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Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper

This day in age murderers? actions are getting more and more incomprehensive.

They are no longer just committing murder: they are torturing, mutilating, and

engaging in grossly inappropriate acts against fellow human beings. Behaviors

such as this will continue if nothing is done to stop them. The death penalty is

a humane way to punish the convicted and deter these gruesome acts. Early as

1930, we can find the first recorded execution. Between the times of 1930 to

1967 there was a recorded number of 3,859 people executed. The following nine

years would bring victory for those against capital punishment, there was no

executions done in this time frame. Gregg vs. Georgia, Supreme Court of 1976

made a ruling that ?the death penalty does not violate the Cruel and Unusual

Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment.? The death penalty has been

accepted by thirty-nine states of America (Newton, 1983). One of the basics in

understanding capital punishment is the methods of which are used. Which will be

the first of things I will be presenting. I will be showing how selections of

death row are made. The last of subject matters that I will be touching on are

the problems with the process of capital punishment and a possible more

effective approach. I will also be concluding my findings and ending with a

thought of my own. Methods of Execution In the United States today, there are

five existing methods of execution. These methods are used to kill convicted

criminals that have been given the sentence of the death penalty. The different

methods are; lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, and firing

squad shootings. Lethal injection is currently used by thirty-six states in

America. It is the most commonly used from of execution in the U.S. The

preparation begins outside of the chamber with the use of a gurney. The convict

is held to the gurney by wrist and ankle straps. There is then a cardiac monitor

and stethoscope attached and started. In each arm there is a saline intravenous

line. The convict is then covered by a sheet. The lines are turned off and the

felon receives the first injection of sodium thiopental. This puts the felon to

sleep. They are then injected with Pavulon, which relaxes all of the muscles in

the body and stops breathing. Shortly after, the felon dies. The next method of

execution used is electrocution. This method is done by putting the person in a

wooden chair, which they are secured to by leather straps. The electric current

runs through the head and out the leg. The first current is of two thousand or

more volts of electricity, lasting only an approximated three seconds. The

voltage is then lowered to help prevent external burning of the body. The

initial shock of the electricity causes the person?s body to surge forward.

The shock burns the internal organs or the person, which leaves them dead.

During this process urinating, vomiting of blood, change in skin color, and even

swelling or burning of the skin may occur. This method of execution is currently

used by only eleven states. In a gas chamber execution the prisoner is put in a

sealed steel chamber. The prisoner is restrained in a chair that has a pan

below. At the first signal a valve is opened which releases hydrochloric acid

into the pan. When a second signal is given tablets or crystals of about eight

ounces of potassium cyanide is dropped into the acid. This combination creates a

hydrocyanic gas. The fumes of this deadly gas rise and are inhaled by the

prisoner, which kills them. The prisoner is pronounced dead and then the gas is

sucked out of the chamber by big fans. Before the body is taken out it is

sprayed with ammonia to neutralize any gas that still existed. Execution by the

gas chamber started in attempt to find a more humane method than the electric

chair. The gas chamber is currently used by only five states, that is less than

electrocution. One of the oldest methods of execution that is still used, though

in only three states, is hanging. This method is based on the person?s weight;

therefore the person must be weighed prior to the hanging. The right amount of

weight is needed in ?the drop? to make sure that the death is instant and of

minimal bruising (Sandholzer, 1999). If the weight is not of the proper amount

it can cause a person to be strangled or possibly beheaded. The way that this is

performed is by the use of a noose, which is placed behind the person?s left

ear. When dropped the person?s neck is dislocated, causing death. The last of

executions still used, which is also an old one, is shooting by a firing squad.

Execution by a firing squad is the most popular in the world. More than sixty

countries use it as a method. In the United States, however, only three states

use shooting by a fire squad as a sentence to the death penalty. The way in

which a shooting takes place starts by the prisoner being bound to a chair and

placed in front of an oval wall. The doctor locates the heart by use of a

stethoscope and places a target over it. Only twenty feet from the target are

the trained shooters. Only one of the shooters? gun holds the bullet that will

take the life of the convict. They all shoot their guns at once, so that no one

knows who made the fatal shot. All of these procedures are done fast, and with

the least amount of pain possible, if any at all. For anyone to say that these

methods are not humane, would be unrealistic. The convicts whom have been

sentenced to walk the green mile have really gotten off easy in my eyes. Many of

them have committed cruel, torturous acts on innocent human beings. Why do they

deserve to die in a peaceful, humane way? They don?t, but because under our

constitution no one shall under go cruel and unusual punishment, though that is

what they have done to others. Felons should feel lucky that capital punishment

is so humane. Death Row Sentencing There are many logical factors that determine

a person being sentenced to death. A criminal?s past record and the

seriousness of the crime currently committed are two major factors in

determining death row sentencing. These factors are what have sent more men to

death row than women. Some people believe that the selection of death row is

unfair due to the number of men vs. women facing it. Jurors have many things to

consider when convicting the accused. How brutal was it, how many people were

killed, was it premeditated, was it torturous? These are all things that the

jurors considering when determining the fate of the accused. Of course they also

have to keep decide if the evidence proves, with out a doubt, the person is

guilty. In sentencing a person to death row states often look at the person?s

background of violence. Other concerns that bring up past convictions of violent

acts and murders help to lead jurors in their decision making process. Male

murderers with earlier convictions are four times as likely to possess a

judicial disadvantage than a female because of a prior violent felony charge (McCuen,

1997). Women are not as quick to show aggression as men are. This increases the

likely hood of a prosecutor to persuaded to go to capital trial and for the jury

to sentence the death penalty. Effective Deterrent Deterrence is a theory that a

threatened punishment must be of a severe enough consequence in order to

counteract a criminal?s feel of pleasure to commit a crime. Specific

deterrence is the inability of a convict to commit another crime in result to

their given punishment. A person not committing a crime because of the severity

of the punishment if they carry out with it is known a general deterrence.

Murderers? that come across as somewhat rational and intelligent, whom have

committed a premeditated crime are those that the death penalty as a deterrent

work. An analyzing study of data from the years 1936 to 1977 done by Professor

Stephen Layson of the University of North Carolina made a significant conclusion

about deterrence. His conclusion was that eighteen murders are deterred in

result to on execution. According to Layson?s studies, if correct, somewhere

around 125,000 murders have been deterred due to the threat of the death penalty

as punishment (McCuen, 1997). McComb of the Supreme Court of California

discovered fourteen examples in the police department of defendants whom, in

explaining their refusal to carry a weapon or kill. This pointed to the fear of

the death penalty. This is great evidence supporting that people are truly

deterred by the presence of the death penalty. The death penalty is a definate

deterrent to crime, however it is not effective enough. The delayed punishment

received is not paired closely enough to the crime. Therefore, the consequence

of the death penalty doesn?t always seem associated with the criminal act

because of the long time before the execution takes place. The only way to

condition criminal to view execution as a punishment to their behavior is by

having it happen immediately after conviction and sentencing. This comes from

the idea of classical conditioning and negative reinforcements (Meyers, 1998).

Problems The process of convicting a felon and sentencing them to death is very

long. With the conviction and sentencing always comes appeal by the convicted.

The constant appeals can lead to years in court, which costs millions of

dollars. This is where the problem with a convict not seeing the death penalty

as a punishment for their actions. The cost keeping a person on death row and

the many years, sometimes as many is twenty-five is way too high. With new

methods of presenting evidence of D.N.A. the process needs to be sped up to make

the death penalty to be a more effective deterrent. An Ending Thought As

American citizens were are all born with certain rights. With these rights

however, come responsibilities. When a person takes the life and rights of

another human being they forfeit their rights. I believe the guilty party is

lucky to get one of the humane executions used in America. What ever happened to

the idea of an ?eye for an eye?? Executions used in the U.S. are extremely

humane, especially when considering the brutality used by the condemned. For a

long time our country has focussed on finding the most humane way to execute the

convicted. We need to turn our heads in a new direction and start figuring out a

shorter process for death row. Way too many tax dollars of the American people

are used to defend the already convicted. With our modern techniques for

presenting evidence, the accused should need only to be convicted once, followed

b immediate execution. To make capital punishment a more effective deterrent the

process needs to be faster. There is no reason to spend years determining when

and if the convicted will take the walk down the green mile. Bibliography David

Von Drehle, ?Among the Lowest of the Dead,? published by Times Books, 1995.

469 pages. Edited by Thomas Draper, ?Capital Punishment,? published by H. W.

Wilson Company, 1985, Volume 57. 166 pages. David G. Meyers, ?Psychology,

fifth edition,? Worth Publishers, 1998, 610 pages. Ian Gray & Moira

Stanley, ?A Punishment in Search of a Crime,? published by Avon Books, 1989.

383 pages. Kuno Sandholzer, ?Methods of Execution? Capital Punishment.com,

1999, 6 pages Hugo Adam Bedau, ?The Case Against the Death Penalty,?

American Civil Liberties Union1982. 24 pages. Stephen E. Schonebaum (editor),

?Does Capital Punishment Deter Crime?? Greenhaven Press, Inc. 1998. 95

Pages. News Matters (video), ?The Death Penalty Right or Wrong?? Knowledge

Unlimited, Inc. 1997. approximately 15 minutes. Gary E. McCuuen, ?The Death

Penalty and the Disadvantaged? Gary E. McCuen Publications Inc. 1997. 168

pages. Lynn S. Branham & Sheldon Krantz, ?Sentencing, Corrections, and

Prisoner?s Rights,? St. Paul, Minn. West Publishing Co. 1994. 338 pages.

Introduction This day in age murderers? actions are getting more and more

incomprehensive. They are no longer just committing murder: they are torturing,

mutilating, and engaging in grossly inappropriate acts against fellow human

beings. Behaviors such as this will continue if nothing is done to stop them.

The death penalty is a humane way to punish the convicted and deter these

gruesome acts. Early as 1930, we can find the first recorded execution. Between

the times of 1930 to 1967 there was a recorded number of 3,859 people executed.

The following nine years would bring victory for those against capital

punishment, there was no executions done in this time frame. Gregg vs. Georgia,

Supreme Court of 1976 made a ruling that ?the death penalty does not violate

the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment.? The death

penalty has been accepted by thirty-nine states of America (Newton, 1983). One

of the basics in understanding capital punishment is the methods of which are

used. Which will be the first of things I will be presenting. I will be showing

how selections of death row are made. The last of subject matters that I will be

touching on are the problems with the process of capital punishment and a

possible more effective approach. I will also be concluding my findings and

ending with a thought of my own. Methods of Execution In the United States

today, there are five existing methods of execution. These methods are used to

kill convicted criminals that have been given the sentence of the death penalty.

The different methods are; lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber,

hanging, and firing squad shootings. Lethal injection is currently used by

thirty-six states in America. It is the most commonly used from of execution in

the U.S. The preparation begins outside of the chamber with the use of a gurney.

The convict is held to the gurney by wrist and ankle straps. There is then a

cardiac monitor and stethoscope attached and started. In each arm there is a

saline intravenous line. The convict is then covered by a sheet. The lines are

turned off and the felon receives the first injection of sodium thiopental. This

puts the felon to sleep. They are then injected with Pavulon, which relaxes all

of the muscles in the body and stops breathing. Shortly after, the felon dies.



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