Death Penalty Research Paper.
VII. Methods 1. Lethal Injection.
The code contained approximately 282 laws that were proposed by the Babylonian King Hammurabi and included the theory of an “eye for an eye.” Several other ancient documents were also supportive of the death penalty; these included the Christian Old Testament, the Jewish Torah, and the writing of Athenian legislator Draco, who was a proponent of capital punishment for a large number of offenses in Ancient Greece.
Eligibility for the death penalty and determining what criteria qualifies a crime for the death penalty varies by jurisdictions. No” automatic” sentence exists for any crime. The death penalty is assigned to crimes that contain aggravating factors, and are “monstrous or horrific” in nature. Examples of aggravating factors include intentional, premeditated murder, and murder that results from the commission of certain violent felonies such as robbery, rape, kidnapping, burglary and arson, even if the death results as an accident. These vary by state and in some the list of aggravating factors is lengthy and not well defined which can mean a lot of crimes can potentially be classified as “capital.” Prosecutors of the jurisdiction in which the crime has occurred make the decision of whether to seek the death penalty in each case. Critics allege that prosecutors are influenced to consider factors when seeking the death penalty that should not be relevant, such as the race of the victim and offender, for example. Community and public outrage as well as media attention can also impact the process of seeking the death penalty. (Marcus, 2007)
Trials for death penalty cases differ from other trials in that they are more intensive, expensive and much more complicated, after all, the outcome could end or spare someone’s life. They attract wide-spread and sometimes sensational media attention that can become distracting and unfavorable for the defendant as well as the other parties involved in the case. Political and public pressure is placed on the judge and prosecutors to secure a conviction and death sentence. Defense lawyers too face a great deal of pressure to save their client’s lives. Another aspect of capital case trials that sets them apart from regular cases is the selection of the jury. Potential jurors in capital cases must undergo a somewhat extensive process before being qualified to participate. The most important criteria they must meet however revolve around the individuals personal views on the death penalty. Qualified jurors must be in support of capital punishment and willing to impose it, those that cannot abide by that requirement are excused from jury service.
The second current is usually lowered to 8 amps. The current will normally cause severe damage to internal organs and the body can heat up to 138 °F While unconsciousness should occur within the first second or two, there have been occasions where it has taken much longer, leading people to highly oppose this method of execution. Clean up post-execution is unpleasant, skin has been found melted on the electrodes and the person can lose control of bodily functions, burning of the skin occurs often. 3. Firing Squad.
The death penalty in the United States is a constant source of controversy. Efforts to abolish capital punishment in America date back to over 100 years and continue to expand in present-day. In addition, all 50 states vary in their retention and application of the death penalty. Currently, the death penalty is legal in 32 states, the distribution of the actual executions however, is quite wide. The five states with the highest number of executions performed account for approximately 65% of the total executions in the country since the US Supreme Court re-affirmed and reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Potassium chloride: This is a toxic agent which induces cardiac arrest. Not all states use this as the first two drugs are sufficient to bring about death.
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Capital trials are separated into two sections, in the first only evidence and defenses are heard, this is referred to as the guilt phase. At the close of the guilt phase while the jury does not yet deliberate about a sentence, they do however decide to convict or acquit the defendant. Should the defendant be convicted, the penalty phase of the trial begins, during this phase the jury hears arguments and evidence concerning sentencing options. At this time, prosecutors will argue for a death sentence and must present aggravating factors associated with the crime. They will also attempt to stir the jury away from feelings of sympathy for the defendant, by stating past criminal charges or lack of remorse about the crime. In contrast, defense lawyers will argue against the death penalty, trying to persuade the jury to sentence their clients to life imprisonment instead.
Saline solution is used to flush the IV between each dose. A minute or two after the final dose is administered, a doctor declares the prisoner dead. The body is then sent to the coroner for verification, an autopsy is sometimes performed. Finally, the body is released to family for burial. 2. Electric Chair.
The inability of the defense counsel to provide sufficient mitigating factors and thoroughly investigate a case is the most prevailing failure observed in capital punishment cases. While it is true that many defendants receive inadequate representation, it is very difficult to obtain relief based on ineffective legal assistance. If the court determines that the defendant would have been convicted and sentenced to death regardless of poor legal representation, then there is no entitlement to relief. Should a death row inmate be denied relief in post-state conviction, he can proceed with a final appeal which is now handled by Federal courts, this is referred to as federal habeas. When a defendant has exhausted all appeals, the last option is to ask for clemency from the governor or President, depending on if it is a state or federal death penalty case. Clemency has been known to only be granted in extraordinary cases and is becoming more and more uncommon. (capitalpunishmentincontext.org)
III. In the United States.
Today, all of the states that have the death penalty employ the lethal-injection. Oklahoma became the first state to adopt this method of execution in 1977, with the first person being executed by lethal injection being Charles Brooks 5 years later in 1977. (deathpenaltyinfo.org) In preparation, the inmate to be executed is permitted a shower, a change of clothing and a final meal of their choice. At the time of the execution, the prisoner is taken to the execution room and where two IV tubes are inserted into his arms, following, a harmless saline solution is started immediately. Then, when the prison warden gives signal, a curtain is raised exposing the inmate to witnesses in an adjoining room.
The gas chamber as a method of execution has been used in a considerable number of cases. It was first made popular from its use in German prison camps during World War II where it was used to execute millions in one of the worst genocide cases of the 20th century. Although five states in the US still allow its use, death row inmates in all of those states are given the option to choose the lethal injection instead. In gas chamber executions, the executioner prepares the chamber by placing potassium cyanide pellets into a small compartment beneath the execution chair. The prisoner is then brought in and secured to the chair.
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The state of Texas alone is responsible for almost 37% of the country’s executions. In contrast, 14 states have executed five or fewer prisoners since 1976.
II. History Since the earliest societies, capital punishment has been used as a method of crime deterrence.
The chamber is sealed and the executioner pours a quantity of concentrated sulfuric acid (H2SO4) through a tube which leads to a holding compartment in the chair. The curtains are drawn back for witnesses to see the execution and the prisoner is asked to make his last statement. After the last statement, a level is thrown by the executioner and the acid mixes with the cyanide pellets generating lethal hydrogen cyanide (HCN) gas. The prisoners will generally have been told to take deep breaths in order to speed up unconsciousness, but in most cases they hold their breath. Death from hydrogen cyanide is painful and unpleasant. (aclu.org); (clarkprosecutor.org)
The next step in the appeals process is referred to as state post-conviction. The defendant will use this appeal to present any state constitutional claims and any evidence to challenge their conviction. Some of the more prevalent claims made in post-conviction appeals include improper and unprofessional conduct on behalf of the police or prosecution, race discrimination, mishandling or inconsideration of pertinent evidence and inadequate representation on behalf of the defense attorney. Evidence that has been newly discovered or was not available at the time of trial is admissible during this phase of the appeals process. Post-conviction relief is not easy to obtain, an in-depth investigation of the case and all evidence from the trial must be conducted by the defense lawyers. This can be expensive, time consuming and for the many inexperienced and poorly-resourced lawyers that represent these types of inmates, it becomes a challenging task.