Death Penalty


The death penalty has been a staple in the justice system of America
since its inception. Though very controversial, it has stood the test of time as
the ultimate punishment. Many countries are currently abolishing their death
penalty practice. America, on the other hand, has thirty-eight of fifty states
with laws regarding the death penalty. It seems the United States requires the
death penalty more than ever due to the increased rate of violent crime. Since
nineteen ninety more than three hundred fifty people have been put to death
with another three thousand three hundred in the waiting on death row. On a
larger scale, since nineteen seventy-six five hundred fifty-two executions have
occurred in the United States, the breakdown is as follows: three hundred
ninety-four by lethal injection, one hundred forty-one by electrocution, eleven
by gas chamber, three by hanging, and two by firing squad. Half of the post-
nineteen seventy-six executions have occurred within the last five years,
including fifty-two so far this year. Although the death penalty has brought
many viscous criminals to a “fitting” end, the process by which the death
penalty is based upon is an inconsistent one. The system of tangled appeals,
court orders, and last minute pardons has rendered the entire system
ineffective. As displayed by the swelling of the stagnant pool of death row
inmates, criminals are not deterred by the punishment. “ An evil deed is not
redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the
taking of human life. Morality is never upheld by legalized murder.”

Many loopholes exist in the structure of the death penalty. The
outcome of the case is decided by the quality of the lawyer defending the
accused. Many criminals cannot afford a competent lawyer, resulting in a
greater chance of that particular person being issued the death penalty, as
opposed to life in prison. A fine line separates these two charges, and a
defendant who can afford a competent lawyer stands less of a chance of being
assigned the death penalty than one who cannot. Also studies show that the
application of the death penalty is racial biased. The amount of violent
crimes are split almost equally between the white and black ethnic groups.
Since nineteen seventy-seven eighty-two percent of the criminals assigned the
death penalty have committed the crime in question against a Caucasian.
Another glaring defect of the structure of the death penalty system in America
are the laws regarding the sentencing of criminals under the age of eighteen.
Minors can be sentenced to death in twenty-four states. Although these
criminals have indeed committed crimes that could call upon the death
penalty, they are children, with so much more learning and opportunities
ahead of them. No person who is mentally inadequate or immature should be
assigned a death penalty. Due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, mentally
retarded people can be put to death. Over thirty mentally impaired people
have been executed since the ruling.

The death penalty is cruel and inhumane. No matter how the death
penalty is carried out, no man has the power to judge and sentence another to
death. Americans are taught that two wrongs do not make a right. This
concept is the basis of most types of religion found in America. Religion is
the basis of groups fighting the death penalty. Also, moratoriums on the
death penalty are increasing in number. Moratoriums would temporarily
suspend the death penalty while its fairness would be examined for future use.
Illinois and Nebraska both passed moratorium bills in the spring of nineteen
ninety-nine, though neither were fully passed into law. The debate of
morality in the death penalty is not a new one. The Supreme Court ruled that
execution is a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects United
States citizens from “cruel and unusual punishment. ”, on June twenty-ninth,
nineteen seventy-two. The individual states stopped executions in nineteen
sixty-seven awaiting the ruling of this case. However in July of nineteen
seventy-six the death penalty was upheld by the Supreme Court as a righteous
punishment for some crimes. For nine years, the death penalty was
suspended. The United States did not encounter an immense crime increase
when considering two factors that the United States was faced with at the
time of this court ruling: the onslaught of the Vietnam Conflict, and the racial
tensions sparked by the Civil Rights movement of the mid-sixties.

Category: History