Against Capital Punishment

March 9, 2011
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“A 2010 poll by Lake Research Partners found that a clear majority of voters (61%) would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder, including life with no possibility of parole with restitution to the victim’s family (39%), life with no possibility of parole (13%), or life with the possibility of parole (9%).” (Lake in “Death Penalty Information Center”). There have been recent debates of terminating execution entirely, and it is in fact unconstitutional. The death penalty is a crime in the making as well as an act that disobeys the Eighth Amendment. Capital punishment also steals a great amount of money from the states budget. On the other hand, some people believe that the death penalty is necessary for those who commit horrific crimes. However, execution is not a part of human nature. The death penalty is without a doubt unconstitutional.

The Eighth Amendment states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Within the constitution, cruel and unusual punishment is not exactly defined but in 1972 the case Furman v. Georgia introduced the topic. Supreme Court concluded that capital punishment did in fact violate the Eighth Amendment. Justice Potter Stewart commented for the majority opinion, “These death penalties are cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual.” (Stewart in “The Eighth Amendment”). Stewart as well as the majority of the other justices concluded that Capital Punishment is unconstitutional. Execution remained unconstitutional until a case reopened the subject in 1976 which made the tables turn for the worse. But the mere fact that administrators believe killing is a substitute for punishment makes it difficult to decipher who the criminal really is. If we punish murderers for killing, what makes it acceptable to punish these criminals by murder? For example, in 1976 Jesse Tafero was executed in Florida for murdering two police officers while fleeing drug charges with his accomplice, Sonia Jacobs. Each was sentenced to death based on a testimony of a third party, Walter Rhodes, who was an accessory to the crime, but testified for a lighter sentence. Jacobs’s execution was commuted in 1981, and in 1982 Rhodes recanted his testimony and claimed full responsibility for the crime. Despite Rhodes confession, Tafero was executed in 1990. In 1992, Jacobs was set free since the state did not have enough evidence to retry her, and it is presumed that Tafero would have been released as well if he had still been alive at the time. In this case as well as others it is hard to distinguish who is at wrong. Authority figures clearly committed a crime for executing an innocent man who suffered for the courts mistake. The same outcome has been witnessed multiple times, and some of these times the criminal was never declared innocent but still considered murdered. Stated from an online discussion in January of 1997, “The criminal justice system can and does fail to distinguish the innocent from the guilty, and the implications for capital punishment are ghastly.” (Krueter in “The Innocent Executed”). Capital Punishment invades the right against cruel and unusual punishment. The states are clearly denying the people the right to the Eighth Amendment which places the states in the wrong for doing such an act. Capital Punishment is a crime in the making.

Execution is the most effective way to rob money from the states funds. Capital Punishment is a very long and expensive process that is not capable of rushing through. In the end of this process it easily costs well over the amount of money spent for a lifetime in prison. There are five different methods of execution, the leading method being lethal injection followed by electrocution, gas chamber, hanging, and firing squad. Thirty six states plus the U.S. government use lethal injection as their primary method. “It is achieved by the intravenous delivery of a deadly quantity of three different drugs. The inmate is placed on a gurney and his ankles and wrists are restrained.  A regular saline IV line is started in both arms. Upon the signal of the warden, a large dose of sodium thiopental (a common hospital anesthetic) is delivered, causing unconsciousness. This is followed by pancuronium bromide, which is a muscle-relaxer which paralyzes the lungs and diaphragm. This causes the inmate's respiration to slow significantly. Finally, potassium chloride is introduced into the IV, which causes a fatal cardiac arrest. Death usually occurs approximately 7 minutes after the lethal injection begins.  According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the cost for the drugs used in lethal injection is $86.08” (Hall). With lethal injection being the main method of the death penalty, $86.08 for the drugs comes out of the states budget every single time a person is placed on death row. In addition to the charges of drugs, states also have to pay for the courts leading up to the execution. Along with the price of the methods of capital punishment, the states budget has to pay for the courts leading up to the actual execution. For example, the case has to go through appeals in deciding whether the process may be followed through. The following information was prepared by Jon Gould and Lisa Greenman concerning the costs of the death sentence. “The average cost of defending a trial in a federal death case is $620,932, about 8 times that of a federal murder case in which the death penalty is not sought.  A study found that those defendants whose representation was the least expensive, and thus who received the least amount of attorney and expert time, had an increased probability of receiving a death sentence. Defendants with less than $320,000 in terms of representation costs (the bottom 1/3 of federal capital trials) had a 44% chance of receiving a death sentence at trial. On the other hand, those defendants whose representation costs were higher than $320,000 (the remaining 2/3 of federal capital trials) had only a 19% chance of being sentenced to death. Thus, the study concluded that defendants with low representation costs were more than twice as likely to receive a death sentence.” (Gould in “Office of Defender Services of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts”).
After all the expenses are calculated, results prove that the cost of sentencing a person to death exceeds the money spent on lifetime in prison.

On the other hand, many people come to believe that a person needs to be punished to the maximum standards for committing a violent crime. Studies show that some people do find capital punishment constitutional. Most of the bystanders who find capital punishment ethical are families of the victim’s who have been hurt due to certain actions. The mere fact of knowing that the person who committed harm to a loved one is being put to death himself provides closure to the families. “Some family members of crime victims may take years or decades to recover from the shock and loss of a loved one. Some may never recover. One of the things that helps hasten this recovery is to achieve some kind of closure. Life in prison just means the criminal is still around to haunt the victim. A death sentence brings finality to a horrible chapter in the lives of these family members.” (Messerli). Justice is being served, and they are in fact getting what they deserve. However, capital punishment is not humane. The act of killing a person is not in human nature. We look at murderers with disgust, but then repeat the actions that they have committed themselves. Execution is sending the wrong message throughout the world. If we continue to kill criminals, it gives criminals the same right to kill. There is nothing ethical about killing another human being, and the only real punishment that should be given is a life sentence in prison.

In conclusion, the death penalty is one hundred percent unconstitutional. It is a crime that is being brought up and interfering with the Eighth Amendment. It is a violation of the law, and it needs to be terminated completely. The death penalty costs billions of dollars and that money is pulled out of the worlds pockets through taxes. You are paying to kill someone for committing a crime. It is understood that many people believe that the death penalty is a fine way to punish a criminal, but it goes against what we as the people believe in. If you were a family member of someone being sentenced to the death penalty, imagine how you would feel. No matter what action one person commits, death is not the answer.

Hall, Charlene. “Methods of Execution”. Methods of Execution. 2011.


Head, Tom. “The Eighth Amendment.” The Eighth Amendment- The Text, Orgins, and

Meaning of the Eighth Amendment.



Kreuter, William. “The Innocent Executed”. Executed Innocents. 1997.


Lake Research Partners. “Death Penalty Information Center.” Death Penalty

Information Center. <>

Messereli, Joseph. “Should the death penalty be banned as a form of punishment?”

Death Penalty (Pros & Cons, Arguments for and Against.


Office of Defender Services of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, "Update on

Cost, Quality, and Availability of Defense Representation in Federal Death

Penalty Cases." June 2008; prepared by Jon Gould and Lisa Greenman

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njdndfjkxc said...
May 27, 2011 at 12:55 pm

i tottaly agree death penalty needs to be banned !


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