Capital punishment misc12 Essay

This essay has a total of 1757 words and 8 pages.

Capital punishment misc12




The topic I chose for my research paper is Capital punishment. I chose this topic because
I think Capital punishment should be banned in all states. The death penalty violates
religious beliefs about killing, remains unfair to minorities and is therefore
unconstitutional, and is inhumane and barbaric. The death penalty constitutes cruel and
unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (Bedau 2).

Those who had shown no respect for life would be restrained, permanently if necessary, so
they could not further endanger other members of the community (Cauthen 2). But the
purpose of confinement would not be vengeance or punishment (Cauthen 2). Rather an ideal
community would show no mercy even to those who had shown no mercy (Cauthen 2). It would
return good for evil. The aim of isolation is reconciliation and not revenge.

Although the founders of the new country were generally in favor of the death penalty for
certain crimes, many Americans in the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth century were
highly vocal opponents, known as abolitionists (Stewart 12). The best known of the
American abolitionists was Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of The Declaration of Independence
and a confidant of Benjamin Franklin (Stewart 12). Like many other Americans at the time,
Rush equated the death penalty with a cruel monarchy specifically that of England's George
and believed that the new republic should have nothing to do with executions (Stewart 12).
Rush wrote a number of pamphlets and books arguing that the very idea of a death penalty
contradicted the notion of humanity and divine love (Stewart 12). "Who are we to destroy
what god has made". It is far better to reform a criminal than to destroy him.

It is shown that Capital punishment leads many citizens suffering before they are
officially dead. When Mississippi executed Jimmy Lee Gray in the gas chamber in 1983, his
head was not immobilized (Stewart 30). As the poison gas began suffocating Gray,
eyewitnesses and media representatives reporting Gray "suffering a torturous death, his
head flailing about wildly, smashing the medal pipe (behind his chair used for support)
many times before he lost consciousness" (Stewart 30). The electric chair and hanging
too, sometimes fail to be quick, and there have been glitches in lethal injections-
executioners have sometimes had difficulty finding usable veins into which to inject the
poison, and some victims have suffered breathing trauma before being rendered unconscious
by the injection (Stewart 30). Several electrocutions in recent years have taken more
than fifteen minutes to kill the condemned man, and meanwhile he has been severely burnt
(Stewart 76). How can it serve the purposes of a modern society to condone such torture.

Americans also express great concern over the possibility that an innocent person maybe
killed by the state for the crime he or she did not commit (Jackson 45). At least 23
cases have resulted in the execution of innocent people (Jackson 45). Since 1900, this
country, there have been on the average more than four cases per year in which an entirely
innocent person was convicted of murder. (Bedau 8). Scores of these people were sentenced
to death. In many cases, a reprieve or commutation arrived just hours, or even minutes,
before the scheduled execution (Bedau). In 1986 a white women was shot and killed at a
dry cleaners in Monroeville, Alabama. (Stewart 66). The town was shocked by the murder;
however, for the next eight months the police were unable to come up with any likely
suspects (Stewart 66). Finally police arrested Walter McMillian, a black man who lived in
a nearby town. (Stewart 66). McMillian denied murdering the women at the dry cleaners; he
claimed he was at a fish fry all that day with friends and relatives (Stewart 66). In
fact, his story corroborated by several people (Stewart 66). Nevertheless, McMillian was
arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned on death row even before formal sentencing
(Stewart 66). For more than six years, Walter McMillian lived on death row while various
appeals were filed in his behalf, all of which were denied (Stewart 67). Eventually,
however, new attorneys took over the case an a volunteer basis, and were able to
demonstrate serious improprieties in the prosecution's case, such as withholding evidence
that would have proved McMillian's innocence (Stewart 67). The television show 60 minutes
featured McMillian's case in November 1992 (Stewart 67). Partly because of outraged
public response to the report, Alabama agreed to begin a new investigation, and eventually
admitted that a terrible mistake had been made (Stewart 67). On March 3, 1993, McMillian
was freed. What does this tell the community about trials? It tells me that sometimes
they are mislead. Not all accused people will be as lucky as Walter will. This story just
goes to show us that innocent people have been convicted.

There is an effective alternative to burning the life out of human beings in the name of
public safety. That alternative is just as permanent, at least as great a deterrent and
for those who are so inclined-far less expensive than the exhaustive legal appeals
required in capital cases. The alternative is life imprisonment without the possibility
of parole. Life imprisonment without parole can keep society safe without needlessly
taking human life.

Two case studies demonstrate the effectiveness of life without parole as a meaningful,
practical alternative to the death penalty (Biscup 51). In Alabama life without the
possibility of parole has been met with praise where it is seen not only as an alternative
to the death penalty, but as a more efficient means of sentencing (Biscup 52).

The Alabama experience has shown that an increase in those sentenced to life without
parole does not lead directly to overcrowded prisons (Biscup 52). The proportion of all
Alabama prisoners who are truly incarcerated for life is less than nine percent, not even
close to being a major reason for overcrowding. It is obvious that if Americans be4came
generally aware of life without possibility of parole as a viable means of punishing
violent criminals, the death penalty would not be featured so prominently is our national
discourse.

The money we citizens pay in taxes is being wasted on cruel and unusual punishment. The
long paper trails involved in trying and appealing are not only time consuming, but also
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