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The Death Penalty and
Capital Punishment
Chapter 9
Learning Objectives
 After reading this chapter, you will be able to:
 10.1 Evaluate the ethical issues involved in the death penalty.
 10.2 Explain the different theories of punishment that could be used to
support or oppose the death penalty, and articulate your own position.
 10.3 Analyze Sister Helen Prejean’s Aristotelian argument against the
death penalty.
Early History
 European (especially English) settlers influenced our nation’s use of
the death penalty
 First recorded execution: Captain George Kendall Jamestown,
Virginia, 1608
 First woman executed: Jane Champion, 1632
 Crimes punishable by death: stealing grapes, striking your Mother or
Colonial Times
 Cesare Beccaria’s 1767 essay: On Crimes and Punishment
 Thomas Jefferson’s proposed bill
 Dr. Benjamin Rush, founder of the Pennsylvania Prison Society,
challenged the use of the death penalty
 brutalization effect: having a death penalty actually increased
criminal conduct
 1794: Pennsylvania abolishes the death penalty for all offenses
except first degree murder
19th Century
 1846: Michigan abolishes death penalty for all crimes except
 Most states retained death penalty rights
 Some states expanded crimes punishable by death (especially
crimes committed by slaves)
 Introduction of discretionary death penalty statues
 1888: New York builds the first electric chair
Early 20th Century
 1924: cyanide gas as a more humane form of execution
 1920-40s: resurgence in death penalty after a short-lived lull
 Criminologists wrote that the death penalty was a necessary social
 Prohibition and the Great Depression
 More executions in the 1930s than in any other decade in American
Mid-Late 20th Century
 1950s: public opinion turns against capital punishment
 1940s: 1,289 executions
 1950s: 715 executions
 1967-1977: voluntary moratorium
 January 17, 1977: moratorium ends with execution of Gary
Gilmore by firing squad
 Also in 1977: Oklahoma became the first state to adopt lethal
injection as a means of execution
 Prior to the 1960s: Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments
were interpreted as allowing the death penalty
 Early 1960s: suggested that the death penalty was “cruel and
unusual” punishment
Other Laws
 1994 – President Clinton signs the Violent Crime Control and Law
Enforcement Act expanding the federal death penalty
 1998: Northwestern University National Conference on Wrongful
Convictions and the Death Penalty
Death Penalty
 59 prisoners were executed in the USA in 2004, bringing the
year end total to 944 executed since the use of the death
penalty was resumed in 1977.
 Over 3,400 prisoners were under sentence of death as of
January 1, 2005.
 38 of the 50 US states provide for the death penalty in law.
 The death penalty is also provided under US federal military
and civilian law.
 The use of the death penalty in the United States has been on
the decline for more than 2 decades.
 At present, only 27 countries world-wide still employ capital
Theories of Punishment
 Punishment is the deliberate limitation or revocation of rights and
liberties by the government, and, as such, it must be justified.
 There are 4 contemporary theories for the justification of punishment
by the state.
Theories of Punishment
 Direct
 Proportional
RETRIBUTIVE THEORYLex Talionis (an eye for an eye)
 Direct Retributivism – says that a person committing a crime ought
to be punished for the crime by having the same crime inflicted
upon them; literally, an eye for an eye.
State sanctioned what?
 Yet this is not practical. If a murder kills your father, are we to kill
his father, is a rapist to be raped?
 It simply is not practical to employ this type of Retributivism.
Proportional Retributivism
 Claims that a person should be punished in a way proportional to
the crime they committed.
 Punishment should be equal to the crime committed.
 We are going to inflict pain and suffering to an equal degree upon
them. The rapist is not going to be raped, but he is going to suffer in
a equal degree.
Forfeiture Theory
 This theory states that although we have certain positive rights within
society, when we violate laws and violate the rights of others, then
we forfeit our own rights.
 As such, we must be punished for these violations, and the state has
the right, obligation and duty to see that we are punished.
Deterrence Theory
 This theory claims that punishing criminals deters others from
committing the same crimes.
 Punishment is justified only if it has a deterrent effect. If punishment
did not deter future crimes; then, there would be no reason to
punish people.
Reform Theory
 This theory claims that the goal of punishment is to reform criminals.
 If the punishment does not have such an effect then it is not justified.
Mixed Theories
 It is possible to mix elements of the different theories and claim that
together they justify punishment.
 The argument of unfairness is as clear as it is challenging: There are
no rich people in death row, and the vast majority of executed
criminals are black or Hispanic. Another major complicating
element in recent decades has been the advent of DNA evidence.
 It turns out that as many as 5% of the criminals executed have been
proven to be innocent and that percentage still applies to today’s
death-row inmates.
Sister Helen Prejean, “Would Jesus pull
the Switch? Uhm, no…
 Sister Helen Prejean—a Catholic nun perhaps best known for the
book, play, opera, and film Dead Man Walking—forgoes the
Catholic Church’s usual antideath penalty position from a Divine
Command or Natural Law argument, opting instead for a powerful
Aristotelian argument in her article “Would Jesus pull the switch?”
 In other words, Sister Helen knows how to back this argument up
with biblical references; the answer to “What would Jesus do?” is
not likely to be “Torture and kill the guy.” A virtuous person would
not do that.
Kant… Hang them high!
 “Even if a civil society were to be dissolved by the consent of all its
members (e.g., if a people inhabiting an island decided to separate
and disperse throughout the world), the last murderer remaining in
prison would first have to be executed, so that each has done to
him what his deeds deserve and blood guilt does not cling to the
people for not having insisted upon this punishment; for otherwise
the people can be regarded as collaborators in his public violation
of justice.”
~Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals (1797)
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
 “The death penalty in America is a broken process from start to
finish. Death sentences are predicted not by the heinousness of the
crime but by the poor quality of the defense lawyers, the race of
the accused or the victim, and the county and state in which the
crime occurred. From 1976 to 2015, 1,392 executions occurred in the
United States, and 995 of them took place in the South. Time and
time again, we have proven that the criminal justice system fails to
protect the innocent and persons with serious mental disabilities
and illnesses from execution. Even the administration of executions
is utterly flawed: Every method of execution comes with an
intolerably high risk of extreme pain and torture.”
Free Speech and Personal
Liberties: Free Speech,
Drugs, and Alcohol
Chapter 10
Learning Objectives
 After reading this chapter, you will be able to:
 12.1 Critically analyze the limits society imposes on free speech.
 12.2 Articulate the arguments surrounding the legalization of drugs.
Free Speech? Not so much…
 We live in a new age where free speech is not really free. The
easiness with which one can send a tweet or post on social media
has led to many a lost job or criminal conviction because of such
 It is unclear as to whether private correspondence that is later
made public ought to be held in the same regard as public free
speech. Recent stories, such as the personal rant of the LA Clippers
owner, Donald Sterling, make it clear that society has limited
tolerance for certain types of speech. Ironically, Sterling was not out
in public, say, marching at a Ku Klux Klan rally, when he made his
comments about African-Americans. He was talking to his girlfriend,
who just happened to be recording the conversation and released
it to TMZ on April 25, 2014.
 President Trump had a similar event happen in 2005 with a “hot
microphone” and recorded audio of a private conversation with a
Hate Speech or Free Speech?
 Racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, islamophobia, and
other hateful attitudes remain part of our social reality.
It is unclear as to whether unsavory opinions (regardless of their
epistemic value or veracity) are unethical. For example, is it
unethical to hold that women are inferior to men (as Aristotle did) or
that some people are simply better than others (as according to
Nietzsche), or that to cause pain in others is entirely reasonable (as
the Marquis de Sade enthusiastically believed)? Should speech
promoting such views be limited? If so, how much and how?
Rise of Hate
 The alarming rise of hate speech in public following the 2016
national elections has been noticed throughout the United States.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported hundreds of incidents
targeting blacks and other people of color, Muslims, immigrants, the
L.G.B.T. community, and women.
The Ku Klux Klan held a victory parade in North Carolina days after
the election. “This represents a big increase in what we’ve seen
since the campaign, and these incidents are far and wide: we’re
seeing them in schools, we’re seeing them in places of business,
we’re seeing them in museums and gas stations,” Richard Cohen,
the president of the S.P.L.C., said to The New Yorker magazine.
“White supremacists are celebrating, and it’s their time, the way
they see it.”
Terror in France
 Charlie Hebdo—short for hebdomadaire, Weekly Charlie in English—is a
popular French satirical tabloid founded in 1969, in the wake of the
turbulent student riots of 1968. The magazine’s spirit then as now was as
provocative as it was irreverent. Gleefully aiming their satire at all
political factions and religions, decidedly at Jews, Christians, and
Muslims, the artists and writers of Charlie Hebdo make fun of everyone.
Not everyone laughs.
 Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, a popular cartoonist as well as editorin-chief of the publication, said about his making ridicule of the Muslim
faith in 2009 that “We have to carry on until Islam has been exposed to
be as banal as Catholicism.”
 Charbonier is dead now. His death was a case of censorship by murder.
 On the morning of January 7, 2015, armed religious extremists stormed the
Charlie Hebdo office in Paris and massacred 12 people, including
Charbonier, his staff, and two French police officers—one of them a Muslim.
The killers were later identified as members of an Alal-Qaeda from Yemen.
Their offense was about the magazine’s printing a cartoon portraying the
Muslim prophet Muhammad. The attacks were seen in France and
elsewhere as morally repugnant.
Wiki Leaks
 Other cases push the boundaries of what constitutes free speech as
well as further cloud the issue. Julian Assange, founder and editor of
WikiLeaks, is now living in exile as a result of his having published
secret government documents.
 The case of Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who blew the
whistle on extensive government spying, raises questions about
personal freedom, privacy, and free speech. Is our speech free if
the government is listening in?
Is it moral to make public what the government is doing? Snowden
too is living in exile and would face prosecution in the United States
should he choose to return.
The War on Drugs
 The United States has more people in prison than any other country,
2 million in prisons and an additional 5 million on probation,
according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
 Twenty percent of inmates are in prison for drug offenses. The prison
population is disproportionately black and Hispanic. The so-called
war on drugs has had a major impact on the number of people
Hard vs. Soft Drugs
 Some drugs are considered by some to be more addictive
than other drugs.
 “Hard” are powerfully addictive, lead users to abandon
 “Soft” allow some users to continue to go to work and school
and not dismiss all responsibility.
 Legal vs. Illegal
Types of Drugs

Prescription Drugs/ Steroids
Natural Herbs
 Commonly abused steroids: Anadrol, Oxandrin, Dianobol,
Winstrol, Durabolin, Depo-Testosterone, and Equipoise
 What is the form of steroids?
 There are more than 100 types of anabolic steroids, and each
requires a prescription
What are the methods of usage?
 Oral ingestion
 Injection
 Rubbed on the skin in the form of gels or creams
Who uses steroids?
 Steroid use among young adults and high school students is much
more prevalent among males than females.
 Among 19-22 year olds surveyed in 2000, 18.9% reported having a
friend who was a current user of steroids.
 1.4% of young adults (ages 19-28) surveyed in 2000 reported using
steroids at least one time during their lives.
What are some consequences of
steroid use?
 Effects associated with anabolic steroid abuse range from acne
and breast development in men, increased irritability and
aggression, to liver cancer, heart attacks, and high cholesterol.
 People who inject steroids run the risk of contracting or transmitting
hepatitis or HIV.
 Withdrawal symptoms include mood swings, fatigue, restlessness,
loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and depression.
 This depression can lead to suicide attempts and can persist for a
year or more after the abuser stops taking the drugs.
GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid)
 Street Names: Liquid Ecstasy, Scoop, Easy Lay, Georgia Home Boy,
Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid X, and Goop.
 What are the different forms of GHB?
 An odorless, colorless liquid form
 White powder material.
How is GHB used?
 Usually ingested in a liquid mixture; most commonly mixed with
Who uses steroids?
 Steroid use among young adults and high school students is much
more prevalent among males than females.
 Among 19-22 year olds surveyed in 2000, 18.9% reported having a
friend who was a current user of steroids.
 1.4% of young adults (ages 19-28) surveyed in 2000 reported using
steroids at least one time during their lives.
Who uses GHB?
 GHB has become popular among teens and young adults at clubs.”
 Body builders sometimes use GHB for its alleged anabolic effects.
 How does GHB get to the United States?
 Because the drug is easy to synthesize and manufacture, local
operators usually handle distribution.
How much does GHB cost?
 GHB is usually sold by the capful, and sells for $5 to $25 per
What are some consequences of GHB
 In lower doses, GHB causes drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and visual
 At higher dosages, unconsciousness, seizures, severe respiratory
depression, and coma can occur.
 Overdoses usually require emergency room treatment, including
intensive care for respiratory depression and coma.
 GHB has been used in the commission of sexual assaults because it
renders the victim incapable of resisting, and may cause memory
problems that could complicate case prosecution.
 Street terms for Ketamine: jet, super acid, Special “K”, green, K, cat
What does Ketamine look like?
 Ketamine comes in a clear liquid and a white or off-white powder
How is Ketamine used?
 Ketamine is a tranquilizer most commonly used on animals.
 The liquid form can be injected, consumed in drinks, or added to
smokable materials.
 The powder form can be used for injection when dissolved.
 In certain areas, Ketamine is being injected intramuscularly.
 What is OxyContin®?
 OxyContin® is the brand name of a time-release formula of
the analgesic chemical oxycodone. OxyContin®, which is
produced by the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma,
is prescribed as a pain medication.
 Instances of abuse of this drug have increased in recent
 Street terms for OxyContin®: Hillbilly heroin, Oxy, Oxycotton
 What does OxyContin® look like?
 OxyContin® comes in tablet form.
What are the methods of usage?
 Chewing the tablets
 Snorting crushed tablets
 Dissolving tablets in water and injecting
 These methods cause a faster, highly dangerous release of
Who abuses OxyContin®?
 An increase in illegal use has been especially apparent on the East
 30 million Americans have used pain relievers illegally in their
 30,000 people died last year from prescription drug overdoes!
How much does OxyContin® cost?
 When legally sold, a 10-mg tablet of OxyContin® will cost $1.25 and
an 80-mg tablet will cost $6.
 When illegally sold, a 10-mg tablet of OxyContin® can cost
between $5 and $10. An 80-mg tablet can cost between $65 and
What are some consequences of illicit
OxyContin® use?
 Long-term usage can lead to physical dependence.
 A large dosage can cause severe respiratory depression that can
lead to death.
 Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain,
insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and
involuntary leg movements.
 LSD, aka “acid,” is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste
and is usually taken by mouth. Often LSD is added to absorbent
paper, such as blotter paper, and divided into small, decorated
squares, with each square representing one dose.
Physical Psychological short-term
 The effects of LSD are unpredictable. They depend on the
amount taken; the user’s personality, mood, and expectations;
and the surroundings in which the drug is used
 Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30 to 90 minutes
after taking it. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher
body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure,
sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors.
Health Hazards of LSD
 LSD trips are long – typically they begin to clear after about 12 hours.
Some users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear
of losing control, fear of insanity and death, and despair while using
LSD. In some cases, fatal accidents have occurred during states of
LSD intoxication.
 Many LSD users experience flashbacks, recurrence of certain
aspects of a person’s experience, without the user having taken the
drug again
 A flashback occurs suddenly, often without warning, and may
occur within a few days or more than a year after LSD use
 Flashbacks usually occur in people who use hallucinogens
chronically or have an underlying personality problem; however,
otherwise healthy people who use LSD occasionally may also have
 Bad trips and flashbacks are only part of the risks of LSD use
 LSD users may manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as
schizophrenia or seve …
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