April 08, 2013
Death Penalty is the penalty of death for the commission of a crime. The first case that was recognized in the United States was the case of Captain George Kendall in Jamestown, Virginia in 1608; he was executed for being a spy for Spain. The United States started to use killing methods such as: electric chair, firing squad, hanging, stoning, decapitation, gas chamber but the most common was the lethal injection. Now a days some states are trying to find a way to eliminated capital punishment because they found that it is unconstitutional and it is against the 5th, 8th and 14th amendment.
The U.S. Constitution's eight amendment states: 'Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. A number of state constitutions also contain the same, or similar, provisions. The objective of the punishment has three purposes which are: to punish for that crime committed, to prevent its repetition, and to discourage crimes. In recent years we have seen that the death penalty has not contributed to its objective because it is not going to prevent other people from committing crimes.
The Supreme Court says that it is unconstitutional to sentence people with disabilities. In 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court held that the execution of people with mental retardation violates the 8th amendment’s ban on cruel and he provision states that a judicial finding that a death row inmate’s competence to assist counsel is not likely to be restored in the foreseeable future would trigger an automatic reduction of the sentence. Accordingly, the ABA resolution provides that when a prisoner is found incompetent for execution, his death sentence should automatically be commuted to the jurisdiction’s net most severe punishment for the capital offense.
The death penalty has been used as a penalty for severe crimes since the beginning of recorded history. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Furman v. Georgia that the death penalty laws of 39 states were unconstitutional. This ruling stated that the death penalty provided "cruel and unusual punishment” under existing state statutes. In Gregg v. Georgia (1976), the Supreme Court held that state death penalty laws could be constitutional if these laws provided clear and objective standards under which the death penalty may be applied. Thirty-eight states now have such death penalty laws in effect. Another case that went to the Supreme Court was Robinson v. California a case in which the Supreme Court held that the use of civil imprisonment as punishment solely for the misdemeanor crime of addiction to controlled substance was a violation of the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment. As you can see most of the cases that go through the Supreme Court process are because they violate their rights, in this case it was the 8Th amendment.
The death penalty is discriminatory and used disproportionately against the poor, members of racial, minorities, ethnic and religious communities. According to an article of CBS News, “blacks and whites are murdered in about equal numbers, but what happens to their killers can be far different. Those who murder whites are much more likely to be executed than killers of blacks”.
Texas is the state that had the highest rate of execution, Texas has executed innocent people during the years and one of them is the case of Willingham. He was convicted of murder and executed for the deaths of his three young children by arson at the family home in Corsicana, Texas. After he was executed they founded out that he did not commit the crime. This case has influenced the debate about the death penalty because judges should be certain of their decision before they make the sentence.
The eighth amendment stands to assure that this power be exercised within the limits of