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Why Capital Punishment Should be Prohibited

Capitalizing on the Death Penalty, and Why It Should be Prohibited

Claire Gallihugh, Staff Writer

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Capital Punishment has been an ongoing controversial issue in the United States, and the mixed views on the topic stem from both the financial side and the morality of the issue.  Today, eighteen states outlaw the death penalty, and it should be abolished by all fifty.  How is it that we can decide who lives, and who dies?  You could say that the death penalty should be reserved only for the most severe criminals, but where does one draw the line?  Even if used sparingly, the fact that it exists in both inhumane and unconstitutional.

The Eighth Amendment states “Excessive bail should not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Death by injection, electrocution, asphyxiation in a gas chamber, hanging, or being shot by a firing squad is cruel and unusual, and therefore should be prohibited by the Cruel and Unusual Clause in the Eighth Amendment.  On the other hand, a sentence to life in prison is humane and constitutional.  Those who condone capital punishment because they believe it lowers taxes and are less costly than a life sentence do not realize that a prisoner on death row costs about $90,000 more per year than a general prisoner.  There are currently 3,035 prisoners on death row.  According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics, a case with the death penalty costs an average of 2.4 million, while a case without the death penalty is only $740,000.

In 2005, a study was done by doctors Leonidas Koniaris, Teresa Zimmers, David Lubarsky, and Jonathan Sheldon on lethal injection, and the anesthesia given before in order to ensure the criminals’ death is not painful, so that the punishment is deemed appropriate by the Eighth Amendment.   What they found was that executioners are not even trained to give these lethal injections.

“Toxicology reports from Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina showed that post-mortem of thiopential in the blood were lower than that required for surgery in 43 of 49 inmates,” said author Dr. Koniaris.

This means that 87% of the executed inmates were not unconscious when given their lethal injection, and were in immense pain at the time of their death.

The phrase “give an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is horrid and barbaric.  Not only is Capital Punishment not tolerated by the Eighth Amendment, but showing compassion for those who do not necessarily deserve it and giving someone a chance at redemption is a concept of basic human decency that we should all stand behind.

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