Death Penalty Essay, Research Paper
Electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection, firing squad, hanging, guillotine, and garroting. When you hear these words what do you think of? Do you feel frightened? When some hear these words they tend to say, ” Oh they deserve it”.
In the court system that is not always the case. The question you always have to ask yourself is what did the accused do and do they deserve the death penalty?
What is bad enough to deserve death? Are their certain crimes that do and then some that do not? Almost every culture through out history has relied on the death penalty and capital punishment and justified as a necessary tool to maintain order. The only thing that changed throughout time were the crimes deemed punishable by death and the methods used to kill those found guilty. Some of the other countries’ laws of capital punishment seem so barbaric. In ancient India, executions were sometimes carried out by having an elephant crush the condemned’s head. Executions used to be public spectacles. In ancient Persia, one method of execution involved being eaten alive by insects and vermin. In the middle ages, methods of execution included chopping off limbs, stripping off the condemned person’s skin, boiling in oil, drawing and quartering (cutting the persons innards and then tearing the body into four pieces), burning at the stake, and crucifixion. In 1692, a man refused to testify after his wife was accused of witchcraft and was ” Pressed ” to death. The sentence was carried out by lying him on a stone floor, placing a board over him, and piling stones upon the board. Benjamin Rush, credited with the beginning the movement to abolish capital punishment in the U.S, declared in 1792 that reform, not retribution, should be the goal of punishment.
The Bible authorizes executing those who show contempt on their parents, walk without permission on sacred ground, practicing sorcery, sacrifice in foreign gods or who prostitute themselves. In the Bible Exodus 21:12 it says, ” Whoever strikes a man a mortal blow must be put to death.”
Electrocution in the modern era. Electricity causes biological damage through both heat and electrochemical havoc. The electrical current itself abolishes the function of organs and tissues such as the brain, nerves, and heart by overwhelming the fragile bioelectrical basis of the metabolism. The voltage applied is not the most critical factor but is in fact, almost irrelevant as much as electrical pressure was a factor. The body can tolerate a lot of volts without discomfort. The type of electrical current, too, makes a difference-whether direct (DC) or alternating (AC). The latter is more dangerous and can be lethal even with low voltage and relatively low amperage. The alternating cycle of 60 per second, which is ordinary 110-120 volt house current, will invariably stop heart action through stand still or ventricular fibrillation if the body somehow becomes part of a circuit.
The gas chamber. When sodium cyanide pellets are dropped into acid beneath the seated subject in a gas chamber, extremely lethal hydrogen cyanide is produced? Cyanide asphyxiates acts by choking the cells instead of blocking air intake. The gas, HCN, is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream through the lungs. The red blood cells are relatively immune to HCN. When delivered to all of the body’s cells? Cyanide literally and rapidly chokes all the body’s cells to death at the same time.
Hanging proponents. Proponents of hanging as a more humane method objected to the practice of beheading?Advocates of hanging argued that if the noose were correctly applied to the neck, consciousness would disappear quickly due to the sudden and complete blockage of blood in the head, with resultant swelling of the brain and rupture of small blood vessels. People to whom this was done too that survived swore that there was no pain before they lost consciousness. In a sense any advantages of hanging would seem to be compromised when the “drop” was added. That the drop usually resulted in the breaking of the neck and the ripping of the spinal cord, thus essentially and much more crudely duplicating the results of decapitation without detaching the head.
Lethal injection. Thiopental Sodium is a fast acting drug that produces almost short -term unconsciousness after a single dose, it is also used as a ” truth serum ” administered in small, intermittent, carefully calibrated hypnotic dosed while the subjects counts backward from 100. A trance-like, semi-consciousness is usually reached before the count gets to 90. To complete the lethal mixture for execution, society has stipulated the addition of potassium chloride. A high level of potassium in the blood paralyzes the heart muscle. In effect, then, that would correspond to a heart attack for the condemned while in the deep sleep of a barbiturate coma. As April, 1991, the method of execution in 21 states is lethal injection. Six states grant a choice: between lethal injection and the gas chamber in MO and NC, hanging in MT and WA, or a firing squad in Idaho and Utah.
The fist such execution in Texas in 1982 was attempted by prison employees. They had difficulty in trying to pierce the badly scarred veins of the condemned man with a large needle and blood splattered all over the sheets. Among those witnesses the bungled attempt was of the prison doctor.
Firing squads. Firing squads was probably the 2nd most widely; cruel used technique of execution. Death was virtually instant if the person is shot at close range through the skull; the bullet penetrates the medulla, which contains the vital respirator and cardiac among others.
The other way firing squads followed their orders is to aim at the condemned’s heart from some meters away. The reason for this is simple; the cause of death in these cases is normally blood loss through the rupture of the heart or a large vessel, or tearing of the lungs. Persons shot by bullet wounds that are were suffering said when they were shot it felt like hey were kicked hard by a large horse. Usually firing squads usually kill quickly because of a large number of soldiers of prison guards firing simultaneously.
The guillotine. The guillotine was named after the French deputy who proposed the use of the device in 1789. It was believed to be a swift and painless device. Many people believe that the guillotine was invented in France, but it had previously been used in Italy, Germany, and Scotland in the 16th century.
Guillotining was considered to be more humane because the blade was sharper, and execution was more rapid than was normally accomplished with an ax. Death occurs due to the separation of the brain and the spinal cord, after transaction of the surrounding tissues. Consciousness is probably lost within 2-3 seconds, due to rapid fall of intracranial perfusion of the blood.
Garroting. Garroting is a form of strangulation by a metal collar with a clamp. The tissues of the neck are tough and the application of the contraption is highly disagreeable, the clamp also occludes the trachea. It kills by asphyxia, cerebral ishaemia. Dying is painful, deeply distressing and may take several minutes.
The courts step in. By 1967 legislation efforts were under way to persuade the U.S Supreme Court that the death penalty violated cruel and unusual punishment prohibitions of the eight amendment. The court responded by staying execution by the court order pending outcome of the suits.
In June 1992 the court decided that the erratic selection of offenders singled out for the death penalty resulted from lack of standards.
On July 1972 the Supreme Court again ruled on the death penalty and issued 5 opinions. One decision stated that capital punishment for the crime of murder was not cruel or unusual punishment. They also ruled that to be constitutional a procedure for imposing the death penalty must provide standards for sentencing authorities. The Supreme Court rulings indicated the court would hold the states to strict standards in imposing the death penalty.
The prosecutor. The prosecutor must decide weather to change the offender with an offense meriting the death penalty or a lesser offense. Assuming the occused has been charged with death penalty, the prosecutor ordinarily has to decide weather to accept a plea of guilty to a lesser offense instead. This permits the defendant to avoid possible execution in exchange for going to prison without a trial. In some situations the prosecutor makes his or her decision in cooperation with the grand jury. Since prosecutors are no more immune to human fallibility than others are, the possibility of error lurks.
The defense lawyer. When the prosecutor charges a defendant with a capital offense but is willing to accept a plea of guilty to a lesser one, the defendant the oretically, has the option of accepting or rejecting the alternative. Sometimes the accused is more than likely in a state of emotional turmoil, frightened, and confused. The defendant may, in fact, not be guilty, but the defense lawyer may nevertheless advise the client to plead guilty to the lesser offense in order to avoid trial, the risk of conviction, and the possibility of execution. Should the defendant elect to stand trial, his or her fate is completely in the hands of the defense attorney. If the criminal lawyer is skillful, the chances of conviction, if the accused is not guilty, are much in the defendant’s favor.
The jury. The defendant’s fate is also in the hands of the jurors. At the end of the trial the jurors are faced with a number of decisions to make, each of which can be subject to error.
Race, racism continues to play an unacceptable and powerful role in capital punishment. In state death penalty cases, he race of the victim is much more important than the prior criminal record of the defender or the actual circumstances of crime. More than half of those inmates on death row are people of color, although they represent only 20% of the people of the U.S although they are about 6% of the U.S population, about 40% of those on death row are African American.
Race, a 1984 death penalty case, McClaskey vs. Kemp, showed that in Georgia those who kill whites are four times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill a black person. At the federal level, black and Hispanic defendants are disproportionately selected for capital prosecution. Since 1988, the federal government has sought the death penalty in 92 cases. Of these, 56 defendants (61%) were black, 11 were Hispanic, 5 were Asian, and 20 were Caucasian.
Women, in comparison with men, women are less often prosecuted for capital crimes, and less frequently sentenced to death. Nevertheless, 47 women are awaiting execution in the U.S. In February 1998, Kayla Faye Tucker was executed in Texas despite her obvious rehabilitation. Her case drew worldwide attention, and many clemency pleas, including those from human rights activist Bianca Jogger, the Rev. Pat Robertson, and Pope John Paul II, one of the jurors in her case, and the brother of one of her victims. As April 1998, Florida executed 54 year old Judy Buenano also. 3 women in AK, IL, and TX were given the death penalty in 1998.
Juveniles, In 1988 the U.S Supreme Court ruled that persons less than 16 when they committed the crime may not be sentenced to death. Currently in 14 states not including MO and as well as the federal government ban the execution of those who were younger than 18 when he killed.
At this present time, 51 death row inmates, all male, were less than 18 when they committed the crime. Three fourths of them were 17 and a quarter were 16 years old. Texas’ death row holds 20 of the 51; nine men have been executed for crimes committed at age 17, none since 1993. In 1997, at least 6 juveniles ages 16 or 17 when they killed were condemned to death. In February 1999, OK executed Sean Sellars for a horrendous crime he committed when he was 16. In 1992, a defense-sponsored psychiatric evaluation concluded Sellars had multiple personality disorder. But the 10th U.S circuit court of appeals, based on a technicality said it could not grand relief.
Statistics, There have been 18 total executions in the new millennium and nine of them have been in TX.
Between 1930 and 1980 there have been 3,860 executions in the U.S of this number, 3,380 have been executed for murder. Rape, armed robbery, burglary and aggravated assault no longer are capital crimes. Only 32 women have been executed. Since 1930 half of all persons executed were non-white. By 1983 polls revealed nearly 70% favored capital punishment.
Questions you have to ask yourself about the death penalty. Does a prisoner have the right to die quickly rather than wait for years while the appeals process drags on? Why does the appeals process take so long? Why, in a time when many countries have abolished the death penalty, does the U.S still execute criminals? Is the death penalty jut, or is it a legalized form of murder? Does the death penalty actually prevent crime by frightening potential crimes? Is it cruel to kill someone in an electric chair or gas chamber? Is it fair to all Americans that some states have strict death penalty laws while others employ long, complicated legal procedures that make it almost impossible for a criminal to be executed?
Samuel Hand, The North American Review, December 1881 wrote an article titled Deserved Retribution. It said, Capital execution upon the deadly poisoner and the midnight assassin is not only necessary for the safety of society, it is the fit and deserved retribution of their crimes. By it alone is divine and human justice is fulfilled.
Robert Rantaul Jr., Report to The Legislature, 1836 wrote an article titled Death Penalty Unnecessary. It said, It is not necessary to hang the murderer in order to guard society against him, and to prevent him from repeating the crime. If it were, we should hang the maniac, who is the most dangerous murderer. Society may defend itself by other means than by destroying life. Massachusetts can build prisons strong enough to secure the community forever against convicted felons.
You may have been close minded about capital punishment before you read my paper and if you were you still probably are, but the one thing I hope you saw were all the sides and views of capital punishment.