Debate Over Capital Punishment


Justice can not be served until the debate on capital 
punishment is resolved and all states have come to agree that the 
death penalty is the best way to stop crime completely. 
 "The bottom line is, one method of execution is just as brutal 
and as barbaric as the next," says Mr. Breedlove of the National 
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. This comes straight from the 
mouth of a member of a national organization against capital 
punishment. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English 
Language, Third Edition defines execution as The act or an instance of 
putting to death or being put to death as a lawful penalty. So if 
Breedlove's words hold true, then what he believes is that someone 
going out and killing someone is barbaric. In a sense isn't that what 
he's saying, that one way of killing someone is just as bad as any 
other. So if he finds this so barbaric, why doesn't he do something 
about it?
 Many people who are against capital punishment are only 
thinking of the criminal and how cruel it is for them. But, shouldn't 
we think of the families that are broken apart now because of the 
merciless acts of these criminals. Think of Susan Smith, how she 
knowingly drove her car off into a lake with her two children strapped 
to the seats. Think of how they must have felt as the cold water 
started to fill the cabin of the car, and then ultimately drown them. 
 Barbaric is exactly the word I would use to describe her actions. 
But yet, the jury rejected the death penalty and chose a life sentence 
instead. Mr. Smith, the father of the two children, broken up from 
the ruling said "Me and my family are disappointed that the death 
penalty was not the verdict, but it wasn't our choice. They returned 
a verdict they thought was justice" (Bragg, pg.
 But was it justice that she was not put to death for killing 
her two children. How could someone possibly let her off the hook of 
such a crime. They said it would be just as bad for her to be in that 
cell alone because of her depression, but does it justify her cutting 
short the lives of the two children who had no idea of their oncoming 
death. "All grandeur, all power, all subordination to authority rests 
on the executioner: he is the horror and the bond of human 
association. Remove this incomprehensible agent from the world and at 
that very moment order gives way to chaos, thrones topple and society 
disappears." Says Joseph de Maistre, a eighteenth century French 
diplomat. He is right, if we give up our punishing a deadly criminal, 
then we throw our society into chaos and let the criminals freely do 
as they please. I would know I was safe if anyone that tried to 
fatally harm me would be put to death. But in this society when 
someone can kill someone, get sentenced to life, get paroled and then 
freed to go about and do the same crime again frankly scares me.
Another thing that scares me is the fact that this country has 
softened up on criminals. It's hard to think that now a days everyone 
has a right, even though when you go against the law and are put in 
prison, you are suppose to be stripped of your rights. Not so 
anymore. Justice in the nineties has slacked up a bit. 
 "In the late 1950's, on any given day there were about two 
hundred prisoners awaiting execution," says Hugo Bedau of Tufts 
University, Massachusetts. "Hardly any remained on Death Row for more 
than a year." Today [November 1995], there are 15 times that number, 
and many have been there for over a decade. Opponents of the death 
penalty say this statistic is a moral outrage. Supporters see it as 
undermining a key advantage of the death penalty over life 
imprisonment: it saves tax-payers the huge cost of keeping murderers 
locked up (Matthews, pg.'s 38-42).
 Most of those against capital punishment argue that the forms 
of execution are gruesome. While some might be seen that way at 
first, others offer the advantages that both parties can agree on. In 
1994 there were two hundred fifty seven executions in the United States. There were five methods of doing so, as follows:

Lethal Injection: 133
Electrocution: 112
Gas Chamber: 9
Hanging: 2
Firing Squad: 1

Electric Chair

 First used in New York in 1890 and still in use in 13 states, 
"old sparky" was the horrific outcome of Thomas Edison's attempt to 
show the dangers of the AC power supply being promoted by his rivals. 
The condemned is strapped to a wooden chair, electrodes are attached, 
and a shock of thirty thousand watts is applied. The prisoner is 
literally cooked internally, and death my require multiple shocks.

Gas Chamber

 First used in Nevada in 1921, the gas chamber is an airtight 
room with a chair into which the accused is strapped. Death is caused 
by exposure to cyanide gas, produced when sodium cyanide is dropped 
into sulfuric acid. The suffering caused is deliberate and plain to 
see: writhing, vomiting, shaking and gasping for breath for many 
seconds. This horrendous technique is used only in a few US states.

Lethal Injection

 Introduced in the US in 1977 and now in use in 23 states, this 
is the most widespread method and arguably the most humane. The 
condemned is strapped to a table and injected with sodium thiopentone, 
losing consciousness in 10 to 15 seconds. This is followed by 
pancuronium bromide, which blocks respiration, and finally potassium 
chloride to stop the heart (Matthews, pg.'s 38-43).
 While electrocution is obviously not the most painless way to
execute someone, it does offer a deterrent for future crime. I know 
that I personally would not murder anyone if I knew that I would be 
executed with the electric chair. Such a deterrent keeps most people 
safe as they go about in their lives. 
 But does it do any good? Does executing someone for such 
crimes actually prevent future occurrences? Some would say no, others 
would say yes, but me I have the notion that in some cases yes, but in 
others no. I say this because, unlike in the nineteenth century, we 
do not make our executions as public as they did. We do not take the 
criminal and hang them in the streets where everyone can see them. Or 
we are not like over in Europe where they would execute the criminal 
in broad daylight and with the entire town around. It was a fanfare 
ritual back then. Now it is just an unseen deed done at prisons. We 
should bring it back into the open so that everyone can see the 
consequences of your crimes. 
 When they execute someone with the electric chair they usually
wait until close to midnight because then they know that not too many
people will be using electricity as the chair needs thirty thousand 
watts, or the equivalent of four hundred seventy-five watt light bulbs 
turning on at the same time. And it needs more then one shock, so it 
drains a massive amount of electricity from the power company. 
 What if they were to go back to the old days. Then the 
deterrent factor would most definitely rise because of the publicly 
displayed execute of the criminals. It would send out the signal that 
anyone who can commit the crime, can also pay for it. That's the main 
reason for the death penalty anyway, to tell every criminal and future 
criminal that you'll have to pay for your crimes that you commit. 
 As Robert Matthews a journalism for Focus an English magazine 
once wrote, "Some people argue that the absence of capital punishment 
in this country [England] is the mark of a civilized society. I 
believe we are rapidly becoming uncivilized. Some of the things that 
happen on our streets and in people's homes certainly do not 
constitute civilized behavior." (Matthews, pg.'s 38-42)
 That exact same quote can be used to describe our nation as 
well. Some will argue that the capital punishment is such a harsh and
uncivilized way of treating criminals, but look at how they act. They 
do not care about the lives of those they have destroyed. They are 
the ones that make this nation uncivilized. They are the ones that 
are the most uncivilized individuals in this entire country. If 
anything, the death penalty is not enough. It can never bring back 
the loved ones to the families that have lost them. It can never 
bring back the innocent lives that have been taken in cold blood. 
 Capital punishment must be the standard by which each and 
every state must abide by. If we can not join together and defeat 
crime, it will most certainly take us over. We can no longer sit and 
let our lives be terrorized. No longer can we sit back and watch 
criminals be released and then kill again. No longer must we 
Americans or anyone live our lives in fear. We must come together and 
draw the line on crime. We must make the world safe so that we and 
our children may once again live in a world without the fear of being 
senselessly killed or losing our loved ones. For a cold blooded 
killer, capital punishment is the only true justice.


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