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Essay Sample about The Cruel and Unusual Nature of the Death Penalty

Date published: | Lisa Barlow

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The death penalty is cruel in the sense of how the justice system does away with the lives of people, even some of whom may be innocent. Such incorrect sentencing in courts further leads to injustices, especially to both families of the suspect and the victims in cases where innocent people suffer executed.

The death sentence itself is the highest form of punishment, which brings about the death of a person. Some offenders may carry out grievous crimes that call for the death penalty.  Such a sentence is cruel since it involves the death of a person by the administration of the lethal injection. Courts usually find such inmates as not guilty and end up exonerating them hence the need to stop unjust, cruel treatment. The death penalty is further unusual in the case that it has not been in place in most of the courts. The unusual nature also arises from it being done in either an electric chair or poisonous injection, which is still cruel. The cruel nature of the death penalty stems from its being a torturous punishment that originated in the past, mainly where authorities carried out hangings, among other extreme forms of punishment.  The state acting in a discriminatory and arbitrary manner on the right in killing people is quite unusual.

Moreover, the death penalty is associated with other punishments. The Death penalty is thus unusual, and it should be removed since it barbaric nature and the lack of valuing human life, which is fundamental in all societies. The unusual and cruel nature of the death sentence makes it unconstitutional in going against the eighth amendment (Breyer and Bessler 34).  Therefore, due to the unusual nature of the application of the death sentence in the criminal system, together with its unusual nature in ending the life of a person, there is a need to abolish it altogether.

Some cases need the highest form of punishment, mainly severe crimes like murders. Society has changed dramatically, and the development of weapons has led to violent crimes.  Some crimes, as are a result, are grievous to be evidenced due to their brutal nature, and thus courts find no other forms of punishment that can suffice in correcting such offenders (Harr, Hess and Orthmann 414). The state is mandated with the authority of safeguarding the life of its citizens through enforcing various laws and maintaining the bill of rights where life is held as right. Capital punishment, in this case, aims to ensure the importance of life and the morals by which society holds it. Officers in the process of dealing with heinous crimes, therefore, focus on the highest form of punishment according to the constitution.

Capital punishment thus aims to instill in the society the fear of taking away the lives of other people in a conscienceless manner and further opting that the highest form of punishment becomes the death penalty. Such extreme punitive measures also provide deterrents against violent actions on people by others. Thus, the penalty helps in balancing with the heinous crimes done and thus providing the appropriate sentence. It further prevents any means of escape to the offender. If there is such an escape, more violent crime can result, which will further burden not only the justice system but also the bereaved or affect families. Such sentences have obtained the support of a section of Americans concerning dealing with heinous crimes. The death penalty, therefore, plays a significant role in dealing with various horrific crimes in the criminal justice system.

A significant drawback of capital punishment is that innocent people may be wrongfully executed. Courts need evidence and may act on either informants or other devices, which may not provide enough information to connect someone to an offense. Some people did not suffer from wrongful executions while others did. Some of the people wrongfully executed include Carlos DeLuna executed in 1989 from Texas, Larry Griffin from Missouri in 1995. The death penalty becomes unusual in the way the cases take place in the courts, especially if a person is innocent.  Various causes result from false accusations, perjury, or official misconduct. The courts have exonerated multiple individuals from the death penalty because of finding evidence, which proved their innocence. The recent voting by the Supreme Court in Georgia has formed part of the possible exoneration cases of Johnny gates. The jury was all white and convicted in the 1980s.

Moreover, the courts do not have a system that can ensure that convictions regarding capital offenses are precise. The error in such sentences thus goes undetected. Most of the exonerations come about in cases that involve death sentencing. In 1923 judge learned noted on the issues arising in sentencing about executions of innocent people (Cooper 3). Inmates on death row can have attorneys who follow their cases, and while those who are removed death row do not receive legal representation due to obtaining life imprisonment. As such, prisoners on life imprisonment may be innocent but still may not get their case heard. Therefore, the criminal justice system further needs readjustments in dealing with innocently sentenced death row inmates while increasing the precision of sentencing individuals while ensuring officers carry out their investigations properly.

Capital punishment consumes many resources, which may cost the justice system significantly. The government mostly provides funds to the different sectors of the economy.  Most capital offenses cases take a long time due to the need to provide enough proof due to the nature of the sentencing. Various states have removed capital punishment and have opted for more humane approaches in dealing with heinous crimes.  The process expends a lot of time and energy while drawing on enforcement officers, juries, defense counsel, attorneys, and courts, which would have been spent in dealing with other cases through the time that would have done more for different situations. The many attorneys require a lot of legal fees and in the processing time, which the courts may not have.  The punishment does not expediently deal with heinous offenses even though they continue through the court system by appeals made over such sentences. As such, if there are, many people prosecuted in the different courts will take more time.

The various budgets reducing by the day may not be efficient in dealing with such crimes on a large scale. The different discrepancies in cases may affect how their rulings come about. Such cases should not take up resources that could be used in other sectors of the economy like education. According to amnesty, in the USA, the death penalty cost more than other cases held by the courts (Palmer 377). A single case that was quite costly was that in Maryland, where it was three million dollars (Steiker, C. S. and Steiker J. M. 375). It is further important to note that such costs burden the justice system in the case that they reduce funds that can be used in various sections of the justice system. It is, therefore, essential to note the importance of ensuring that resources get proper use in the justice system, particularly time and financial support resulting from the many cases courts deal with.

The opposition to the death penalty does lead to a lack of expression of sympathy for capital punishment (Conley 124). Capital punishment only results in the absence of showing dignity for human life. Murder should be abhorred and life upheld with honor, thus pointing to the fact that such extreme punitive measures are immoral even though they are carried out by the state. Although the state takes on such punishment, it still does not solve the problem by using the same action that the offender used. Although many of the bereaved may want justice at all costs, they mostly do not agree with the use of capital punishment. Such opinions escape the public since capital punishment takes on a political stance. Life is sacred, and in the process of the state protecting people due to its sanctity, various offenders may carry out their heinous acts. Sympathy, as a result, does not get a reprieve from the passing of the death sentence. Loved ones may opt for another measure apart from such sentences noting on the sanctity of life.

Moreover, when the society takes the position of the death penalty, particularly the justice system, the action performed on the offender does not respect his right to life and, in the process, becomes immoral.  The critical point is that the person may be innocent, and sympathy in the process is not required even though the justice system may hold on capital punishment and, in the process, leading to the loss of innocent lives. The justice system has to consider precision concerning applying capital punishment, together with ensuring there is respect for the life of individuals.

The observance of the law is quite crucial concerning the eighth amendment. More retrospection should take place to ensure that the constitutionality of the different sentencing procedures regarding the capital offense is right. Judges should, therefore, consider the cruel nature of the practice and eliminate it from the justice system altogether. The harsh and unusual effects of the penalty still linger in the minds of the people involved long after the execution. The victims even may not get solace from such an act, which some may interpret as revenge. The most crucial part that the justice system should play is to show that there is a corrective nature concerning incarcerating a person for a change of character. Besides, the justice system should focus on the different causes of the death penalty and consider the human nature of the offender. Various ways can help in dealing with such correctional facilities like engaging psychologists in studying the mental state of such offenders to find the root cause of the matter and thereby eliminate the need for capital punishment. The government, as a result, should not associate itself with such a mundane act in meting out justice. Therefore due diligence should take precedence among the population in avoiding various crimes that call for an unusual and brutal punishment.


Capital punishment has a lot of controversy in its wake with regard to many cases in the courts of the United States. Most judges have made decisions, which have ended the lives of innocent individuals. Additionally, capital punishment does not draw any respect for life, which is a fundamental right. The courts in meting out capital punishment further go against the law, which protects life. Officers mostly have to provide evidence, which may not suffice in correctly convicting such a suspect. The justice system tries to deal with a heinous crime while forgetting that the people in the dock are suspects and cases need enough proof for right convictions. Exonerations resulting from various cases further show the flaws evident in the meeting of capital punishment. A lack of precision provides for an unusual process in that if wrongly convicted and executed; the criminal justice system would have committed an injustice.

Moreover, the increased use of resources by the justice system due to the length of time and legal fees further poses a strain to the courts. The victim’s family has to spend on lawyers, which increases a financial strain on limited resources. Death sentencing seems to be at odds with the present day. Removing the death penalty also ensures that the cruel nature of the punishment, together with incorrect sentencing, is eliminated while in the process, ensuring that justice takes its course through proper mechanisms of investigations.



Breyer, Stephen G, and John D. Bessler. Against the Death Penalty. Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2016. Internet resource.

Cooper, Sarah L. Controversies in Innocence Cases in America. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014. Print.

Harr, J S, Kären M. Hess, and Christine M. H. Orthmann. Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.

Palmer, Louis J. The Death Penalty in the United States: A Complete Guide to Federal and State Laws. , 2014. Internet resource.

Steiker, Carol S, and Jordan M. Steiker

Steiker, Carol S, and Jordan M. Steiker. Comparative Capital Punishment. , 2019. Internet resource.