In 1941, Eithel Lita Juanita Spinelli was the first woman to die in the gas chamber in San Quentin Federal Prison. Juanita, a former gang member, whom was known as “The Duchess”, was charged with first degree murder. Juanita, her husband Michael Simeone, Robert Sherrard, Gordon Hawkins, and Albert Ives were all members of the same gang. They constantly went out and committed robberies. One day as they met for a picnic, fellow gang members brought up that Sherrard had been “talking too much” to some of his outside friends. They all agreed to murder Sherrard because they saw him as a threat, with that fact that he was out speaking about what they had done, and they didn’t want to get caught for it. Back at the hotel that they were staying at, Simeone poured some type of knockout drops into Sherrard’s whiskey. Sherrard soon became unconscious and Spinelli had already made a plan to make it look like a suicide. So they clothed him with his bathing suit and when on to dump his body into a river. Of course the authorities were not convinced. They began to investigate and soon enough they were all captured. On November 21, 1941, 52 year old Juanita was executed. A week after, her husband was next. Was it right for the authorities to execute Juanita? Did she deserve the death penalty? Should capital punishment have a limit on the types of crimes committed?
Capital punishment has been used since the earliest societies. It was used for various large crimes such as burglary, murder, treason, counterfeiting, and arson. During the 1700s, the Code of Hammurabi codified the Death Penalty for the first time. This happened to be a legal document that contained the first known death penalty laws. It consisted of 25 crimes that were punishable by death. Yet, murder was not one of those 25 crimes. Their forms of capital punishment were designed to be slow, painful, and torturous (National Museum of Crime & Punishment 2008). More and more approaches for the death penalty kept coming up. The electric chair was then introduced in 1890, by the employees of Thomas Edison. And in the 1970s, lethal injection started. Lethal injection consists of three chemicals named Sodium Thiopental, Pancuronium Bromide, and Potassium Chloride. With these new approaches coming out people believed that the death penalty was becoming less painful. Also, hanging and beheading with the guillotine were other “less painful” ways for execution.
In 1891, an amendment by the legislation provided capital punishment with: a judgment of death must be executed within the walls of one of the State Prisons designated by which judgment is rendered, and executions were then done at both of California state prison: San Quentin and Folsom. The first state-conducted execution was on March 3, 1893 at San Quentin and the first execution at Folsom was held on December 13, 1895.
In 1944, George Junius Stinney Jr, of age 14 at the time, was the youngest boy executed in the United States. Stinney was convicted of first degree murder, after being accused of murdering two pre-teen girls. Betty June Binnicker of age 11, and Mary Emma Thomas of age 8 in Alcolu, South Carolina, were riding bikes and picking flowers, as they rode past Stinney’s property they asked him and his sister, Katherine, if they had seen a specific type of flower. After a couple hours the girls were nowhere to be found. The next day, they were found in a ditch filled with muddy water, both had suffered cruel head wounds from a 15 inch railroad spike. Stinney was blamed for their deaths. According to his confession, he wanted to have sexual intercourse with Betty but Mary was present. It came to his mind to kill Mary, and both girls started to fight back when they realized what he wanted to do. June 16, 1944 he was executed by the electric chair. What right did they have to execute a young boy? Was there enough evidence for the execution? Did a 14 year old really murder these two pre-teen...
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