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Throughout the ages, the death penalty has been used as one of the severe ways to punish or deter people from breaking all range of laws from petty theft to murder; and many times as to set forth an example of a consequence when an individual betrays communal entity such as nationality and kindred. Evidently, the capital punishment is the ultimate punishment, for the determined offender is given no opportunity of repentance or rehabilitation. Over the years in the United States, the standards for sentencing the ??ultimate?? punishment has changed. The constitutionality of the death penalty is a highly controversial issue leading to seemingly circular arguments. Both the pro and the anti capital punishment viewpoints can be justified in legal scope, however the validity of the death penalty policy can be further examined.
The death penalty satisfies the public??s need for retribution, relieves the anguish of the victim??s family, permanently removes the actual incorrigible criminal from society. The capital punishment can be justified in many ways. In 1976 the US states began creating a bifurcated(dual) trial procedure that would legally allow imposing the death sentence. The states did so in response to the 1972 (Furman vs. Georgia) supreme court decision which ruled that death penalty statutes were too vague and ambiguous, thus unconstitutional and illegal. The notion of the capital punishment dates back thousands of years back to the primal justice system. For example, many western cultures embrace the Holy Bible as their moral and ethical foundation. God set forth his words as a guide by which to live our lives. God??s commandments are eternal. Even though one of the ten commandments states ??Thou shall not kill??, there are many incidents in the old testament where the book promotes ??an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?? principle as also set forth in the ancient book of Hamurabi way back in 1750BC. In Genesis 9:6, the Lord says ??whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed.?? (NIV Translation) There are no contradictions in the bible; words of God are truth that are spiritually interpreted rather than literally, however, it is clear that wrong doers must and will pay the consequence of their actions.
Generally, it is safely accepted that all human life is equally precious and sacred. No matter how heinous the crime committed, the value of the criminal??s life should not depreciate. Does the society have the right to judge that a person??s life is so worthless that we, the society can legally terminate his presence in all? Condemning the murderers for their act is hypocritical since the states replicate their deed in return. After all, rapists are not raped as their punishment, and arsonists are not subject to have his asset burnt down.
Unalienable rights as described in the amendments of the United States constitution protect all people from any type of cruel and unusual punishment. Capital punishments, although supposed follow guidelines in the constitution, can often turn out to be one of the cruelest way to murder a murderer. If a hanging fails and the neck does not break, the accused can be strangled to death, or even worse, decapitated in rare instances.
John Evans was executed on April 22nd, 1983 by the electric chair. The executioner strapped John into the electric chair, the method of execution sentenced to him, and after a moment of silence, elevated the lever which severed John??s lifeline. An instant death with minimal pain, the electrocutions are supposed to be, however after first jolt of electricity, sparks and flames erupted from his leg, and the electrodes burst away and caught on fire. A weak heartbeat was still found, and Evans was re-attached to the electrodes. Then a current was applied again, with more smoke and burning flesh, but Evans remained alive. After a third electrocution, Evans expired, having experienced three deaths, 14minutes of excruciating pain and suffering, and leaving a smoldering body behind. In another case, Raymond Landry was executed on December 13, 1988, by lethal injection. A witness to this execution was quoted after the procedure; Two minutes into the killing, the syringe popped out of Landry??s vein and chemicals sprayed all across the room. I was shocked and speechless; I never spoke a word for two days.?? In other instances the accused have had to help the executioners find appropriate veins in their arms, or had violent allergic reactions to the lethal chemicals that caused immense pain in a so called ??painless?? procedure. All in all, 23 executions out of 255 in the last nine years have had accidents occur which caused cruel and unusual punishment. This pattern is a clear violation of constitutional rights and basic human rights.
Obviously, the capital punishment involves death, and death is irreversible. So what happens when an innocent are sentenced to death? Of course, when a criminal is convicted for death penalty, he is automatically allowed appeal. Furthermore, a dual trial process, and mandate for unanimity of the jury ensures fair judgement of the condemned. When sentencing a person to death, there must be no space for doubt, but human error is inevitable. Unless one day human judgement becomes infallible, this problem of executing innocent people should be a reason enough to declare capital punishment unconstitutional.
Currently, the death penalty exists in the most of the United States. Internationally, the United States stand on this issue, amongst such nations as Iraq, Iran, and China. America is a major advocate in the global protection of human rights. Ironically, the states are not noticing the state-sanctioned constitutional and human rights violation happening on its home front. Aside from the legality of the capital punishment, the death penalty is not an effective crime deterrent; It can kill an innocent man, but cannot live up to it??s promoter??s claims at all.
Many murders happen out of uncontrollable rage and passionate hate. Thoughts of the consequence of the murder is not thought out until after the crime is committed. During the heat of the moment when a criminal murders, he is acting out of his primal barbaric instinct which lacks ability to reason; he cannot calculate consequences of actions. The fear of law and punishment does not matter to a criminal who is already thinking irrationally in his rage. Fear of punishment, if there is any, will force criminals to try even harder to outsmart law enforcement or commit more crimes to cover his tract.
The death penalty can be considered a form of gambling. Same crime committed can receive two different verdict depending on where that crime has been committed. Texas, where the public approval for death penalty is high, leads the nation in its number of prisoners executed. A double murder is a double murder regardless of where the crime occurs. However, for the same crime, a criminal convicted of murders in the state of Texas has more chance of receiving the death sentence than any other state.
The capital punishment is ineffective and inefficient. Logically, terminating a criminal??s life should seem cost effective for tax payers. Taxpayers may feel that he should not pay millions of dollars to have these vicious criminals to live in a penitentiary with recreations such as pool hall, television, fitness center, education, as well as full medical care. Some correctional facilities offer most privileges enjoyed by law abiding citizens with the exception of fenced boundaries. The average cost of a capital trial in Texas is 2.3 million dollars, three times the cost to incarcerate an individual for 40 years. The average trial in the state of New York is 3.1 million dollars. Some criminals could be incorrigible; they cannot be rehabilitated and must be separated permanently from society. Incarcerating such criminals for a life sentence without parole costs less than having to execute such criminals, both options accomplish the necessary objective.
Families of murder victims undergo severe trauma and loss, which no one should minimize. The capital punishment is the last vein effort of victim??s relations to exact revenge upon the convicted. However, executions do not help these people heal their wounds nor do they end their pain; taking away that criminal??s life will not resurrect the deceased . The extended legal process prior to executions prolongs the agony of the family. Families of murder victims would benefit far more if the funds now being used for the costly process of executions were diverted to the provision of counseling and other assistance.
ABC News. http://www.abcnews.com/sections/us/deathrow/deathrow.html
Dwyer, Jim. NY Daily News. http://www.essential.org/dpic/costs2.html
Encarta Electronic Encyclopedia 97 Deluxe Edition,
Microsoft Corporation, 1996.
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