Why the Death Penalty Is Dead Wrong

Topics: Capital punishment, Lethal injection, Amnesty International Pages: 2 (560 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Why the Death Penalty is Dead Wrong

Most people argue that the death penalty is not a form of cruel and unusual punishment. However, this is extremely inaccurate. Electric chair victims can take up to 14 minutes to die, maintaining full consciousness as their flesh begins to scorch and burn off. During lethal injection, "even a slight error in dosage or administration can leave a prisoner conscious but paralyzed with pain, serving as a witness for his own demise." The following is an eye witness account of an Arizona gas chamber execution given by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "When the fumes enveloped Don's head he took a quick breath. A few seconds later, he looked again in my direction. His face was red and contorted as if he were attempting to fight through tremendous pain. His mouth was pursed shut and his jaw was clenched tight. Don then took several more quick gulps of the fumes. His body started convulsing violently and his skin turned a deep red...the viens in his temple and neck began to bulge until I thought they might explode. After about a minute, Don's face leaned partially forward, but he was still very conscious. He was shuddering uncontrollably and his body was racked with spasms. His head continued to snap back. His fists were clenched tightly. After several more minutes, the most violent of the convulsions subsided. At this time, the muscles along Don's left arm and back began twitching in a wavelike motion under his skin. Spittle drooled from his mouth. Don Harling took exactly ten minutes and 31 seconds to die. Approximately three months later, he was found innocent."

And it wasn't the first time. Amnesty International sites that "from 1900 to 1985 over 350 people sentenced to death were later found to be innocent of the crimes charged. Some excaped execution by only minutes, but 23 were actually executed. Within the last 20 years, 54 Americans under sentence of death have been released because of evidence of...
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