LTE Draft 1- kraemercali

In Lincoln Caplan’s writing The Random Horror of the Death Penalty he discredits the Supreme Court and claims that it has failed to ban the death penalty “as it should.” Throughout his article he focuses on Conneticut’s judicial system and cases that have happened in the individual state, claiming that capital punishment sentences have been given out haphazardly. He has backed up his claims with the research of John Donohue, but these in fact are not Caplan’s own personal studies and he is formulating an opinion based on someone else’s findings. This creates doubt in concerns of the plausibility of his claims.

The death penalty is a just punishment on the basis that if one can take another’s undeniable right to life away, they shouldn’t have access to that very right. The simplicity of that statement aggravates those who oppose capital punishment because they believe in those people turning their lives around or the fact that all type of killing is morally wrong. As morality comes into context when the death penalty is mentioned I can’t help but question why it is relevant when it undoubtably wasn’t involved in the original crimes that are receiving the punishment? Morality is thrown out the window when a murder is committed, so why have a sense of it when sentencing the defendant in a criminal court?

Throughout my personal studies and reading done on this topic I have formulated this opinion. My college level courses in philosophy and political science have gave me the grounds to provide reasoning behind my claims. Philosophy teaches that morals are objective in the sense that they are subjective to all; meaning that the subjectivity of others opinions is universally accepted and understood, making it objective. Therefore I understand the contrasting opinions on the topic but if morality isn’t considered in the first place, whether it be a subjective or objective view of the idea, how does the sense of morality come back for sentencing?

I think it is plausible to say that criminals who heinously commit murder, do not deserve the right to life because they so easily took it away from another being. I hope I’m supplying food for thought with this simple statement that evidently contains universal truth. When being counter argued I just can’t understand who could disagree with such an unbiased, blunt claim. I hope that this is taken into consideration by all who are intrigued by this ongoing issue in our judicial system, and that their opinions are formulated on a basis as simple as the one I have provided.

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1 Response to LTE Draft 1- kraemercali

  1. davidbdale says:

    Kraemer, there’s a lot to consider here, which makes your Letter well worth a careful reading. For my first round of feedback, I think the wisest course is to engage the argument you’re making. We can concentrate on rhetoric, style, and language use in subsequent rounds.

    You correctly report that Caplan takes issue with the Supreme Court for not banning the death penalty “as it should.” He is entitled to this opinion and you are entitled to disagree, so we’re off to a good start. But your first paragraph doesn’t object to his position so much as to his basing his article on someone else’s research. You claim this creates a plausibility concern. But that’s easily remedied by following the link to the study he cites, for which he provides the link.

    The study’s author, John Donohue, makes several very blunt statements in the abstract including: “Overall, the state’s record of handling death-eligible cases represents a chaotic and unsound criminal justice policy that serves neither deterrence nor retribution” and “Any claim to properly punishing such a narrow and specific category of the most serious offenses can definitively be put to rest. The Connecticut death penalty regime does not select from the class of death-eligible defendants those most deserving of execution” and “At best, the Connecticut system haphazardly singles out a handful for execution from a substantial array of horrible murders” and “The Connecticut death penalty system decidedly fails this inquiry; arbitrariness and discrimination are defining features of the state’s capital punishment regime.”

    You may still lodge a plausibility complaint, but it seems you’ll have to cast doubt on the study, not on Caplan’s interpretation of the study, which he appears to be treating fairly.

    Your blanket claim that every murder deserves the death penalty will not be satisfied by Caplan or Donohue in any event, since they’re much more narrowly trying to determine if Connecticut meets a very different standard: whether the death penalty is randomly imposed or, as the law says “it should be” on only the most egregious of murderers. So you’re making very different arguments, which makes your impassioned defense of the death penalty no less passionate, but not quite to the point.

    You could refine your response to object to the entire idea that SOME murders or series of murders ARE WORTHY of the death penalty while OTHERS ARE NOT. To do that, you’ll first have to instruct your readers about the narrowness of Donohue’s investigation to give them (us) a clear understanding of why you object to the very question it asks.

    The study doesn’t pass any judgement on whether murderers can be rehabilitated or whose life can be turned around. If it did, you could object on those grounds. But to be really successful, your argument needs to focus on the actual claims of the authors.

    I hope that helps. I’d like to assist you in making the most effective argument possible.That begins with a careful examination of the grounds on which you can disagree with an author who is not present to question.

    Please let me know how you feel about this overload of constructive criticism. Much as I like to give advice, I very quickly start to ignore students who don’t keep the conversation going.

    1. Respond to this feedback with a Reply.
    2. Open your post in Edit and make revisions.
    3. Update your post without creating a new one and without changing its title.
    4. Leave me another Reply to alert me that you’ve made changes.

    Thanks, Kraemer.


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