Capital Punishment: Why or Why Not? Justice can not be served until the debate on capital punishment is resolved and all states have come to agree that the death penalty is the best way to stop crime completely. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition defines execution as the act or an instance of putting to death or being put to death as a lawful penalty. Many people who are against capital punishment are only thinking of the criminal and how cruel it is for them.
But, shouldn’t we think of the families that are broken apart of the merciless acts of these criminals. Think of Susan Smith, how she knowingly drove her car off into a lake with her two children strapped into the seats. Think of how they must have felt as the cold water started to fill the cabin of the car, and then ultimately drown them. Barbaric is exactly the word I would use to describe her actions. But yet, the jury rejected the death penalty and chose a life sentence instead. The jury believed that justice was served by handing her the life sentence. But was it justice that she was not put to death for killing her two children? How could someone possibly let her off the hook of such a crime? “All grandeur, all power, all subordination to authority rests on the executioner: he is the horror and the bond of human association. Remove this incomprehensible agent from the world and at that very moment order gives way to chaos, thrones topple and society disappears,” says, Joseph de Maistre, an eighteenth century French Diplomat.
He is right, if we give up on punishing a deadly criminal, then we throw our society into chaos and let the criminals freely do as they please. I would feel safe if I knew that anyone who tried to fatally harm me would be put to death. But, in today’s society when someone can kill someone, get sentence for life, then get paroled and then freed to go about and do the same crime again, frankly scares me. Another, thing that scares me is the fact that this country has softened up on criminals. It’s hard to think that now a days everyone has a right, even though when you go against the law and are put in prison, you are to be stripped of your rights.
Not so anymore. Justice in the nineties has slacked up a bit. “In the late 1950’s, on any given day there were about two hundred prisoners awaiting execution,” says Hugo Bedau of Tufts University, Massachusetts.
“Hardly any remained on Death Row for more than a year.” Today November 1995, there are 15 times that number, and many have been there for over a decade. Opponents of the death penalty say this statistic is a moral outrage. Supporters see it as undermining a key advantage of the death penalty over life imprisonment: it saves tax-payers the huge cost of keeping murderers locked up (Matthews, pg.’s 38-42).
Most of those against capital punishment argue that the forms of execution are gruesome. While some might be seen that way at first, other offer the advantages that both parties can agree on. In 1994 there were two hundred fifty seven executions in the United States. There were five methods of doing so, as follows. Lethal Injection: 133 Electrocution: 112 Gas Chamber: 9 Hanging: 2 Firing Squad: 1 Electric Chair First used in New York in 1890 and still in use in 13 states,”old sparky” was the horrific outcome of Thomas Edison’s attempt to show the dangers of the AC power supply being promoted by his rivals. The condemned is strapped to a wooden chair, electrodes are attached, and a shock of thirty thousand watts is applied. The prisoner is literally cooked internally, and death may require multiple shocks.
Gas Chamber First used in Nevada in 1921, the gas chamber is an airtight room with a chair into which the accused is strapped. Death is caused by exposure to cyanide gas, produced when sodium cyanide is dropped into sulfuric acid. The suffering caused is deliberate and plain to see: writhing, vomiting, shaking and