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Capital Punishment. Kaitlin Holl, Simon Loos, Mia Neagle, Alex Bull, & Alyssa Sangalang. Ethical Questions. How do we set up a structure that applies punishment appropriately to everyone? How do we determine which crimes are unforgivable?

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Capital Punishment

Kaitlin Holl, Simon Loos, Mia Neagle, Alex Bull, & Alyssa Sangalang

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Ethical Questions

  • How do we set up a structure that applies punishment appropriately to everyone?

  • How do we determine which crimes are unforgivable?

  • How do we know what method, if any, is humane when taking another human life?

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  • The first death penalties occurred in the Eighteenth Century B.C. in the Code of King Hammaurabi of Babylon. These Penalties resulted in the death penalty for 25 different crimes.

  • Britain influenced the US in adopting the death penalty custom. Europeans brought over the ideal of capital punishment

  • Captain George Kendall was the first person in America to be executed; for being a spy in Spain.

  • Death penalty used to be applied to “petty crimes” such as stealing grapes and chickens. Crimes which today would never be resulted in death.

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Crimes Capital Punishment

  • Crimes punishable by death penalty:

    • First degree murder

    • Capital Murder

    • Treason

    • Aggravated kidnapping

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Retentionist Countries

  • Afghanistan

  • China

  • India

  • Iran

  • Iraq

  • Kuwait

  • Japan

  • Pakistan

  • Philippines

  • Saudi Arabia

  • United States

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Abolitionist Countries

  • Australia

  • Canada

  • France

  • Germany

  • Ireland

  • Netherlands

  • New Zealand

  • Spain

  • Sweden

  • Vatican City State

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Catholic Teachings

“A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil…I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary” –Pope John Paul II

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Catholic Teachings

The Exception

If non-lethal means aren’t sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, the Catholic Church allows the penalty.

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Latest Developments: Lethal Injection on Trial

  • A district judge in California is set to decide if the state's use of lethal injection is cruel and unusual and therefore a violation of the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

  • Prosecution argues: California’s three-drug is not always effective, and human error by those administering the drugs can cause pain.

  • Defense argues: there is no evidence that there are problems with the protocol or that inmates suffer.

  • Significance: Outcome of this hearing effects the 37 states that use lethal injection

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Standards of developed society need more mature response to murder than revenge

Emotional impulse not enough reason for capital punishment because of the many other problems caused by it

Society teaches us to have complete respect for all life

Only continues violence, doesn’t stop murders

Most people on death row are not killed, only those who are not able to defend themselves as well as the others

“Vengeance is a strong and natural emotion. But it has no place in our justice system.” - Bud Welch

Con Arguments

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“An murder than revenge

eye for an eye”

Society surrenders to violence if balance is not restored by killing murderer

Closure to crime for family

Penalty applied to worst crimes so the offenders deserve the worst punishment

Supreme Court dismissed use of statistical studies claiming racial bias as only reason for overturning death sentence

Some systematic issues should not cause the death penalty system to be abandoned

“For justice to prevail, some killers just need to die” - Robert Macy, District Attorney of Oklahoma City

Pro Arguments

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Bibliography murder than revenge

  • "Crimes Punishable by the Death Penalty." Death Penalty Information Center. 2006. 5 Oct 2006 <>.

  • "A Good Friday Appeal to End the Death Penalty." Social Development and World Peace. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 5 Oct 2006 <>.

  • Overberg, S.J., Kenneth R. . "The Death Penalty:Why the Church Speaks a Countercultural Message." 5 Oct 2006 <>.

  • Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment 1996 Bulletin, Table 2 (Dec. 1997); updated by DPIC

  • Michigan State, University. "Death Penalty Information Center." History Of Execution. 2004. Michigan State University. 6 Oct 2006 <>.

  • "Death Penaly." Almanac of Policy Issues. 6-1-01. Almanac of Policy Issues. 6 Oct 2006 <>.