The Ultimate Punishment: Implementation of Death Penalty

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The debate around the death penalty is an ongoing issue around the world. The criminal is persecuted for their crimes by the state through the act of execution. Over the years, some people have been against this and called it unconstitutional while some support it. The different ways these prisoners were being executed has developed throughout the years to where nowadays it is not painful one of many reasons the arguments have piled up and become very strenuous.

First of all the death penalty is capital punishment. The criminal is executed for his crimes against the state. Over the years, forms of this penalty have evolved. The most famous nowadays are lethal injection and electrocution. Lethal injection is performed when the criminal is tied onto a gurney. Two needles are inserted into the arm with a harmless saline solution, afterward an anesthetic from sodium thiopental is injected and finally, a liquid of pavulon or pancuronium bromide is injected into the inmate. The person's, muscles stop working, and their lungs tighten which leads to them being unable to breathe. The inmates died from the results of anesthetic overdose and respiratory and cardiac arrest (“Execution Methods”). Another form of the death penalty is by electrocution chair, this is considered one of the most painful forms of the death penalty. The inmate's head is shaven and they are strapped onto a chair. A metal skullcap electrode is attached to the scalp and forehead over a sponge moistened with saline. The prisoner is then blindfolded and electric currents between 500-2000 volts are sent throughout their body until they go into cardiac arrest (ibid). The other methods are more medieval or considered old, for example, the firing squad. A firing squad is a form that is slightly more complicated because, “the inmate is typically bound to a chair with leather straps across his waist and head, in front of an oval-shaped canvas wall. The chair is surrounded by sandbags to absorb the inmate's blood. A black hood is pulled over the inmate's head. A doctor locates the inmate's heart with a stethoscope and pins a circular white cloth target over it. Standing in an enclosure 20 feet away, five shooters are armed with. 30 caliber rifles loaded with single rounds. One of the shooters is given blank rounds. Each of the shooters aims his rifle through a slot in the canvas and fires at the inmate.’’ (ibid). Another form that was used more in medieval times is hanging. A rope that has been waxed is wrapped in a not and then around the inmate's neck. His is then lifted up and let go, his weight makes him hang, and the inmate dies of choking or the displacement of his neck. In some cases, the head was decapitated by this method (ibid).

The death penalty is much more common than many people think. Around the world, multiple countries have abolished it or made it the last resort. On the other hand these countries: China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Islamic countries, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka, (“General Assembly”), (“Execution Methods”) still use the death penalty. Some of these places are in the top five leading countries of executions. The crimes for which people are killed differ across all these countries. The death penalty has been around since the early middle ages. From burning at the stake to modern lethal injection, the death penalty was the highest form of punishment. The deaths around the world caused by execution have been decreasing. In all European Union countries except Belarus this punishment has been abolished, “Capital punishment has been completely abolished by 102 countries, a further six have done so for all offenses except under special circumstances and 32 more have abolished it in practice because they have not used it for at least 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice against carrying out executions. All if not almost all countries in the EU have abolished the death penalty.’’(ibid). On the other hand in the United States, the death penalty is legal in 30 states out of 50. This is why it is one of the leading countries in numbers of executions as capital punishment (“Death Penalty acts Fast”). The top executing countries include; China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the USA, and Iran.

Secondally, an important issue is that the middle east has higher numbers of the death penalty than anywhere in the world. Some argue that it is because of how the government works while some say it is because of how society is. In Iran alone, “51% of all executions of 2017 were carried out”(Bawaba). Iran executed 507 people in 2017, which is over 60% of confirmed executions (ibid). For example, Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries that execute children under the age of 18 (ibid). This only adds on the percentages of middle east's’ executions. Many of executions in the middle east are unofficial, so the exact percentage is unknown. “Executions doubled or almost doubled in Palestine (State of) from 3 in 2016 to 6 in 2017; Singapore from 4 to 8; and Somalia from 14 to 24.”(“Death Penalty in the Middle East”). This creates a big issue because around the world percentages of executions are decreasing, while in the Middle East they are only increasing. The government is a big issue in all of this because it controls the way the society works. It manipulates its people to have certain rules and opinions about certain people. Another reason why the rates are so high is that criminal justice in the Middle East produces images among Western readers of severed hands, religious police, and qadi justice. This creates a perception about the Middle East from the outside perspective that isn't true and only lets the Middle Eastern countries get away with so many executions of which over 40-50% are unofficial (ibid). Middle Eastern countries still punish its citizens for witchcraft, homosexuality, and adultery and some even on a war against God (Bawaba).

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The death penalty has been around since the middle ages but its first forms came about circa 1754 BCE. The code of Hammurabi was the first set of laws that were written down to include crimes punishable by death. Under the code, “twenty-five crimes were punishable by death. These crimes included adultery (cheating on a wife or husband) and helping slaves escape. Murder was not one of the twenty-five crimes.”(“Should the Death Penalty be Allowed-timeline?”). The first signs of the death penalty in the United States were seen during colonial times. The Colonials could be executed for crimes as paltry as “stealing grapes, killing chickens, or trading with the Indians.”(ibid). The first documented execution in the United States was the execution of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown, Virginia in 1608, he was hanged for the offense of treason. Other serious crimes punishable by death in the colonial times were murder, rape, heresy - and witchcraft (ibid). While the first federal execution was on June 25th, 1790. U. S Marshall Henry Dearborn ordered the hanging of Thomas Bird in Massachusetts. His crime was the murder of the captain of a slave ship which he sailed on (ibid). This punishment is so commonly used because it is the ultimate price to can pay; one’s life. Countries in which executions are legalized, reserve this act for the highest levels of crime. Although this is not true for the countries in the Middle East as they utilize this punishment of death for very trivial crimes. Overall this capital punishment has been around for a long time, and the crimes which people are punished for haven’t changed in many countries since the 1700s.

Thirdly, big part of the death penalty is that there are two sides. This ongoing argument about which side is right and which one is wrong is a constant struggle. The pro side argues that it is effective in the sense that it punishes the worst criminals for their crimes, such as; murder, intentional murder, drugs, rape, kidnapping, sexual assault of a minor and or with murder, and many others (“Crimes Punishable..”). The other side argues that nowadays punishments like life in prison without parole are much better than the death penalty because the death penalty is unconstitutional. The opposite side replies to these arguments with the ideals that the death penalty now is by lethal injection that is painless (ibid). Many people argue for abolishment because the crime rates have dropped majorly (Chammah). The con side also argues with the issue of race and how race affects one’s chances of a death penalty. “The past 25 years of death sentencing data have a strong county-level pattern of racial bias. Counties with more black residents have more death sentences.’’(ibid). Racial bias with the issue of the death penalty is another reason why many claims the death penalty is unconstitutional and rigged by racial bias. Many are also argued that when the death penalty was illegal in the U. S 63% of crimes such as murder were down (Lamberti). The pro side argues that certain crimes need to be punished which is understandable when looked at from the point of view of the family whose child, or family member was hurt. Another argument is that the death penalty re-enforces law and order, it costs less than life imprisonment and deters crime (“Should the Death Penalty be Allowed?”). In conclusion, both sides have very good arguments so it is up to one’s opinion to decide what side they are on. Overall the death penalty has both negative and positive effects but some outweigh the other.

While the topic of the death penalty is pretty upsetting it brought on some very interesting cases that people still talk of today. John Wayne Gacy, Jr., also known as the Killer Clown, was an American who was convicted of a minimum of thirty-three teenage boys and young men committed between 1972 and 1978 in Chicago, Illinois. He killed the boys and buried them in his house. He claimed that he suffered from a split personality disorder which was never proven (“Famous People”). Another very famous killer is a woman named Aileen Wuornos she was a serial killer who murdered seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990, by shooting them at point-blank range. Wuornos claimed that her victims had either raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute. She claimed she acted on self-defense. She was convicted and sentenced to death for six of the murders and was executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002 (ibid). Another famous killer was known as “the Gray man”, “Brooklyn Vampire”, “Werewolf of Wysteria” these were only a few of the names Hamilton Howard was called. He killed over 100 people. A very interesting case was the one of Westley Allan Dodd who was a psychopathic serial killer and child molester. “He has been called 'one of the evilest killers in history'. His execution on January 5, 1993, was the first legal hanging in the United States since 1965.”(ibid). Another very famous woman is Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt. She was convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. She was sentenced to death and executed by hanging, becoming the first woman executed by the United States Federal government (ibid). The most famous person executed is Ted Bundy. He confessed to thirty acts, but more are suspected. He hurt women throughout 1970 committing crimes such as rape, kidnapping, murder. He was seen as a very charismatic person which made him very approachable. He was executed on January 24th, 1989 by electric chair. Many scientists describe him as a “sadistic sociopath”. Ted Bundy managed to escape prison twice, once in June of 1977 and the again in December through February of 1977 (ibid). Most of these crimes happen in the United States as when these crimes happened many of these killers outsmarted the system. For example not leaving any body behind would make a case run cold allowing them to kill another victim. When people think of the death penalty, they often think of these famous killers. This is one of the main reasons why this penalty exists. That is to punish the worst of the worst for their crimes.

Fourthly, the way society reacts to the death penalty and how they are taught about it changes their opinion. One’s social class, race, and background affect how they learn about the death penalty while also increasing or decreasing that individuals chances of experiencing it first hand. Social classes play a big role in the percentages of an individual's chances of ending up on death row, “There could be no greater indictment of the death penalty than the fact that in practice it is really a penalty reserved for people from lower socio-economic groups. This turns it into a class-based form of discrimination in most countries, thus making it the equivalent of arbitrary killing.”(“Disproportionally”). A person’s background can also affect their chance of ending up on death row. Immigrants have a very high chance of punishments such as the death penalty. “Migrants who find themselves caught up in the criminal justice system face multiple obstacles in effectively challenging charges made against them, including unfamiliarity with legal language and procedures, limited awareness of their rights, financial constraints, and the possible lack of a supportive social network.”(ibid). Migrants also face bias from judges, police officers, and investigators (ibid). The way kids are taught about also affects society. The way kids grow up shapes the future. If that future is filled with unsupported bias around the death penalty this issue will never be solved. In the end, the death penalty has positive and negative effects. While some call it unconstitutional, the opposite side claims it is necessary. In multiple cases, people have been wrongfully accused and executed for crimes which they did not commit (“ Why the Death..”).

Many also argue that it is below human dignity, “The death penalty violates the right to life which happens to be the most basic of all human rights. It also violates the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’’(ibid), (“The facts..”). The dispute over the fact that most inmates on death row come from lower social classes, colored races, and different backgrounds than a white male further the point that the death penalty should be abolished. The International Commision Against the Death Penalty (ICADP) states, “The death penalty is often used in a disproportional manner against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic, political and religious groups.”(ibid). On the other side of the argument, people argue that the death penalty reinforces law and order (“Should the Death Penalty be Allowed?”). Another argument from the pro side is that it costs less than life imprisonment (ibid). In conclusion, both sides have strong arguments, it is up to the person to decide which side they are on. But what all people agree on is that this capital punishment should be reserved for the worst of the worst.

Altogether, the death penalty serves as the ultimate punishment for one’s crimes against the state. This punishment first started in 1754 when the “Code of Hammurabi” was published. Ever since then, executions around the world have been going on at full speed. Over the years execution styles have developed from burning at the stake to lethal injections. With the evolution of the executions came arguments against the whole idea. People opposed this punishment as they called it “unconstitutional” and “without human dignity”. The capital punishment is reserved for the worst criminals but that does not mean that at times innocent people get executed. The argument of whether or not the death penalty should be abolished or not has been going on back and forth between all countries around the world. While most have abolished it many countries still use it.

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