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Is execution inhumane? This very question will get many different opinions. America, perhaps more than any other country, has tinkered with the mechanics of legal executions in search of a “perfect” method. In operational terms, perfect would mean the most tame and reliable method of killing made possible by existing technology. The gas chamber, the electric chair, and most recently, lethal injection are the methods we use today. I am against the death penalty for many reasons: it’s inhumane, the cost is more expensive,

We normally think of modern execution methods as humane because they appear physically painless. Certainly these methods appear painless, but appearances can be misleading. Electrocutions are probably painful, and may be excruciatingly so. We now know considerable electricity generated by the chair largely circumvents the skull, and instead passes through the body and out the leg. Thus, while massive surges of electricity are coursing through his body, the prisoner is almost certainly conscious; nerve activity- which carries the sensation of pain remains intact. We have convinced ourselves that prisoners don’t experience pain in part because they do not move or speak, which of course is natural reactions to pain. But prisoners in the throes of electrocution do not move or speak because they are physically paralyzed; they can only sit, frozen , and mute, in an enduring painful spasm. Harold Hillman, a neurobiologist, says ” It is usually that the failure of the convict to move is a sign that he cannot feel pain. He cannot move because all of his muscles are contracted maximally. A physiological effect that in itself is enormously painful and further prevents the prisoner from crying out or providing other outward signs of massively painful effects of electrocution such as 3rd degree burns and an enormous heating up of the bodily fluids throughout the body… While the subject remains conscious, strapped into the chair, paralyzed yet aware of the gruesome burning of his body, it is scientifically and medically certain that death is not instantaneous.”

Things are almost certainly worse when electrocutions are botched. Then, electricity must be applied more frequently; sometimes electrocutions may take up to fifteen minutes to finally kill the prisoner. Over the 20th century about one out of every 10 executions has been botched. We may expect more botchings in the coming years. Most electric chairs are old and have poor electrode connections, which is the most common cause of botched executions. This will continue further as more chairs deteriorate.

Most executions today are carried out by lethal injection, clearly the tamest and most apparently painless method of execution yet devised. Here, too, however, controversy reigns. Some anesthesiologists question whether lethal injection is as painless as it appears, contending that it may, like hangings, produce a paralysis that masks a slow and painful death by suffocation. A small error in dosage or administration can leave a prisoner conscious but paralyzed while dying, a sentient witness of his own slow, lingering asphyxiation. Such dosage errors would, therefore, produce botched executions. Other problems emerge as well, falling under the heading of botches or glitches. For example, it is often hard to locate veins in which to insert the needle on offenders with long histories of drug use, a category that includes many, if not most, condemned prisoners today. At other times , there have been malfunctions of medical equipment. Even if properly administered the prisoner has to wait a long painful and emotional wait while strapped to the gurney, sometimes upward to an hour.

Lethal injection, then, offers a paradoxical execution scene. A supine inmate, seemingly at rest, appears to drift off into a sleep that merges imperceptibly with death. This is, in its essentials , the ideal modern death-a-death that occurs in one’s sleep, painlessly. The reality may well be completely different. The interval on the gurney, reminiscent of rest but actually a case of forced restraint, can certainly be considered a kind of torture of its own; and once the drugs are introduced , what follows may well be a death by slow suffocation- like wise a kind of torture.

All of this unfolds before us as we congratulate ourselves on our humaneness and more macabre style, as the immobilized offender comes to realize the deception of execution by lethal injection and, unable to struggle, recognizes his inability to communicate his distress to the world. He may endure a final insult to his dignity in the form of an experience of complete and utter helplessness while others smile benignly, as if all is well with a world that kills heinous murderers with such kindness. Is this what we have come to accept as o.k. in our society?

Another reason against the death penalty is the actual cost to kill the condemned person. In recent figures the cost to kill someone can go as high as $ 850,00. This is reached through the court fees and later all the appeals that will be made. An average cost is around $ 425,000 to try each capital defendant. On the other hand, to keep a person in prison for life the cost decreases enormously to $ 45,000. With this in mind, you could do other things with the money that would be wasted like: building better security prisons, hiring more officers, and improving the surveillance of prisons. Even after all that, money would still be available for other uses. Which do you prefer, $ 850,000 on one person alone, or $ 45,000 and money left over? By the way, these executions are paid by our tax dollars.

A reason for the death penalty in many peoples eyes would be an eye for an eye. I’ve been asked suppose someone killed a loved one of yours would you want to see the person die or spend his/her life in prison. I say as much as I would want him/her dead what good is it to have him die, since it won’t bring my loved one back. I would much rather have him/her face the fact that he/she killed someone and because of that will be behind those bars until he himself perishes. In the bible, when Kane killed his brother Abel, God exhiled Kane and put a mark on him protecting him from anyone who would try to kill him and perpetuate the injustice. So why should we be able to kill someone for having killed another? In doing this, we demoralize ourselves to his level by doing the same.

Is execution humane? Do we make right for they did wrong? Do we give justice to the deceased? All these questions are asked afterwards and the answer to these questions in my opinion is no. So what good is it to kill someone if nothing comes out of it? I’ll leave that question to you.

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