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13 July An Analysis of Ethical Issues Involved in a Recent Event of Capital Punishment Introduction: Capital punishment or&nbsp.death penalty is a punishment awarded to persons convicted of capital offences, whereby an individual is sentenced to death by the&nbsp.state& a penalty for a heinous crime. Murders, serial killings, rape and murder etc, where a perpetrator metes out extreme cruelty to the victim as well as crimes against the state such as treason, can attract capital punishment. One of the most recent capital punishments in the US relates to the execution by “lethal injection” (Prentice, para. 12) on June 6 2012 awarded to Richard A Leavitt who has brutally murdered Danette Elg, a 31-year-old lady. The punishment by death, awarded in this case, corresponds to Aristotle’s ethical philosophy, which suggests that justice takes place when “all agents deserve equal concern of justice, in the quest to ensure that all agents get what they deserve and agents do not get what they do not deserve” (Aikin, para.34). It only appears ethically reasonable that a person who inflicts severe pain on another human being and takes away her life, deserves to die for that crime because such individuals may repeat the crime and become a threat to the society, if not dealt with severely.
Analysis of the Punishment and the Ethical Issues Involved in the Case:
Danette Elg, a 31 year old lady was cruelly murdered in her residence during July 1984 by Richard A Leavitt. The offender had stabbed her multiple times and cut off her sexual organs. The victim’s body was discovered days after her murder and was identified for police by her murderer. He was not arrested until December 1984, for the crime. Leavitts trial started on September 12, 1985 and Seventh District Judge, H Reynold George sentenced him to death, considering the extreme cruelty inflicted to the victim. The judge noted that the crime was monstrous, dreadful and cruel. Leavitt’s death warrant was issued and executed on June 6, 2012 by lethal injection, 28 years after committing the murder.
There can be both ethical and unethical issue involved in punishing an offender by the award of death penalty. In most cases, sometimes the judge may tend to ignore some of the ethical aspects and punish the offender without properly taking into consideration all the circumstances that led to the culmination of the crime. However, in the instant case, the Judge’s decision to execute Richard Leavitt appears ethical as the crime he had committed is gruesome, barbaric and extremely threatening to women as a whole. He wounded Danette Jean Elg “repeatedly with exceptional force, and had cut out her sexual organs” (Boone, para. 16). The extreme pain the perpetrator has meted out to the victim and the horrific violence, with which he carried out the crime, are so bizarre as to torment the human conscience. The court, in this instance, seems to have considered the ethical principles by showing fairness and justice to Danette Jean Elg. The ethics involved here concerns respecting the dignity, diversity and rights of individuals. Any person in his right sense will admit that this is an inhuman act that challenged the victim’s dignity and honor, apart from causing her enormous physical pain and mental agony. Thus, awarding any punishment less than death would not have served the purpose of justice in this case.
According to the view of the jury and the public, termination of the culprit’s life is the only justice that befits the case. However, despite the fact that the capital punishment given to the culprit is justified and falls within the framework of ethics, the emotional as well as the psychological torture that convict has undergone seems unethical. The first verdict to execute him was pronounced on December 19, 1985. However, the death sentence was carried out as late as June 6 2012 after 28 years because the case went on multiple appeals and none of the judges found a reason to overturn the death sentence. The culprit, no doubt, deserves the punishment, in a physical context. But when one considers the psychological aspects of human beings, it appears to be cruel to make the person languish in prison, waiting for his death to be carried out. Though the ethical issue does not directly relate to any of the courts, it still becomes relevant that it is the inadequacy of the law enforcement system. The system should have been able to expedite the execution by speeding up the disposal of appeals, without making the culprit wait for his death in such a state of agony and mental stress.
On another premise, the case of Leavitt can be perceived in the Utilitarian concept which suggests that the consequences of one’s action will maximize one’s well-being. Thus, on the flipside, it can be construed that the consequences of one’s negative action will maximize his agony. Since Richards Leavitt has committed such extreme cruelty to a woman, natural justice may have found its course in putting him through a similar trauma. Kant believes that the rights of humans can be classified into positive and negative. Positive right applies when a person does a good deed and negative right applies when one harms another. As Richard has committed such a heinous crime, he cannot claim any rights and his actions have led to his suffering, even though it may have entailed from the unethical conduct of others in the society.
Capital punishment is a legal process, which sentences an individual to death by the&nbsp.state& a punishment for a heinous crime. While considering the ethical and non ethical aspects of capital punishment by examining the case of Richard A Leavitt, who has brutally killed Danette, one can conclude that the court has imparted justice to the family of Elg by following the ethical principles of utilitarian concept. As a human being, Leavitt has no right to take the life of Elg in such a brutal manner and he deserves the maximum punishment. The unethical aspect of the execution taking a long 28 years, causing him such mental trauma, can be construed as a limitation of the law enforcement system on one hand and a dramatic serving of natural justice by payback on the other.
Works Cited
Aikin, Sarah Tischler. Just Violence: Aristotelian Justification of Capital Punishment. California State University at Chico. n.d. Web. 2 June 2012. Boone, Rebecca. Richard Leavitt Executed For Murdering Danette Elg in Idaho in 1984. Huff Post Crime. 2012. Web. 2 June 2012. Prentice, George. Did You Stab Danette Elg? Death Row Inmate Undergoes Polygraph On Gruesome Murder. BIOSE Weekly. 2012. Web. 2 June 2012.