment is not only contradictory, but also paradoxical to continue in practice without backtracking to a nation with less civil rights when less morbid forms of cruel and unusual punishment have been federally outlawed. Moral dilemmas aside, the excessively overlooked and disproportionate cost of carrying out an execution case, as opposed to a life sentence without parole, from start to finish is often shrugged behind the curtain. With or without your consent, these expenses are received directly from the pockets of taxpaying citizens like you and I while its use in preventing crime rates also indirectly predicts the safety of each and every citizen. And even so, it's been shown that the death penalty has not done much in keeping ourselves and our families safe by ridding the streets of criminals. In the wake of contemporary modern standards and societal merits of the general public, mankind, and the world at large, it is for the pursuit of the well-being of the populous to undoubtedly illegalize all forms of capital punishment on the grounds of its flawed ethical philosophy of retributional justice, insurmountably excessive cost in conducting a single execution, and the overall inconclusive effectiveness if not detrimentally unproductive influence in lowering crime rates.
An eye for an eye is what they say. Among the numerous justifications put forth as the first line of defense, vengeful justice aptly renamed as retribution is most often cited almost as an exception to our foundational Eight Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment. However, in the 1976 Supreme Court Estelle v. Gamble case, the respondent sustained serious injuries while working in prison as an inmate. Yet, prison officials were largely indifferent to his health and even so, placed him in solitary confinement for refusing to work under his conditions. The decision established that intentional negligence regarding the health of inmates is a direct violation of the Eight Amendment. The death penalty, however, takes this reasoning beyond the circumstances of this case. Not only does an execution wholly dismiss the inmate's health in question, it is the total annihilation of it. Therefore, it would be difficult to assert that anything less than guaranteed health care to all prisoners could be considered as cruel and unusual punishment while simultaneously contending to preserve and finance a method of justice that takes an indifference to the health of inmates to an entirely different caliber of malicious intent. Furthermore, each single execution by lethal injection, which accounts for eighty-three percent of all executions since 1976, requires a medically licensed physician to carry out the act. Despite that, new and existing physicians alike adhere to a universal ethical standard to practice in the best interest of the patient. In fact, arguably the most sacred and iconic covenant for which all doctors most likely swore by in the early start of their career, the Hippocratic Oath which explicitly states, albeit in Latin, that the holder of this oath may never deliver deadly medicine to anyone nor advise for such action. Putting medically professional doctors in positions for which their vocational and strenuous education goes against in every respect sheds light into whether an execution sentence serves as the epitome of lawfully retributive justice or rather facilitating a morally corrupt structure.
It's a well known misconception that death penalties are less costly when directly compared to a life sentence without parole due to lack of expenses needed to cover the inmate's confinement, food, health, and shelter. This is indisputably false. The meticulous process involved to conduct a capital case consists of numerous experts, lawyers, jury hearings, trials, and housing. All of which are paid in full by the state, as most felons facing the death penalty cannot afford their own legal defense. Although the exact costs of pursuing a death penalty appeals vary by each state, the consensus is clear in that its expenses entirely overshadows the amount spent on life sentences without parole. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, which is composed of statistics of each state's corresponding Death Penalty Review Commission, Oklahoma's capital cases cost 3.2 times more than non-capital cases with approximately $700000 more in expenses as opposed to not seeking death. Death penalty trials in Kansas costs an average $400000 as opposed to an average of $100000 when the death penalty was not sought. (Kansas Judicial Council, 2014). Perhaps most concerning would be the costs of a capital trial in Texas, which costs an average of $2.3 million which is stated to be enough to financially cover the cost of imprisoning an inmate at the highest level security for 40 years, 3 times over. (DPIC). The sheer exorbitant costs to legally cover a single capital case are contributed by all respective taxpayers, not taking into account of instances where cases have overturned, resulting in the felon ultimately receiving a life sentence in prison without parole. Proving to be as slow as it is illogical, it is not sustainable to continue to operate in a massively imbalanced budget deficit in order to simply carry out "the capital punishment," leaving our money and justice system in flames rather than extinguishing the fires of violence.
Open-and-shut cases do not come easy, and capital punishment cases are far from exception. This is evident in the fact that such a decree to end an inmate's life requires a lengthy and meticulous process to oversee a complex Capital case and to prevent imprecise details that could result in a botched trial. Even if death penalty appeals are overturned and the defendant is ultimately sentenced to a lifetime in prison without parole, the expenses to pursue the trial alone is in itself costly. This, in turn results in only a select number of individuals ever going through with an execution each year, while the rest of the inmates remain in confinement until their own execution date unbeknownst to them. Since 1976, the greatest number of inmates on death row receiving execution was in 1999 with 98 confirmed executions. This number has experienced a downward spiral since, with 25 executions in 2018 and 20 executions in 2019 as of November 21, 2019 thus far. Yet, as of July 1, 2019, there are exactly 2,656 inmates waiting on death row for the next unforeseeable future. At the rate the capital punishment system is operating at, inmates are facing decades of confinement, years of imprisonment in which the inmate's health and general well being must be accompanied to under the Eighth Amendment. As specified by Amnesty International, the number of executions are already dwindling, where global executions "decreased by 31 percent from 2017 to 2018." While the United States remain to be one of the few remaining outliers in our prevalent acceptance of capital punishment, our nation continues to follow the downhill trend of declining executions, despite accomodating a considerable quantity of death row occupants.
If the general population is still able to stomach through the overly inflated price of capital punishment cases to, at this point in time and the predicted future, execute less than even 30 felons a year, its core purpose of averting crime and reducing homicide rates must be proven to be advantageous. The FBI carries out a Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program that collects statistical data on crime in the country. After analyzing the crime rates of each states over a period of 18 years and cross-referencing with states who utilizes the death penalty with states who have adopted its abolishment, from 1990 to 2018, states that employ the death penalty consistently records higher murder rates than states that don't. As the national murder rate significantly reduced overall since the 1990s, would-be wrongdoers residing in capital punishment states still tend to go for broke more frequently than those inhabiting abolished states. Although a harmonious agreement on the deterrence effect of the death penalty remains widely inconclusive, a report composed by the National Research Council, titled Deterrence and the Death Penalty concludes that academic studies professing that capital punishment produces a deterrent effect on homicides are "fundamentally flawed." These flaws include the lack of consideration into non-capital punishments corresponding with each state. However as it stands, murder rates in states with the death penalty and undisputedly higher than those without. Therefore regardless of the magnitude of effect, miniscule or otherwise impactful, the death penalty may have, it is not enough and has never been sufficient enough to be justified in its continuation side by side to established states boasting lower crime rates and murder rates overall. The United States should be poised to follow suit with the rest of the majority of the developed world, where thoughts of the death sentence have been all but completely extinguished.
It can be conceded, however, that the explanation in the death penalty's subtle disappearance over time has largely been a result of a diminishment in crime rates as quality of life have been vastly improved in medicinal practices, social reforms in human liberty, and overall quality for standards of living through invention and innovation of ever progressing technological advances. Because of that, it would seem sensible to a great deal of people to sparingly proceed with executing only the most heinous of felons, rendering the massive cost of an appeals case to be negligible due to the fact that the expense is seldomly needed. Since crime rates would most likely not be affected by this course of action, it modestly leaves room for those who have a moral obligation to bring justice to the victims of horrendous transgressions. But if capital punishment shows no real achievement towards dissuading the prevalence of federal crimes or sustaining an economically viable methodology other than fabricating an avenging satisfaction in remedying the sufferers of wrongdoing, capital punishment stands to be scrutinized for its irrelevance and counterintuitivity.
As the storm of quarrels between traditionally long-established outlooks of fairness and progressively conscientious realization of logistical reasoning settles, the state of the nation resides on a slippery slope if it attempts to stand the test of time against the overbearing costs in administering each executional punishment stemming from an overtly fruitless endeavor in criminal deterrence in an already paradoxical predicament amidst modern contemporary social constructs.
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