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on april 11 1991 the capital punishment

In the following pages, I will discuss the history, debate, past and current public opinion, and how it applies to American ideology and opposing values.  Both sides have a fair amount of support and I have included direct quotes and paraphrasing from authors, celebrities, journalists, and ordinary people arguing both sides.  

The history of the death penalty goes back to the earliest civilizations where it was used to punish all sorts of crimes from robbery, to murder, to different forms of heresy.  In the United States it evolved to just punish murder, treason, and some cases of rape.  It has been an issue that has sparked a never ending debate that goes back to colonial times.  The general public traditionally supported the death penalty in a majority with only a few politicians speaking out against it (i.e., Benjamin Rush, Ben Franklin and later on Horace Greeley).  Once the U.S. gained independence, each state went back and forth in abolishing and reinstating the death penalty and methods of execution.  
The 1960s saw many trials concerning capital punishment cases that led to a ten year halt in executions.  In 1965, the American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU) announcement of their anti-death penalty stance was a sign of things to come.  It was particularly important because the ACLU had always neglected to have an opinion on the issue because they believed it was not a civil rights issue.  They now determined that capital punishment was inconsistent with underlying values of a democratic system.  They explained that it discriminated against blacks and other minorities and did not comply with the eighth amendment of the constitution, in other words, it was cruel and unusual punishment (Vila, Morris:127).  The National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples Legal Defense Fund (NAACP-LDF) also began to speak out in the mid-sixties.  They agreed that the death penalty discriminated against blacks and launched a campaign against the death penalty around the same time.  The LDF poured its resources into aiding death row prisoners which tied up the capital punishment cases for years allowing them to achieve their goal of a moratorium on the death penalty (Vila, Morris:131).  From 1967 to 1977, there were no executions anywhere in the United States because of groups like these that rallied to oppose it, the particularly low public support of it, and a number of supreme court cases that decided in the favor of the abolitionist movement.
One crucial case was Witherspoon v. Illinois in 1968.  The supreme court ruled that prospective jurors who oppose the death penalty can not automatically be excluded from juries in possible capital punishment cases.  The court said that having jurors that oppose the death penalty is part of a fair, impartial jury as dictated by the Sixth Amendment.  Some dissenters claimed that people who were ethically opposed to the death penalty were biased because they would never vote to give the death penalty to people who deserved it.  Some historians say that this marked the first time that the supreme court was persuaded by public opinion against capital punishment.  The following statement was made by Justice Potter Stewart who spoke for the majority, In a nation less than half of whose people believe in the death penalty, a jury composed exclusively of such people cannot speak for the communityIn its quest for a jury capable of imposing the death penalty, the State produced a jury uncommonly willing to condemn a man to die (Gottfried:60).  Scholars and lawyers also thought this would be the end of capital punishment for good because the courts willingness to accept people who fundamentally opposed the death penalty, but this turned out not to be true because of details in the decision that allowed courts and legislatures to work around it.
The 1972 case of Furman v Georgia was seen as a complete victory for abolitionists at the time, but proved to be more complicated than it appeared.  It said that the death penalty, as it was administered, violated the Eighth Amendments because it was cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it did not guarantee equal protection under the law (Costanzo:18).   The crucial part of this statement was ..as it was ... more

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Gambling Disease

In the US today, as gambling is becoming more popular so are gambling addicts.
As the states institute legalized gambling, their income increases dramatically.
Compulsive gambling needs to be recognized and medically treated before it is
too late for the gambler. The only way to treat the disease of compulsive
gambling is absence from gambling. Therefore, compulsive gambling must be
considered and uncontrollable disease. According to the Merriam Webster
Dictionary, compulsive means an irresistible (uncontrollable) impulse (Mish
166). A disease is defined as being an abnormal bodily condition that impairs
functioning and can usually be recognized by signs and symptoms. Uncontrollable
means incapable of being controlled (Mish 222). Pathologic gambling has been
defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a chronic progressive
failure to resist impulses to gamble, and gambling behavior that comprises, or
damages personal, family, or vocational pursuits (Glazer 2). How can it be
determined if an individual is a compulsive gambler or not? According to the
American Psychiatric Association you are a pathological (compulsive) gambler if
you exhibits theses traits: (1) you have preoccupation with gambling; (2) a
need to increase the excitement produced by gambling; (3) restlessness or
irritability when unable to gamble; (4) repeated unsuccessful efforts to
control, cut back, or stop gambling; (5) gambling in an effort to get back money
lost during gambling on a previous day; (6) gambling in an effort to escape
an unpleasant mood; (7) lying to cover up gambling; (8) jeopardizing a
significant job, relationship, or educational opportunity by gambling (9)
engaging in illegal activity to finance gambling; and (10) going to someone else
to relieve a desperate financial situation produced by gambling. An individual
who fulfills five out of the ten criteria is diagnosed as a pathological
gambler. Problem gamblers would satisfy only two, three, or four of these
criteria (Lesieur 2). If you answered five of the ten questions yes, you need
to check yourself in to the nearest Gamblers Anonymous support group, because
you have the uncontrollable disease of compulsive gambling. Although evidence is
presently sketchy on compulsive gambling, certain facts are beginning to emerge.
In the past men were 95% of all compulsive gamblers. Today women make up almost
a third of compulsive gamblers (Compulsive 1). Therapists have begun to notice
many similarities between alcohol, drugs, and gambling addiction (Lesieur 6).
An addiction to gambling must be considered a sever problem, similar to that
of alcohol and drugs. Gamblers often experience an exhilarated high when
gambling and withdrawal symptoms when they are not gambling (Glazer 8). Since
pathological gamblers are determined to have similarities to alcoholism and drug
users, which is considered to be an uncontrollable disease, pathological
gambling must be labeled as an uncontrollable disease, in order to properly
diagnose the problem and solve it (Lesieur 6). Compulsive gambling is
perceived to be a disease that cannot be cured, only arrested (Lesieur 5). In
the past twenty years, gambling has dramatically increased, as has the rate of
pathological gambling. By 1991, the total money spent on gambling has risen over
three hundred billion dollars (Pathological 1). Although states revenues from
gambling have increased immensely, the help for problem and pathological
gamblers lags far behind. It has been proven that the rate of compulsive
gamblers is rising at an alarming rate. The most common approach for
pathological gamblers is to join self-help groups such as the Gamblers Anonymous
(GA), a twelve-step program base on Alcoholics Anonymous (Lesieur 5). Many more
hours need to be put into researching pathologic gambling. Research needs to be
conducted on numerous angles, including whether or not pathologic gamblers
should use abstinence from gambling for the rest of their life (Glazer 9). If we
do not start spending money on researching the uncontrollable disease of
compulsive gambling the problem will only continue to skyrocket into the next
millennium. If an individual is not able to control his or her mind they are out
of control, in other words they are uncontrollable. A compulsive gambler is
unable to control the overpowering impulse to gamble (Wedgeworth 4). Thus,
the compulsive gambler is determined to fit the concept that the overpowering
drive to gamble is an impulse and not within the gamblers conscious control (Wedgeworth
5). Compulsive gambling is an uncontrollable disease that thrives in the
victims head. According to Aprile, a nurse practitioner, recent studies
indicate compulsive gamblers suffer from inadequate levels of brain chemicals.
Thus, the imbalance causes the gamblers to engage in risk-taking chances (Aprile
6). If you are out of control of your body and your brain is not functioning
properly, then you ... more

on april 11 1991 the

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