Purdue SOC 41900 - Reflective Essay (6 pages)

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Reflective Essay



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Reflective Essay

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Pages:
6
School:
Purdue University
Course:
Soc 41900 - Sociology of Law
Sociology of Law Documents

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SOC41900 Death Penalty s Application in American Life Capital punishment in the United States is a highly debated topic in today s political and social environment Various organizations and groups show support for and protest against the application of the death penalty And depending on what the political climate is the acceptance of the death penalty can change dramatically although the United States has historically shown stronger support for the death penalty Sociologically the death penalty is an extremely important topic to discuss considering how often it can be applied and how many states both support and oppose the death penalty in the application of their laws Public opinion gathered through polls and interviews constantly changes depending on the events occurring at the time the questions that are asked and the crime that the interviewer is referring to For example Gallup Inc an organization that has run polls concerning the death penalty since 1937 has reported a significant fluctuation between support for and opposition of the death penalty Overall only once in 1966 did the public opinion numbers swing in favor of those who oppose the death penalty Gallup com There are both benefits and detriments concerning the death penalty In order for any punishment to be generally accepted by the members of any society the legal system itself must be seen as fair This concept is known as procedural justice which dictates that a judicial system and the application of its sentences and punishments must be fair and impartial Maiese 2003 One of the cornerstones of the American judicial system due process is directly derived from the belief that a trial should be fair for the prosecution and the defense Additionally one amendment concerning the protection against cruel and unusual SOC41900 Death Penalty s Application in American Life punishments should dictate that capital punishment should be given when the defendant is clearly guilty and given appropriately However analyses of American capital cases where the death penalty has been applied has shown that fairness is not always seen One major debate topic in American political discourse is the mass incarceration and punishment of African Americans Overall a significant portion of incarcerated individuals nationwide are black However despite being only 13 of the United States population African Americans made up 42 of death row inmates Furthermore in murders involving a murderer and victim of different races black criminals murdering white victims were more likely While white victims account for approximately onehalf of all murder victims 80 of all Capital cases involve white victims Furthermore 12 people have been executed where the defendant was white and the murder victim black compared with 178 black defendants executed for murders with white victims ACLU Additionally the death penalty is unable to be effective at providing a certain punishment to everyone that may fall under the criteria needed



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