Death Penalty

Is Capital Punishment a Smart Form of Punishment?

What Exactly is "Capital Punishmet "?

Capital punishment is basically a fancy name for the death penalty. It is punishment by being sentenced to death. This type of punishment would be used if a capital crime or a capital offense were to occur, hence the name capital punishment (Deathpenaltyinfo.org).

What is the Big Debate?

Unconstitutional vs. Constitutional

Is the death penalty really constitutional? There are plenty of different opinions about this issue, and it has turned into a very controversial topic in America. Some people view capital punishment as "cruel and unusual" (law2.emkc.edu). These people view it as yet another power we grant our government with, and don't think it's smart to keep that power in their hands. "When it comes to the death penalty, our criminal justice system has a proven record of injustice, malfeasance, and idiocy. It's foolish to keep trusting the government with such a grave responsibility" (reason.com).


On the other side of things, there are those who believe that execution is 100% constitutional. The 8th amendment states that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted (Amendment VIII)". Whenever a method of execution has been taken to court as "cruel and unusual", the court rejects the challenge; our government continues to move to more humane ways to carry out capital punishment (deathpenalty.procon.org). Also, the supreme court states that a penalty must be proportionate to it's crime (law.cornell.edu). Therefore, if a person was charged with murder, the proportionate punishment would be for them to be sentenced to death.

What are the Statistics on People Who've Been Sentenced to Death?

  • Men on death row make up about 98%, women making up 2% (Deathpenaltyinfo.org)
  • Education level of death row inmates: 42% are high school graduates, 36% have anywhere from a 9th to 11th grade education, 14% have an 8th grade education or less, and only 9% have attended any college (Deathpenaltyinfo.org).
  • Race of inmates executed: 55% white, 34.7% black, 8.1% Hispanic, and 1.7% other (as shown in pie chart below) (DPIC).
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The graph above shows the number of people who are in favor of the death penalty versus those who oppose. The graph has many fluctuations in it, proving that peoples' opinions are constantly changing about this heated topic.
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This map shows the distribution of the states' use of capital punishment.

So, What's the Final Answer?

After doing plenty of research, it appears that there really is no definitive answer. It's a very opinionated topic, meaning there is no clear answer to it one way or the other. It cannot be officially ruled constitutional or unconstitutional.