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Capital Punishment Debates

Thurgood Marshall is one of two judges who voted against the death penalty in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976. He supported his opinion with two arguments. He claimed that capital punishment was supposed either to deter criminals from committing brutal crimes or to satisfy the need of society for retribution in case such crimes were committed. However, in his opinion, neither of these goals was accomplished, and, consequently, the death penalty was not justified (Schwarze and Lape 102). As for my opinion, I agree with Marshall and think that the rebellious human nature will not prevent people from doing what they want even under the fear of death and that the need for retribution is neither legitimate nor humane.

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Regarding Marshall’s arguments, the statement about the absence of correlation between the crime rates and the implementation of the death sentence is the most compelling from the psychological point of view. It shows that the type of punishment has almost no impact on people’s actions. The most questionable of Marshall’s arguments concern society’s desire for retribution when he claims that it can cause anarchy. In my opinion, it will not cause anarchy; however, it will increase indignation among the population (Schwarze and Lape 103).

In general, the death penalty is a harsh response to a harsh crime. Marshall presents the evidence of its inefficiency. He states that after the implementation of the death penalty, the rates of severe crimes have not changed. One of the reasons for this can be that if people want to commit a crime, the death penalty will not likely change their mind, especially if it is in human nature to think in such situations that they will not be caught. The only thought that there is an even slight possibility for them to escape justice makes the law about capital punishment inefficient. Besides, there is always a chance that the system can malfunction and innocent people can be condemned to death (Schwarze and Lape 102).

As for the requital for severe crimes that are required by society, Marshall stresses the many-sidedness of this notion. On the one hand, it ensures people that those will be punished who break the law, but, on the other hand, it plays a key role in determining who will be punished which, in its turn, requires approval of retribution to be justified as a punishment. However, the prohibition of the death penalty can cause anarchy in society, when people would want to serve justice on their own and lynch those who escape the death punishment but, in their opinion, deserve it. To avoid that and, at the same time, abolish capital punishment, the government must provide an alternative. For instance, they can sentence the most severe wrongdoers to life imprisonment and engage them in activities that enhance public welfare. Thus, they can assure society that from the moment these criminals are caught, only good will come from them until their death. Although it is a very tough goal to accomplish, some societies have already implemented such a policy and seen positive results (Schwarze and Lape 103).

In conclusion, it can be said that nowadays, more countries in the world in general and more states in the U.S. in particular, are abolishing the death sentence, as history has shown its inefficiency and inhumanity. They are actively trying to find an alternative to the death sentence. The times when capital punishment is in effect have almost passed, and humanity is coming to a new stage in the sphere of a justice system. In my opinion, the death sentence will eventually disappear as once slavery did.

Work Cited

Schwarze, Sharon, and Harvey Lape. Thinking Socratically: Critical Thinking about Everday Issues (3rd ed.). Pearson, 2011.

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