Death Penalty: Revised During this class period today, seven adult men will be falsely accused of committing a serious crime, carrying a penalty of capital punishment. This means approximately 51,000 adult men are falsely accused of committing serious crimes each year. This figure is roughly the number of people who attended Super Bowl-Thirty-Three. Currently, there are 3,500 people on death row in thirty-eight states that support and carry out the death penalty while only twelve states have outlawed it. At the same time, more than half the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Capital punishment is very relevant to each member of society. It is not just a male only issue. Every single one of us in this room has a father, brother, or significant others who could be affected.
Capital punishment in America is morally unjust and should be eliminated because it is cruel and unusual; it kills innocent people; and it is used in a discriminatory manner. Sometimes criminals suffer more during their executions than is anticipated or planned. People sentenced to death are certain to face one of the following methods of execution still practiced today: firing squad, electric chair, lethal injection, gas chamber or hanging. But, injecting with poisonous chemicals, smothering with toxic gases, and electrocuting with high voltage are the preferred methods because bloody human tissues are not strewn about, as with other methods, therefore those people assigned to scour the execution site are less likely to experience psychological trauma. Although tidy, these styles of killing rarely succeed on the first attempt; instead, prisoners regularly suffer intense pain for long periods of time before expiring. According to Seideman, the case of Scotty Sutton is one example of many bungled executions that take place every month.
While administering a lethal injection, all the executioner’s attempts to find a vein have failed. Scotty started moaning and heaving in agony signaling a partial dose found his blood stream. Realizing the dose was not enough to end his life the executioner tried several failed attempts in the neck area hoping to find a main artery. Meanwhile, 300 pound, Scotty is still breathing after five minutes into this botched execution. The chemicals that were prepared and on hand have been seriously depleted. In a last ditch effort, the executioner signaled for help and directed a prison staff member to cut away a portion of the thick canvas jacket to expose an area of his chest to deliver a lethal dose directly into his heart; moments later Scotty expired (3).
Another example that is equally as cruel as lethal injection is the gas chamber. This method of execution places a prisoner in a cell that fills with cyanide gas. The symptoms of dying first start with tears falling uncontrollably from the eyes. Then, snot and bodily fluids run unobstructed from the nose. Also, puss dribbles out the mouth, and blisters form on the skin about the face. Finally, breathing is restricted and the heart stops. This process can take eight minutes that may seem like eight hours to the prisoner. Another account of inhumane punishment comes from witnessing a prisoner’s execution in the electric chair. Science has not determined how long an electrocuted individual retains consciousness, but when the switch is thrown, the body jerks, smoke frequently rises from the head, and there is a smell of burning flesh (Seideman 4).
For example, one case in May 1990, Jessie Tafero, a Florida prisoner, gurgled and his head bobbed while ashes fell from it, for four minutes (Seideman 5). Another case in July 1986, Kevin Barnes, an Alabama prisoner, took three jolts of electricity and ten minutes before being pronounced dead (Seideman 5).
In the Chicago Tribune report on “Miscarriages of Justice,” it was reported that since 1975 at least 381 innocent people have been convicted of capital crimes they did not commit (Armstrong). Guilty criminals deserve to die for the horrible acts they commit, not innocent people. The Death penalty practiced is far from humane; in fact, it is downright torturous in many cases and Heaven forbid if we send an innocent person to death row. Every time the state kills an innocent person,