Death Penalty Cruel Unusual Punishment Essay

Is The Death Penalty Cruel And Unusual Punishment?

Capital punishment remains a cause for debate with people continuing to disagree
on what cruel and unusual punishment consists of. Cruel and unusual punishment being
defined as torture or a deliberately degrading punishment, in no way does the death
penalty fall into this category. Having the death penalty in our society deters potential
violent offenders from committing crimes, saves the government money, and guarantees
that offenders will not commit these crimes again. The United States should use the death penalty because it is economical and continues to be a deterrent for potential offenders. Take into consideration that the Constitution states that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can not be taken away without due process. The offenders committing the brutal, heinous crimes have not applied this right to the victims of their crimes. Why should the government take their rights into consideration when the victims rights meant so little to them? People always put forth the idea that killing is wrong in any sense, yet they don’t want to punish the people that commit the crimes. If a person is so uncompassionate for human life and not care what happens; are sick enough to harm someone else, they should also pay the price with their lives.
Violent criminals will always exist in society and the death penalty will only decrease these numbers gradually, however every violent criminal that does not exists in society makes society a safer place. Placing these criminals in prison with a life sentence does not deter them from committing another crime. This just enables them to plan, plot and proceed with the next murder, escape or worse.
The majority of people that commit heinous crimes that call for the death penalty cannot be reformed. They have multiple stints in and out of jail and do not appreciate the second sometimes third chances that have presented themselves. When released they go back out in society and commit the same crime or a crime worse than before. Sentencing them to life in prison places other prisoners and staff at risk. When placed in jail knowing they have nothing else to lose with a life sentence, society has now let a murderer free in jail to murder at will. However, if released into society you now put an entire population of individuals at risk. Wesley Lowe, author of “The Morality of Capital Punishment:” on the “ Pro Death Penalty Webpage,” states the following, “The recidivism rate for capital punishment is zero. No executed murderer has ever killed again. You can’t say that about those sentenced to prison even if you are an abolitionist”(27).
Showing people that commit these atrocious crimes that this behavior remains intoleratable and that a punishment that fits every crime exists shows what is necessary to detour future criminals. If more criminals believe that they can be caught, tried and executed they will be less inclined to commit such heinous crimes. If we as a government do not execute...

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Death Penalty and Eighth Amendment




Death Penalty and Eighth Amendment :


The expression AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH has taken on a whole new meaning. Lately, murderers have been getting a punishment equal to their crime, death. In 1967, executions in the United States were temporarily suspended to give the federal appellate courts time to decide whether or not the death penalty was unconstitutional. Then, in 1972, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Furman versus Georgia that the death penalty violated the Eight Amendments. According to the Eighth Amendment…. Excessive bail shall not be required, no excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.


After the Supreme Court made this ruling, states reviewed their death penalty laws. In 1976, in the case of Gregg versus Georgia the Supreme Court ruled state death penalty laws were not unconstitutional. Presently in the United States the death penalty can only be used as punishment for intentional killing. Still, the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment and should be outlawed in the United States.


Currently in the United States there are five methods used for executing criminals…the electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection, hanging and firing squad, each of them equally cruel and unusual in there own ways. When a person is sentenced to death by electrocution he strapped to a chair and electrodes are attached to his head and leg. The amount of voltage is raised and lowered a few times and death is supposed to occur within three minutes. Three whole minutes with electricity flowing through someone's body, while his flesh burns. Three minutes may not seem like a very long time, but to someone who is waiting for his body to die, three minutes can feel like an eternity.


Three minutes is the approximate time it takes for a person to die if everything goes right, but in some cases it takes longer for people to die. In 1990, Jesse Tafero, a prisoner in Florida, remained conscious for four minutes while witnesses watched ashes fall from his head. In Georgia in 1984, it took nearly twenty minutes for Alpha Otis Stephens to die. At 12:18 am on December 12, he was shocked with electricity for two minutes and his body still showed signs of life. The doctors had to wait six minutes to examine his body because it was too hot to touch.


Stephens was still alive, so he was electrocuted for another two minutes. Finally at 12:37 am doctors pronounced him dead. When a person is executed in the gas chamber he is strapped to a chair in an airtight room. A cyanide pellet is dropped in sulfuric acid which forms a lethal gas. The prisoner remains conscious for a few minutes while struggling to breathe. These gas chambers are similar to the ones used by the Nazi's in World War II concentration camps. Fifty years ago, America was quick to condemn the Germans for persecuting Jew's, but, today, in 1996 Americans execute their own people the exact same way.


Lethal injection is the newest form of execution in the United States. The person being executed is injected with a deadly dose of barbiturates through an intravenous tube in his arm. This method is considered the most humane and efficient way of execution, but a federal judge noted that a slight error in dosage or administration can leave a prisoner conscious but paralyzed while dying, a sentient witness of his or her own asphyxiation. Since 1985 there have been three botched injections in Texas alone. In one case it took 24 minutes to kill a criminal because the tube leaked and sprayed the chemicals towards the witnesses. In 1989, too weak a dosage of drugs caused Stephen McCoy to choke and heave for several minutes before he died.


Hanging used to be the most common way to execute a person, but now it is only used in Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Washington. Hanging is not a very useful way of execution, because if the drop is too short the person being executed dies through gradual strangulation and if the rope is too long the person's head is ripped off. There is no punishment more unusual then having your head ripped off, so the death penalty is in direct violation with the Constitution.


When someone is executed by a firing squad he is strapped to a chair and has a target attached to his chest. Then five marksmen aim for the target and fire. Having people being paid to shot at a target on someone's chest is not only cruel, but humiliating for the person being executed.


The death penalty by itself is a cruel and unusual punishment, but the treatment of prisoners before being executed is also cruel and unusual. In August 1995 Robert Breechen was scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma. He attempted to commit suicide, but authorities revived him, then executed him hours later. In Illinois last November, the state gave death row inmate John Del Vecchio two heart surgeries and then executed him in December. Richard Town's execution in Virginia was delayed for twenty two minutes while they looked for a vein to inject.


The death penalty is the ultimate form of punishment, because there is no way to reverse its effects. It will end up taking the lives of innocent victims as long as there is fault in the justice system. The death penalty contradicts the whole idea of human rights. Human rights are significant because some means may never be used to protect society because their use violates the values that make society worth protecting.


From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death....I feel morally and intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed. It is virtually self-evident to me now that no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent constitutional deficiencies. -- Justice Harry Blackmun


Supporters of the death penalty believe that the death penalty helps keep the crime and murder rate down, but that is not so. States with death penalty laws do not have lower crime or rates than states that with death penalty laws. Also, by incarcerating criminals for life, instead of executing them, it makes them think about what they did and forces them to live with the consequences of their actions. The death penalty violates our constitutional rights and should be made illegal. It directly contradicts the Eighth Amendment which forbids cruel and unusual punishment. If the death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment then what is? Is there possibly anything more cruel then dying a slow death while breathing in lethal fumes or anything more unusual then watching people who are paid to shoot at the target on your chest? The Bill of Rights was established to protect the rights of the people and now Americans are taking away these rights from their own countrymen.


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