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Capital Punishment legal infliction of death as a penalty for violating criminal law Methods of execution have included such practices as crucifixion stoning drowning burning at the stake impaling and beheading Today capital punishment is typically accomplished by lethal gas or injection electrocution hanging or shooting The death penalty is the most controversial penal practice in the modern world The United States stands apart from the general trends on capital punishment It is the only Western industrialized nation where executions still take place Furthermore it is the only nation that combines frequent executions with a highly developed legal system characterized by respect for individual rights Some of the pros and cons are as follows Pros- Just Punishment- A punishment is just if it recognizes the seriousness of the crime Let the punishment fit the crime is a generally accepted and sound precept In structuring criminal sentences society must determine what punishment fits the premeditated taking of innocent human life To be proportionate to the offense of cold-blooded murder the penalty for such an offense must acknowledge the inviolability of human life Without a death penalty the criminal laws penalties will essentially top out and will not differentiate murder from other offenses Only if the sentencing structure allows for a substantially greater penalty for murder will the range of penalties fully reflect the seriousness of ending the life of an innocent human being Deterrence- The death penalty is also justified because of its deterrent effect which saves the lives of innocent persons by discouraging potential murderers Logic supports the conclusion that capital punishment is the most effective deterrent for premeditated murders A capital sentence is certainly a more feared penalty than a prison term The lengths to which convicted murderers go to avoid imposition of this sentence clearly demonstrates this fact as do interviews with prison inmates To be sure the death penalty does not deter all murders But because a capital sentence is more
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