June 1, 2014
Do you think the death penalty saves innocent lives or takes them? When you turn on the news, the radio, and read the newspaper, you usually find news of murder, arrest, homicides, suicides, and plenty of other saddening information. When you commit a crime you are signing your life over to the government, because they are the ones who decide your fate from that moment on. There are many levels of punishment but the highest is the death penalty. The death penalty is a form of punishment that has been around for a very long time. It is known as Capital punishment, and is known for being a controversial topic when it comes to convicting criminals. Thirty four states in the US utilize the death penalty (Gaines & Miller, 2013). The death penalty or capital punishment is execution when the person being convicted has committed first degree murder. Different methods are used when performing the execution. There are many biased opinions on this topic. One aspect is it is seemed as it is violating the eighth amendment, while others deem it to be justifiable.
The first actual death penalty can go back as far as the eighteenth century. Death sentence methods were crucifixion, drowning, or even being burned alive. They would executed by “drawing and quartering and boiling the convict alive (Gaines & Miller, p. 213). In the 1600’s the death penalty was being used and there were crimes listed that were punishable by death. Proceeding to the late 1700’s the Bill of Rights was approved, which included the eighth amendment, stating the disagreement on cruel and unusual punishment. Later the degrees of murder were implemented, therefor making it “easier” to determine what crime gets the death penalty (Capital Punishment Timeline. (n.d.). Through time there would be a rise of executions and then a decrease. At times during racism you could see the rates were the death penalty was used the most on them, or other minorities. Different methods are and were used for execution. According to Gaines and Miller there are many forms of execution that exist today. Some of the methods include the lethal injection, electrocution on the electric chair, hanging, and firing squad. For the most part, all thirty four countries us the lethal injection to execute the convicts (Gaines & Miller, 2013). But the federal government allows for the individual states to define crimes and choose their own penalties for crimes committed. One way is lethal injection. The convict is take to a chamber completely strapped in a gurney. Next the convict is injected with sodium thiopental and next Pavulon, then after the convict stops breathing and dies. Some states have secondary methods. Examples would be death by electrocution or even being put in a gas chamber (Gaines & Miller, 2013). There are nine states that have the electrocution method, four states the lethal gas method, three states have the hanging method, and 3 states have the firing squad method, which is very rare the time that it is used (Miller & Gaines, 2013). With the death penalty being so controversy there are many cases where the eight amendment comes into play and whether it is considered the right decision.
There is a procedure guidelines that must be followed when giving the death penalty. The bifurcated process, and all the states that have the death penalty have laws based on this process (Gaines & Miller, 2013). First the person is taking into custody, and then brought before the court to hear the charges and enter a plea. Then it is determined if there is enough evidence, if there is then the case is presented to the grand jury and the trial begins. Then the jury will choose if they believe the evidence is good enough to hold them and charge them with the crime. The decision is then made that they are guiltily and if capital punishment is reasonable. According to the jurors have to be able to “death qualified”. That means they need