capital punishment

An Eye for an Eye
"It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it. Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another but similars that breed their kind" (Brasfield 46). This is the how capital punishment is described by a prisoner on Texas\' death row. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court found capital punishment to be inhumane and cruel towards humans. The death penalty was reinstated in 1976 after the Constitution of the United States was reinterpreted. Of the 90 countries that support capital punishment, America is the only western democracy that still enforces the death penalty on a regular basis. Only 37 of these countries executed a prisoner in 1998 ("The Cruel and Ever More Unusual Punishment" 95). Between 1983 and 1993, approximately 22,000 murders occurred in the United States. Only 250 of these homicides resulted in the defendant receiving the death sentence. On average, 22 convicts were executed annually. Therefore, the odds of a killer being caught, prosecuted, convicted, and executed are one in a thousand (95). Given these chances, a killer must be very unlucky to be executed. For the death penalty to be a proper deterrent, thousands of killers must be executed every year instead of only a few dozen. Even if the death penalty did deter crime rates, is it still humane and just?
According to Time magazine, 74% of Americans support capital punishment, but strangely enough, 52% do not believe it deters murder (95). Statistics show that a long prison sentence is a much better antidote than death. The death of a murderer does not bring back the victim or heal the families\' wounds. It can, however, offer some consolation towards the victim\'s family because the murderer can no longer harm anyone. Many Americans believe in the theory of "an eye for an eye." This means that if someone murders another person, the same act should be enforced upon the murderer. Some people may go as far as to say that the convicted killer should be murdered in the same manner as the victim. This may sound cruel and inhumane, but it is reasonable and can be supported by one solid fact. If a murderer feels that he or she has the right to end the life of another human being violently, then the murderer should be punished in the same way as he or she punished their victim.
I have always believed that cruel and unusual punishment during the execution of a murderer does not exist. My opinion has recently been changed. There is a certain line that should not be crossed when executing a convicted killer. Unfortunately, this line has been crossed many times. Many cases of cruel and unusual punishment exist, not only to the victims of murders, but of the murderers themselves. On April 23, 1899, a black man named Sam Hose was executed in Palmetto, Georgia. Hose admitted to the shooting and killing of his boss in self-defense during a dispute over wages. Added to this undisputed fact was a fictitious rumor. Supposedly, Hose had also sexually assaulted his boss\' wife. A newspaper, the Atlanta Constitution, offered a $500 reward for the return of Sam Hose so that his body could be burned alive. He was captured after a short period of time. Trains brought spectators from miles around to watch the event. Hose, while wrapped in chains, was led to a stake in the middle of a dirt road in Palmetto. The torture was about to begin (Clarke 273). First his ears were sliced off and thrown into the crowd as souvenirs. Then, one by one, his fingers and toes were amputated. Coal oil was poured all over his body and he was set aflame. Only his charred remains were left after the flames ceased. As if these actions were not cruel enough, his remains were sold to spectators. Bones were sold for a quarter and slices of his heart and liver were sold for a dime. No one was arrested, not even Sam Hose (274). According to the Tuskegee Institute\'s records, dating back to 1882, scenes such as this were repeated against black people approximately 3,442 times between 1882 and 1950. During this time, blacks made up only 10% of the national population and