skip navigation

PUBLICATIONS

Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.

 

NCJ Number: 62558 Find in a Library
Title: DEATH PENALTY - SOCIAL POLICY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
Journal: ARIZONA STATE LAW JOURNAL  Volume:1977  Issue:4  Dated:(1977-1978)  Pages:767-802
Author(s): H A BEDAU
Corporate Author: Arizona State University
College of Law
United States of America
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 35
Sponsoring Agency: Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85281
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS ESSAY ARGUES FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY ON CONSTITUTIONAL, ETHICAL, AND PHILOSOPHICAL GROUNDS. IT IS FOLLOWED BY A REJOINDER CRITIQUING THESE ARGUMENTS.
Abstract: THE ARGUMENT FOR THE ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT STATES THAT EVEN THOUGH THE PRINCIPLES OF SOCIAL JUSTICE DO NOT DIRECTLY FORBID EITHER THE MANDATORY OR THE DISCRETIONARY DEATH SENTENCE, NEITHER DO THEY NOT REQUIRE IT. HOWEVER, THE BALANCE OF MORAL CONSIDERATIONS RUNS AGAINST THE PRACTICE AND DISTINCTLY FAVORS ABOLITION. ALTHOUGH THE MERITS OF MANDATORY CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SUPPOSEDLY INCLUDE RETRIBUTION, EQUALITY OF JUSTICE, AND MAXIMIZED SOCIAL DEFENSE THROUGH THE DETERRENT EFFECT, UPON EXAMINATION, THESE POINTS CONSTITUTE ARGUMENTS FOR A SYSTEM OF PUNISHMENT GRADED ACCORDING TO SEVERITY. THIS SYSTEM NEED NOT INCLUDE THE DEATH PENALTY. MANDATORY EXECUTION AS A SOCIALLY JUST RETRIBUTION FOR MURDER IS DEFEATED BY THE FACT THAT IT NEGATES ANY REHABILITATIVE POSSIBILITY, BRUTALIZES THE PUBLIC, AND CANNOT CONSTITUTE TRUE RETRIBUTION FOR CRIMES OF PARTICULAR VIOLENCE, MULTIPLE MURDER, TREASON, ESPIONAGE, AND OTHERS. MOREOVER, MANDATORY CAPITAL PUNISHMENT WOULD ABOLISH THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN DEGREES OF MURDER, REDUCE APPELLATE POWER, AND REMOVE COMMUTING POWER FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THUS DISTORTING THE ENTIRE CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROCEDURE. ON THE OTHER HAND, DISCRETIONARY CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, THE FORM PRESENTLY IN EFFECT IN THE UNITED STATES, IS CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FROM PROSECUTORIAL DISCRETION IN INDICTMENTS TO EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY. HOWEVER, IT FAILS TO MAXIMIZE RETRIBUTION AND FALLS FAR BELOW STANDARDS OF EQUAL PUNITIVE JUSTICE. DISCRETIONARY PRACTICES ARE FREQUENTLY INFLUENCED BY POLITICAL RATHER THAN MORAL CONSIDERATIONS. ONLY BY ABOLISHING THE DEATH PENALTY ALTOGETHER, WILL IT BE POSSIBLE TO DO AWAY WITH THE MORE EXTREME ABUSES AND INJUSTICES OCCURRING IN THE COURSE OF LAWFUL PUNISHMENT. THE IRREVOCABLE AND IRREPARABLE NATURE OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IS THE STRONGEST ARGUMENT AGAINST IT. AMONG THE POINTS QUESTIONED IN THE CRITIQUE ACCOMPANYING THIS ARTICLE IS THE DETERRENCE EFFECT AND THE CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE, AND REHABILITATION. FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED. (MRK)
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Critiques; Deterrence; Discretionary decisions; Discrimination
Note: THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON A SPEECH PRESENTED AT ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW, AS PART OF A SYMPOSIUM ON THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH, OCTOBER 15, 1977
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=62558

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.