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sodium How Capital Punishment Works In The United States

One would define capital punishment as the penalty of
death for violating a law. Roughly half the nations of the
world utilize the death penalty, while the rest eliminated
its use. The United States, an industrialized nation, breaks
the pattern that only developing countries retain capital
punishment ("Capital" Encarta 1). The United States uses
five techniques for execution: hanging, firing squad, lethal
gas, electrocution, and lethal injection (Snell 16). Of
these methods, each result in death for the prisoner in
distinct ways.
Before hanging, application of a measuring process,
based on weight, yields 1260 foot- pounds of force to the
condemned person's neck (Bobit 5). Blindfolded (McCuen 19),
the convict stands with a noosed rope or cord ("Hanging"
Encarta 1) around their neck, behind the left ear (Bobit 5).
Positioned upon a trap door (McCuen 19) of a gallows, a
frame with a crosspiece, the criminal anticipates the sudden
drop. Death can result from compression of the windpipe,
obstruction of blood flow, rupture of nerve structures in
the neck ("Hanging" Encarta 1), severing of the spinal cord
from the brain by dislocating the third and fourth cervical
vertebrae, or by asphyxiation. But if not properly
performed, strangulation, obstructed blood flow, or even
beheading could occur (Bobit 5). In the United States, only
three executions by this manner took place, as of 1996,
since 1977 (Snell 16).
From 1977 to 1996, the firing squad killed two
prisoners (Snell 16). If shot at the head from close range,
death occurs almost immediately, for "the bullet penetrates
the medulla, which contains the vital respirator and cardiac
centers, among others" (McCuen 20). Generally, a team of
five executioners take aim at the captive's chest. Some
rifles contain a blank so they don't know who really killed
the convict (Bobit 4). With the several shots fired at once,
death comes abruptly. Known as cavitation, the heat released
from the bullets evaporate tissues and water in the body,
leaving a large empty space. "When the bullet has passed
through, the cavity collapses, and sucks in dead tissue and
contaminated air" (McCuen 21).
Since 1924, when first used in Nevada, execution of
thirty one convicts by the means of lethal gas occurred
(Bobit 3). Strapping the prisoner into a chair inside an
airtight chamber takes place first. Then, by pressing a
lever outside, either sulfuric (McCuen 24) or hydrochloric
acid flows into a pan. Upon pressing another lever, either
potassium cyanide or sodium cyanide crystals fall into the
acid. This mixture creates poisonous fumes, which end life
within six to eighteen minutes (Bobit 3). If the prisoner
takes deep breaths, death advances briskly and with little
suffering ("Gas" Britannica 1). But if the captive resists
breathing, life prolongs painfully until death finally
arrives, and probably after going into "wild convulsions"
(Bobit 3).
Before electrocution, the convicts head, as well as the
rest of their body, needs to be shaved for improved contact
with the moistened copper electrodes (Bobit 2). One terminal
attaches to the calf and the other around the head (McCuen
22). After strapping the prisoner in, ordinarily three
executioners push buttons, with only one connected, so they
don't know who killed the man. Depending on the person's
weight (Bobit 2), 500 to 2000 volts run through the body
(McCuen 22) for so many seconds at a time, until the
prisoner dies. While electrocuted, many effects on the body
appear. The convict usually "leaps forward against the
restraints," then the body changes color, swells, and
sometimes even catches on fire. Defecation, urination, and
vomiting blood may take place as well (Bobit 2). The
electric chair killed 128 prisoners since 1977, as of 1996
(Snell 16).
The most frequently used process of execution in the
United States, lethal injection, killed 406 people since
1976. After strapped to a gurney, two intravenous lines
attach in the arms. The use of three chemicals contribute to
the execution: first Sodium Thiopentat causes a deep sleep,
then Pancuronium Bromide relaxes the muscles, which also
paralyses the diaphragm and lungs to end breathing, and
finally Potassium Chloride to stop the heart (Bobit 1).
These five methods of execution used in the United
States, hanging, shooting, gas chamber, electric chair, and
lethal injection, resulted in 358 deaths within only
nineteen years (Snell 16). As explained, they each end life
in different ways, whether severing the brain from the spine
(Bobit 5) or burning the internal organs (Bobit 2). So, if
your gonna' play, your gonna' pay: an eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life.


WORKS CITED

Bobit, Bonnie. Death Row. 1999.
<http://www.deathrowbook.com>.

"Capital Punishment." Microsoft Encarta
Online Encyclopedia. 2000.

"Gas Chamber." Encyclopdia Britannica.
2000.

"Hanging." Microsoft Encarta Online
Encyclopedia. 2000.

McCuen, Gary E., ... more

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Airbags




Airbags have been known not only for their saving lives but also for taking them. Airbags were an option in the mid 1970s and now airbags are standard in every car. (Automobile) Airbags are built into steering columns, dashboards and in newer cars also the side panels, to cushion passengers and drivers in an event of a wreck. Airbags are made from nylon and inflated with sodium oxide and nitrogen. Now that airbags are so common and expensive, thieves are known to steal and sell them.  
During the rainstorm, its hard to see anything especially when the downpour makes the windshield wipers work constantly. On this cold, dreary February night Tracy was driving her 1996 Ford Explorer with her husband in the passenger seat and her 16-month-old daughter, Alix, in her car seat in the back. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a tall, 12 point buck is caught by the vehicles' headlights. Both the buck and Tracy freeze. A second later, a powerful explosion occurs inside the cabin of the car. The airbags deflate nearly as quickly as they inflate. An hour later a car sees the wreck and stops to help. At that point, Tracy had no pulse, her husband is unconscious, and Alix was screaming in the back seat. (Mellon, Webster & Mellon)
At last count, this scenario has happened 135 times. (Strong) How many more times does it have to happen before the automotive industry does something about it? Drivers are not the only victims, though. Small women, children, and the elderly have also been killed as a result of airbags. The time has come to ask ourselves, "Do airbags really work?" First off, most people feel that airbags are a great safety device. They let people walk away from an accident without a scratch, right? They protect everybody, right? People dont need seatbelts if their car has an airbag, right? Wrong. Airbags cause injuries, airbags kill, and airbags dont work unless seatbelts are worn. In a rollover accident, people still have a chance of being thrown from the car even if their car has airbags.
When looking at the airbag issue, we must first look at the issue of safety. When the idea of installing airbags was first introduced, it seemed to be a good, life-saving idea. However, airbags have snapped the necks of 135 children and short women. (Strong) Smaller women might survive their accidents if airbags werent installed in their vehicles. True, airbags have had some success. Airbags have been credited with saving 3,800 lives since they have been introduced. (Akre) The airbags may be saving some lives. However, in other cases, they are doing more damage than good.
USA Today broke the story on airbag performance. The news report told us that airbags deliver enough non-lethal injuries to the passengers that it offsets their performance on overall injuries. The net result is that airbags have been found to cause injuries in so many accidents that the little good they do is overshadowed by the injuries they cause.
Now that you understand some of the problems with the performance of airbags, lets look at another problem, why they are unreliable. The reliability of airbags is questioned since they do not protect all sizes of bodies. When the first airbags were tested, the engineers didnt take into account the different sizes of people the bags would have to protect. They used a one-sized dummy. The engineers didnt think about the possibility of babies in the front seat or smaller-framed people being hurt by the bags.
The airbag deploys at speeds of 200 miles an hour. (Air bag) The bags explode when a sensor sets them off, whether the car is involved in a fender bender or a head on collision. If the cars sensors could sense the severity of the crash, the airbag could deploy with more or less force, resulting in less overall injuries. These "smart sensors" are still on the drawing board. It will be years before they are being put into full effect. According to Ford and General Motors, the advent of "smart sensors" will accompany "smarter airbags." These airbags will not only be located in the steering wheel and the glove box, but on ... more

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