Capital Punishment and its Effects on Society Essay

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Capital Punishment and its Effects on Society “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.” While the infamous jump roping children’s rhyme is exaggerated from the 18 and 11 blows her stepmother and father received, respectively, the rhyme does give a sense of America’s horrendous history of violent crimes. In fact, the United States’ murder rate is about four times higher than the rate in the European Union (Turow 42). Keeping that drastic difference in mind, it would certainly make sense that capital punishment is more prevalent in the United States than in the EU. The majority of the world’s population lives in countries where the death penalty is legal (Kronenwetter …show more content…
But what does it all mean? 1st degree murder means that the murder had to be committed by somebody with deliberate intent, not spontaneously. Therefore, capital punishment could never be in response to a “crime of passion” (Henderson 27). On top of the requirement of deliberate intent, the Supreme Court requires states to have at least one “aggravating circumstance” that must be proven without a shadow of a doubt for the jury to even consider capital punishment (Henderson 44). But, if the individual states oversee each capital murder trial, why does the Supreme Court set the guidelines and requirements? This is because even though federal law deals with crimes that cross state lines, affect government/interstate commerce, or occur on federal property, the federal government still has the final say in state laws (Henderson 25). However, no two capital murder cases are the same. This is why “the courts modify and shape the law as they apply it to specific cases” (Henderson 25). The law does not only change from case to case, but it also changes over time. In 1910 the Supreme Court said that what is considered cruel and unusual punishment is subject to change due to the “enlightenment and evolving standard of public opinion” (Henderson 109).
There is, however, one unchanging standard for the death

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