Sample Essay Plan, Outline, and Annotated Bibliography

| July 21, 2019

Question:

Instructions

For the research essay, use this chosen topic as a lens through which to critically explore the quote above. Bring some of the aspects covered in this course eg: the power of disposition vs situation vs systems, dehumanization, moral disengagement, emotions of fear, anger, hatred, shame, and guilt; obedience to authority, stereotyping, prejudice, and hostile imaginations.

Essay should consist of

  1. Essay topic and brief rationale: introduction (1page)
  2. Plan of the main arguments I will make (1page)
  3. A brief outline of key literature in this area (1page)
  4. 1 paragraph on any potential challenges that may affect the final essay (eg conceptual material, concerns about the topic)
  5. A short annotated bibliography: A brief outline of key literature listed in 8-10 articles (1-2 sentences on the relevance of each source)
  6. A reference list

Answer:

Title: Essay plan on death penalty

Introduction

This essay plan is based on a quote by C.P. As reported by Zimbardo (2007), Snowls argues that the long and gloomy history of man shows that more hideous crimes have been perpetuated in the name of obedience than in the name of rebellion. One of the examples that can be used to demonstrate the truth of this argument is that of the death penalty. Different authorities throughout the history of man have used the death penalty as an excuse for committing murders and persecuting dissidents, rebels, activists, and opposition politicians.

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The aim of this essay plan is to highlight the main argument to be made in the final essay. The main argument is that the death penalty presents a demonstration of the hideous crimes that have been committed in the name of obedience throughout the history of man. First, a plan of the main arguments that will be made in the essay is provided. A brief outline of key literature in this area is also presented. Moreover, this essay plan highlights the potential challenges that are likely to affect the final essay in terms of conceptual material and concerns about the topic. Lastly, this essay plan also contains an annotated bibliography of key sources to be used in the final paper.

Plan of the main arguments

One of the main arguments is that throughout history, the death penalty has acted as one of the hideous crimes perpetuated by authorities in the name of obedience to the prevailing legal systems. The context in which various laws governing the death penalty are enacted has always created room for unfairness, discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping. This is evident in the way execution teams tend to seek ways of becoming morally disengaged before executing death row convicts (Bandura, 2000).

The problem with the death penalty emanates largely from the way the power of disposition, situation, and systems. Different dispositions of the criminal justice system have used different reasons to justify the death penalty. However, it has always been impossible for this method of punishment to be divorced from the prevailing social, political, cultural, economic, and religious realities. At such times, those who used the death penalty throughout the history of mankind as a way of doing away with their political opponents always justified their actions by arguing that they were simply obeying the law.

One of the best ways of criminal aspect of the death penalty is to examine the views different scholars have expressed regarding unfairness, prejudices, stereotyping, and strong emotional responses that accompany capital punishment. For instance, capital punishment triggers strong emotions of hatred, guilt, fear, shame, and hostile imaginations. Underlying these emotions are deeply entrenched elements of discrimination and stereotyping. For example, in the US, discussions on the death penalty are traditionally associated with the explosive debate on racial relations. Many civil rights activists have decried the use of the death penalty as a tool that white supremacists have used for centuries to perpetuate hideous crimes against racial minorities such as blacks. Using these examples, the final essay will demonstrate how the death penalty easily falls in the category of hideous crimes that have been committed by humankind in the name of obedience.

A brief outline of key literature

There is abundant literature on the appropriateness of the death penalty in the context of the themes of obedience and rebellion. One of the themes addressed in this literature is that of the power of disposition, situation, and systems. With regard to the power of disposition, the existing legal systems give the police and trial judges the obligation to follow certain rules regarding the way they treat an accused person (Dillehay & Sandys, 2000). A judge may rule that the accused person should be subjected to the death penalty. In the prevailing situation, philosophical tensions tend to appear, such that it the legal system seems to be pursuing conflicting goals (Dillehay & Sandys, 2000). On the one hand, the legal system ought to guarantee all the individual rights of the suspect, including the right to life. On the other hand, the system must also exercise discretion in ensuring that he gets the punishment that he deserves. In other words, the trial judge is given broad discretion to tailor punishment or “individualize” it to suit the suspect.

The death penalty has been opposed on numerous platforms. In each of these forums, different reasons are given for its inappropriateness in society. One of the reasons cited in literature is dehumanization (Kleck, 2001). The penalty is dehumanizing because it creates the impression that human life is of not much value since it can be taken away at will. Both the judge who orders that the life be taken away and the executioner would claim to be simply obeying the law of the land (Stack, 2003). According to Newton (2000), aspects of dehumanization, hatred, prejudice, hostile imaginations, and stereotyping have greatly contributed to systemic unfairness in the case of the death penalty in Texas.

Another crucial aspect of literature that is integral to this essay plan is moral disengagement (Judges, 2004; Osofsky, 2005; Bandura, 2000). Osofsky (2005) argues that prison personnel must first seek moral disengagement to carry out executions. Without moral disengagement execution teams would be overwhelmed by emotions of fear (Bandes, 2003), guilt, shame, anger (Bandes, 2008), and hatred (Haney, 2003).

Potential challenges that may affect the final essay

The main potential challenges relate to choice of conceptual material and concerns about the topic. The conceptual materials to be used relate to the discipline of criminology. However, in some cases, these materials touch on both criminology and law. This overlap between these two disciplines is likely to have an impact on the way the arguments shape up as well as the final essay. Similarly, concerns may be raised by critics regarding the appropriateness of the topic. To many people, it may sound unacceptable for the death penalty to be associated with hideous crimes committed in the name of obedience. The link between death penalty and crime on the part of the authorities and the execution personnel may not be obvious. These concerns are likely to influence the drift of the main argument in the final essay.

A short annotated bibliography: A brief outline of key literature

Dillehay, R & Sandys, M 2000, ‘Life under Wainwright v. Witt: Juror dispositions and death qualification’, Law and Human Behavior. Vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 147-165.

This paper provides insights into the power of disposition in the context of efforts by the prosecution to seek the death penalty. In this paper, the authors shed some light on the automaticity of imposing death sentences on murder convicts whose crimes carry the death penalty.

Newton, B 2001, ‘A Case Study in Systemic Unfairness: The Texas Death Penalty, 1973-1994, Texas Forum on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, vol. 3, pp. 1-37.

In this paper, the author provides a compelling case study of the death penalty in Texas to demonstrate its role in perpetuating systemic discrimination, unfairness, and a culture of prejudice. According to the author, the current system is fraught with flaws and should be reformed to address problems such as racism, hanging judges, gay-bashing, and judicial misconduct.

Judges, D 2004, ‘The Role of Mental Health Professionals in Capital Punishment: An Exercise in Moral Disengagement’, Houston Law Review, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 515-563.

This article addresses the controversial topic involving mentally ill convicts who have been sentenced to death. Developments in this front are traced to Ford v. Wainwright, a case in which the U.S Supreme Court ruled that the US constitution prohibits the execution of an “insane” convict.

Osofsky, M 2005, ‘The Role of Moral Disengagement in the Execution Process’, Law and Human Behavior, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 371-393.

In this study, the objective is to provide a link between moral self-sanctions and the process of carrying out death penalties. Execution personnel are found to adopt various methods of moral disengagement in efforts to “obey” the instructions provided to them by judicial authorities.

Bandes, S 2003, ‘Fear Factor: The Role of Media in Covering and Shaping the Death Penalty’, Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 585-612.

This article contributes to the argument of the final paper by viewing the illegality of the death penalty from the perspective of media’s coverage of crime-related news. The article is of great relevance in efforts to address the position of the media regarding the death penalty in the context of justice and fairness in society.

Bandes, S 2008, ‘Repellent Crimes and Rational Deliberation: Emotion and the Death Penalty’, Vermont Law Review, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 489-527.

This paper addresses the issue of emotions, which is at the heart of the argument to be made in the final paper. The question that arises in this regard relates to the role of emotive responses to the perpetuation of the death penalty as judicial authorities seek to adhere to the prevailing jurisprudence. According to this article, it may be argued that whenever rationality and moral compass is lost in the heat of strong emotions, any state may be tempted to perpetuate atrocities on its people in the name of capital punishment.

Haney, C 2003, ‘Condemning the Other in Death Penalty Trials: Biographical Racism, Structural Mitigation, and the Empathic Divide’, DePaul Law Review, vol. 53, no. 7, pp. 1557-1631.

According to this article, one of the ways through which injustices have been committed through the death penalty is through racial discrimination. The author examines the notion of “biographical racism”, a phenomenon whereby race-based indignities and obstacles accumulate, leading to a historically-entrenched system of racial discrimination.

Kleck, G 2001, ‘Racial Discrimination in Criminal Sentencing: A Critical Evaluation of the Evidence with Additional Evidence on the Death Penalty’, American Sociological Review, vol. 46, no. 6, pp. 783-805.

            This paper demonstrates how racial discrimination can be perpetuated at both national and local levels through death-sentencing. In this way, the author provides a perfect example of how the death penalty can serve as a crime of obedience.

Bandura, 2000, ‘A Selective Activation and Disengagement of Moral Control’, Journal of Social Issues, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 27–46.

This paper provides a framework for assessing the death penalty as a hideous crime through the concept of moral disengagement. The core aspects of this framework as commonly used at state, judicial, and individual levels include euphemistic labeling, advantageous contrast with many other inhumanities, and moral justification.

Stack, S 2003, ‘Authoritarianism and Support for the Death Penalty: A Multivariate Analysis’, Sociological Focus, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 333-352.

In this paper, Stack (2003) examines the relationship between authoritarianism and the death penalty. The author attempts to integrate the element of authoritarianism, which has been omitted in most of the studies on support for the death penalty.

References

Bandes, S 2003, ‘Fear Factor: The Role of Media in Covering and Shaping the Death Penalty’, Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 585-612.

Bandes, S 2008, ‘Repellent Crimes and Rational Deliberation: Emotion and the Death Penalty’, Vermont Law Review, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 489-527.

Bandura, 2000, ‘A Selective Activation and Disengagement of Moral Control’, Journal of Social Issues, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 27–46.

Dillehay, R & Sandys, M 2000, ‘Life under Wainwright v. Witt: Juror dispositions and death qualification’, Law and Human Behavior. Vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 147-165.

Haney, C 2003, ‘Condemning the Other in Death Penalty Trials: Biographical Racism, Structural Mitigation, and the Empathic Divide’, DePaul Law Review, vol. 53, no. 7, pp. 1557-1631.

Judges, D 2004, ‘The Role of Mental Health Professionals in Capital Punishment: An Exercise in Moral Disengagement’, Houston Law Review, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 515-563.

Kleck, G 2001, ‘Racial Discrimination in Criminal Sentencing: A Critical Evaluation of the Evidence with Additional Evidence on the Death Penalty’, American Sociological Review, vol. 46, no. 6, pp. 783-805.

Newton, B 2001, ‘A Case Study in Systemic Unfairness: The Texas Death Penalty, 1973-1994, Texas Forum on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, vol. 3, pp. 1-37.

Osofsky, M 2005, ‘The Role of Moral Disengagement in the Execution Process’, Law and Human Behavior, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 371-393.

Stack, S 2003, ‘Authoritarianism and Support for the Death Penalty: A Multivariate Analysis’, Sociological Focus, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 333-352.

Zimbardo, P 2007, The Lucifer effect: Understanding how good people turn evil, M.E. Sharpe, New York.

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