Capital punishment, more commonly referred to as the death penalty, has long been a controversial area of public policy. The United States is one of 58 countries that has the death penalty. However, due to federalism, the issue is largely left in the hands of the states. Therefore, some states allow the death penalty, while others do not. Currently, 31 states allow its usage, while 19 states have banned it. In addition, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and California will vote on its practice in the November 2016 elections. The most persistent argument in favor of the death penalty is that it acts as a deterrent, and, as a result, leads to a reduction in heinous crimes. The most persistent argument against the death penalty is that it violates the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the Eighth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. Recently, other arguments have also come into play. Critics of the death penalty have claimed that a disproportionate amount of minorities and those with intellectual disabilities have been executed, and that those factors should be taken into account.
This deliberation raises moral, ethical and constitutional questions. Should the death penalty continue to be used in the United States?