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A Questionable Punishment
Banging, pounding, and more screaming. No sleep, not because of the screaming but because it is impossible. Five thousand eight hundred and thirty-two hours. Two hundred and forty-three days left. Thirty-four weeks and five days until it happens. So little time to prove my innocence, my deserved freedom. So little time before I am killed for another man’s wrong doing…
Capital Punishment has been a popular political topic for argument for years. In 2009 more than two-thirds of the world’s countries abolished the death penalty and although some retained the law, they did not practice capital punishment. Currently fifteen states of the United Sates have abolished the death penalty and more urge to abandon this practice. Based on the violation of human rights, constant use of assumption, and the unjust morality, capital punishment should be abolished.
Capital punishment directly violates human rights. In article two of the Declaration of Human Rights, it states that, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (United Nations). However, there have been studies that show jurors to be more discriminate against African American defendants if the victims of the assault were Caucasian. Other studies show discrimination concerning not only race, but ethnic and social background as well. There has also been racial discrimination in jury selection for capital punishment cases. The world will never be rid of discrimination but it is extremely dangerous when someone’s life depends on it. If there is a substantial amount of discriminatory peoples in the jury this could directly impact the future of the defendant and whether or not he/she will face the death penalty. The third article states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” (United Nations). Killing a human being for any reason is a direct violation of, and strips his/her human rights. Human rights apply to everyone; any corruption of those rights would reflect dishonesty and blasphemy within the government system.
There have been several cases found where executed prisoners were later discovered to be innocent. The families received no compensation. But what could satisfy those families that lost their daughter, son, mother or father?
Fig 1. Excerpt from ABC-TV's Coverage of Carlos DeLuna, a man that was executed but possibly innocent. Source: Death Penalty Information Center.
There is no just restitution for a case such as this. The questionable truth of guiltiness of the convicted is not the only fault; one of the main arguments in support of capital punishment is “it saves lives” (Muhlhausen). People base this argument upon the assumption that the convicted will in fact repeat the crime or another crime. Their support states that the convict is bound to repeat the crime and if executed, would be prevented from doing just that. What is it that an offender of a smaller crime can learn from prison time that one of larger offense cannot?
According to the Hammurabi’s Code, “an eye for an eye”, which is universally known, if a human purposely murders another, apart from self-defense, that human being should be killed. Gandhi’s famous reflection, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” proves exactly the moral issues (Gandhi). How do those who support capital punishment justify killing a human being for killing another? In turn execution lowers oneself to the level of a murderer and prevents itself from its own moral code by contradiction. Capital punishment could also be seen as morally unjust due to the death penalty process. The most common form of capital punishment in the United States is lethal injection, which was previously used for pet euthanasia. It was outlawed for pet euthanasia because it was proven to be extremely painful and cruel. However it is continuously used during the process of capital punishment.
Fig 2. The three drugs used in the administration of lethal injection. Source: Awesome Inc, template.
The three chemicals used in lethal injection are sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. Sodium thiopental acts as a temporary anesthetic, lasting only a few minutes. Pancuronium bromide paralyzes the skeletal muscles without affecting the brain or nerves. This makes the prisoner seem serene and at ease. This is only because the prisoner is unable to move or speak. The last injection, the potassium chloride, “stops the heart while causing excruciating pain” (Kahal). However the prisoner is unable to express such pain because of the paralyzing pancuronium bromide.
Not only are the obvious people, such as the family of prisoners or prisoners themselves against capital punishment, but there are several groups such as “Murder Victims’ Families Against Capital Punishment” and “Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights” (Kuklin). These organizations and many others argue that Capital Punishment should be abolished because it directly violates human rights, it is the use of assumption, and practices unjust morality.
Step one: as I lay on this cold stainless steel table, hands and feet clasped down, I go numb. Relaxed, as I know I will feel no pain. Staring at the mirror wall, that behind lays the family of the man I was blamed of killing. The anesthetic has kicked in and is working to my benefit.
Step two: cannot move. Cannot speak. Cannot
show any emotion. Fear fills me.
Step three: pain, begging for death.
"•Excerpt from ABC-TV's Coverage of Carlos DeLuna." Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 22 Feb 2011. <http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-news-and-developments-2006>.
International, Amnesty. "The Death Penalty Should Be Abolished." Crime and Criminals. Ed.
James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 24 Jan. 2011.
Kahal, Philip. "Death Penalty Problems." www.ocucc.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb 2011. <http://www.ocucc.org/DeathPenalty/Problems.htm>.
Kuklin, Susan. No Choirboy. 1st. New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2008. Print.
Muhlhausen, David B. "The Death Penalty Should Not Be Abolished." Crime and Criminals. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 24 Jan. 2011.
Templeton, Jean M. "Death Row Reforms May Lead to a Fairer Criminal Justice System." Capital Punishment. Ed. Mary E. Williams. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Current Controversies. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 24 Jan. 2011.
"The Death Penalty in 2009." (2009): 1. Amnesty International. Web. 22 Feb 2011. <http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/death-sentences-and-executions-in-2009>.
"The process of Lethal Injection Utilizes Three Drugs." Serial Killer Fascination. Web. 22 Feb 2011. <http://menschenleer.blogspot.com/2010/04/lethal-injection.html>.
United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. New York: United Nations, Web. 22 Feb 2011. <http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml>.