In the United States, over 1,000 inmates have been subdued to death due to Capital Punishment initiated by the government. Capital Punishment, frequently and more famously known as the “death penalty”, is without a doubt the most controversial punishment that can be dealt to a criminal for their wrong doings. In many of the states the death penalty is still allowed, though highly unused. Allowing the use of the death penalty is very controversial due to many political, moral, and religious views, but it is still allowed for murder and the conspiracy of murder only since 1964.
Calling this justice “capital punishment” can be pretty fuzzy on its whereabouts. How is this punishment executed anyway? In fact, there are many ways that capital punishment can be executed, or have been. Most recently the lethal injection seems to be the most humane and morally comprehensible way of executing the “death penalty”. However, Nebraska is the only state, one of thirty eight, that prefers electrocution over the lethal injection. The other means of capital punishment are hanging, firing squad, and the gas chamber. Although these are options for the
death penalty, they are highly unused compared to the lethal injection and electrocution.
But what is this “lethal injection”? According to Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, three different drugs are used in the lethal injection procedure. These drugs include: sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. Each drug has a different lethal dosage. The lethal dosages are as follows: sodium thiopental is 5 grams, pancuronium bromide is 100 milligrams, and potassium chloride is 100 milliequivalents. When induced with 5 grams of sodium thiopental a person is knocked out within a mere 10 seconds.
The electrocution method is executed by using the “electric chair”. When someone is executed using the electric chair, 2,000 volts are applied to the electrodes strategically places upon a prisoner. Sometimes the prisoner’s body may heat up to 210 degrees Fahrenheit, which severely damages internal organs. Often times the prisoner’s temperature raises so high their skin actually melts to the chair and the chair restraint straps. Despite the physical pain the prisoners seem to endure, the electrocution method is back on the rise since the lethal injection method seems to cause a lot of pain as well, and prisoners are now sometimes choosing electrocution over lethal injection.
Obviously the method of the death penalty in any fashion is heavily controversial since you’re playing nature’s role in controlling life and death. There are many views from religious groups against the death penalty, saying it’s morally wrong. Some groups even go to say that the death penalty is based off discrimination, it’s inhumane, and that there’s a chance is kills innocent prisoners. Obviously there is erroneous margin making it possible for an innocent person to die by capital punishment. This possible error in the death of an innocent person puts me on the fence of where I stand towards capital punishment. There are holes in the criminal justice system such as uncaring juries and discriminatory based juries that can place someone on death row without care. Also plantation of fake evidence on crime scenes, corrupt police officers, and any sort of successful bribe can alter someone’s trial and land them on death row if they are convicted of a murder. Plus, the moral argument is valid as well. Why does the federal government get the chance to play the role of “God”? If I am correct, we all have the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Doesn’t the death penalty delete a prisoner’s life, destroy their liberty, and totally abolish their happiness? The Innocence Project is a foundation that uses new advance technology such as DNA testing to get truly innocent inmates off of death row. This also shows the error in the criminal justice system, and shows that anyone can be innocent. Another notable aspect is that there have been flaws, scary flaws. In 1946 there was an attempt at executing Willie Francis, a 17 year old African American that murdered a drugstore manager that employed him. While they attempted to execute Willie Francis it did not kill him due to improper setup of the electric chair thanks to an intoxicated trustee. Francis screamed during the failed attempt “Stop it! Let me breathe!” Afterwards Francis appealed to the Supreme Court which led to the case of Francis vs. Reswber. Francis’ lawyer said that even though the attempt failed, Francis technically had been executed. The Supreme Court rejected the Francis’ lawyers reasoning, and sent him back to the electric chair to be executed again. This also shows that even in the process of capital punishment, cruel punishment can still bestowed upon a prisoner. The attempt of execution should have been enough pain both physically and psychologically on Francis. The attempt of execution didn’t fall under the rule of double jeopardy.
On the other side there are groups out there that fully support capital punishment. These groups are usually victims’ rights groups, as well as law enforcement. Of course law enforcement is going to push for capital punishment, they made the arrest and don’t want to show that they can be wrong. Victims’ rights groups really want closure in knowing that their loved one’s death was justified overall. Personally, if there is without a doubt that someone is guilty, not even a fraction of error permitted, I think that the death sentence should be permitted. If one person kills another, then the person who had their life taken should be justified. In the justification process the convicted criminal should suffer equally, not if more, than the innocent civilian. Basically, I believe in the Code of Hammurabi, only on a more modern level of morality.
Overall, I can see why the death penalty is so controversial and why so many people oppose it, while at the same time I can see so many people, the majority of U.S. citizens, support capital punishment. People who oppose the death penalty think that there are innocent people on death row, which is definitely a possibility. Each new advance in technology helps to prove that there is innocent people on death row, and saves lives that should not be taken due to someone else’s nugatory and sickening actions. But I also comply with the supporters of the death penalty since they want what the criminal justice system is ultimately about, justice. Victims’ families just want closure, and that is a reasonable inquiry within my opinion. In the end it is up to the voters to elect the officials that relay their opinion into the government. Just remember this: once a person is executed, there’s absolutley no coming back.