History Term Paper Notes
A Viable Alternative
Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
advocates the following as a viable alternative to the
Persons convicted of capital murder should serve a
minimum of 25 years in prison before the possibility of
consideration for parole. Please note: consideration
for parole in no way suggests an inmate will receive
parole. Parole boards must abide by strict but fair
standards in deciding who should receive parole. The
abolition of parole endangers prison workers.
Some cases imprisonment should be for life without the
possible of parol
Prisoners should be able to work in jobs which are not
slave-like and allow for some dignity and purpose of
the life for the inmate
A portion of the prisoners' earnings should go to pay
for their incarceration, and a portion should go into a
fund for the victims of violent crime and their
survivors. This would allow for a restitution fund for
social, psychological and religious help for victims
and survivor families. Such funds could also provide
financial help for families which have lost a wage
earner to murder.
States Offering Life Without Parole
The following is a list of states which [as of 2004] have
the death penalty and which also offer life without parole
as a sentencing option. Currently there are NO states with
an integrated restorative justice program which would allow
convicted murderers to pay for their own incarceration or
even to make restitutions directly to the survivors of
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado,
Connecticut, Delaware, Federal Government, Florida,
Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada,
New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota,
Tennessee, US Military, Utah, Virginia, Washington,
Total: 34 states
The Death Penalty Is Legally Just
Without a Legal Question
Since the Furman decision, the Supreme Court has made every
possible effort to make the death penalty fair. It has
demanded balance and consistency. It has demanded equality
The Constitution is only a framework. Because the death
penalty is mentioned does not mean that it must be used—
indeed, some states have abolished the death penalty.
Although today an estimated 75 percent of Americans favor
the death penalty, it is certainly true that the day may
come when the tide will turn. We may someday decide that
executions under any circumstances are inherently inhumane.
If that were to happen, it is still important to keep in
mind that the death penalty's abolition would take place on
moral grounds, and would have nothing to do with its
The Death Penalty Is Legally Unjust
In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court found that death sentences
were being imposed unfairly and inconsistently; it
therefore ruled that then-existing death penalty laws were
unconstitutional. In 1976, however, the Court approved
newly written laws that clearly defined which crimes
deserved to be punished with death.
An Excerpt from Furman v. Georgia: The Constitution and the Death
Opposing Viewpoints Digests: The Death Penalty. Ed. Gail B.
Stewart. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998.
An Excerpt from Furman v. Georgia: The Constitution and the
The Furman vs. Georgia case halted capital punishment
in the United States between 1972 and 1976. The justices of
the Supreme Court were not in agreement, however, on the
reasons they found the death penalty unconstitutional. The
following is an excerpt from Justice William O. Douglas's
opinion, which is included in Furman v. Georgia: The
Constitution and the Death Penalty, by Burt Henson and Ross
Olney. Douglas feels that the death penalty was often
discriminatory as applied to people of color and the poor.
In a nation committed to equal protection of the laws there
is no permissible "caste" aspect of law enforcement. Yet we
know that the discretion of judges and juries in imposing
the death penalty enables the penalty to be selectively
applied, feeding prejudices against the accused if he is
poor and despised, lacking political clout, or if he is a
member of a suspect or unpopular minority, and saving those
who by social position may be in a more protected
position.... The high service rendered by the "cruel and
unusual" punishment clause of the 8th amendment is to
require legislatures to write penal laws that are even
handed, non-selective, and non-arbitrary, and to require
judges to see to it that general laws are not applied
sparsely, selectively, and spottily to unpopular groups....
Thus these discretionary statutes are unconstitutional in
their operation. They are pregnant with discrimination and
discrimination is an ingredient not compatible with the
idea of equal protection of the laws that is implicit in
the ban on "cruel and unusual" punishments.
The Death Penalty Is Not Cruel and Unusual Punishment
The Death Penalty Is Not Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
Opposing Viewpoints: The Death Penalty. Ed. Mary E.
Williams. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002.
Importance of this topic in today’s society:
Althought the death penalty might be seen as cruel and
unusual punishment, it is not very important in today’s