"Capital punishment or the death penalty is the act of killing or executing a person, who was found guilty of a serious crime, by the government" (Phil B, 2010). There is always been a debate about capital punishment that whether the capital punishment is ethical or unethical. According to Kartha:
People have different opinions on the issue of capital punishment given to convict. While some think that death penalty is necessary for those who have committed a terrible crime, there are others who consider it as an immortal act that goes against the values of humanity.
This research paper will discuss some main pros and cons of capital punishment, different methods of execution, and some statistical data related to capital punishment.
Death penalty been given to those people who have committed serious crimes like murder. The first death penalty in the United States was in 1608. People who think that capital punishment is the right punishment for brutal crimes called it crime deterrent, while who opposes it think it is inhumane and cruel (Joy, 2010). There are many reasons that some people think that capital punishment is right. One of the reasons is prison. Prisons are usually for the safety of the society. It helps to distinguish between criminals and normal society members. Criminals held in prisons so that they can be punished for their criminal activity. The main reason for prison is the rehabilitation that helps criminals to be rehabilitated which make them committing lesser crimes, and they would be able to set example for other fellow prisoners (Phil B, 2010).
Another reason is the cost of prison. Life imprisonment is more expensive than execution. It cost about 3 to 4 million for execution while it cost about 25,000 to 30,000 per year for life imprisonment of one person (Clark, 1995). Some people believe that it is good to put someone to death rather than putting them for brutal and useless life behind bars. Safety is also another reason for capital punishment. People who are involved in serious types of crimes possess more violent behavior than a normal person. There is a possibility that criminals with a violent behavior can be dangerous for other fellow prisoners, guards, and members of the society and can harm them anytime. So, it is better to execute that type of criminals for the safety of the society (Kartha, 2010).
Some people believe that execution of the life is the right decision for committing severe crimes, and because of this death penalty is the extreme punishment for severe crimes not life imprisonment (Phil B, 2010). Some people also believe that if an individual is putting someone to death than he or she should be put to death too. The crime and the punishment should be equal to each other, and this is the reason that criminals should be executed. Criminals sometimes commit such a horrible crimes that they a left an emotion of pain and vengeance for the victim's family, and so by putting them in a death row can give satisfaction to the victim's family, and can brought them justice (Kartha, 2010).
There are some reasons that people are against capital punishment. Some people think that putting someone to death is not the right decision because by doing this makes no difference between criminal and other general population (Kartha, 2010). Some people believe that capital punishment is inhumane. The time a person is being executed is very painful for that person no matter what method of execution he or she is being given. It gives physical and mental pain both. So, it is inhumane to put someone in such a painful death (Clark, 1995). Another reason is fairness. "The life of the criminal cannot compensate for the crime committed. Basically, two wrongs do not make a right" (Phil B, 2010). Finance is also another reason. The cost of the lawyers is very expensive these days. People who do not have sufficient amount of money cannot hire a good lawyer to fight for their case, and thus put to death. Forgiveness is also another reason. Some people believe that everyone has a right to be given one more chance in life. By giving a chance there is a possibility that criminal realize his or her mistake, and try to improvise his life (Kartha, 2010).
One of the reasons that some people think that death penalty should not be given is the wrong conviction. Sometimes people been convicted for the crimes that they never committed. There are some cases in which people found innocent after they being executed. So, it is better to do not put someone to death. Another reason is the crime rate. It is found that capital punishment has nothing to do with crime rate. Putting someone to death does not help in decreasing crime. Crime rate are continuously increasing or decreasing in the United States whether there is a capital punishment or there is not (Kartha, 2010).
There are five different methods of execution: lethal injection, electrocution, lethal gas, firing squad, and hanging. There are 37 states who allow death penalty and most of them use lethal injection for execution. 10 states use electrocution, 4 states use lethal gas, 3 states use firing squad, and 3 states use hanging for execution. In lethal injection, the person is brought into a room where he is subjected to different types of chemicals like sodium pentothal, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride in a certain amount that work differently and causes sudden death. The first execution by lethal injection was in 1982 in Texas for Charlie Brooks's case. 85% of execution took place by means of lethal injection since 1976 (Stewart, 2010).
Second method is electrocution. In electrocution, the person is placed into a wooden chair and subjected to electric shocks. In 1980, William Kemmler was the first person executed by electrocution. 14% of execution took place by means of electrocution since 1976. Third method is lethal gas. In lethal gas, the person is subjected with the solution of sulfuric acid and cyanide. The first execution by lethal gas took place in Nevada in 1924, and in 1999 the last execution was adopted by Arizona. 1.0% of executions took place by means of lethal gas since 1976. Fourth method is hanging. In this method, the person is hanged by means of rope till his last breath. Three executions took place by hanging method: Westley Dodd case in 1993 in Washington, Charles Campbell case in 1994 in Washington, and Billy Bailey case in 1998 in Delaware. 0.3% of executions took place by means of hanging since 1976. Fifth and the last method is firing squad. In this method, fire squad shoots the person. Since 1976, 0.2% or two executions took place in Utah by means of firing squad: Gary Gilmore case in 1977 and John Albert Taylor case in 1996 (Stewart, 2010).
The first person in the United States was executed in 1608 because he was spying for Spain (Naik, 2010). There are 37 states that allow death penalty, and 13 states who do not allow death penalty. Those 13 states include Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The highest rate of executions was in the year 1999 where 98 executions took place in the United States. Executions regarding to gender includes 1,088 male, and 11 female since 1976. Executions regarding to race includes 57% of white, 34% of black, 7% of Hispanic, 1% of Native Americans, and 1% of Asian male, and female between 1976 and 2008. Since 1930, there are total 4,958 executions took place in the United States. There are total 3,291 male, and 59 female put to death row as of January, 2008 (Stewart, 2010). According to Stewart:
Of the 3,320 convicted murderers on death row as of January, 2005: 65% had a prior felony conviction at the time of the murder. 8.4% had a prior homicide conviction at the time of the murder. 7.8% had criminal charges pending at the time of the murder. 26.7% were on probation or parole at the time of the murder. 14% had accumulated more than one death sentence, and 39% were under the age of 25 at arrest.
Capital punishment is a never ending argument. Most of the people in the United States are in the favor of capital punishment as there is a saying "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" while some believe that it is wrong. Both the pros and cons for the capital punishment have very strong points. On one hand capital punishment is right because it eliminates serious criminals from the society, while on the other hand it is wrong because it sometimes put some innocent people to death. Over all, people cannot make a strong judgment that whether it is right or wrong because at the end both the victim's family and the criminal's family suffer. Both the families are in a great loss. Victim's family want justice for the loss their loved one's while criminal's family want one more chance so that one day the criminal will realize of his or her mistake, and the criminal's family would be able to see their loved one's alive no matter if he or she is spending their life in prison. It is not the loss of the State; it is not the loss of those people who argue about it, it is only and only the loss of both families. At the end, capital punishment is a very sensitive matter because someone's life is involved in it, and its effect is huge on both sides of the party.