Capital Punishment misc4





Why Capital Punishment Should be Abolished


Unlike popular belief, the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to criminals. As stated by Alfred Blumstein, "Expert after expert and study after study has shown the lack of correlation between the treat of the death penalty and the occurrence of violent crimes." (Blumstein 68) Isaac Ehrlich\'s study on the limiting effects of capital punishment in America reveals this to the public. The study spans twenty-five years, from 1957 till 1982, and shows that in the first year the study was conducted, there were 8060 murders and 6 executions. However, in the last year of the study there were 22,520 murders committed and only 1 execution performed. (Blumstein 54) This clearly shows that many violent criminals are not afraid of the capital punishment.
Abolitionists believe the offenders should be required to compensate the victim\'s family with the offender\'s own income from employment or community service. There is no doubt that someone can do more alive than dead. By working, the criminal inadvert-ently "pays back" society and also their victim and/or victim\'s family. There is no reason for the criminal to receive any compensation for the work they do, because money is of no jail time. This could be considered a form of slavery to some, but it is no different from the days of being sent to the "yard" to break stone.
One of the most well-known examples of the criminal contributing to the betterment of society is the case Leopld and Loeb. They were nineteen years old when they committed "The Crime of the Century." In 1924, they kidnapped and murdered a fourteen-year-old boy just to see how it would feel to kill someone. They were both spared the death penalty and sentenced to life imprisonment. (Bedau 78) Together their accomplishments included working in hospitals, teaching the illiterate how to read, creating a correspondence school, writing a grammar book, and making significant developments in the World War II Malaria Project.(Bedau 193) "An inestimable amount of people were directly helped by Leopold and Loeb, Both of tem made a conscious commitment to atone their crimes by serving others."(Bedau 217)
The most widely used form of execution has been electrocution. With this method of executing a prisoner, the individual is strapped to a chair along with electrodes attached all over the body. The executioner then proceeds to "throw the switch" sending vast amounts of electricity flowing throughout the prisoner. During this period, the prisoners flesh burns and the body shakes violently from the overdose of electricity. When it is all over, smoke is often seen coming from the head of the corpse. (Ernest Van den Haag 135)
Officials often defend this punishment as not being cruel and unusual, but how can they defend the opinion in the case of John Evans who was executed by electrocution in 1983? According to witnesses at the scene of the death of Mr. Evans, he was given three charges of electricity over a period of fourteen minutes. After the first and second charges, Mr. Evans was still conscious and smoke was coming from all over his body, as a result from his flesh burning. An official at the prison even tries to stop the execution on account of it being cruel punishment, but the man was unsuccessful. Witnesses later called the whole incident "a barbaric ritual". (Haag 221)
Another method of execution is the gas chamber; during this procedure a prisoner is put in a closed chamber and forced to inhale lethal fumes from a sulfuric acid and a cyanide chemical reaction. (Haag 243) According to a statement given by the U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens concerning the 1992 execution of Donald Harding, there did not seem to be any civilized aspect of the gas chamber method of executing prisoners. (Haag 259) According to the report, Harding tried to hold his breath inside the chamber. When he finally began to take in fumes, his body started going into convulsions and the muscles and veins under his skin were twitching in a wave-like motion. This execution took over eight minutes to complete, and Mr. Harding was writhing in pain for most of the time. According to officials, Harding did not fall unconscious until right before his death. (Haag 262)
The latest method of