The death penalty has always been a controversial topic. Everyone has different views and opinions on how it should be handled and whether they agree or disagree with it. This paper will discuss a little bit of the history of how the death penalty came to be, how or if the death penalty deters people from committing murder, which states have abolished the death penalty and the opinion of a judge and a lawyer on the death penalty. I gathered my information from different resources including The Death Penalty by Ida Walker, Debating the Death Penalty edited by Hugo Bedau and Paul Cassell and a few Internet articles. The British settlers brought the concept of capital punishment to America. The first execution in America was in 1608 in Jamestown, VA; Captain George Kendall was executed for being a spy. Four years after Kendall the governor of Virginia signed a law indicating which crimes resulted in execution. In New York, disrespecting your Parents, hitting them, or denying God would result in death. The case of Furman v. Georgia in 1972 brought the question of the constitutionality of the death penalty up to the courts. The decision of the case was based on the 8th amendment and stated that the death penalty was unconstitutional. In the centuries following the founding of the United States of America, the death penalty was used in many states. However, in the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court began rethinking the laws surrounding its use. As of March 2007 the death penalty was allowed in 38 states. However, currently it’s only allowed in 33. The states that have abolished the death penalty are Alaska (1957), Connecticut (2012), Hawaii (1957), Illinois (2011), Iowa (1965), Maine (1887), Massachusetts (1984), Michigan (1846), Minnesota (1911), New Jersey (2007), New Mexico (2009), New York (2007), North Dakota (1973), Rhode Island (1984), Vermont (1964), West Virginia (1965), Wisconsin (1853), Washington DC (1981). As of January 1st, 2012 there are currently 3,189 people on death row across the nation, and since 1976 there have been 1,295 executions. Like all defendants in criminal cases, individuals charged with a capital offense can choose to plea guilty or not guilty. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case goes to trial. In the United States there are five methods of execution: lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, and firing squad. Most states and the U.S. government and military, use lethal injection as either the primary or alternative method of carrying out the punishment. A lethal injection execution consists of three drugs sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that causes the inmate to fall asleep within 30 seconds. The IV line is then usually flushed with a salt solution before injecting pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes the diaphragm and the lungs. Some states follow that drug with potassium chloride, which then stops the heart from beating properly. There is no question that the death penalty works as a method of punishment. The result of capital punishment makes it impossible for the criminal to commit another crime. However, the question does arise about crime prevention. Is it knowing that they’ll take away your life the best way to deter you from committing a crime? The role of a sentence is also under debate. Is it meant to be rehabilitation or revenge? Proponents and opponents of the death penalty share a desire to punish criminal behavior and protect society. The two groups’ beliefs diverge in how those tasks are accomplished and whether the death penalty should be an option. Proponents of the death penalty believe it is an effective way to stop crime. They focus on the death penalty as deterrent, something that will stop or lessen crime. If the death penalty is a possible consequence, people will think twice about committing a crime that could lead to the death penalty. Many proponents also believe that the death penalty brings the most justice to the victim of a heinous crime. They...
References: Walker, I. (2008). The Death Penalty. Edina, MN: ABDO Publishing Company.
Bedau, H., & Cassell, P. (2004). Debating the Death Penalty. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Schmich, M. (2011, March 13). Death does not always equal justice. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-03-13/news/ct-met-schmich-0313-0110313_1_deathpenalty-murder-victims-families-equal-justice
Sobieski, D. (2000, February 12). Deterring murder with death. chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-02-12/news/0002120169_1_death-penalty-executed-gas-chamber
Castellanos, D. (2012, April 18). death penalty a deterrent to murder? study says evidence unclear. Los Angeles times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-death-penalty-20120418,0,7628733.story
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