The Absurdity of the Death Penalty Essay

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The Absurdity of the Death Penalty Over twelve hundred men and women have been killed in the United States as a result of capital punishment. There are over three thousand inmates on death row as of April 1, 2013. Multiple people are removed from death row every year before their executions because the evidence in their trials are reanalyzed and considered compromised. Many have been executed before their trials were deemed flawed, therefore they were executed for essentially no reason. The death penalty should not be practiced due to a violation of the Constitution, lack of a positive impact on crime rates, and the possibility of irrevocable mistakes. The death penalty was first brought to America by European settlers, and since then, thousands have been executed. Throughout history, many methods of execution have emerged: hanging, lethal injection, electric chair, firing squad and gassing. Abolition movements began in the late 1700s in order to eliminate capital punishment. The death penalty was not practiced in America for four years. In 1976, it was reinstated. Each state now has the right to make its own laws regarding execution. As a result, eighteen states have abolished the death penalty. The death penalty has been scrutinized for years. Many people have argued that it violates the Constitution and takes away the rights of American citizens. It specifically contradicts the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Eighth Amendment states that no cruel or unusual punishment should be given. However, taking a person's life is a both cruel and unusual punishment. It "treats members of the human race as non humans" according to William J. Brennan, a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Claims have been made that the methods used to execute criminals are painless and humane. This is usually not the case at all. For example, when a firing squad is used to execute an inmate the process is potentially quite painful and torturous. When this method is chosen, the condemned is strapped to a wall or chair, and a target is placed over his heart. A line of gunmen file in with loaded riffles. They aim and shoot at the target, supposedly. However, reports have been made of gunmen purposefully aiming their gun off-target in the attempt to miss the inmate's hearts and cause the person to slowly bleed to death. Another example is the electric chair. The first man to be executed by electrocution was William Kremmler in 1890. He was strapped to a chair and a current was sent through his body for seventeen seconds. He was deemed dead. Moments later, he began moving and moaning, and it was more than clear that he was alive, conscious, and in a tremendous amount of pain. This continued for another six minutes while the workers recharged the machine to finish the execution process. One of the witnesses, George Westinghouse, commented "they would have done better using an axe." Years later in 1946, a sixteen year old boy, Willie Francis, was strapped to the electric chair. While the electric current was sent through his body, it was reported that he cried out "Stop it! Let me breathe!" He survived his execution and another trial was held. The death penalty also contradicts the Fourteenth Amendment. It states that every member of the United States has a right to life. A person's life is a precious, complex thing. Who is to say when it is appropriate to take that away from any particular human being, despite the accusations against them? Sentencing a person to capital punishment is clearly violating their rights as an American citizen, and it is prone to mishaps which can be extremely painful to the accused. Throughout all the studies and collections of statistics on the relationship between the death penalty and crime rates, there has been limited evidence to suggest that using the death penalty causes crime levels to decline. Statistics actually show the opposite. In 2011 Mississippi, a state which practices the death