Death Penalty

Death Penalty During this class period today, seven adult men will be falsely accused of committing a serious crime, carrying a penalty of capital punishment. This means approximately 51,000 adult men are falsely accused of committing serious crimes each year. This figure is roughly the number of people who attended Super Bowl-Thirty-Three. Currently, there are 3,500 people on death row in thirty-eight states that support and carry out the death penalty while only twelve states have outlawed it. At the same time, more than half the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Capital punishment is very relevant to each member of society.

It is not just a male only issue. Every single one of us in this room has a father, brother, or significant others who could be affected. Capital punishment in America is morally unjust and should be eliminated because it is cruel and unusual; it kills innocent people; and it is used in a discriminatory manner. Sometimes criminals suffer more during their executions than is anticipated or planned. People sentenced to death are certain to face one of the following methods of execution still practiced today: firing squad, electric chair, lethal injection, gas chamber or hanging. But, injecting with poisonous chemicals, smothering with toxic gases, and electrocuting with high voltage are the preferred methods because bloody human tissues are not strewn about, as with other methods, therefore those people assigned to scour the execution site are less likely to experience psychological trauma.

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Although tidy, these styles of killing rarely succeed on the first attempt; instead, prisoners regularly suffer intense pain for long periods of time before expiring. According to Seideman, the case of Scotty Sutton is one example of many bungled executions that take place every month. While administering a lethal injection, all the executioners attempts to find a vein have failed. Scotty started moaning and heaving in agony signaling a partial dose found his blood stream. Realizing the dose was not enough to end his life the executioner tried several failed attempts in the neck area hoping to find a main artery.

Meanwhile, 300 pound, Scotty is still breathing after five minutes into this botched execution. The chemicals that were prepared and on hand have been seriously depleted. In a last ditch effort, the executioner signaled for help and directed a prison staff member to cut away a portion of the thick canvas jacket to expose an area of his chest to deliver a lethal dose directly into his heart; moments later Scotty expired (3). Another example that is equally as cruel as lethal injection is the gas chamber. This method of execution places a prisoner in a cell that fills with cyanide gas.

The symptoms of dying first start with tears falling uncontrollably from the eyes. Then, snot and bodily fluids run unobstructed from the nose. Also, puss dribbles out the mouth, and blisters form on the skin about the face. Finally, breathing is restricted and the heart stops. This process can take eight minutes that may seem like eight hours to the prisoner. Another account of inhumane punishment comes from witnessing a prisoners execution in the electric chair.

Science has not determined how long an electrocuted individual retains consciousness, but when the switch is thrown, the body jerks, smoke frequently rises from the head, and there is a smell of burning flesh (Seideman 4). For example, one case in May 1990, Jessie Tafero, a Florida prisoner, gurgled and his head bobbed while ashes fell from it, for four minutes (Seideman 5). Another case in July 1986, Kevin Barnes, an Alabama prisoner, took three jolts of electricity and ten minutes before being pronounced dead (Seideman 5). In the Chicago Tribune report on “Miscarriages of Justice,” it was reported that since 1975 at least 381 innocent people have been convicted of capital crimes they did not commit (Armstrong). Guilty criminals deserve to die for the horrible acts they commit, not innocent people. The Death penalty practiced is far from humane; in fact, it is downright torturous in many cases and Heaven forbid if we send an innocent person to death row.

Every time the state kills an innocent person, justice has failed; sympathy from our hearts goes to families suffering from grief; then, the peoples business is soon back to normal. This tragic cycle will continue until capital punishment is outlawed. Occasionally killing an innocent person while in the process of trying to kill guilty criminals is unacceptable. The Chicago Tribune conducted a study and analyzed thousands of court records from across the country to find some disturbing news. Research has revealed that, with impunity, prosecutors across the country have violated their oaths and the law, committing the worst kinds of deceptions in the most serious of cases (Armstrong 1). Hiding or presenting false evidence was the prosecutors strategy to deceive the courts and win their case; they knew they would not get punished.

Armstrong reports, “they have prosecuted black men, hiding evidence that the real killers were white. They have prosecuted a wife, hiding evidence her husband committed suicide. They have prosecuted parents, hiding evidence their daughter was killed by wild dogs” (Armstrong). Studies show, since 1975 at least 381 innocent people have had their conviction thrown out (Armstrong 2). Dishonest lawyers who represent our justice system should be held accountable for the deaths of those innocent people convicted of crimes they did not commit.

A report released by the Chicago Tribune points out that recent advances in DNA technology have stirred the hopes of many prisoners that may be innocent and looking for a loop hole in getting another chance to appeal. As a result, 1000 new cases crowd the courts, and 75 of which are death row prisoners (Armstrong 5). Verneal Jimerson of Illinois and Kirk Bloodsworth of Maryland, both were later exonerated by DNA tests, but not before spending 5 years in prison (Armstrong). Capital punishment is prone to killing innocent people. A court error can be corrected with a pardon but a pardon after death is not valued to anyone (Seideman 2).

Race is an important factor in determining who is sentenced to die. When dealing with race, statistics are important because they provide facts that are unbiased and indisputable. Martin Luther King said, “sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust on its application” (King 159). Meaning intentions are good but its outcome is unjust. With capital punishment, the statistics present the big picture by revealing that biased judgments were made along racial lines and therefore must be examined first. Then, each court case is examined to enumerate the evidence that supports our conclusion drawn from the statistics. For example, statistics shows that, during 1997-1998 the population of our country was 252.7 million.

72.9 percent of this amount was white, yet whites accounted for only 49.1 percent of prison inmates, while blacks who accounted for only 15.3 percent of the entire population, accounted for 47.3 percent of prison inmates. The statistics are similar for the population on death row and executions (Cabana 1). These statistics suggest a racial problem does exist but is not enough to make a claim. Each case is now examined; the evidence that supports the claim is enumerated; the result is a well thought out explanation of the problem. For example, after carefully studying the statistics the General Accounting Office released a report in 1990 that insists the race of the victim in capital murder cases influenced whether prosecutors would pursue the death penalty or not.

In particular, it insists that, a black man who kills a white person is 11 times more likely to receive the death penalty than a white man who kills a black person (Fernando 1). In simpler terms, the law does not stand for torture or racism; instead, it honors due process and equal justice for all. The law promises we punish criminals but fails to eliminate wrongful convictions. It is not necessary to kill someone as punishment because when the person is dead, you are not punishing him; you are punishing only the people who love him. These victims would benefit far more if the funds used for appeals were diverted to the provisions of counseling and other assistance. Racism continues to play an unacceptable role in capital punishment.

In death penalty cases the race of the victim is much more important than the prior criminal record of the defender or the actual circumstances of the crime. More than half of those on death row are people of color, although they represent about six percent of the U.S. population, about forty percent of those on death row are African American. On the basis of race, the death penalty still discriminates against minorities; therefore, our principles of justice and fairness are being selectively applied. Currently in America we have not a system of justice, but injustice.

Bibliography *http//sun.soci.niu.edu/~critcrim/wrong/tribpros10 .html* Seideman, David, (1998, June17-last updated). Executions and Suffering Accessed: March 17, 1999. *http://ethics/ucsd.edu/death.penalty.html Fernando, Javier, (1994, April-creation date). American Justice in America Accessed: March 10, 1999. *http://www.miamicity.com/miami/literadeath.html* Cabana, Don, (1998- copyright). Death Penalty Statistics Accessed: March 20, 1999 *http://www.theelectricchair.com/stats.htm*.

Death Penalty

Death Penalty There are four main reasons for punishment: rehabilitation (to return someone to a former status), reformation (to re-form or re-create an individual), deterrence (to deter others or to deter the person punished), and retribution (an eye for an eye). The death penalty is a punishment to a person in which the person is put to death for a very serious crime they have committed, usually when they take another person’s life. Our state and federal legislators have created laws that specifically identify which crimes a person commits that can be punishable by the death penalty. The death penalty is seen as a deterrent to increasing and more serious crime. If members of the society know that if they commit serious crimes they could be put to death for it, they are less likely to commit these crimes. However, there is great disagreement in our society about whether it is a true deterrent to crime or not.

When I think of the thousands of inhabitants of Death Rows in the prisons in this country..my reaction is: “What’s taking us so long? Let’s get that electrical current flowing. Drop those pebbles now!” Whenever I argue this with friends who have opposite views, they say that I don’t have enough regard for the most marvelous of miracles – human life. Just the opposite: It’s because I have so much regard for human life that I favor capital punishment. Murder is the most terrible crime there is. Anything less than the death penalty is an insult to the victim and society. It says..that we don’t value the victim’s life enough to punish the killer fully. Many abolition supporters quote, “the death penalty is not a deterrent.” Many abolitionist also add there is NO deterrent for a murderer (there will always be a few individuals that are up for a challenge no matter what the consequences are for their crimes in my opinion).

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Since jail is neither a deterrent in essence, according to those that wish to abolish the death penalty, how long before “jail time” for murderers would be their next punishment to target for removal from our books. One argument states that the death penalty does not deter murder. Dismissing capital punishment on that basis requires us to eliminate all prisons as well because they do not seem to be any more effective in the deterrence of crime. Others say that states which do have the death penalty have higher crime rates than those that don’t, that a more severe punishment only inspires more severe crimes. I must point out that every state in the union is different. These differences include the populations, number of cities, and yes, the crime rates.

Strongly urbanized states are more likely to have higher crime rates than states that are more rural, such as those that lack capital punishment. The states that have capital punishment have it because of their high crime rate, not the other way around. Abolitionists claim that there are alternatives to the death penalty. They say that life in prison without parole serves just as well. Certainly, if you ignore all the murders criminals commit within prison when they kill prison guards and other inmates, and also when they kill decent citizens upon escape, like Dawud Mu’Min who was serving a 48-year sentence for the 1973 murder of a cab driver when he escaped a road work gang and stabbed to death a storekeeper named Gadys Nopwasky in a 1988 robbery that netted $4.00. Fortunately, there is now no chance of Mu’Min committing murder again. He was executed by the state of Virginia on November 14, 1997.

Another flaw is that life imprisonment tends to deteriorate with the passing of time. Take the Moore case in New York State for example. In 1962, James Moore raped and strangled 14-year-old Pamela Moss. Her parents decided to spare Moore the death penalty on the condition that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Later on, thanks to a change in sentencing laws in 1982, James Moore is eligible for parole every two years! If Pamela’s parents knew that they couldn’t trust the state, Moore could have been executed long ago and they could have put the whole horrible incident behind them forever.

Instead they have a nightmare to deal with biannually. I’ll bet not a day goes by that they don’t kick themselves for being foolish enough to trust the liberal sham that is life imprisonment and rehabilitation. (According to the US Department of Justice, the average prison sentence served for murder is five years and eleven months.) Putting a murderer away for life just isn’t good enough. Laws change, so do parole boards, and people forget the past. Those are things that cause life imprisonment to weather away.

As long as the murderer lives, there is always a chance, no matter how small, that he will strike again. And there are people who run the criminal justice system who are naive enough to allow him to repeat his crime. Abolitionists claim that the death penalty is un-constitutional by quoting the eighth amendment which forbids “cruel and unusual punishment.” “Cruel and unusual” has never been defined by our founding fathers, but let’s examine the issue anyway. Where does the Supreme Court stand on the “cruel and unusual” claim of the abolitionists? In several cases the Justices of the Supreme Court have held that the DP is not cruel and/or unusual , and is in fact, a Constitutionally acceptable remedy for a criminal act. There are those who insist that the Constitution does not support the death penalty. This is simply not true.

The Fifth Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” There is a popular saying that only God has the right to take a human life. But nowhere in the bible is this statement confirmed. Indeed, Genesis 9:6, God states: “Whoever shedeth mans blood, by man shall his blood shall be shed.” Also, in the time when God was giving His law to Moses and His people, He said, “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” Exodus 21:12 “Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.” Numbers 35:31 “So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.” Numbers 35:33 The whole reason why nations and governments exist is to defend their decent citizens from vicious criminals. When it fails to do that, they become of little use to its citizens. When a society ignores their moral duty to defend the safety and security of their decent citizens and leaves them at the mercy of violent criminals, they are not being “civilized,” they are being negligent. I am certain that there will come a time when all the nations in the world will be forced to agree after decades of experience on this issue, that capital punishment, like the military and the police force and taxes, is an inevitable and unavoidable consequence of every civilized society and it will no longer be a question of whether or not a nation should have the death penalty, but rather how it should be used.

While I believe that prompt and consistent executions would have a deterrent effect, there remains one great virtue, even for infrequent executions. The recidivism rate for capital punishment is zero. No executed murderer has ever killed again. You can’t say that about those sentenced to prison, even if you are an abolitionist. By giving a murderer the death penalty, we are treating him with the same respect he treated his victim.

We are giving them what they deserve, exactly what they did to the victim. If someone kills and only receives 15 years in jail, this is stating that the victims life was only worth 15 years. When in reality, the persons life was worth another persons life. Even life in jail, is still giving the murderer partial freedom, this freedom is to live. By taking his life, he is losing freedom, which is exactly what he took away from his victim. Equal treatment and justice demands a punishment that matches the crime.

Capital punishment for premeditated murder provides exactly this. The death penalty is the only punishment, if any that will deter anyone from committing such the horrible crime of murder. The thing that most people fear most is death. If anything will stop the murderer from killing it is the thought that he might die himself. If he kills a victim, he kills himself. This if any will be the only hope that less murders will occur.

Any other punishment is reversible, death isnt. My group feels that the killing of another human being without reason is cold and cruel, and should never go without an equal sentence. To murder someone shows that you have no conscience and are very liable to do the same thing again, if you were to get the chance. There is no way of guaranteeing that the convict will never kill again, he could be let out on bail or escape from jail. The murderer will kill and kill until he is caught again.

With the death penalty time, money, and lives wouldve been saved. As it states in the Bible: “Whosoever shedeth the mans blood by man shall his blood be shed.” The Old Testament, Genesis 9:6 This states that if a man kills, by man he shall die. The Bible also states: “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for a hand, foot for a foot.” The Old Testament, Numbers 21:24 This states that whatever was done to the victim shall be done to the culprit. I believe murderers should be put to death because the persons life who they have taken away has also affected and destroyed the lives of the persons family and friends. These people will be put at ease knowing that justice was served to the murderer and that he is now dead.

These are just a few of the reasons that lead me to believe that the death penalty is not only a suitable sentence for a convicted murderer but a must! It all comes down to one thing: if someone kills an innocent person, the same act he has done deserves to be done to him.