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It's Time to Abolish Capital Punishment - research essay / English 102

enelson 1 / -  
Jan 9, 2016   #1
Ebonie Nelson
English 102
Merrill Goldin

It's Time to Abolish Capital Punishment

Capital punishment is an unfair practice that is highly outdated, morally and ethically unjust and expensive practice to perform. Capital punishment is known as the death penalty or in today's society the lethal injection. Capital punishment is the legal authorization of killing someone as a form of punishment that has been found guilty of a crime, or the lawful infliction of death as a punishment.

The practices of capital punishment can be documented to the early eighteenth century B.C. It was a normal form of punishment back in those times when a man or woman committed a crime. Back in the earlier times capital punishment was far harsher and extreme. Some different practices include but are limited to boiling, burning at the stake, stoning, beheading, and whipping one or providing lashes with a whip until death. Even referring to the Bible (the oldest document of history) we can see that killing others were a natural tactic back then. As time advance the form of the death penalty advanced with it. The guillotine was soon invented to serve as a quicker form of death. The guillotine was a machine invented to dismember one's head at the pull of the rope. Although the guillotine was invented the hanging of one was still practiced as well. It wasn't until the late 1800's that a new form of the death penalty would be invented.

In 1881 the electric chair was proposed by a dentist by the name of Dr. Albert Southwhich. Dr. Southwhich witnessed a lady die after touching an electric generator and he viewed her death as painless. It took up to thirty minutes in some cases for a person to completely die when being hung so the electric chair seemed to be less time consuming and less inhumane. The electric chair was finally approved in 1890. The government felt like the chair was ready for use making New York the first state to ever use the electric chair. The electric chair unfortunately failed to work as expected. The chair did not bring a painless death but a painful and excruciating one. William Kemmler was the victim of this electric chair, the first voltage used didn't work according to plan. Instead of the chair bringing Kemmler to his death he was still alive with burns to his body and clothing. Being persistent the voltage was raised originally starting at 700 watts ending at 1,030 watts were documented. Kemmler was consistently shocked with the higher voltage until smoke was noticed starting to rise from his cranium. After the original voltage failed and the watts were increased it took about two minutes for Kemmler to be completely dead after server burns all the way to his spine. This was the new form of the death penalty that would be practiced for decades before any changes or enough questions started to arise.

After Thomas Jefferson's failed attempted to put restrictions on the death penalty back in the 1700's it was again being evaluated by several states for abolishment. In 1841 Michigan was the first state to abolish the death penalty, shortly following Michigan's lead was Rhode Island and Wisconsin. These states provided great examples because soon enough there were other countries abolishing the death penalty. By the early twentieth century more states in the United States started abolishing the death penalty, but unfortunately this did not last long. By 1920 more than have of the states that abolished the death penalty reinstated it again. In 1924 they started using gas to practice capital punishment stating this was less humane, this is how the gas chambers came into place. In between 1924 and 1980 there were consistent debates on how the death penalty, not only inhumane, but it violates the amendment. In 1960 many people of government agreed that the death penalty was a "cruel and unusual form of punishment." Several Supreme cases got thrown out of court that were wanting to proceed with capital punishment. The courts starting looking at human life and their worth along with applying the amendment and if it was ethically correct. Cases started turning around until it lead up to the suspension of the death penalty. "On June 29th 1972 the Supreme Court effectively voided 40 death penalty statues, thereby commuting the sentences of 629 death row inmates around the country and suspending the death penalty because existing statues were no longer valid." Many states did not approve of the suspension of the death penalty and kept proposing new ideas to the Supreme Court until they were not violating any rights of the amendments. Only four short years later the death penalty was back into action. Lethal injection started to become the way of execution in 1982 and is still in effect today.

Since the eighteenth century B.C. the death penalty has grown, adapted and has become more advanced. Still in today's society capital punishment is still in strong effect and is still a practice that the government allows despite the various options that are available to serve as punishment. Not only is capital punishment cruel, the acting of capital punishment violates a variety of different groups beliefs and the human code of conduct. There are many types of religions and although most have contractions with the other, one thing that they all can agree on is the abolishment of capital punishment. There are judges in states that will not enforce the death penalty because they feel the act is morally wrong and outdated, even politicians are even speaking out against capital punishment and how they believe this act benefits no one especially in a financial aspect.

Many religious scholars and believers believe the act of capital punishment is an abomination to the church. Religious believers believe that their gods or God himself should be the only determination of another human life. Taking another life into your hands and practicing this consistently some feel this is the government playing God. Upon asking some people in my community therian thoughts and feelings about the death penalty the message across the board was pretty consistent. "That anyone that had any kind of decency would see this is horribly wrong. There are other ways one can punish someone, but to take their live is a bit to the extreme. "Latrisha La'mae (a Christian at Church for the City) stated "God loves all his children, even the bad ones that make mistakes. When it comes down to it, He is our ultimate and final judge. By taking someone's life whether it is justified or not, it still is a sin, it still violates the ten commandments. Think about it, God didn't say you can kill someone if they are guilty and deserve it, no he said thou should not kill. Personally I believe that means, abortions, capital punishment, street gangs, whatever. The only time killing can be justified it to protect your life, or your country. These are just my personal opinions and what I feel is correct internally." Latrisha pinpointed on a point that was serval religious scholars base their argument off of and that is the ten commandments. No matter where you stand on religion or religious beliefs most of the common laws are based off of the ten commandments. One of the ten commandments are "Thou shall not kill." Most religious scholars believe that commandment applies to the government, and the act of capital punishment disrespects this law and violates it.

There is nothing wrong with capital punishment but most judges will not sentence it, this should arise some questions. It was actually the Supreme Court that suspended capital punishment in hopes to abolish it all together. The judges of the Supreme Court felt that capital punishment was being used wrongfully and violating the amendment. They took a stand against these actions in hopes to bring a change to the way capital punishment was practiced. Although they didn't succeed in keeping capital punishment abolished long, they were able to get the states to follow some stricter guidelines if wanting to proceed to the practice. Still today in states where capital punishment is still legal and a regular practice there are still several judges in which will not administer the act. Back in the 1800's up to the early 1900's the death penalty was decided by a jury whether someone faced it or not. Due to new stipulations this has now been decided by a judge the final outcome of another. With that being stated some judges would rather give someone life in prison with no parole than to sentence their lives to be taken away from them. Even with most judges refusing to practice the act the government keeps the death penalty around. Despite the many people who disagree with its act entirely and the administrators refusing to use it the government see's nothing wrong with it.

In today's society there are even politicians who are speaking out against the death policy. Some politicians look at capital punishment not as a violation to the moral and ethical code, some don't see it as a religious slander or an act against God. Politicians look at capital punishment and how costly it is, and they are right. It is argued that is more cost efficient to keep an inmate in prison for life, than to proceed with the act of the death penalty or the lethal injection. Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviewed with CNN explain the process of the lethal injection being administered. Dr. Gupta states there are normally three drugs that are administrated to perform the execution, those drugs are sodium thiopental, prancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. These medications must be administered in that exact order with the correct dosage. Although there is no doctor on the scene, the inmate needs to been seen by a doctor to perform these task, then there is a team within the prison that administrates the drugs. The complete process to proceed with capital punishment is over all costly. "Washington has carried out five executions since reinstatement, implying a cost of 24 million per execution. In three of the five cases the inmate waived parts of his appeals (thus reducing the cost.)" Recent studies have proven that the death penalty cost on average half a million dollars per inmate. Other states have stated it cost four times the average case verses the death penalty case. Kansas did a study providing numbers that just defending a death penalty case cost about 395,762 dollars per case verses other cases where the death penalty isn't sought out at 98,963. These numbers are just the cost for defending the case not the actual lethal injection being sought out in its entirety. Kansas obtained about 34 death penalty cases within a seven-year period that on average is 13,455,908.00 that were administrated on the death penalty cases. Other states numbers follow the amounts shown, the practice of the death penalty is expensive costing most states over millions of dollars.

Not only is capital punishment offensive to religion, a practice many don't agree with, and ridiculously expensive, it is also an irreversible punishment. Once the lethal injection is given to someone there is no way of taking that back. This means that your evidence against that person should have no flaws or questions, and without an admission of guilt there could still be some question. There have been laws and acts put in place to prevent the innocent man being executed, but when the system doesn't work in one's favor who can save him/her. Looking at the Herra vs. Collins case, Herra swore in innocence in the case. "He even with through the clemency process, which historically has been the 'fail safe' in the justice system. Herrera was not granted clemency" and therefore was executed. Since Herra case there have been over hundreds of people in the United States that have been released from death row since 1973, arising questions in many, how many innocent men died? Capital punishment has even got the attention of authors and movie directors speaking about how innocent men (especially slaves) got their lives taken from them without efficient evidence and a fair trial. In January of the year 2000 there were at least 13 inmates that were released from death row after they were found innocent and 12 men documented that were executed but later found they were not guilty.

Capital punishment has been a constant back and forth debate for centuries. Looking into history we have learned that capital punishment has been abolished several times. Several times the people the judges and even some parts of the government have tried to stop capital punishment. Thomas Jefferson tried to pass a bill putting strict stipulations on the death penalty and by one vote it did not pass. One vote. This was back in the 1700's the death penalty was looked at cruel. Then again in the 1800's the talk of capital punishment being banned surfaced, and although some states followed their instincts and banned it others did not, soon capital punishment was back in full effect. Again we see that in the 1900's capital punishment was gone for a short period of time and came back with newer stipulations and stronger ones. With capital punishment obtaining so many controversies, so many people against it, so many loop wholes, so many banishments, so much money, it is easy to see that the practice and the capital punishment system is not working. It is about that time that we abolish capital punishment for good.

Capital punishment is an inhumane practice, that may torture the inmate, that has obtained some failed attempts, and has been proven that it is not always one hundred percent effective. Dr. Gupta's interview with CNN's Virginia Cha states the importance of the lethal injection working in a certain order with a correct dosage. Dr. Gupta gets asked questions by Virginia Cha like "is the lethal injection, going to hurt, is the inmate going to feel anything?" Dr. Gupta does a great job with explaining the process, but if you pay attention he uses the words "it should, if used correctly, probably, the drugs are designed." He gives not real define "YES, this is what will happen every time." In watching the interview Dr. Gupta also share's his concerns about the process. "I was actually surprised there is no anesthesiologists there..." Certainly by his comments and the way he answered the questions he cannot implode a lot of faith in the system and the way the lethal injection is practiced. Looking a more recent incident with Dennis Mcguire it was stated that the inmate "struggled repeatedly gasping loudly for air and making a snorting and choking sounds before succumbing to a new two-drug execution." Mcguire's excecution failed horribly, causing the inmate pain and agony. The previous drug pentobarbital was used in the lethal injection process, but was made in Europe. Since Europe and most other civilized countries do not practice the death penalty anymore Europe had no reason to continue with the drug. The Untied Stated decided to try something new causing Mcguire to succumb to a death that was indeed "cruel and unusual" which is in direct violation to the eighth amendment. How many times is the United States going to obtain these "mishaps" before the practice is deemed unlawful?

Continuing practicing capital punishment proves the United States is inhumane, the United States still follows an outdated practice and the United States obtains no concern for the message capital punishment is providing to our children. We have learned about new security, new methods of punishment and have changed many laws over the years. Capital punishment is no longer needed in the United States due to the fact we have advanced and revolved. The use of capital punishment originated in a time where they were not as civilized not as big as the United States is today. Today we can keep someone in prison for their crimes we do not have to result to cave man days seeking an eye for an eye. We have overcome that era and all the faults we made hundreds of years ago should be revised and left in the past. Watching someone vigorously die is not a place where the United States should still be at, even if lethal injection has only a ten percent fail rate, that is still a high number. Our children are seeing and hearing about the things of the world and the message the death penalty is portraying is not a good one. How can we raise our children in a world where the government is openly killing people and tell them it is a safe place? To children they don't see a murderer or a rapist dying, they see their father, grandpa, next door neighbor, suffering, shaking, gasping for air. We are killing one another's to teach killing one another is wrong. Well, if that is the case, the death penalty and all its practices should have been buried a long time ago. Capital punishment has failed one time too many, it violates people's religion and what they believe in, and it has been proven to be morally wrong due to it violating moral beliefs. It has been proven to be ethically wrong because it violates the exact amendment we base our country on. Capital punishment has also been proven to cost way more taxpayers dollars than any other case that goes through the court system. Overall capital punishment is inhumane; it is cruel to practicing the suffering to another human being, in trying to justify another human being while taking justice from another, and then sit back and say justice is served. No, justice is not served now two people experienced unlawful death while America still weeps. It is time to take our amendment back, to stand up for what is right, and abolish the death penalty.

Works Cited
Smith, Harmon L. "Capital Punishment." Encyclopedia of Religious Controversies in the United States. Ed. Bill J. Leonard and Jill Y. Crainshaw. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013. 143-155. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.


"Capital Punishment." The Supreme Court A to Z. Kenneth Jost. 5th ed. Los Angeles: CQ Press, 2012. 76-79. CQ Press American Government A to Z Series. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.


Capital Punishment: Deterrent Effects & Capital Costs
by Jeffrey A. Fagan, Professor of Law & Public Health; Co-Director, Center for Crime, Community, and Law Web 6 Dec.2015.

Death Penalty Information Center. DPIC Web 6 Dec.2015
justivy03 - / 2,366 607  
Jan 9, 2016   #2
Ebonie, as I read and understand your research, I felt the lack of information on the part of, what do you think will be the best

alternative for capital punishment if it will be completely abolished.

I would also suggest that you incorporate the citations in the paper, I've seen this in some work, it
absolutely helps if you can already have the citation enclosed in your sentences, it gives a sense
of security that the facts gathered in the paper is from a verified source and done properly.

I like the fact that you added a little bit of everything in the research, the history, the integration of the facts into real life

scenarios and events as well as your personal interpretation of the topic at hand.
It is indeed a good research, just a few more information on alternative actions to be done in tackling the issue but nevertheless, good job!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jan 9, 2016   #3
You made a great argument! I notice that you did not include a thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph, and I think you can improve your writing if you begin to use this method. Put a sentence at the end of the first paragraph to tell the reader the main idea of the essay. When you do that, it makes it easy for the reader to focus on the message you are sending and appreciate the logic of your argument.

You already did a good job of starting each paragraph with a paragraph-topic-sentence. One paragraph is about the religious argument against capital punishment, and another is about the fact that it is irreversible, and another is about the fact that it is like torture, and so on. Some people list all their points in the thesis sentence at the end of the first paragraph. The sentence at the end of the first paragraph is like a 'microcosm' of the whole essay.

I like justivy's idea of throwing in some citations. You used a direct quote between "" marks, so it should also have a page number.

Continuing practicing the practice of capital punishment proves the United States is inhumane, that the United States still follows an outdated practice, and that the United States obtains shows no concern for the message capital punishment is providing to our children. ---- I made some improvements to this sentence, and I think it would be a good sentence to add to the end of the first paragraph. This sentence makes a powerful impact on the reader and establishes the main argument of the paper.

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