Capital Punishment

This essay has a total of 2725 words and 11 pages.

Capital Punishment


Throughout the history of man, the penalty of death was given to criminals who broke the
law. Capital Punishment is the extreme penalty for crime (Compton's) and is still in use
today in many countries. A criminal can be sentenced to death for various crimes. Even
more were the methods used to execute, many being cruel and unusual. There have been many
debates on whether or not to abolish the death penalty. There are many pros and cons to
this complicated issue. Capital Punishment is in use for many reasons and has been
enforced in numerous ways throughout the years. The condemned prisoner on death row may
have broken the law, but does that give us the right to take the life of another human
being?

Why have we used the death penalty? The death sentence permanently removes law-breakers
from our society and "prevents the executed criminal from continuing his criminal career
(Hollywood Studio)." We kill in desperate hopes that these killers and rapists will not be
able to strike again, murdering or raping more innocent victims. In many cases, the
criminal has broken the law, but if he is let off easily and slips through the system, he
may go out and commit the crime again and again. The death penalty is the ultimate
punishment; it gets the point through and teaches the lesson that society will not put up
with the people who break the law. It is a very real punishment and leaves no room for
rehabilitation of the criminal. Repeat offenders must be kept from breaking the law once
more. They have had their chances to repent and reform. The only other way to stop repeat
offenders is to merely eliminate them (Electric Chair). Why not just sentence them to life
imprisonment? Life imprisonment just isn't as effective as the Death Penalty because it is
not as severe and harsh (KSCOffices). Life imprisonment is soft and only succeeds in
removing the criminal for a certain amount of time. Life imprisonment is also very
expensive. The criminal who broke the law should not be allowed to mooch money off the
system, receiving heating, clothing, in-door plumbing, and three meals a day, whilst a
homeless person has nothing


and has not harmed anyone. It costs roughly $30,000 each year to keep an inmate in jail,
and many people do not feel it's worth their money to keep Capital offense criminals
alive. We use the death penalty to teach a lesson to law-breakers; but does deterrence
really work? Deterrence is "the idea that punishing an offender deters others from
committing similar crimes (Reviving). Anti-death penalty campaigners argue that it is not
deterrent because it's doubtful to have a significant effect on criminal's behavior and
the crime-rate. If we were to take our desire to stop crime seriously, we'd have to keep
firm and sentence it to anyone who breaks the law, regardless of their sex, age, races,
and other factors that can lead to bias. We would have to strictly carry out more
executions, like in the past. During the Inquisition, in the 13th century, executions were
carried out publicly on a regular basis so that they got their point through to the people
by striking fear into their hearts. Now, our executions seem to be more like we carry out
an occasional execution just to show that we still can. The occasional execution of 'the
unlucky guy' will not deter criminals from committing crimes. We need to be more firm and
show criminals the consequences of their actions; that is the only way that deterrence
could possibly work. A Criminal must know and be aware that since others have been
punished in the past for that crime, it could also happen to him. But it's doubtful that
the criminals who commit these crimes will ever take into account the consequences of
their actions. Deterrence is rooted in the individual himself for everyone has a personal
set of conduct. This conduct is made by their environment: their family, friends, home,
life, influences, etc. It lies in what they are taught as youths and how they are raised.
Interestingly enough, there has been a debate on whether or not executions should be
public. Currently they are open to a few chosen witnesses, but in the 1800's, public
hangings were held in which thousands of people gathered around and crowded to witness the
execution, many spectators on top of roofs and leaning out windows to get a better view
(Reference Shelf, 39). Gradually, executions became more and more


private, being carried out behind prison walls and witnessed by a few observers, to the
way the are presently. The invention of television posed the question on whether or not
executions should be televised. Proponents of Capital Punishment explained that with the
public viewing, the viewers may get disgusted and then oppose the death penalty (Reviving,
15). Either way, there have been many incidents in the past where the public has not only
witnessed, but taken apart in the execution, such as in during a public stoning. Through
the years there have been many methods of execution, many of them being cruel or unusual.

In the US, there are five methods of execution currently in use. These methods are:
electrocution, lethal injection, the gas chamber, the firing squad (used only in Utah),
and hanging (Compton's). The electric chair was first brought into use in 1890 as a more
humane and less painful method of execution compared to hanging. The first electrocution
was of a man named William Kemler on August 6th, 1890 (Clark). In an electrocution, the
offender is strapped into the oak chair across the chest, thighs, legs, and arms to
prevent any violent movement. Then, two copper electrodes are attached -- one to the right
leg and the other to the crown of the head, which has been shaved (Methmon). A sponge that
has been treated with brine or a naturally conductive gel is attached to the electrodes so
they don't have direct contact with the skin. The prisoner is allowed to make a last
statement, and then a leather mask is placed on his head. A signal is given and the
executioner engages the switch and the automatic cycle begins. The first step in the cycle
is 2,300 volts for 8 seconds, followed by 1,00 volts for 22 seconds, and then 2, 300 volts
for 8 more seconds. During this gruesome exercise, the offender's body may experience a
heaving chest, gurgles, a foaming mouth, bloody sweat, burning hair and skin, and release
of feces. Body temperature goes up to about 138° Fahrenheit and initially is too hot to
touch. The heat destroys the body's proteins and "bakes" the inner organs (Clark). A
physician examines the body and if the


offender is not dead, orders a second cycle to continue. It was thought that the prisoner
felt no pain, but in actuality, he does. He is so firmly attached that he isn't able to
move, and non-movement does not mean a lack of pain. It is known that, "a prisoner being
electrocuted will feel himself being [literally] burnt to death while he is conscious of
his inability to breathe (Reviving, 24)." Death by lethal injection was first used to a
man name Charles Brooks on December 8, 1982 in Texas. Twenty-eight states now use lethal
injection. During the execution procedure, the prisoner is strapped to a gurney and
trained technicians insert a catheter into a vein in each arm. After a last statement,
three drugs are manually injected. The first is sodium thiopental, which is supposed to
the render the person unconscious, then comes a saline flush. Next comes pancuronium
bromide, which is a muscle relaxant, to collapse the diaphragm and lungs to prevent
breathing, followed by another saline flush. Then potassium chloride is administered to
stop the offender's heart (Methmon). IN most cases, the prisoner dies within 4-5 minutes.
The problem with lethal injection is that technicians often have trouble finding veins to
inject into so the prisoner may be pierced several times. Often times during the
execution, the prisoner may have a violent physical reaction (gasping, heaving chest,
choking, etc.) (Clark). Death by the gas chamber is used in four states. During the
procedure, the prisoner is strapped into the chair in the air-tight room. Beneath the seat
is a metal container with cyanide pellets, and under that, a canister with a sulfuric acid
solution. In the control room, there are 3 keys, and once each is turned, the bottom of
the cyanide container opens, allowing cyanide to fall into the sulfuric acid, producing a
lethal gas (Methmon). A heart monitor in the control room tells whether or not the
offender is dead.
Continues for 6 more pages >>




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