Capital Punishment: Justice or Murder - Assignment Example

Capital Punishment is argued about throughout the world. It is disputed as to whether it is humane or, alternatively, if it protects innocent lives. Capital Punishment is the lawful sentence of death pronounced by the courts for a variety of serious crimes. Some countries do not have this punishment, such as Britain. However, eighty-nine countries are able to use Capital Punishment as a sentence. It is disputed as to whether or not this is too harsh. Through examination of the questionnaire, which I carried out, I discovered that seven out of the twenty people I asked believed in Capital Punishment.

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Out of the thirteen people who disagreed or did not know if they agreed with Capital Punishment, all agreed it was either inhumane or not an issue people should be able to decide on. Out of twenty people eleven decided, “a life for a life,” is fair. Everyone agreed that our justice system in Britain is wrong and should be changed. Sixteen people said that the most humane form of Capital punishment is the gas chamber. A majority also felt that bringing the death penalty back into force in Britain would help prevent various crimes.

These people all shared the same opinion, that criminals on death row should be given the choice of their method of death. My questionnaire also demonstrated that the majority of young people, and many of the people that lived in the era when Capital Punishment was available, would not mind Capital Punishment being reintroduced in our country. I think from the results of the questionnaire that people not wanting the return of the death penalty don’t because they feel it is inhumane and that there should be a better way to deal with criminals, rather than resorting to executions.

Over time there have been about four hundred thousand nine hundred recorded sentences of Capital Punishment, the first ever recorded in 1750BC. Over time the method of execution has changed. Since records of Capital Punishment began the favourite type to be used was hanging. Hanging was when the convicted criminal would stand on a box or a trapdoor, there would be a noose around their neck. The box would be kicked away or the trapdoor opened, the criminal would fall. The rope would jolt his neck and the noose would tighten around the criminal’s neck.

If his neck was not broken he would be strangled to death. A popular punishment for treason in Great Britain was to be, “Hanged, drawn and quartered. ” The convict was hung and when they were nearly dead they were cut down. While they were still alive their insides were cut out and later burnt. They were cut up into four pieces and displayed in the street for passers by to see. In Roman times, Christians would tie people to the ground to be eaten alive by animals. In the sixteenth century a painful execution known as “Breaking on the Wheel,” was used.

The accused’s limbs were staked to the ground, triangular blocks of wood were placed under the body where their bones were and a wheel with an iron rim would be hit carefully to break the bones in their body without killing them, but leaving them in excruciating pain. Their limbs were then woven through the spokes of the wheel and their body was hoisted up by their back and left to bake in the sun or to freeze in the snow. They were left to be eaten alive by birds, which would peck out their eyes while they were still conscious.

Burning was another popular execution of its time. The person would be tied to a stake in the ground and bundles of wood placed in a heap around them. A crowd would watch while the wood was lit. The convict would be engulfed in flames. Normally the crowd would laugh and cheer at their cries of pain. The last burning took place in 1834. After burning was stopped more humane forms of execution such as hanging were used; this became a very popular form of execution. Another method to be widely used was the guillotine.

The criminal placed his head onto a rest and a large blade was carefully placed four foot above the head of the victim, the blade would be released to fall down and cut the criminal’s head off. The last public execution was in France in June 1939. The last use of the guillotine was in 1979. The electric chair, also known as, “Old Sparky,” is another method of execution thought to be more inhumane than burning, it’s first use was in America in 1881. The criminal is strapped with restraints to a chair. Three electrical cables are attached to the criminal, one to the head with a moistened sponge, one to the wrist and one to the ankle.

A first jolt of two thousand volts is applied for four seconds, but this varies for different people. Next a burst of one thousand volts is applied for seven seconds and a steady voltage of two hundred and eight volts is applied for two minutes. At this time the criminal should be dead. In this process the internal organs are burnt. Observers notice that when the switches are pushed the criminal thrusts forwards against the restraints, the body changes colour and swells, sometimes the skin may even catch fire. The criminal usually will defecate, urinate and vomit blood. During the execution the smell of burning flesh is always reported.

Since 1881 over four thousand three hundred people have been executed in, “Old Sparky,” in America. There have been many more executions worldwide. Today, “Old Sparky,” is still used for execution in the states of Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Nebraska. In 1929 the gas chamber was first used as a form of execution. The gas chamber is an airtight room where the prisoner has to sit in restraints. Hydrochloric acid is released into a pan, and then potassium cyanide or sodium cyanide crystals are dropped into the acid.

Hydrocyanic gas is produced; this destroys the ability for the body to produce haemoglobin. If the prisoner takes a deep breath he will be unconscious within seconds. Death occurs from six to eighteen minutes. This form of execution has been used 31 times in America. It is still authorised for use in the states of Arizona, California, Maryland, Missouri and Wyoming. This form of execution was used during the Holocaust to kill many Jews. The firing squad has been used twice in America since its reintroduction in 1977 and is popular in many Middle Eastern countries.

It is estimated that since 1600, 340 men have been killed. A team of five aims at the convict’s torso, four of the five have guns containing blanks so the killer is unknown. One of the executions occurred in 1977, the convict was Gary Mark Gilmore and his lasts words were, “Let’s do it,” these words have become famous and have been used in the film, “The Executioners Song. ” In 1996 John Taylor chose this method instead of the lethal injection to, “make it as difficult for the state as possible. ” Both executions took place in Utah. The firing squad is still legal in Idaho, Utah and Oklahoma.

The lethal injection was first used in 1976. The criminal is attached to the bed with wrist and ankle restraints. Two saline intravenous drips are started in each arm. A sodium Thiopental injection then leaves the patient unconscious and paralysed, Pancuronium Bromide stops respiration and Potassium Chloride stops the heart. It is said that some criminals do not fall unconscious and you can see them crying underneath the sheet from the pain. I feel many aspects of the justice system are wrong. If a person with mental disabilities commits a serious crime they are given less of a sentence than a sane person.

Obviously the sentence is given to let the criminal think about the crime they have committed, to regret it and not do it again. An insane person cannot think about their crime and cannot regret it so they are more likely to commit the crime again. They should be locked away longer or given special treatment more than a sane person. A person who takes someone’s life is given a life sentence, which can be as little as fifteen years if given a pardon or released for good behaviour. The person may then murder again, defeating the purpose of the fifteen years in jail and wasting taxpayer’s money.

If the person were sentenced to death by Capital Punishment, the money and an innocent life would not be wasted. I believe Capital Punishment should be brought back to bring justice for the murderer’s victims and stop any more lives being wasted. I think the age barrier for crimes should be lowered, for various ages different punishments should be made available, each one getting more severe up to eighteen, when each punishment is equal for each crime. I believe that the mentally insane should be given the same sentence as a sane person, as well as special treatment with their sentence.

I think, “Life,” should literally mean, “life imprisonment. ” I do not think our justice system treats severe crimes as seriously as they should do. However well behaved that a criminal is does not get away from the fact that they have committed a serious crime and for this they should pay the consequences. Arguments for brining back Capital Punishment are that Capital Punishment will stop people committing serious crimes. This is known as the, “Deterrent theory. ” The, “Deterrent theory,” is that a potential murderer may think twice about committing the crime, knowing that they might die if they are caught. Protection is another argument.

A convict cannot commit the crime they previously committed if they are dead, whereas if they go to jail for life they could be released and commit the crime again, so Capital Punishment would protect the public from criminals. Revenge is another argument. “An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth,” as said in the holy bible. A murderer should accept the consequences. Another argument, which is very cold blooded, is money. An inmate costs $15,000 but if an inmate is on death row it costs $30,000 per year to hold. The inmate on death row is not there for very long whereas an inmate is in jail for many years, wasting money.

I feel these arguments for Capital Punishment are valid points as they are all based on facts and have in mind public safety. I believe that although it may not seem so to everyone, Capital Punishment is more humane than life imprisonment. I feel this is the case as being in jail for the rest of their lives is more of a torture than a punishment. There is a small chance that there may be some miscarriages of justice but this is unfortunate and doesn’t take away from the fact, that, for the majority the death penalty is given with safety precautions built in to prevent this happening.

Here are two cases to demonstrate my feelings on the case. On September 14, 1993, Richard Djert broke into the house of Alberet Luna Jr. Richard believed Albert had previously burgled his house. When he found Albert’s wife and son, Patricia and a boy of five, he held them at gunpoint and tied them together by their arms and legs and gagged them. When the daughter, Rochelle, arrived home he took her to her room, raped her and killed her. Albert arrived home; Richard forced him upstairs and handcuffed him to his bed. He repeatedly smashed his head with a baseball bat until he believed he was dead.

He removed his handcuffs and returned downstairs. Albert regained consciousness and went downstairs and fought Richard. Richard beat him to death. Richard got up and shot dead both Patricia and the five year old son. He is still on death row today. If Richard Djert had committed this crime in Britain he would get life and could be released in seventeen years. I do not feel this is right as he may commit something as horrific as this again. I feel that criminals of this nature should be sentenced to death to protect the public.

On December 26th, 2000, forty two year old Michael McDermott gunned down and killed seven of his co-workers at Edge water technology. When the police arrived he was seated surrounded by weapons and two bloody bodies. When the police officers ordered him to disarm he said, “I don’t speak German. ” Michael’s lawyers claimed he had been suffering from depression and a mental illness when he committed this horrific crime. He had committed Massachusetts’s worst homicide ever. As Massachusetts does not have the death penalty he will be given life imprisonment. If he is claimed to be insane the sentence will be reduced drastically.

I disagree with this as he took seven innocent people’s lives and he is guilty so his life should be taken. This is why I believe mental illness should make no difference to a sentence, as, if he is proven to be mentally ill, his sentence will be reduced. He still committed the worst homicide ever in Massachusetts. He may receive a less serious punishment than a sane person committing murder. With a reduced sentence he could be released and, with this mental problem, is more likely to commit the crime again than a sane person, yet his sentence could be less.

If the death penalty was brought back I feel that the serious crime rate would reduce. I think bringing back Capital Punishment would give protection to the public from dangerous criminals. I also believe it is a fair punishment, if the convict has taken innocent peoples lives, to take their life away as it is, “reaping what you sow. ” My opinion has not changed by studying Capital Punishment. I still think the judicial system in Britain is wrong. My opinion has been swayed more towards reinstating Capital Punishment.