Adj/255 Final Project

Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished?
Paul Jay Keys
ADJ/255 Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice
January 12th, 2014
Ms. Arnika Whitaker
University of Phoenix

In 1608 George Kendall of Virginia was executed for the crime of espionage, plotting to betray the British to the Spanish.   In 1622 in Virginia, Daniel Frank was the first “legal” execution of a criminal for the crime of theft.   In 1636 a list of 13 crimes were compiled by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, including such crimes as witchcraft and idolatry.   In 1791 the ratification of the Bill of Rights, including the Eighth Amendment prohibiting the cruel and unusual punishment.   Though it was understood that the Eighth Amendment was not intended to stop capital punishment and its practices as it was universally accepted.   In 1793 in Pennsylvania a list of degrees of murder was complied, identifying the qualitative variances in the different kinds of murder, some not essentially deserving of the death penalty. During this period some Quaker pacifists opposed the death penalty, and this list was meant as a compromise between them and those who supported the death penalty.   In 1846 Michigan was the first to abolish the death penalty, excluding treason.   Soon after Rhode Island (in 1852), and Wisconsin (in 1853) followed suit in abolishing the death penalty.   Death penalty statistics collection first started in 1930 in the U.S. on a regular basis.   So the question is still valid today as it was in the 19th century.   Should the death penalty be abolished?

To answer this question we must look at how the death penalty affects the criminal justice system.   Trials that involve the death penalty often require more lawyers, experts, witnesses, and potential jurors than other trials.   Death sentences are automatically appealed, unlike other sentences, as well as lengthier and more expensive that divert limited resources from other cases that may be equally detrimental to people.   The criminal justice system...