Advancement Of The Death Penalty In The United States
When advancements in science comes to mind, one will typically think about advancements from old fashion pen pals vs. modern day email. For me however, the advancement of how the death penalty is administered to individuals particularly comes into mind. Some individuals as early as the 1600‘s, would see a typical hanging method of capital punishment or even death by a firing squad. As our country progressed over time, capital punishment has taken a new role and is now known as the death penalty. Although many people believe that the death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment, it is now a method that is commonly practiced and seen more around the world then the methods of hanging or a firing squad. The further I complete my college degree in corrections, the more I believe that, the death penalty should be administered for particularly heinous crimes.
Execution by a firing squad was the first known form of capital punishment, and was usually applied during war. In the 1600’s, one of the most unacceptable things that you could possibly do in the military was spy on your country. In Jamestown, December of 1607, Captain George Kendall was the first known person executed by a firing squad for doing just that. From that day forth, capital punishment was on the rise. Although Captain George Kendall was executed for spying on his country, “crimes such as stealing grapes and killing chickens were also punishable by death.” (Deadline) As time went on, more and more executions had taken place, but as of 1636 the first death penalty statutes were recorded, for offences
such as adultery and witchcraft.
Execution had progressed, with more and more continuous cases seen until the 1960’s. As of this point, executions had virtually ceased. Countries such as Europe had abolished capital punishment, and soon the US had begun to question its morality and legality. “The case was Furman vs. Georgia, was the case which decided whether the death penalty was or wasn’t constitutional. The US Supreme Court had ruled that the arbitrary application of the death penalty was indeed unconstitutional but a week later decided to reverse its decision. Thus, the death penalty is still in process today.” (Deadline) The death penalty was back up and rolling. After a 10 year moratorium, Gary Gilmore of Utah was convicted of murder, and then executed by a firing squad.
As time progressed once again, more and more individuals of the society and as well as the government found their methods of execution not morally right. The question began to rise, is execution by a firing squad or hanging tolerable. Finally, a method of lethal injection had decided to been used. Once again, a criminal by the name of Charles Brooks was the first to be executed by this method of injection. Time has continued on, yet more individuals of the United States just did not seem to find the Death Penalty “justifiable”, and/or morally correct. From 1982 to the present day, over 1000 people have been executed by the death penalty and several other thousands are in line to join them. Although these individuals that the death penalty is being administered to are criminals and many have committed murder, most people do not deem it constitutional. Just recently, there was a controversy as to whether or not Stanly ‘Tookie’ Williams should have received the death penalty. The question I propose, is why not? Is it really justifiable to let someone get away with MURDER just because they had written books and done good deeds while in
prison. Although questions like these do arise, people still claim that the death penalty is not MORALLY correct.
So then what actually is morally correct? On the front page of a newspaper, there is a story of an 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat. Is that what they consider morally correct? Is it really even satisfying to describe these twisted murderers and human? Although these sick murders happen on a daily basis, many still believe that the death penalty is ultimately cruel, inhuman and a immoral punishment. Fortunately, the laws are the laws for a reason and in the United States, if you are willing to take the life of another, then why shouldn’t the highest form of chastisement be given. The death penalty is one of the biggest deterrents around the world. Why shouldn’t the victims of these families know that they are safe, and that these individuals will never attack another person again. “If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call,” (John McAdams).
Over the years 86, different countries have now abolished the law completely for all crimes. Many people claim that we should not have the death penalty because it violates our right to live. If indeed this is so, does our right to live consist of being able to take the lives of other individuals. “Many times, non-supporters of the death penalty sell common bumper stickers which states, we kill people to show that killing people is wrong.” (Carmical) Although a statement like this seems very true, it misses a very clear point. There is a difference between killing someone, and murdering someone. Killing is usually justified when its done in self defense, and simply means to cause death. According to Penal Code 187, Murder defined is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice afterthought. “The words kill, murder, and execute are not interchangeable terms. Perhaps those bumper stickers should read, we execute people to show that murder is wrong.” (Carmical)
As we have reached adulthood, we have been taught morals which are simply the principles of right and wrong. As we have been taught history, we have learned the term lex talionis, which simply states that humans deserved praise for good deeds, and punishments for bad ones commonly known as an eye for eye. “Many abolitionist of the death penalty state that if this is true, and we do execute murderers, then why shouldn’t we rape rapist.” (Carmical) The death penalty is administered to prevent criminals from committing their crime again, and protecting innocent victims. “If in fact we were to rape rapist, all this would do is cause someone else to degrade themselves by doing it. There would be no deterrent effect and would probably not prevent rapist from raping again.” (Carmical) Morally, it is wrong to incarcerate someone for murder. As I took tours of my local prisons, I saw with my own eyes to what many claim is a myth; The inmates in their air conditioned cell, which is cable equipped, three meals a day, personal recreation time, as well as visits with family. Indeed all prisons may not be this way, but regardless of its conditions, someone who murders another human being can only be made to pay for his actions by giving his own life. The loss of freedom does not and cannot compare to the loss of a life. (Carmical)
In the United States, there are five different methods of execution being used. These range from lethal injections, electrocution, lethal gases, hanging, and firing squads. This is where most abolitionist do not agree. They believe that these methods are unjust and inhumane. In reality, these methods actually allow the murderer to get off easy when he is
sentenced to his death. As of today, the most common used methods are lethal injection as well as the electric chair.
If a person is lethally injected, he is first put to sleep with thiopental sodium, and then he is administered potassium chloride that will stop his heart. The criminal dies from anesthetic overdose and respiratory and cardiac arrest while he or she is unconscious. As for the electric chair, there is an initial jolt of 2,300 volts (9.5 amps) which lasts for eight seconds, followed by a low- voltage jolt of 1,000 volts (4 amps) for 22 seconds and finally a jolt of 2,300 volts (9.5 amps) for eight seconds. The murderer is rendered unconscious immediately, or within the first eight seconds at most, as the initial high- voltage jolt kills the brain. The subsequent jolts stop the heart in case it is still beating. (Carmical)
When comparing this to the heinous crimes that the murderer had done, these methods are very just. Indeed if we were looking for cruel and unusual punishments, and a sense of retribution, then criminals would be executed in the way that they had murdered their victims such as the 1600‘s. “The small infliction of pain that is experience by the murderers on death row can not even begin to equal the amount of pain that the victims had received. In many cases, the victims experience pain for minutes, hour, days, and sometimes even months.” (Carmical) This proves that the death penalty does not try to see how much pain can be unleashed upon the criminal, but indeed it is trying to bring justice.
Researching the abolitionist view of the death penalty, many of these highly known organizations against it state five ideas over and over again of why the death penalty should be abolished. These five reasons are as listed below:
1. The death penalty is racist.
2. The death penalty punishes the poor.
3. The death penalty condemns the innocent to die.
4. The death penalty is not a deterrent against violent crime.
5. The death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment.