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Essay/Term paper: Why the death penalty is dead wrong

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History Essays

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Why the Death Penalty is Dead Wrong

Most people argue that the death penalty is not a form of cruel and
unusual punishment. However, this is extremely inaccurate. Electric chair
victims can take up to 14 minutes to die, maintaining full consciousness as
their flesh begins to scorch and burn off. During lethal injection, "even a
slight error in dosage or administration can leave a prisoner conscious
but paralyzed with pain, serving as a witness for his own demise." The
following is an eye witness account of an Arizona gas chamber execution given
by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "When the fumes enveloped Don's
head he took a quick breath. A few seconds later, he looked again in my
direction. His face was red and contorted as if he were attempting to fight
through tremendous pain. His mouth was pursed shut and his jaw was clenched
tight. Don then took several more quick gulps of the fumes. His body
started convulsing violently and his skin turned a deep red...the viens in his
temple and neck began to bulge until I thought they might explode. After about
a minute, Don's face leaned partially forward, but he was still very
conscious. He was shuddering uncontrollably and his body was racked with spasms.
His head continued to snap back. His fists were clenched tightly. After
several more minutes, the most violent of the convulsions subsided. At this
time, the muscles along Don's left arm and back began twitching in a
wavelike motion under his skin. Spittle drooled from his mouth. Don Harling
took exactly ten minutes and 31 seconds to die. Approximately three months
later, he was found innocent."

And it wasn't the first time. Amnesty International sites that "from
1900 to 1985 over 350 people sentenced to death were later found to be
innocent of the crimes charged. Some excaped execution by only minutes, but 23
were actually executed. Within the last 20 years, 54 Americans under
sentence of death have been released because of evidence of their innocence."
Unlike a life imprisonment, death offers no second chance. If new evidence
surfaces after the person has been executed, it's too late to do anything
about it.

The death penalty doesn't save tax payers any money, either. Many
people have the misconception that criminals should not be allowed to "rot
in jail" wasting tax payers money. However, a study conducted by the Death
Penalty Information Center (DPIC) concludes that tax payers pay an
average of $3.2 million dollars per each death penalty case -- enough to
sentence someone to 120 years in a maximum security facility.

The death penalty is also not a detterent to crime. >>> Texas, one of the
leading states in the number of people executed, also has an
extraordinarily high homicide rate. Much higher then that of states such as
Michigan, which has no death penalty. In fact, a study conducted for the
United Nations found that the number of homicides actually INCREASE around
the time that a highly publicized execution occurs. In Canada, the homicide
rate has dropped by 27% since capital punsihment was abolished in 1976,
dropping most drastically within the first three years.

Unarguably, criminals need to be punished for the lasting harm that
they have caused society. However, the severity of the punishment has it's


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