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Death Penalty: an Overview

In: English and Literature

Submitted By eyo911
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In “Death Penalty, Overview” (Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, Volume 1), Hugo Adam Bedau discusses a general examination of the death penalty. Also referred to as capital punishment, the death penalty is a process where a convict is to be put to death as punishment for a crime. The author reports that as centuries have passed, society’s view on the subject has changed. Most countries today have completely disregarded the practice and others have simply modified it. The reason for the need to adjust is based mostly on the argument that the death penalty violates human rights. Bedau goes on in his article to discuss other details about the subject in sections that include modes of capital punishment, symbolism, incapacitation, deterrence, retribution, the moral basis of abolition, and alternatives. To begin with, the death penalty developed worldwide during the 19th century. According to the article some modes of capital punishment ranged from beheading to boiling in oil. The process symbolized a “ceremony” where the criminal was paying for his sins. Today, procedures are no longer centralized on religion. Thus, the new methods inflict less pain on the felon and have greater efficiency. The next few sections in the article consist of information on incapacitation, deterrence, and retribution. As stated in the article, the norm is that the use of punishment convinces potential criminals not to commit crimes. In addition, more abolitionists now accept that the death penalty is the worst punishment a murderer can receive. They argue that those charged with smaller offenses be sentenced to life-without-parole where they are incapacitated. Therefore, committing a crime is highly unlikely. As a result of the opposing sides, alternatives were brought up. The idea of banishment in a maximum security prison was argued to be a more severe punishment than...

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