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Burke and Battle At Cape St. George Admiral Arleigh
"When the fumes enveloped Don's head he took a quick breath. A few seconds later he again looked in my direction. His face was red and contorted as if he were attempting to fight through tremendous pain. His mouth was pursed shut and his jaw was clenched tight. Don then look several more quick gulps of the fumes. At this point Don's body started convulsing violently....His face and body fumed a deep red and the veins in his temple and neck began to bulge until I thought they might explode. After about a minute Don's face leaned partially forward, but he was still conscious. Every few seconds he continued to gulp in. He was shuddering uncontrollably and his body was racked with spasms. His head continued to snap back. His hands were clenched. After several more manuals, the most violent of the convulsions subsided. At this time the muscles along Don's left arm and back began twitching in a wavelike motion under his skin. Spittle drooled from his mouth. Don did not st! op moving for approximately eight minutes, and after that he continued to twitch and jerk for another minute. Approximately two minutes later, we were told by a prison official that the execution was complete. Don Harding took ten minutes and thirty one seconds to die." (Gomez v. U.S. District Court, 112 S.Ct. 1652) Since before the day of Caesar, to the present, governments have used the death penalty as a crutch to try to circumvent the issue of violent crimes and their retribution. In any government system, the death penalty is a sentence that can be handed to an individual who is wrongly accused because no matter how blind the law says it is, discrimination and basic human emotions still play a role to the jurors. The many forms of executions in American is overwhelming; none of which are human, as seen with Don Harding's death in the gas chamber. Public opinion and the Cost of execution shows that Americans would prefer a alternative form of retribution and the cost! of execution is far more expensive then life sentences. The case against the death is strong, and this paper will further strengthen the argument. However, we must never forget that the victims are what we are fighting for and we must ask ourselves, "Is death to death what we want in this country, or shall we stand strong and look for an alternative form of retribution." Unlike all other criminal punishments, the death penalty is irrevocable. A french Chamber of Deputies once said, "I shall ask for the abolition of the punishment of death until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me."(Ancel, p55) Although some proponents of capital punishment would argue that the cause warrants the occasional execution of innocent people, most of the population believes that it is unlikely for innocent citizens to be executed. However, evidence and case studies have proven that, in this country, since the 1900's, there are on the average four wrongly accused people per year that are sentenced to death. "In 1980, a black high school janitor, Clarence Bradley, and his white co-worker found the body of a missing 15-year-old white schoolgirl. Interrogated by police, they were told, "One of you two is going to hang for this.: Looking at Bradley, the officer said, "Since your the nigger, you're elected." In this case of rush to judgment! , Bradley was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. The circumstantial evidence against him was thin, other leads were ignored by the police, and the courtroom atmosphere reeked of racism. In the 1972 Furman v. Georgia case, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 majority, found that the manner by which the death penalty was being administered made it cruel and unusual punishment and therefore violating the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall concurred, stating that, "...the death penalty was a denial of human dignity..."(S.C Decisions 208) This denial of human dignity can be examined by the five different forms of death served in the US. The first is by hanging. This traditional mode of execution is available in Washington state and Montana. In this style, death is executed by placing a rope around the person's neck and dropping down from the gallows. The hanging is easily bungled in two different ways. First, if the drop is to short then the person will die a slow and agonizing death by strangulation. Second, if the drop is to long the head will be torn off from the body. The second and more common form of execution is de! ath by electrocution. In this case, the condemned prisoner is led-or dragged-into the death chamber, strapped into a chair, and electrodes are fastened to the head and legs. Then a switch is thrown. The body strains, jolting as the voltage is raised and lowered. Often smoke rises from the head. There is the awful odor of burning flesh. No one knows how long the electrocuted individuals retain consciousness. Only two states still authorize the firing squad, Idaho and Utah. In this case, the prisoner is strapped to a chair and hooded. A target is pinned to their chest and five marksmen , one with blanks, take aim and fire. The forth form of execution is death by the gas chamber. In this case, the prison is strapped into a chair with a container of sulfuric acid underneath. Then the chamber is sealed and cyanide is dropped into the acid to form a lethal gas. At the beginning of this paper, you witnessed this type of horrendous death on a Don Harding. Lastly, the gov! ernment has made an attempt to hide the external torture of an execution by devising the lethal injection. In this case, an I.V is inserted into the prisoners veins and a lethal dose of cyanided is administered. As the US court of appeal observed, there is "substantial and uncontroverted evidence...that execution by lethal injection poses a serious risk of cruel, protracted death...Even a slight error in dosage or administration can leave a prisoner conscious but paralyzed while dying, a sentient witness of his or her own asphyxiation." (Chaney v. Heckler, 719 F.2d 1174 [1983]) Justice, it is often insisted, requires the death penalty as the only suitable retribution for heinous crimes. This claim will not bear scrutiny. In any case, execution is more than a punishment exacted in retribution for the taking of a life. "For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death! on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life."(Social Deviance, p68) It is also often argued that death is what murderers deserve, and that those who oppose the death penalty violate the fundamental principle that criminals should be punished according to their deserts--"making the punishment fit the crime." If this principle is understood to require that punishments are unjust unless they are like the crime itself, then the principle is unacceptable. It would require us to rape rapists, torture torturers, and inflict other horrible and degrading punishments on offenders. It would require us to betray traitors and kill multiple murderers again and again, punishments impossible to inflict. Since we cannot reasonably aim to punish all crimes according to this principle, it is arbitrary to invoke it as a requirement of justice in the punishment of murderers. If, however, the principle of "! just deserts" is understood to require that the severity of punishments must be proportional to the gravity of the crime, and that murder being the gravest crime deserves the severest punishment, then the principle is no doubt sound. But it does not compel support for the death penalty. What it does require is that crimes other than murder be punished with terms of imprisonment or other deprivations less severe than those used in the punishment of murder. Criminals, no doubt, deserve to be punished, and punished with severity appropriate to their culpability and the harm they have caused to the innocent. But severity of punishment has its limits -- imposed both by justice and our common human dignity. Governments that respect these limits do not use premeditated, violent homicide as an instrument of social policy. Some whose loved one was a murder victim believe that they cannot rest until the murderer is executed. But the feeling is by no means mutual as observed by one wid! ow, "As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the tacking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder."(Bowers and Pierce, p102) Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the slain Senator Robert Kennedy, has written: "I was eight years old when my father was murdered. It is almost impossible to describe the pain of losing a parent to a senseless murder... But even as a in turn, to be killed. Now the question rests, "What should be done to the legally convicted murder or rapist, etc.?" First, I believe we should look into deterring the crime before it is even committed. Persons who commit murder and other crimes of personal violence either premeditate them or they do not. If the crime is premeditated, the criminal ordinarily concentrates on escaping detection, arrest, and conviction. The threat of even the severest punishment will not deter those who expect to escape detection. If the crime is not premeditated, then it is impossible to imagine how the threat of any punishment could deter it. Most violent crimes are committed during moments of great emotional stress or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, when logical thinking has been suspended. Impulsive or expressive violence is inflicted by persons heedless of the consequences to themselves as well as to others. If, however, severe punishment can deter crime, then long term imprisonment is severe enough to cause any rational person not to commit violent crimes. Furthermore, cases have been "clinically documented where the death penalty actually incited the capital crimes it was supposed to deter. These include instances of the so-called suicide-by-execution syndrome -- persons who wanted but feared to take their own life and committed murder so that society would kill them."(Ward, Carter and Perrin, p56) It must, of course, be conceded that inflicting the death penalty guarantees that the condemned person will commit no further crimes. This, it is too high a price to pay when studies show that very few convicted murderers ever commit another crime of violence. A recent study examined the prison and post-release records of 533 prisoners on death row in 1972 whose sentences were reduced to life by the Supreme Court's ruling in Furman. The research showed that 6 had committed another murder. But the same study showed that in 4 other cases, an innocent man had been sentenced to death.(Source book of Criminal Justice Statistics--1992) There is no way to predict which convicted murderers will kill again. Repeat murders could be prevented only by executing all those convicted of criminal homicide. Such a policy is too inhumane and brutal to be taken seriously. Society would never tolerate dozens of executions daily, yet nothing less would suffice. Equally effective but far less in! humane is a policy of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. An American author, Ernest Hemingway, once said, "About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after." This is where the final judgement on the Death penalty should lie. We cannot continue to use the death penalty to gain vengeance. The death penalty is inhumane and in no way deters violent crimes. Our efforts should be put towards more humane alternatives like life inprisonment.


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