Critical Thinking

Introduction of prisoners currently on death row with

                        Introduction

            California’s Prop 62 was an initiative to ban capital punishment and replace the sentences of prisoners currently on death row with life sentences without the possibility of parole. Prop 62 also requires convicted murders to work and give 60 percent of their wages to the families of victims. Durkheim’s concept of anomie closely relates to prop 62 through the concept that in society crime is needed as well as punishments for those crimes. Anomie also reflects that society has the right to deem which laws have moral issues. This constitutes which punishments should have their severity-adjusted such as the death penalty. Anomie states punishments are required to help force criminals and society in compliance with the law by fear of being shamed, humiliation and taking their liberty in instances.

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                                    Proposition 62 in relation to Durkheim’s Anomie Theory

            According to Anomie Crime is functional even in well-mannered societies so individuals learn to cherish their values and standards. Durkheim basically states that crime creates solidarity through the unification of law-abiding citizens who celebrate their values by opposing and criticizing those who commit criminal acts. Crime creates a bond between law-abiding citizens who condemn criminal acts by creating punishments such as the death penalty. Society through their values and standards of anomie make moral decisions about what rules should be given importance by adjusting the severity of their punishment. To society, capital punishments serve its purpose because the majority of prisoners on death row have committed the cruel and heinous crime of first-degree murder and therefore the punishment should fit the crime. The use of Capital punishment has always been controversial and even a Federal judge Cormac J Carney of the U.S district courts ruled the death penalty violated the 8th amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment due to the delays in the tedious appeals process. The reality is that when a person is condemned to the death penalty the day of their execution may not even arrive due to it being a long process where the prisoner may appeal their case.

            The amount of prisoners on California’s death row is steadily growing although no inmate will be executed anytime soon there has been a series of holds over the lethal injection process. The number of prisoners on death row today has grown to about 750 prisoners. According to an article published by capital public radio since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978, there have only been 13 executions in the state of California the last one being in 2006. The death penalty is America’s harshest punishment and we are one of the few countries in the free world who still practice it. Many countries such as Canada and Europe have abolished the death penalty and it is no longer in use. The fact is that the majority of the inmates on death row never see the execution chamber most die from natural causes in prison. Since the wait for the death penalty can be decades due to the appeals and the holds on executions families of victims may never get the closure and justice they deserve. Prop 62 also eliminates the risk that innocent people who were tried for a crime will be executed. This prop would give families of victim’s closure because they know that person who caused them wrong will be in jail for the rest of their life without the possibility of parole unlike having to wait for an execution that might never happen.

Crime is needed to teach punishment because through the anomie perspective people are born with insatiable appetites which are fueled through committing crimes and wrongful acts. In Durkheim’s views society can shape these appetites through societal structures and cultural values.  These values and structures dictate what is viewed wrong in society and thus severities of punishments are created such as Capital Punishment. The death penalty is categorized as the most severe form of punishment utilized for the most cruel and heinous crimes. This punishment was chosen to fit the crime since the majority if inmates on death row are responsible from crimes ranging from first degree murder to mass murders. Punishments through the anomie concept are not created only for criminals it also serves as a purpose to motivate individuals to obey the law. This is done by making sure society uses criminals as an example by forcing compliance of the law through humiliation, fear of being shamed and the lack of liberty. The thought is that crime will decease if people are shown he outcome of committing crimes.  

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