Capital Punishment

This essay has a total of 2042 words and 20 pages.

Capital Punishment


This day in age murderers' actions are getting more and more incomprehensive. They are no
longer just committing murder: they are torturing, mutilating, and engaging in grossly
inappropriate acts against fellow human beings. Behaviors such as this will continue if
nothing is done to stop them. The death penalty is a humane way to punish the convicted
and deter these gruesome acts.

Early as 1930, we can find the first recorded execution. Between the times of 1930 to 1967
there was a recorded number of 3,859 people executed. The following nine years would bring
victory for those against capital punishment, there was no executions done in this time
frame. Gregg vs. Georgia, Supreme Court of 1976 made a ruling that "the death penalty does
not violate the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment." The death
penalty has been accepted by thirty-nine states of America (Newton, 1983).

One of the basics in understanding capital punishment is the methods of which are used.
Which will be the first of things I will be presenting. I will be showing how selections
of death row are made. The last of subject matters that I will be touching on are the
problems with the process of capital punishment and a possible more effective approach. I
will also be concluding my findings and ending with a thought of my own.

Methods of Execution

In the United States today, there are five existing methods of execution. These methods
are used to kill convicted criminals that have been given the sentence of the death
penalty. The different methods are; lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, hanging,
and firing squad shootings.

Lethal injection is currently used by thirty-six states in America. It is the most
commonly used from of execution in the U.S. The preparation begins outside of the chamber
with the use of a gurney. The convict is held to the gurney by wrist and ankle straps.
There is then a cardiac monitor and stethoscope attached and started. In each arm there is
a saline intravenous line. The convict is then covered by a sheet. The lines are turned
off and the felon receives the first injection of sodium thiopental. This puts the felon
to sleep. They are then injected with Pavulon, which relaxes all of the muscles in the
body and stops breathing. Shortly after, the felon dies.

The next method of execution used is electrocution. This method is done by putting the
person in a wooden chair, which they are secured to by leather straps. The electric
current runs through the head and out the leg. The first current is of two thousand or
more volts of electricity, lasting only an approximated three seconds. The voltage is then
lowered to help prevent external burning of the body. The initial shock of the electricity
causes the person's body to surge forward. The shock burns the internal organs or the
person, which leaves them dead. During this process urinating, vomiting of blood, change
in skin color, and even swelling or burning of the skin may occur. This method of
execution is currently used by only eleven states.

In a gas chamber execution the prisoner is put in a sealed steel chamber. The prisoner is
restrained in a chair that has a pan below. At the first signal a valve is opened which
releases hydrochloric acid into the pan. When a second signal is given tablets or crystals
of about eight ounces of potassium cyanide is dropped into the acid. This combination
creates a hydrocyanic gas. The fumes of this deadly gas rise and are inhaled by the
prisoner, which kills them. The prisoner is pronounced dead and then the gas is sucked out
of the chamber by big fans. Before the body is taken out it is sprayed with ammonia to
neutralize any gas that still existed. Execution by the gas chamber started in attempt to
find a more humane method than the electric chair. The gas chamber is currently used by
only five states, that is less than electrocution.

One of the oldest methods of execution that is still used, though in only three states, is
hanging. This method is based on the person's weight; therefore the person must be weighed
prior to the hanging. The right amount of weight is needed in "the drop" to make sure that
the death is instant and of minimal bruising (Sandholzer, 1999). If the weight is not of
the proper amount it can cause a person to be strangled or possibly beheaded. The way that
this is performed is by the use of a noose, which is placed behind the person's left ear.
When dropped the person's neck is dislocated, causing death.

The last of executions still used, which is also an old one, is shooting by a firing
squad. Execution by a firing squad is the most popular in the world. More than sixty
countries use it as a method. In the United States, however, only three states use
shooting by a fire squad as a sentence to the death penalty. The way in which a shooting
takes place starts by the prisoner being bound to a chair and placed in front of an oval
wall. The doctor locates the heart by use of a stethoscope and places a target over it.
Only twenty feet from the target are the trained shooters. Only one of the shooters' gun
holds the bullet that will take the life of the convict. They all shoot their guns at
once, so that no one knows who made the fatal shot.

All of these procedures are done fast, and with the least amount of pain possible, if any
at all. For anyone to say that these methods are not humane, would be unrealistic. The
convicts whom have been sentenced to walk the green mile have really gotten off easy in my
eyes. Many of them have committed cruel, torturous acts on innocent human beings. Why do
they deserve to die in a peaceful, humane way? They don't, but because under our
constitution no one shall under go cruel and unusual punishment, though that is what they
have done to others. Felons should feel lucky that capital punishment is so humane.

Death Row Sentencing

There are many logical factors that determine a person being sentenced to death. A
criminal's past record and the seriousness of the crime currently committed are two major
factors in determining death row sentencing. These factors are what have sent more men to
death row than women. Some people believe that the selection of death row is unfair due to
the number of men vs. women facing it.

Jurors have many things to consider when convicting the accused. How brutal was it, how
many people were killed, was it premeditated, was it torturous? These are all things that
the jurors considering when determining the fate of the accused. Of course they also have
to keep decide if the evidence proves, with out a doubt, the person is guilty.

In sentencing a person to death row states often look at the person's background of
violence. Other concerns that bring up past convictions of violent acts and murders help
to lead jurors in their decision making process. Male murderers with earlier convictions
are four times as likely to possess a judicial disadvantage than a female because of a
prior violent felony charge (McCuen, 1997). Women are not as quick to show aggression as
men are. This increases the likely hood of a prosecutor to persuaded to go to capital
trial and for the jury to sentence the death penalty.

Effective Deterrent

Deterrence is a theory that a threatened punishment must be of a severe enough consequence
in order to counteract a criminal's feel of pleasure to commit a crime. Specific
deterrence is the inability of a convict to commit another crime in result to their given
punishment. A person not committing a crime because of the severity of the punishment if
they carry out with it is known a general deterrence. Murderers' that come across as
somewhat rational and intelligent, whom have committed a premeditated crime are those that
the death penalty as a deterrent work.

An analyzing study of data from the years 1936 to 1977 done by Professor Stephen Layson of
the University of North Carolina made a significant conclusion about deterrence. His
conclusion was that eighteen murders are deterred in result to on execution. According to
Layson's studies, if correct, somewhere around 125,000 murders have been deterred due to
the threat of the death penalty as punishment (McCuen, 1997).

McComb of the Supreme Court of California discovered fourteen examples in the police
department of defendants whom, in explaining their refusal to carry a weapon or kill. This
pointed to the fear of the death penalty. This is great evidence supporting that people
are truly deterred by the presence of the death penalty.

The death penalty is a definate deterrent to crime, however it is not effective enough.
The delayed punishment received is not paired closely enough to the crime. Therefore, the
consequence of the death penalty doesn't always seem associated with the criminal act
because of the long time before the execution takes place. The only way to condition
criminal to view execution as a punishment to their behavior is by having it happen
immediately after conviction and sentencing. This comes from the idea of classical
conditioning and negative reinforcements (Meyers, 1998).

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