Death Penalty: Cruel and Unusual?

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Samantha Bennett
ENG 101-150
Professor Batchelor
04/22/2012
Rough Draft

Death Penalty: ‘Cruel and Unusual?’

All over the country the death penalty has been debated on whether or not it should be legalized. This area of research is important because citizens of the United States need to know how they should punish someone. The offender would have to commit a really heinous crime in order to be given the death penalty. Another name for the death penalty is capital punishment. Shockingly, there are more states that have the death penalty than those who do not. However, the United States is not the only country that has the death penalty, such as; China, Japan, Jamaica, India, Taiwan, and many others.

Citizens of the United States all have different opinions on whether or not the death penalty should be used. Some consider it cruel and unusual punishment, while others think it is fine and even some who think it is okay in some circumstances. So the real question is can the death penalty be considered cruel and unusual punishment? Some people will say yes while others will say no. The death penalty is considered cruel and unusual punishment because the person sentenced usually gets electrocuted. There are many different opinions on the death penalty.

The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. There are three main methods for the death penalty: electric chair, lethal injection, and firing squad. The electric chair is by far the worst choice out of the three. The person sentenced will be electrocuted to death. At least with lethal injection they do not feel anything, except the needle going into their skin. If used at all, the crime would have to be absolutely terrible in order to get sentenced to death. The death penalty is too gruesome to just be given out so easily, there has to be an extreme case for it. Even though the death penalty is not considered harsh and uncommon punishment in a lot of states, the death penalty should be considered cruel and unusual punishment in most, if not all, states.

The death penalty violates the constitution. The Supreme Court should not be allowed to sentence someone to death. John Stevens, a justice in the Supreme Court, states: “The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, however, prohibits the use of cruel and unusual or excessive punishment, and thus protects the wrongdoer from receiving a punishment that is comparable to the suffering inflicted on the victim, in effect negating the possibility of retribution.” This depends on who is interpreting what the constitution is saying, it could be someone looking for reasons to ban something. John Stevens later states, “Another serious concern is that the risk of error in capital cases may be greater than in other cases because the facts are often so disturbing that the interest in making sure the crime does not go unpunished may overcome residual doubt concerning the identity of the offender.” There might be a greater risk to accuse the wrong person. Even though they do a very thorough investigation, there is still that risk. In normal cases if new evidence turns up and the accused is proven innocent they can let the person go free. According to John Stevens, “A third significant concern is the risk of discriminatory application of the death penalty. While that risk has been dramatically reduced, the Court has allowed it to continue to play an unacceptable role in capital cases.” This quotation says that, even though it is low, there is a risk of the accused being discriminated against. Depending on who interprets the constitution, it can either violate or agree with it. If the person interpreting it is against the death penalty, then it is more likely to find evidence against it. The Supreme Court should not be allowed to sentence someone to the death penalty.

The Supreme Court has the power to determine whether or not the death penalty should be used. If they do decide to use capital...
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