There has been a total of 374 executions within the United States
between 1976 through 1999. The methods of the executions have been
electrocutions, lethal injections, gas chambers, firing squads and hangings.
An alternating current of about 2000 volts of electricity passes through the body.
The criminal is strapped into a specially constructed electric chair. One electrode
is applied to the scalp, the other to the calf of one leg. The electrodes are
moistened with a salt solution to ensure adequate contact. Death usually occurs
within two minutes after the current has started to flow through the body.
A small tube is inserted in the prisoners vein to ensure easy access when its time
to inject the poison. The poison is very lethal and death occurs quickly.
The person is sealed in an enclosure where poison pellets of gas are released.
The poison pollutes the airways and stops all breathing. The gas pellets strangle
the prisoner, taking his or her breath away until the veins under the skin burst.
Receiving multiple bullets throughout the body while being shot by a firing line.
Death usually occurs from a loss of blood unless shot in the heart.
Suspending the condemned person by the neck, usually with a noosed rope or
cord from a frame with a crosspiece commonly known as a gallow. Death
through hanging results from compression of the windpipe, obstruction of blood
flow and rupture of nerve structures in the neck. The spinal cord is damaged or
severed through the fracture or dislocation of the first three cervical vertebrae.
Take a minute and think of why most countries don’t use some of the old
methods to carry out the death sentence such as: Crucifixion, boiling in oil,
beheading, burning alive, crushing, stoning, or drowning. The United States is
still using an uncivilized practice that has been rejected by most countries
hundreds of years ago. The eighth amendment of the Constitution states against
the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. This is definitely against the
Constitution that the United States hold so dearly is just one reason why the
death penalty is wrong. (Morgon, p. 52-54)
From a religious point of view, many of us were taught that it
was wrong to kill per the Ten Commandment’s in the command, “THY SHALL
NOT KILL”. This epitomizes the Divine Command Theory because this was
commanded by God and therefore is good. (Gordon, p.76) There are many
verses in the Bible that tells you that execution is wrong. In Mathew 5 it states to
love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. In John 8 it states that
he without sin cast the first stone. This was stated after a woman was to be
stoned to death for adultery. (Gordon, p.38) People want to not only practice
vengeance through execution but also have God agree with them. According to
Judaic law, murder is only one of a number of criminal acts that drew the death
penalty. Other capital crimes included adultery and being disrespectful to one’s
parents. The Torah was making a spiritual point that being disrespectful or
improperly sexual was just as serious a crime as taking a life. (Jackson, p. 126)
People that are for the death penalty are quick to use the passage an “eye for
eye” in murder cases. Why pick just one part of the passage that suits you?
Another fact that isn’t discussed very often is the fact that the prisoners
on death row in the United States are not racially or economically balanced.
There are about 25,000 murders in the United States every year and
approximately 200 people are chosen to die for this. Since 1900, 40 cases are
known to have put innocent people to death and 23 people were found innocent
within minutes of death. (Andrews, Interquest) Virtually all those on death row
today are poor, mentally ill, retarded or belonging to minority races. In fact, of
those executed, nearly 90% were convicted of killing whites even though more
than half of all homicide victims are of color. (Fraction) Where is the justice
from these cruel and inhumane acts?
The results of my research clearly show that executing a person is
painfully inhumane, religiously incorrect, and very unjust. Of course this is one
sided on my part, but this is how I truly feel and I found no good points
supporting the death penalty.
Andrews, Phillip. “Death Penalty, the truth.” Prisoners Outreach Magazine 15 Aug. 1993: 3-7. Philadelphia Times Online. Online. Interquest. 3 Oct. 2000.
Fraction, Laurence. Telephone Interview. 5 Oct. 2000
Gordon, James. Interpretations of the Holy Bible. New York: Enterprise, 1984
Jackson, Paul. Torah in the Spiritual mind. London: Amnesty International Publications, 1989
Morgan, Hugo. The Death Penalty in the United States: Imposed law and the role of the moral elite. New York: Academic Press, 1992