It is the purpose of this capital punishment research paper to discuss the institution of capital punishment. It is the position of this research paper that the death penalty is morally wrong in that it violates the sanctity of human life, is unevenly enforced, is socially costly, and that it represents a kind of barbarism that is doomed to fade away as mankind advances morally. It is my belief that the fit penalty for what are now capital crimes should be life in prison without possibility of parole.
It is important at the outset to take note of the distinction that exists between the abstract concept of capital punishment and the actual administration of capital punishment under the law as it exists today. I will argue in this term paper that the death penalty is wrong in the abstract, i.e. that there is a sacred quality possessed by each individual human being that no state, if it is to be legitimate, may violate. But no social institution is purely abstract. The death penalty is no mere moral concept, but part of the institutional fabric of society. It is, in this society, which is a society much prone to litigation, administered in a certain way. And sadly the dream of “equal protection under the law” is not yet a completely fulfilled dream, and therefore the death penalty in its real, concrete existence is administered in a way that is discriminatory. What this means is that even if the death penalty, viewed abstractly, could be supported by a logical and consistent argument-—and I personally do not think that it can be-—one could still make a perfectly sound argument for its abolition in this country on the basis that it is not, never has been, and never will be administered in a way that is completely just and fair to all concerned. It would be better, far better, to back off from the extremity that is the death penalty and opt for the harsh but more moderate life sentence.