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Within the context of America’s criminal justice system, the idea of punishment is one of - page 1 / 4





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Within the context of America’s criminal justice system, the idea of punishment is one of the most debatable issues surrounding the entire procedure. At the heart of that debate is the ultimate punishment – the State acting as executioner within the context of capital punishment. There are, of course, both positives and negatives surrounding the issue, and, with so many variables, not a concrete answer. It seems, however, that the nature of the topic, debatable as it is, may become an individual moral decision personally, but, at the governmental level a broader based, political firecracker. Sentencing, then, is designed to provide a legal finality of the punishment once a crime has been tried before a jury of peers (Banner, 2003).

The debate surrounding capital punishment is not as clear as one might think – in fact, there is a great deal of grey within this debate. The actual definition is State controlled taking of a human life in response to some crime committed by a person who was legally convicted of that crime (Bedau,  2005).

Arguments in favor of capital punishment fall into seven major areas. 1) Prison is designed for criminals who will eventually be released into society and are primarily to keep offenders away from the general population. If an offense is so grievous, it is unlikely that individual will be rehabilitated or set free, therefore capital punishment is a more effective way of removing this threat than prison. 2) The cost of keeping an offender in prison is far higher than executing that person. Should society actually have the burden of keeping someone alive who has no chance of ever being reintroduced into society. 3) The greater good of society requires that criminals of a certain type be kept away from people for a reason of safety. Taken with #2 above, executing the offender is a more logical way to keep the public safe. 4) Many believe capital punishment deters certain crimes, although there is no factual proof that this is true in countries that practice it. However, if a criminal knows that if a certain crime is

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