The death penalty is not a new issue. In 1972, the Supreme Court of the United States revoked the death penalty declaring it unconstitutional because it violated the Eighth Amendment ban on “cruel and unusual” punishment (see Furman v Georgia, 408 U.S. 238). The ban was short lived. In 1976, a separate set of justices reversed the earlier court’s ruling and handed the issue back to the states (see Gregg v
Ever since, the states have handled the issue on their own. Twelve states have no death penalty. Of the remaining 38, some employ it frequently, while others never do.
A life sentence without the possibility of parole has changed the way many Americans feel about the death penalty. In the past, juries worried that a life sentence would allow a murderer to be free in a decade or two to kill again. Now that “life without parole” really means that a person may never go free, people are more comfortable with that option.
Even the arguments for and against capital punishment have changed. The cost of housing prisoners was always used; however, it is now more expensive to have someone executed than it is to guard and feed him for the rest of his life. That is contemptible to most Americans.
Capital punishment abolitionists argue that juries make mistakes. If someone is given a life sentence and it turns out the wrong man was convicted, he could be set free and compensated. If he were executed, then it is too late.
Deterrence isn’t the answer either. The chance of being executed in the
Capital punishment in the