Capital Punishment: Constitutional or Not?
In the words of the United States Constitution, amendment VIII: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” (Corwin, 234) The United States have been executing people since the colonial times and it was viewed as a normal routine by many. As time progressed and our country evolved the barbaric colonial executions became a lot less numerous and not about religion anymore. Instead the United States would exercise the death penalty on those convicted of murder or treason, per se.
Our methods of executions have advanced through the centuries, from dunking to using poison and sedation. This has not stopped people from wondering and protesting that the penalty of death is cruel and unusual punishment. Countries like China and Iran execute people and will not listen to reason to stifle their harsh laws from European countries and ambassadors. Other countries like the ones in the European Union completely abolish the death penalty, believing it will lead to a more advanced civilization(Banks, "Capital Punishment: Overview") . So the big question that has been asked over and over is, Is the death penalty constitutional?
One side thinks that the death penalty is completely legal. The other side thinks that the death penalty is inhumane. The opposition of the death penalty think that killing people who killed people to show that killing people is wrong, whereas the ones that side with the death penalty think that killing criminals is a form of retribution. Either way it has been a fair argument, although a majority of Americans are in favor of the death penalty.
The whole issue has sparked so many social issues. This is a matter of human rights and choices by the government. Is executing people wrong? Some countries do it to criminals who commit gruesome crimes, so why shouldn’t the U.S? Cost is another problem. $3.2 million for one execution of a prisoner, $800,000 to put someone in for life. The death penalty is being questioned about its efficiency and effectiveness(Banks, "Capital Punishment: Overview")
Long ago when the United States was not even a dream Great Britain colonized the New World. In Massachusetts ‘witches’ were executed and one farmer was pressed to death for not confessing to witchcraft. The first person to be executed under the new Constitution was Thomas Bird. He was hung in Massachusetts for murdering a British citizen in U.S waters (he was British). Problems erupted after the cases of Powell v. Alabama (1932) and Brown v. Mississippi (1936) that imposed more restrictions on capital punishment(Banks, “Capital Punishment: Overview). The extinction of the death penalty continued from 1960 to 1976 with only 161 executions took place. Going back a few years in 1972 the Supreme Court declared 630 sentencings of death unconstitutional and all of them were pardoned. At this point the death penalty was back in full swing.
Even today the death penalty raised numerous questions regarding the right to live and the way it affected people. Questions like Does the U.S execute people because they are bad? and Is it cruel and unusual punishment? appear a lot when raising the issue. America is somewhat divided because of this problem. Executing can leave a huge emotional impact for both the victim’s families and the condemned’s families. Not only that but the way that the U.S performs the execution raised red flags. For example the execution of John Evans was messy and lengthy. He was sentenced to death by electric chair. The first attempt failed, as a component exploded and burned Evans’s body. Another attempt was made and pleas by Evans’s lawyer to stop were unsuccessful. At the end of the 14 minutes that the execution lasted Evans was dead with most of his body covered in burns (Banks, “Capital Punishment: Overview). Also, In 2005 Stanley “Tookie” Williams, the notorious founder of the Crips, was...
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