According to the rule of law, any form of crime against the constitution is punishable. Different forms of punishment have been established after an individual has been proven guilty by a court of law. In the United States, capital punishment has been a major issue that has arose various debates on whether to legalize the punishment model for relentless capital offenses, among other serious crimes (Sigler 74). Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a form of punishment where an individual is executed through the legal state’s process for justice for the crime committed. Scholars indicate that capital punishment is a legal action taken by the criminal justice department or the state whereby an offender is put to death as a sign of justice or punishment for the crime/offense committed. In some cases, capital punishment is confused with extrajudicial executions. Still, capital punishment is a legal process different from extrajudicial execution, which is carried out without any due legal process of law.
Research indicates that various methods/ways of capital punishment can be utilized to execute lawbreakers or criminals. These methods include lethal injection, gas chamber, hanging, and electrocution, among other various methods. However, based on humanitarian and moral grounds, capital punishment as a form of crime regulation is subjected to various controversies, not only at the national level (Rocker 589). Still, it is also utilized on global/international platforms. Capital punishment began to be used in the United States in the 18th century to punish individuals who were committing criminal offenses and were proven guilty by the legal court process. Statistics indicate that 33 states in the United States have legalized the use of capital punishment because it has played a significant role in regulating individuals from committing a capital form of crimes such as treason and murder, among other crimes.
Capital punishment, or the death penalty, has been part of the justice system of various civilizations and primal tribal methods. This form of punishment emerged due to the evolution of the prison system as a way of regulating or keeping individuals in confinement for a certain period due to harmful wrongdoing in society (Gilbert et al. 546). According to criminal and justice, the report indicates that capital punishment was adopted to regulate grievous offenses such as: brutal and inhumane acts such as increased mass killing, murder, and rape, among other actions determined by the grimness of the crime committed, provides a reason for execution. For instance, capital punishment was adopted in the 20th century when a mass killing left millions of people dead during the war between nations or states. Therefore, this form of punishment was adopted and practiced to maintain discipline among people. Historically, capital punishment or the death penalty was applied for criminal offenses in various religious beliefs and was highly used with the support of religious hierarchies. However, capital punishment has been fully left to the judiciary system to award the punishment under special circumstances, and no religious faith is associated with its morality (Gilbert et al. 549).
Capital punishment brings about justice’s retaliation, which has been known to be an effective form of punishment. The punishment protects society ethically by guaranteeing that those who have perpetrated horrific deeds have paid the price proportionate to the harm they have inflicted (Walsh and Virginia 269). It serves as a means of bringing victims’ families and society together. The belief that the death sentence is the only option for bringing justice to the victims’ families and society is common. Capital punishment has been established to restrain violence in our societies. This is because this form of business has strongly depicted eye-for-an-eye justice, a vicious act in and of itself. This form of punishment has been seen as the only way to restrict criminals and other lawbreakers, create general safety in our society, and establish primary responsibility for all (Walsh and Virginia 275).
In the United States, capital punishment has raised various debates in various states, which led to the establishment of movements to abolish it. However, despite a movement to abolish the form of punishment for criminals and other lawbreakers, many states have accepted and retained capital punishment. In contrast, others have completely rejected its implementation. Some states accepted this form of punishment because they claimed that offenses are only punishable by death, and such offenders cannot be allowed to stay in society due to their moral decay. However, research indicates that some countries/states imposed or implemented the death penalty or capital punishment for individuals due to various economic crimes such as: corruption and bribery of public servant officials, currency speculation, theft of much capital, or the embezzlement of public funds.
Further, scholars denote that 34 states and the federal government in the United States have retained capital punishment in their criminal justice system processes (Davis and Tracy 1). However, some countries do not allow the execution of minors or people below 18 years. In other countries, the law allows the execution of minors when they commit crimes that are punishable through capital punishment. However, the Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits the execution of minors under civil and political rights (Joseph 361).
Constitutionally and per the law, the Supreme Court of the United States has been empowered to rule over the death penalty. This is because, traditionally, states have been held the responsible arm in policing and criminal prosecution, which is why many criminal trials are carried out within state courts. The execution has been suspended for some time, especially during President Obama. But in a few years since 2019, during President Trump, the capital or death penalty has gained public attention after declaring the resumption of execution for lawbreakers (Dieter 15). Capital punishment has gained popularity because, according to the constitution article I, congress has legislative powers that empower them to make some decisions under the necessary and proper clause under article I. And as a result of the necessary and proper clause, capital punishment at the federal level is established for crimes. And as a result, states that consists of various federal courts have power over crime and punishment.
According to various considerations of the constitution, Supreme Court denotes that capital punishment does not violate or breach the eighth amendment that restricts any cruel and unusual punishment/penalty for any offense. This is because the eighth amendment does not control procedural terms on when the jury should impose the death penalty. The US is the only advanced Western democracy that does not perceive death penalty as a significant human rights violation because the constitution has empowered it (ACLU para 1). Every criminal offense is punishable by law. Death penalty in the US is supported because it is believed to serve as an appropriate retribution, a deterrent, and allows individuals repent for their crimes before they are executed (Waldo and Wesley 574). It has helped much in regulating some criminal crimes in many states since offenders’ fear losing their lives when convicted or proven guilty in a court of law. However, studies have proved that capital punishment is performed considering capital punishment ethics before this form of sentencing is arrived at and executed.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Death Penalty 101 (2022). https://www.aclu.org/other/death-penalty-101Davis, Elizabeth, and Tracy L. Snell. “Capital punishment, 2016.” Stafisfical Brief (2018).
Dieter, Richard C. “Introduction: international perspectives on the death penalty.” Comparative Capital Punishment. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781786433251.00008Gilbert, J. Valentine, Lucie Parker, and Aaron Chalfin. “Capital Punishment Research.” The Encyclopedia of Research Methods in Criminology and Criminal Justice 2 (2021): 546-550. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119111931.ch109Joseph, Sarah. “Extending the right to life under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: General Comment 36.” Human Rights Law Review 19.2 (2019): 347-368.
Rocker, Dixie. “Deterrence research.” The encyclopedia of research methods in criminology and criminal justice 2 (2021): 589-595. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119111931.ch116Sigler, Mary. “Principle and Pragmatism in the Death Penalty Debate” Criminal Justice Ethics 37.1 (2018): 72-86. https://doi.org/10.1080/0731129X.2018.1449996Waldo, Gordon P., and Wesley Myers. “Criminological research and the death penalty: Has research by criminologists impacted capital punishment practices?.” American journal of criminal justice 44.4 (2019): 536-580.