In actuality, capital punishment is one of the most debatable issues in the contemporary criminal justice system and society at large. Today, capital punishment in the US persists, but there are both opponents and proponents of this punishment. In this regard, it is possible to refer to the article “Capital Punishment: A Century of discontinuous debate”¯ by C.L. Stelker and J.M. Stelker (2010), which reveals the evolution of the concept of the capital punishment and the growing opposition to the capital punishment as one of the mainstream trends in the contemporary culture.
The authors conducted the detailed study of the evolution of the concept of capital punishment and presented their report in the article. The authors focus on the detailed analysis of the concept of capital punishment in the past and in the course of the 20th century to present time. In such a way, the authors cover the large scope of study, which reveals a number of important facts that help to understand the current attitude of people to capital punishment.
In fact, the authors of the article trace the evolution of the concept of capital punishment back to the early 20th century and the past of the US, when the legal and criminal justice system was just created. The authors identify two key arguments for capital punishment that dominated in the beginning of the 20th century. First, capital punishment was an antidote of lynching. Lynching was widely spread in the early 20th century and, to prevent lynching, capital punishment was supposed to restore justice and punish offenders, who committed severe crimes. Second, capital punishment was closely correlated with eugenics, since people believed that through the capital punishment they can get rid of individuals, who are dangerous for the society. Their physical elimination was supposed to make the nation better and, thus, to reduce the amount of severe crimes because dangerous offenders will be just executed.
On analyzing arguments for capital punishment in the past, the authors shift to the current view on the capital punishment and identify two key arguments against capital punishment. First argument is the costs consideration. In fact, errors in case of capital punishment are too costly, while the system of capital punishment is costly in financial terms as well. In addition, another argument against capital punishment is the death row phenomenon which includes the choice between the lengthy imprisonment or the lengthy imprisonment and execution. In fact, offenders sentenced to death serve long term in prison before they are finally executed.
On analyzing such a shift in views on capital punishment, the authors conclude that changes of values lead to the change in the attitude to the capital punishment. In other words, social values affect the perception of capital punishment by people.
Therefore, this article focuses on the system of values of the society and how this system affects legal norms and standards in the society. The authors believe that socio-cultural norms and values define views of people on capital punishment.
At the same time, this article is different from the articles in non-scholarly periodicals. In fact, this article conducts the in-depth, scientifically grounded analysis, while periodicals tend to present a superficial view on the issue and often try to persuade the audience in certain idea, while this article presents different views and explains them.