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Free «Crimes that should be Eligible for the Death Penalty» Essay Sample


The death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976. However, the Supreme Court has significantly restricted the situations in which it can be used. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled out that it was not constitutional to use the death penalty against a person who raped an adult, in the case where the victim did not die. This left the question of whether or not rape should be eligible for the death penalty.

In 2008, Supreme Court ruled on the question of child’s rape stating that this crime is not eligible for the death penalty. This indicates that, from 2008, murder is the only crime eligible for the death penalty. According to the ruling of the Supreme Court, there is also possible exception of some crimes from the list of eligibility for the death penalty. These exceptions include crimes in military justice system such as desertion in time of war and mutiny, and treason (Burkoff & Weaver, 2008).


Federal government is tasked with the responsibility for applying the death penalty in cases of treason, killing in the incidence of a criminal conspiracy, and espionage by a member of the armed forces. Some states are considering the use of the death penalty for ransom kidnapping, aggravated rape of a child, and aircraft piracy. Most states are reluctant to include any crime less than first degree murder in the death penalty eligibility list (Bedau & Cassell, 2005).



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Some of the crimes that should be eligible for the death penalty include terrorism, genocide, first degree murder, treason (fighting against your own country), second degree murder, manslaughter, rape, and child molestation (Hickey, 2003).

In death penalty cases, the standard of proof should be very high. This means that there should be clear and credible proof the crime was committed. Death penalty should also be applied to accomplices of a murderer. This will ensure that even those involved in a murder case or assisted a criminal to terminate the life of another person are also sentenced to execution.

The lawmakers should also include in the list of the death penalty to cover people who kill witnesses and judges. Death penalty should also be extended to include those criminals who murder police and other law enforcement officials. Murderers who kill children under the age of 14 should also be eligible for the death penalty. This should extend to any person who murders a child under the age of 14 regardless of whether the assaulter had the intent to kill. This will include murders committed during kidnapping, sexual assault, assault, and abuse. According to the law, statutory rape also known as rape of a child is the act of having a sexual intercourse with a person under the age of consent. The age of consent varies from 14 years to 18 years depending on the state or country. The law assumes that the minor is not mature enough to approve to the act of sexual intercourse.

Killing a person who commits crime prevents that person from committing future crimes. Death penalty may also be used to avert other persons from committing the same crimes. Death penalty can be used to teach the society that committing these crimes will lead to capital punishment. Therefore, killing a murderer will be an additional deterrent to crime.

Counter Argument

According to conducted research, in 2005, the rate of murder in the states that supported the death penalty was higher by 46 percent than the states that did not support the death penalty. From 1990, the rate of murder has decreased by 56 percent for those states that do not support the death penalty. This is an indication that execution cannot be used as deterrence to crime. Execution of offenders who are mentally disturbed or are under 18 years of age should be considered as unconstitutional. This is because this group of criminals is not as culpable as the adult offenders without any form of mental impairment. Juveniles should be exempted from death penalties because they are not old enough to be fully conscious of their actions. This is because the offender is less educated thus less intelligent. The offender also has no experience and may not be able to analyze the consequences of his/her actions.

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It is evident that most of the juvenile offenders are motivated by emotional and peer pressure. However, this is usually not the case for adult offenders. The reasons why teenagers are not trusted with some key responsibilities and privileges also explains why their misconduct is not as reprehensible as that of a grown up. The understanding of a teenager can be considered as not being fully developed. Teenagers who commit crimes that warrant the death penalty may still have a chance of being rehabilitated. This ruling makes sure that minors who commit crimes are given an opportunity to prove that they can be rehabilitated.

People with mental impairment should also be exempted from the death penalty. This is because they do not behave with the level of moral responsibility that is evident in the adult criminal. This is as a result of their disabilities in areas of judgment, reasoning, and impulse control. Mentally disturbed persons have limited capacity to understand and process information, due to this, these people are not able to avoid mistakes and learn from experience. They are also not able to engage themselves in logical reasoning and thus may not understand reactions of other people. Their mental challenges do not warrant them from criminal sanctions; however, it reduces their criminal culpability (Greene & Heilbrun, 2010).  

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In the 8th amendment of the death penalty, the rape of a child is considered to be horrifying. However, some lawmakers argue that child’s rape cannot be compared to the irrevocability and severity of cold-blood murder. However, it can be argued that child’s rape is worse than murder since a child will have to live with these horrifying memories for the rest of her life, while the victims of murder are assumed to be at peace. This makes the crime of child’s rape worse than that of murder. Child’s rape should be considered as a “strict liability” meaning that it does not matter whether the rapist did it intentionally or by mistake. The act of rape itself constitutes a crime. This also leaves the question of whether the rapist was sane or insane. People with mental impairment may not be capable of analyzing the consequences of their actions and may not be able to understand the reactions of other people (Siegel, 2010).


In an attempt to follow the trends of civilization, some states have tried to get rid of the death penalties. This should not be the case; states should seek a wider range of death penalties and include all the horrible crimes committed against humanity. Death penalty should include child molesters, who may not have killed their victim. These laws will be necessary to show rapists and child molesters that protecting the children is a key responsibility of the government. Knowing that they will face a death penalty, the molesters are forced to be wary of molesting their victims.

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Countries around the world have started legislations aimed at expanding the death penalty. People should support these bills because death penalties are effectual as a crime deterrent. The death penalty should only be eligible for mentally competent adults who commit murder with an aggravating factor.



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