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Running head: WHAT’S WRONG WITH CAPITAL PUNISHMENT1What’s Wrong with Capital PunishmentRyan M. O’ConnellHigh Point University
WHAT’S WRONG WITH CAPITAL PUNISHMENT2What’s Wrong with Capital PunishmentIt’s no surprise that capital punishment is such a hot issue in the world, and the United States, especially. With all the exterior influences in today’s world it’s no wonder that the issue sparks controversy wherever it is discussed. Some of these influences include religious, political, and environmental. Capital punishment is necessary in our society. My view on the capital punishment remains the same now as it was in the beginning of the semester. I still see capital punishment as necessary and humane. There are some aspects of capital punishment, however, that I think are incorrect and should be changed to have the best possible capital punishment system. Juveniles, above a certain age at the time of the offense, should be able to be tried as adults, and therefore receive the death penalty. The death penalty should be swifter in its execution as well. I now believe that we should make executions more public. Finally, as opposed to my position earlier in the semester, I think executions should not be more painful, or painful at all, for that matter.At the beginning of the semester I was totally against executing individuals who received their death sentence for crimes they commit under the age of 18. There’s much controversy surrounding this topic because, after all, these juveniles can’t even vote. I changed my stance on this because of a few cases. Stanford v. Kentucky and Wilkins v. Missouri were two of these cases. The United States Supreme Court decided these cases together. The question at hand was: can someone under the age of 18 receive the death penalty in a capital case? Stanford was on trial for capital murder, sodomy, robbery, and receiving stolen property. He was 17 years, 4 months old at the time of the offense. A jury found him guilty and sentenced him to the death penalty. After a plethora of appeals
WHAT’S WRONG WITH CAPITAL PUNISHMENT3his case made it to the Supreme Court on the basis of the 8thAmendment to the Constitution: Cruel and unusual punishment. Petitioner, Stanford, argued that giving the death penalty to someone for a crime they committed while they were under the age of 18 was cruel and unusual. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, decided that this death sentence did not violate the 8thAmendment against cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Scalla, who wrote the majority opinion, stated that it was up to the states to decide whether or not they wanted to give out the death penalty to minors. His opinion said that there was not enough evidence to prove that a death sentence for this individual went against the evolving standards of decency of a society. The atrociousness of this crime really changed my mind on the issue of giving a death penalty sentence to someone who committed the crime when they were a juvenile.